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The jobs challenge is bigger than ever in the poorest countries

Akihiko Nishio's picture
Researchers at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI) in Ghana. © Dasan Bobo/World Bank 
Researchers at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI) in Ghana. © Dasan Bobo/World Bank 

Over the next decade, close to 600 million people will be looking for jobs, mostly in the world’s poorest countries. The South Asia region alone will need to create more than 13 million jobs every year to keep pace with its demographics. In Sub-Saharan Africa, despite a smaller population, the challenge will be even greater—15 million jobs will need to be created each year.
 
Adding complexity, the jobs challenge is also a concern for today. Many people in poorer countries who do work are stuck in informal, low-paying, less productive jobs, which are often outside the formal and taxed economy. And as the trends of urbanization continue, scores of internal migrants are searching for work, but can’t find quality, waged jobs, nor do they have the skills demanded by the markets. As a result, too many people are left on the economic sidelines and are limited in what they can contribute to their countries’ growth.  

The new wealth of governments? Marrying digital and physical assets

Fabian Seiderer's picture
Vector Designed By Matt Francis from Pngtree

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a set of three blogs. While this blog focuses on pushing for a better marriage of digital and physical assets across governments, the other blogs look at the opportunities provided by disruptive technologies, policies and greater citizen engagement
 
Forests, lands, buildings, and roads are physical assets that all make up a significant part of the wealth of nations, much of it controlled by governments. Less obvious but equally important are intangible capital and digital assets.  Both the World Bank’s Changing Wealth of Nations 2018 and the Brookings Institution’s The Public Wealth of Cities state that governments could reap massive rewards by better utilizing their assets, both physical and digital. But do governments actually know what they own, what they are and their actual value?

Improving the pathway from school to STEM careers for girls and women

Eliana Rubiano-Matulevich's picture

The launch of the Human Capital Project has galvanized global action to close human capital gaps, and has highlighted the importance of investments in the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, to realize their potential as productive members of society.

Improving both the quantity and quality of education is pivotal to empowering young people to fulfill their potential. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is critical not only for fulfilling the needs of the future workforce, but also for producing researchers and innovators who can help to solve intractable challenges.

The underrepresentation of women and girls in STEM gets a lot of attention, but the data on access to, and quality of, education shows that the story is more nuanced.

At primary school level globally, there is gender parity in both enrollment and completion–a remarkable achievement of recent times. Gender gaps emerge in a number of low-income countries, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in some Latin American countries there are ‘reverse’ gender gaps (with boys less likely to attend or complete primary school). Overall, gender gaps (where they exist) are modest in comparison to the gaps between rich and low-income countries.

When it comes to academic performance, girls often do as well as, or better than, boys in science and mathematics.

In primary schools, there are no gender differences in science achievement in more than half of the 47 countries where performance is measured (Figure 1). Girls score higher than boys in 26 percent of the countries. The difference in achievement is almost three-times higher when girls score more than boys compared to when boys score more than girls. Results for mathematics achievement are similar. There are no gender differences in about half of the countries with data, but boys score better than girls in 37 percent of the countries.

Figure 1: Primary-school girls perform as well as boys in science and mathematics

Source: TIMSS 2015 Assessment Frameworks. Data for 4th graders in 47 countries. Box plots show the first quartile, median and third quartile of the test scores. The whiskers correspond to the minimum and maximum scores. Outliers are represented by a dot.

Quality of Open Source Software: how many eyes are enough?

Michael M. Lokshin's picture

In 2004, my colleague Zurab Sajaia and I submitted a maximum likelihood routine to the Stata SSC archive. The program was quickly propelled by the Stata user community to the top 10 most downloaded Stata files; it is still in use now. While experimenting with similar algorithms to develop test procedures (five years after the program’s release), we uncovered an error in the routine. Hundreds, if not thousands, of econometricians had used our program and looked at our code, but no one raised any concerns.

Open Source Software (OSS) is quickly gaining popularity in the corporate world as a practical alternative to costly proprietary software. 78% of companies are now using OSS extensively and open source components are found in more than half of all proprietary software. The rationale is simple: OSS lowers development costs, decreases time to market, increases developer productivity, and accelerates innovation.

Competition and the rise of the machines: Should the AI industry be regulated?

Michael M. Lokshin's picture

A multinational conglomerate uses artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to gather intelligence about the news you peruse, social media activity, and shopping preferences. They choose the ads you passively consume on your newsfeed and throughout your social media accounts, your internet searches, and even the music you hear, creating an incrementally increasingly customized version of reality specifically for you. Your days are subtly influenced by marketers, behavioral scientists, and mathematicians armed with cloud supercomputers. All of this is done in the name of maximizing profit to influence what you’re thinking, buying, and whom you will be electing…

Sound familiar? Apocalyptic prognoses of the impact of AI on the future of human civilization have long been en vogue, but seem to be increasingly frequent topics of popular discussion. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Vint Cerf, Raymond Weil, together with a host of other commentators and—of course—all the Matrix and Terminator films, have expressed a spectrum of concerns about the world-ending implications of AI. They run the gamut from the convincingly possible (widespread unemployment[1]) to the increasingly plausible (varying degrees of mind control) to the outright cinematic (rampaging robots). François Chollet‏, the creator of a deep neural net platform, sees the potential for “mass population control via message targeting and propaganda bot armies.” Calls for study, restraint, and/or regulation typically follow these remonstrations.

Views from Silicon Valley: Helping client countries keep up with changing technology

Kimberly Johns's picture
Graphic: Nicholas Nam/World Bank

It is time to tell you a secret my friends. I am a girl who codes. Before joining the World Bank, I was fluent in ASCII, developing systems and applications to make it easier to get things done.

Taxing the shadow economy

Rajul Awasthi's picture
Graphic: Nicholas Nam/World Bank

A sub-Saharan African tax commissioner went to buy a bicycle for his son. The seller asked if he would like to get a receipt and pay a 15 percent higher price, or take the bike with no receipt at a lower price. The tax commissioner paused and thought. What would you do?

#TechWomenAfrica: Female role models lead the way in Sub-Saharan Africa’s digital transformation

Alicia Hammond's picture



It’s often said that you cannot be what you cannot see. The truth of this adage is becoming clear especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers, where a lack of female role models is increasingly cited as a key driver of women’s underrepresentation in these fields. But a new generation of female role models is emerging in technology, and some hope that their increased visibility will help confront gender stereotypes that often discourage young women from pursuing the careers of the future.

Can artificial intelligence stop corruption in its tracks?

Vinay Sharma's picture
AI and data have the potential to prevent corruption. Graphic: Nicholas Nam/World Bank


The amount of goods and services that governments purchase to discharge their official business is a staggering $10 trillion per year – and is estimated at 10 to 25 percent of global GDP. Without effective public scrutiny, the risk of money being lost to corruption and misappropriation is vast. Citizens, rightly so, are demanding more transparency around the process for awarding government contracts. And, at the end of the day, corruption hurts the poor the most by reducing access to essential services such as health and education.

Social business, youth and technology to accelerate climate action to 1.5°C

Max Thabiso Edkins's picture


Recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set out clear scientific evidence of what a world impacted by climate change will look like in their Global Warming of 1.5°C report, and the facts are striking: climate impacts in a 2°C warmer world are far greater than with 1.5°C warming. By 2050, in a 2°C world, several hundred million more people would be exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty.


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