Syndicate content

February 2016

New time series of global subnational population estimates launched

Dereje Ketema Wolde's picture

We've just launched a new, pilot global subnational population database featuring time series population estimates for 75 countries at the first-level administrative divisions (provinces, states, or regions). The database has time series data that spans 15 years (2000-2014), with total population numbers for each area and the shares relative to total national population estimates.

What's new about this?
The common data source of population estimates for most countries is a census, often conducted every 10 years or so. Many countries publish annual estimates between census years, but few publish similar population estimates for subnational regions. This database aims to provide intercensal estimates using a standard methodology.

Where World Bank-funded digital technology projects are more successful

Ravi Kumar's picture


© John Stanmeyer/National Geographic Creative. Used with the permission of John Stanmeyer/National Geographic Creative. Further permission required for reuse.

In January 2016, the World Bank released World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends.
 
The 330 page paper is an insightful read with brilliant analysis of how 'digital technologies have spread fast worldwide, but their digital dividends have not'.
 
Part of the report is about efficacy of digital technologies to improve public service delivery in developing countries.
 
World Development Report 2016 (WDR 2016) team analyzes 530 e-government projects in over 100 countries to determine where the digital technology projects funded by the World Bank are more successful.

The things we do: The dark side of empathy

Roxanne Bauer's picture

Portrait of children, GuatemalaMost people agree that the ability to empathize with others is part of what makes a person good.  If we can put ourselves in another’s shoes and walk a mile in them, we can better understand their joy and misery, right?  Well, the answer may be a bit more complex.
 
While empathy can push us to help others, it can also exhaust our emotional bank or push us to retaliation.  And, importantly, it can cloud our judgment.
 
The word “empathy” is used in many ways, but the most common meaning corresponds to what eighteenth-century philosophers such as Adam Smith called “sympathy.” It refers to the process of experiencing the world as others do, or at least as you think they do. Some researchers also use the term to encompass the more practical process of assessing what other people are thinking, their motivations, their plans, and what they believe. This is sometimes called “cognitive,” as opposed to “emotional,” empathy.  The two are distinct and involve very different brain processes, but most discussions of the moral implications of empathy focus on its emotional side.
 
In a speech before he became president of the United States, Barack Obama stressed how important it is

to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry, the steelworker who’s been laid off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. . . . When you think like this — when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers — it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help.

Obama is right about this last part; there is considerable support for what the psychologist C. Daniel Batson calls “the empathy-altruism hypothesis” which states that "feeling empathy for others, makes you more likely to help them. In general, empathy helps dissolve the boundaries between one person and another; it works against selfishness and indifference.

Attention governments: Big Data is a game changer for businesses

Alla Morrison's picture


When I speak about big data with government leaders in our client countries around the world, I often find that many have some awareness of big data, but for many, that's where the story ends. Most are not sure how it is going to affect them or what they should do. Most leaders are largely unaware that the impact of big data is likely to be broad and deep. What governments do (or fail to do) will likely shape up the competitiveness of their countries' businesses for the next generation.  

In countries further along on its adoption curve, big data has already started to transform not only the information technology sector but almost every business in every industry. Incorporation of big data today is analogous in many ways to the transformative effect of electricity on industries in the 19th century. While electricity production and distribution became an industry in itself, it also led businesses in all sectors to redesign their processes to take advantage of this new resource, leading to unprecedented productivity gains of the Second Industrial Revolution. It isn't surprising therefore that at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, there was much talk about the global economy being on a brink of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, fueled by big data enabled innovations. Governments in emerging economies cannot afford to be left out of this conversation. 

In this blog I hope to show how big data, as a new resource – one that is abundant and rapidly growing – is transforming the business environment and changing the way companies compete with each other. I will also offer suggestions for actions and policies that governments can initiate to position their economies for the advent of the so-called Big Data Revolution, and show that if they don't, they risk losing market share to more digital data-savvy competitors. Finally, I will share a new tool: Open Data for Business (OD4B) Assessment and Engagement Tool, that the World Bank has launched to help governments lay the foundation for the use of one type of big data – open government data – by the private sector.

Digital teaching and learning resources: An EduTech reader

Michael Trucano's picture
real textbooks in real shopping carts ... so *that's* where the metaphor comes from!
real textbooks in real shopping carts ...
so *that's* where the metaphor comes from!

Yesterday the World Bank hosted a great discussion related to strategies for tackling the high cost and low availability of textbooks, with a specific focus on needs and contexts across Sub-Saharan Aftrica.

This event served as the Washington, DC launch for a World Bank publication which debuted last year at an event in Cote d'Ivoire, Getting Textbooks to Every Child in Sub-Saharan Africa: Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem.

(Those interested in the topic of 'textbooks in Africa' more generally may also wish to have a look at a companion book published by the World Bank in 2015, Where Have All the Textbooks Gone? Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa.)

As a complement to yesterday's discussions, a number of posts related to the use of digital teaching and learning materials that have appeared on the World Bank's EduTech blog have been collected here, to make them easier to find, and in case making them available in this way can help in a small way to help enrich any related conversations.

(Please note that additional links will be added to this page over time as relevant related posts appear on the blog.)
 

---

When growth alone is not enough

Luc Christiaensen's picture

Africa’s robust annual economic expansion of 4.5% during 1995-2013 has come along with appreciable progress in human welfare. African newborns can now expect to live 6.2 years longer than in 2000, the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under five declined by six percentage points, and the number of deaths of violent events dropped from 20 (in the late 1990s) to four. Africans are also more empowered, manifested, among others, through greater participation of women in household decision making.

At the same time, for every five adults, two remain illiterate, life expectancy still only stands at 57— 10 years less than in South Asia – and the number of violent events has been on the rise again since 2010. The human development challenge remains substantial. Moreover, despite being a major force behind Africa’s growth renaissance, citizens in resource-rich countries did not experience a commensurate jump in their education or health status. On the contrary, results from the World Bank’s recent Africa Poverty Report “Poverty in a Rising Africa,” suggest that it is especially resource-rich countries which are bad at converting their economic fortunes into better human development.
 

Financial viability support: global efforts to create commercially viable PPPs

Kalpana Seethepalli's picture
Credit: Paul Carmona 

The story of infrastructure financing revolves around varying infrastructure needs—from basic to complex, interconnected infrastructure. And as this narrative develops, it’s becoming clear that by 2030, the additional infrastructure financing required to keep up with projected global GDP growth is an estimated $57 trillion.

Because public finances are overstretched, governments must consider alternative financing models to leverage private capital into infrastructure, along with strategic use of International Financial Institutions (IFI) financing to crowd in private investments. At the same time, developments in global financial markets are fundamentally reshaping how capital is transmitted and invested around the world, including in infrastructure. A key element of attracting private sector debt and equity into infrastructure is to make the underlying transactions commercially viable through clear, transparent Financial Viability Support (FVS) mechanisms.
 
During the past few years, our Singapore-based team has spent significant time exploring the way that FVS mechanisms can make a difference in PPPs around the world. In the new issue of Partnerships IQ, we discuss in great detail how FVS is being implemented across the globe, and its potential for even greater impact. Here, we’d like to discuss FVS a little more broadly, introducing our ideas for how and where it might operate most efficiently.

1991: Live-blogging Mongolia’s 25 year partnership with the World Bank, one year each day

Jim Anderson's picture
Photo courtesy of The World Bank Group Archives

As part of our series of 25 years in 25 days, we start with 1991, the year Mongolia joined the World Bank, IFC, and IDA.  The Articles of Agreement were signed on February 14, 1991 on the eve of the Mongolian lunar new year, Tsagaan Sar. Mongolia greeted the year of the female iron sheep as the 155th member of the World Bank.

Mongolia’s first Country Economic Memorandum was titled “Toward a Market Economy”, and it wrestled with the immediate macroeconomic challenges of runaway inflation and falling output.  The official exchange rate was 40 MNT per US$.  Price reform was among the most crucial elements of a reform program aimed at stabilizing the economy.  While noting economic risks, the report also noted that “Mongolia's medium-term development prospects include its well educated labor force, abundant agricultural and natural resources and the basic resilience of the rural economy.”


Pages