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Should inequality be reflected in the new international development goals?

Adam Wagstaff's picture

The last few months have been a busy time for inequality. And over the last few days the poor thing got busier still. Inequality is now dancing on two stages. It must be really quite dizzy.

We need an inequality goal. No we don’t. Yes we do

One of the two stages is the post-2015 development goals. At some point, someone seems to have decided that reducing inequality needs to be an explicit commitment in the post-2105 goals. The UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda wrote a report on inequality and argued that “addressing inequalities is in everyone’s best interest.” Another report by Claire Melamed of Britain’s Overseas Development Institute argued that “equity, or inequality, needs to be somehow integrated into any new framework.” Last week a group of 90 academics wrote an open letter to the High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda demanding that inequality be put at the heart of any new framework.

What Questions Do You Have on Youth Financial Services?

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CGAP Youth and Financial services

Photo: Farida Parveen is a successful entrepreneur in Manikgong district, she was destitute until taking a loan to start a small poultry farm. © 2011 CGAP contest.

Youth are particularly vulnerable to economic problems. They often don’t have access to financial services due to lack of education and employment. Governments are aware of this and are working to find solutions.

South Asia and the Geography of Poverty

Otaviano Canuto's picture

The world has become relatively less poor in the last few decades. People under conditions of extreme poverty -- that is, living on less than $1.25 per day -- have declined as a proportion of the world population, from 52 percent in 1981 to 22 percent in 2008. Thirty years ago almost 75 percent of the developing world lived with $2 a day or less, this number is down to 43 percent today.

Poverty, inequality, and the local natural resource curse

Norman Loayza's picture

The extent to which local communities benefit from commodity booms has been subject to wide but inconclusive investigations. This paper draws from a new district-level database to investigate the local impact on socioeconomic outcomes of mining activity in Peru, which grew almost twentyfold in the last two decades. The authors find evidence that producing districts have better average living standards than otherwise similar districts: larger household consumption, lower poverty rate, and higher literacy. However, the positive impacts from mining decrease significantly with administrative and geographic distance from the mine, while district-level consumption inequality increases in all districts belonging to a producing province. The inequalizing impact of mining activity, both across and within districts, may explain part of the current social discontent with mining activities in the country, even despite its enormous revenues.

Read the working paper to know more.

Urbanization is good for rural poverty (at least in India)

Massimiliano Calì's picture

Driven by the rapid growth of urban population in developing countries, the world had become more urban than rural by 2007. This trend is expected to continue in the years ahead. Almost all of the future growth in the world population will be concentrated in the urban areas of developing countries. The United Nations projects that developing countries will almost double their urban population by 2050, adding a further 2.4 billion urban dwellers (figure 1).

Nepal Youth Pictures Inequality, Wins Photo Contest

Ravi Kumar's picture

Available in Español, Français

Nepal Youth Pictures Inequality, Wins Photo Contest

Among the evocative winning photos in the World Bank’s recent “Picture Inequality” contest was one that hit home for me.

It shows a skinny teenager crushing stones so they could be used to construct gravel roads in Nepal. The picture captured the sense of helplessness many youth feel in Nepal, a landlocked country in South Asia that is struggling to recover from a decade-long civil war. And it brought to mind the saying a photograph is worth a thousand words.

The photographer, Niraj Prasad Koirala, 24, of Nepal, was one of 10 winners whose photographs and statements best captured inequality and described how they would make a better world. Koirala’s photo was one of 11 chosen by a panel of experts from 756 photos received between October 25 and December 16, 2012. 

"I was very happy when I got to read the winning message from the World Bank. It was my one of the greatest moments in life," says Koirala.

Buying Votes versus Supplying Public Services

Stuti Khemani's picture

There is one simple answer to the “what-will-it-take-to-end-poverty” question: it will take courageous politicians who actually implement the policies we already know are needed. Politicians, even the well-intentioned ones, are too often unable to implement good policies, because bad policies are needed for their political survival. For example, vote-buying, the direct exchange of “gifts” or money for political support during elections is widespread in many developing countries. For the first time, new research provides direct empirical evidence that where vote-buying practices are more prevalent, governments invest less in pro-poor services.

Rethinking Sustainable Development

Nemat Shafik's picture

As the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals approaches, much thought is being devoted to what should succeed that framework for measuring global progress against hunger, disease, and poverty. Any successor framework must reflect global aspirations and arise from a rich consultative process. I believe that the new framework must embrace a broader understanding of development — one that is relevant for all countries, rich as well as poor.

The world today looks very different from a few years ago. Many countries have high levels of debt that could make it difficult to undertake spending initiatives for many years. Financial sector incentives and regulation may have to be rethought, existing growth models refined to deliver sufficient new employment opportunities, and the functioning of the international monetary system revisited.

HappyLife and Social Games: Solidarity goes viral!

Liviane Urquiza's picture

Stéphane Buthaud - HappyLifeLast week, I was fortunate enough to have a discussion with Stéphane Buthaud, the founder of HumanoGames, which is a video game company whose mission is to “change lives.” Mission accomplished.

Thanks to the game HappyLife, launched just one year ago, Facebook users can provide financial backing for the projects of small entrepreneurs all over the world.

This is how it works:  Each player creates his or her own micro-business in the virtual world of HappyLife and re-invests the profits to help an entrepreneur get started in business in real life.

“A Project for Solidarity on a Global Scale”

Nothing in Stéphane’s background pre-ordained him to become a creator of games for the Web.  After engineering studies and a Masters degree in International Business, he gained solid experience working for a number of NGOs on micro-finance projects; first in Bosnia, then Rwanda, China, Argentina, etc.  Until the day he decided to found his own social enterprise.

What made him decide to create a game on Facebook? “It was the best possible way to foster solidarity and rally a community without borders around a common objective.  I wanted to develop a solidarity project with a global reach, to help people who come up with projects, but who lack the means to get started,” Stéphane explains.  

Really? A game on Facebook that could help in the fight against poverty…?