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September 2016

A new approach to the refugee crisis: A win-win case for Jordanians and Syrian refugees

Meriem Ait Ali Slimane's picture


Last week, in New York, the United Nations summit on refugees and migrants expressed the international community’s strong commitment to tackling issues faced by refugees and their host countries. The shift aims to ensure that “more children can attend school and more workers can securely seek jobs abroad.”

Back to the beginning: What I learned about early childhood development in the Arab World

Angelena Simms's picture
 Egyptian Studio l World Bank

This year, I was given the incredible opportunity of a summer internship at the headquarters of the World Bank Group in Washington, DC, researching the different levels of investment that countries in the Middle East and North African (MENA) have made in Early Childhood Development (ECD). As a result, I gained insights into development issues I would not otherwise have been aware of, nor would I have had any idea of how to go about making improvements.

Field of Dreams: Mapping the Landscape for Investing in Emerging Market Infrastructure

Joaquim Levy's picture

Estimates of the financing gap for emerging market infrastructure range from nearly half a trillion USD to more than US$1 trillion a year over the next decade. The range reflects the difference between the estimated level of infrastructure needed to sustain growth across emerging markets and the actual level of such investment.
 
The challenges are immense, and resources are scarce. Of the financing that does exist, more than 70% comes from national government budgets; the second largest source (roughly 20%) is the private sector; and remaining resources come from overseas development assistance or aid from developed economies1. Given the overstretched demands of public sector budgets in developed and developing countries alike, any increase is likely to come through more partnership and co-financing from the private sector. 

Finding opportunities in Upper Egypt’s underdeveloped regions

Axel Baeumler's picture
Upper Egypt - Emad Abd El Hady l World Bank

Two-thirds of Egypt’s poor—about 12 million people—live in Upper Egypt, where the level of economic development lags significantly behind other regions in the country. But finding solutions to kick start private sector growth in lagging regions like these can be an intractable challenge.

Guide to 2016 Annual Meetings

Donna Barne's picture

Ministers from 189 countries meet in Washington the week of October 3 for the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings. We’re streaming 22 events, with more than 10 in multiple languages, on themes including the need for global cooperation to address risks, encourage trade and economic growth. Watch World Bank Live on Monday as World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim sets out his vision for ending extreme poverty. On Tuesday, Oxfam International’s Winnie Byanyima and World Bank experts discuss a just-released report on poverty and inequality. New World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer and Kim talk about the challenges facing global development on Wednesday.  On Thursday, heads of state and ministers join Kim at the Human Capital Summit and make commitments to reduce chronic malnutrition in children in their countries. Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and other high-level panelists discuss progress on financial inclusion, along with de-risking efforts by banks that could reverse it.  Here is a preview of what you can expect.

Weekly links September 30: re-analysis and respective criticism, working with NGOs, off to the big city, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • Solomon Hsiang and Nitin Sekar respond to the guest post by Quy-Toan Do and co-authors which had re-analyzed their data to question whether a one-time legal sale of ivory had increased elephant poaching. They state “Their claims are based on a large number of statistical, coding, and inferential errors.  When we correct their analysis, we find that our original results hold for sites that report a large number of total carcasses; and the possibility that our findings are artifacts of the data-generating process that DLM propose is extremely rare under any plausible set of assumptions”.
    • We screwed up by hosting this guest post without checking that Do and co-authors had shared it with the original co-authors and had given them a chance to respond.
    • We do believe that blogs have an important role to play in discussing research (see also Andrew Gelman on this), but think Uri Simonsohn’s piece this week on how to civilly argue with someone else’s analysis has good practice ideas for both social media and refereeing – with sharing the discussion with authors beforehand when re-analysis is done being good practice. We will try to adhere to this better in the future.
    • We are waiting to see whether Do and co-authors have any further word, and plan on posting only one more summary on this after making sure both sides have iterated. We plan to avoid Elephant wars since worm wars were enough.
  • In somewhat related news, Dana Carney shows how to gracefully accept and respond to criticism over your earlier work.

Are we listening to our ancestors’ warnings?

Ko Takeuchi's picture
Also available in: Russian
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
The “miracle pine,” a 250-year-old tree that survived the 2011 tsunami in Japan, has been preserved as a memorial to the 19,000 victims of the disaster. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

In disaster risk management, we often pay close attention to the latest technological boosts to better understand risks and help communities prepare for the next disaster. While such efforts are commendable, I noticed that insightful messages from our ancestors can also help us better anticipate tomorrow’s disaster risks.

Such messages teach us how to keep hazards away from people (reducing existing risks) as well as how to keep people away from hazards (avoid creating new risks). On my latest trip to Japan, we hosted government officials from Armenia, Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan as part of an experts’ visit focusing on disaster risk management, acting on Japan’s rich culture of passing on such decisive messages to future generations.

Can the middle class really guarantee good governance?

Sina Odugbemi's picture
When social scientists and historians look back on the transformation in the quality of governance that took place in, first, Great Britain and, later, much of Europe in the course of the long 19th century, one explanatory factor often stands out: the rise of a large enough middle class.  What is large enough is, of course, a question of fact, and varies depending on the particular country context. This explanation is often contested, but it has stuck. People refer, for instance, to the revolts against monarchies that occurred across Europe around 1848 as the middle class revolutions. The sense that this explanation makes sense is so strong that when you attend seminars on improving governance in developing countries at some point or the other someone is bound to say: “Let’s be patient folks. Once these countries have a large enough middle class the pressure for improved governance will be unstoppable.”

I write about this now because I have just read an essay by Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development that restates the view with some sophistication. Please see: “Middle –Class Heroes: The Best Guarantee of Good Governance.” The essay is worth reading in full. I am going to focus only on her core case. Key quote:
Having a large middle class is also critical for fostering good governance. Middle-class citizens want the stability and predictability that come from a political system that promotes fair competition, in which the very rich cannot rely on insider privileges to accumulate unearned wealth. Middle-class people are less vulnerable than the poor to pressure to pay into patronage networks and are more likely to support governments that protect private property and encourage private investment. When the middle class reaches a certain size – perhaps 30 percent of the population is enough – its members can start to identify with one another and to use their collective power to demand that the state spend their taxes to finance public services, security, and other critical public goods. Finally, members of a prospering middle class are unlikely to be drawn into the kinds of ethnic and religious rivalries that spur political instability. (Italics mine.)
 

Key climate messages from a day at the UN General Assembly

Max Thabiso Edkins's picture



September 21 was a great day for advancing climate action at the United Nations. The day kicked off with the High-level Event on the Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement, hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the General Assembly. Ban Ki-moon declared that more than 55 countries had formally joined the Paris Agreement on climate change signed by world leaders this past April, thus officially crossing one of the two thresholds required to bring into force the landmark pact that seeks to put the world on a path towards low-carbon growth and a more sustainable future.

“There is no time to waste. Today will take us one step closer to bringing the Paris Agreement into force this year,” the UN chief stressed. With the recent announcement that India is committed to ratifying the Paris Agreement, it looks like it is increasingly a done deal.


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