As we drove along the rugged, potholed, rust-colored dirt road in a remote area of the Central African Republic (CAR), we passed a scattering of huts. These areas are strikingly destitute, having been looted by various armed groups passing through.
Global partners have committed to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. UHC is a main driver of all World Bank’s investment in areas related to health, nutrition and population. I had the opportunity to participate as a member of the UHC 2030 core team representing Public Financial Management in health along with other experts and health leaders from the World Bank at a UHC 2030 Steering Committee meeting at the United Nations Headquarters last month.
The question before us moving forward is simple. How do we make UHC a reality by 2030?
In a remote village in Bihar’s Bhojpur district, Sushumlata sits behind a spanking new desk in a newly-refurbished government building.
From the time she came to the village as a new bride, this young woman has chosen to get involved in community affairs by joining the Self Help Group (SHG) movement.
Later, armed with a master’s degree in social work, she joined active politics and, in 2016, was elected the Mukhiya, or head of the Dawan village Gram Panchayat – the local governance institution – under the seat reserved for women.
Sushumlata is the face of the government in this remote corner of Bihar. When we visit her in the newly upgraded Gram Panchayat building – refurbished under the World Bank (IDA) funded Bihar Panchayat Strengthening Project – she tells us how the newly painted and equipped building has made a difference.
A young man is busy on a computer beside her, helping an elderly gentleman apply for a government pension.
Walking my dog recently, early on a dark January morning, I noticed a light from a window on the ground floor of the school near my home. I took a peek inside. Somebody was preparing the classroom for a technology education lesson, or what we call in this part of the world a “labor lesson.”
I am not nostalgic by nature, but the sight of the classroom took my mind back to the Moldova of the mid-1980s. That’s when I used to attend such classes.
From Canada to Kenya, nearly every country struggles to provide housing for all its residents. It’s a goal that has become a moving target: Migration – both rural-to-urban and cross-border – is placing mounting pressure on cities to house their newcomers.
Three million people move to urban areas every week, and
As markets change fast, governments must be ever vigilant that policies don’t become obsolescent or even harmful because their details have become out of date. Even well-designed housing programs require adjustments.
In 1966, Japan experienced a sudden drop in its fertility rate—for just that year. During the 1960s, the fertility rate was about 2.0 to 2.1 children per woman, but in 1966 it dropped dramatically to 1.6 children per woman (Chart 2). The number of births in 1966 was much lower than in surrounding years, as can also be seen in Japan’s population pyramid, where there’s a big dent for people born in 1966 (the highlighted bars). This isn’t an error in the data, it’s real.
Amidst all the noise of the 24-hour news cycle and current events competing for our attention there lurks a danger that we lose sight of our mission: the fundamental issues in development that we are committed to solve remain urgent and obviously relevant. Now more than ever, the World Bank and DEC (home to the Bank’s research unit) in particular should focus on core research questions whose answers can help end poverty and improve countless lives. These questions rise above the ebb and flow of the political tide and are deeply important to the millions of people that we strive to raise up.
The typical approach to examining how workers, consumers, or governments interact with a firm has been for researchers to find a willing firm owner and convince them to run experiments. Examples include Bandiera et al. working with a UK fruit-farmer to test different payment incentives for immigrant workers; Bloom et al. working with a Chinese travel agency to test the effect of letting workers work from home; and Adhvaryu et al. working with an Indian garment firm to measure impacts of soft-skills training for workers and of introducing LED-lighting. However, finding/persuading a firm to do the experiment that a researcher would like to do can be hard, with many of these existing samples coming about through a researcher having a former student or relative who runs one of these firms.
So what should you do if you lack a connection, or you want to do something that you cannot persuade a firm to do?
Recently, a number of researchers have taken a different approach, which is to set up and run for themselves a firm in order to answer research questions. I thought I would give some examples of this work, and then discuss some of the issues that arise or things to think about when deciding about pursuing this research strategy.
Angus Deaton’s classic, The Analysis of Household Surveys: A Microeconometric Approach to Development Policy has been re-issued with a new preface by the author. The original publication has been cited more than 6,700 times. When it was first issued, one reviewer characterized it as “a rugged tour through a broad swath of author Angus Deaton’s intellectual countryside… Deaton’s prose and reasoning are uniformly sharp, and I found myself quite willing to study at length whatever he was willing to teach.”
Here are a few of Deaton’s reflections, twenty years after he first published this work.