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Roger Myerson goes on camera about his three week World Bank visit

Merrell Tuck-Primdahl's picture

Roger Myerson, eminent theorist and winner of the Nobel in economics, brought his abiding interest in democratic decentralization and development to the World Bank recently. He was hosted by the Development Economics Vice Presidency as a visiting fellow and spent three weeks here writing, thinking and meeting with staff from the Global Practice groups, from the Research Group, and from the East Asia region.
 
As his main output, Professor Myerson wrote a paper titled ‘Local Foundations for Better Governance: A response to Ghazala Mansuri and Vijayendra Rao’s Localizing Development’. He presented highlights from the paper to a diverse group of Bank staff on November 13.  The paper reflects on the theory and evidence for development strategies that are based on local community empowerment; it stresses that a key to viable democratic development in a nation is to increase the supply of leaders with good reputations for using public resources responsibly.

Ending Violence against Women

Quentin Wodon's picture

Today, November 25, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. According to the United Nations, more than a third of women and girls worldwide experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. In some countries the proportion is at two thirds. More than 130 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation. Child marriage is even more pervasive, with 700 million women living today who married as children. In Africa and South Asia, close to half of girls still marry before the age of 18. These practices are declining, but only slowly. 
 
The widespread negative effects of violence against women have been documented, including in the recent World Bank report Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity. Complications related to pregnancy and childbirth lead 70,000 adolescent girls to die each year according to UNFPA’s State of the World Population report.

More than money: How cash transfers can transform international development

Jeremy Shapiro's picture

As an author of a recent impact evaluation looking at the effects of purely unconditional cash transfers in rural Kenya, and as a co-founder GiveDirectly, the organization that facilitated the cash transfers, I have been paying close attention to the research in this area. Much of it has been highly rigorous, and the evidence suggests that transfers do considerable good: reducing poverty, inequality and allowing poor families to accumulate assets. This is not to say cash transfers are a panacea, but all-in-all cash transfers can meaningfully improve the lives of the poor. So, where do we go from here?  

Beyond simply alleviating the poverty of many households, I believe cash transfers can play a transformative role in the aid industry. First, cash transfers can serve as a benchmark for the industry. The idea of using cash transfers as a performance benchmark is not new, but I believe it is limited from a practical standpoint, and more value may come from viewing cash transfers as a preference benchmark. Second, cash transfers are a uniquely low-risk and scalable solution to reducing poverty, which is no small thing in an industry that is prone to search for silver bullets with only a risky chance of truly solving poverty.

Friday Roundup: Ebola and Africa's Private Sector, Demographics and Growth, and Twinning the Goals

LTD Editors's picture

Calestous Juma, Harvard Kennedy School professor, writes in The Guardian about how the private sector can be harnessed to ensure that Africans take responsibility for their development. He argues that, to fight a 'public bad' like Ebola, the AU and the private sector can serve as much-need organizing forces.

When disadvantages don’t add up: On gender, ethnicity and education

Emcet O. Tas's picture

We often think that all women are in some way subjected to gender-based discrimination, and indeed, there is wealth of evidence to support this belief. The same can be said about ethnic minorities and other social groups—indigenous peoples, refugees, sexual minorities, the poor, immigrants, and people living with HIV/AIDS—who may face barriers in their quest for a better life.

In reality, though, we all have multiple identities, and our abilities, opportunities and achievements are all socially mediated by the way these multiple identities interact with each other. For instance, the feminist literature highlights that day-to-day experiences of ethnic minority women can be drastically different from ethnic majority women, although both groups fare worse than men in most outcomes. While context plays a large role in how ethnicity exacerbates gender-based divisions, such interactions often get manifested in similar ways, through systematic, cumulative achievement gaps across social groups.

Would a Gender-specific Non-Discrimination Law Matter for Female Employment in Developing Economies?

Asif Islam's picture
Women’s employment in the private sector generally lags behind that of men. This disparity has gained much attention given the potential equity and efficiency gains that can be achieved with higher women labor force participation. There are competing theories as to why this could be the case. One theory is that women have preferences that voluntarily exclude them from the labor market. Another is that women may be less mobile than male workers, and thus are underrepresented in the labor market. Finally, there may be a poor match between available jobs and women job applicants.

G20 Growth Strategies

Zia Qureshi's picture

G20 Leaders concluded their summit over the weekend in Brisbane, Australia. G20 summits represent the culmination of a process of preparatory work and discussion that lasts a whole year. Concerns about weak prospects for global growth and job creation took center stage in the G20 agenda this year. Economic recovery in advanced economies has been slow and uneven and growth in the faster-growing emerging economies also has slowed. There is a growing recognition that restoring more robust global growth requires not only addressing the legacies of the global financial crisis but also implementing deeper, structural reforms to raise potential growth.

Against this background, all G20 countries were asked to prepare medium-term growth strategies to provide a systematic framework for addressing policies and priorities in the growth agenda. The strategies that have been prepared are comprehensive in scope, spanning macroeconomic policies and structural reforms to promote strong, sustainable, and balanced growth. They have a particular focus on four policy areas that the Australian G20 Presidency emphasized as key elements of the growth agenda, namely, investment and infrastructure, employment, competition and business environment, and trade. The emphasis in the strategies on investment and structural reforms is appropriate: while the proper calibration of macroeconomic policies is important to support aggregate demand in the short term, in the medium term it is the productivity-enhancing structural reforms and investments that will drive strong and sustainable growth. The strategies have benefited from an extensive process of discussion and peer review within the G20, supported by technical assessments prepared by international organizations. Final versions of these strategies were released yesterday together with the Leaders’ Communiqué and the Brisbane Action Plan (which provides an overview of these strategies).

Friday Roundup: Phoneful of dollars, New Debt Stats, Dengue Fever, Alternatives to RCTs, and Solow on Growth

Vamsee Kanchi's picture

In ‘Financial Inclusion—A phoneful of dollars,’ The Economist writes about mobile money, simple pre-paid cards, findings from the Global Findex, microfinance and more.
 
The World Bank Group and the IMF jointly launched the new Quarterly External Debt Statistics (QEDS) database, which now features new concepts and definitions, as well as new classifications of external debt statistics and tables.

The High Density of Brazilian Production Chains

Otaviano Canuto's picture

International trade has undergone a radical transformation in the past decades as production processes have fragmented along cross-border value chains. The Brazilian economy has remained on the fringes of this production revolution, maintaining a very high density of local supply chains. This article calls attention to the rising opportunity costs incurred by such option taken by the country.
 
Moving Tectonic Plates under the Global Economic Geography

In recent decades, international trade has gone through a revolution, with the wide extension of the organization of production in the form of cross-border value chains. This extension was a result of the reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers, the incorporation of large swaths of workers in the global market economy in Asia and Central Europe, and technological innovations that allowed modularization and geographic distribution of production stages in a growing universe of activities. International trade has grown faster than world GDP and, within the former, the sales of intermediate products has risen faster than the sale of final goods.

Dutch disease: It’s not just the oil; it’s the oil barons

Harun Onder's picture

What would you do if you won a billion dollars? Would you just buy more hamburgers for lunch or pick up some extra pairs of socks? Probably not. You would think bigger: maybe a boat, a mansion, a fancy car – luxury goods. Or you might try to make your life easier with a housekeeper, a driver, a chef – luxury services. This switch in the shopping list is so common that economists have a nerdy name for it: “non-homothetic” preferences. That is, people buy different things when they get more money. 

It turns out that this dynamic is relevant for development, as we (Bill Battaile, Richard Chisik, and Harun Onder) found in “Services, Inequality, and the Dutch Disease,” a World Bank Policy Research Working Paper published this year. In particular, countries that see a rapid influx of income following a natural resource discovery – say oil or diamonds – are vulnerable to this pattern in a way that could hinder their overall chances of economic growth.

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