In April, PovcalNet revised the World Bank’s global and regional poverty estimates from 1981 to 2013. The next major update of global and regional poverty estimates is scheduled for October 2018, when the global poverty estimates for the reference year 2015 will be released. This will coincide with the launch of the next Poverty and Shared Prosperity report (the 2016 Poverty and Shared Prosperity report can be found here).
Global commodity prices strengthened in the first quarter of 2018 and are expected to be higher on average this year than in 2017. Broad-based price increases have been supported by both demand—as economic growth has strengthened—and supply factors, including restraint by major oil producers, trade tensions, and economic sanctions.
The Commodity Market Outlook can downloaded here.
Figure 1. Commodity price indexes, monthly
Source: World Bank.
Note: Last observation is March 2018.
Let’s start with the perennial question on whether cash transfers affect work incentives… the answer is yes but not by much. A review by Baird et al shows that programs tend to result in little or no change in adult labor decisions. The exceptions are adults living with seniors receiving pensions and on select refugee programs (although to a limited extent and in risky locations). Check out tables 1 and 2 (p.26-27) for handy summaries of the evidence. Similarly, Daidone et al. found significant impacts of the Zimbabwe Harmonized Social Cash Transfer Program on beneficiary agricultural activities, the share of households owning livestock, and non-farm enterprises.
How has your life changed for you compared to your parents or grandparents when they were your age? How do you see your children’s lives and possibilities compared to your own? To find out we’ve kicked off a social media campaign to highlight the issue of intergenerational mobility. And we invite you to take part in the #InheritPossibility campaign and share your stories.
Prices in African agricultural markets fluctuate a lot: “Grain prices in major markets regularly” rise “by 25-40% between the harvest and lean seasons, and often more than 50% in more isolated markets.” To an economist, this looks like a massive missed opportunity: Why don’t farmers just hold onto their harvested grain and sell at a much higher price during the lean season?
Last week I attended Stanford University’s Quality of Governance conference, expertly organized by a rising star of the field, Saad Gulzar. I thought I’d follow in the footsteps of Dave Evans and others and summarize the findings of the papers presented. They provide a sketch of the frontier of research on state capacity.
Are judicial reforms worth doing? It turns out, we cannot be sure, but we have a story to tell about a reform, its impact, and the impact of having measured that impact.
Ceilings on lending rates remain a widely-used instrument in many EMDEs as well as developed economies. The economic and political rationale for putting ceilings on lending rates is to protect consumers from usury or to make credit cheaper and more accessible. Our recent working paper shows that at least 76 countries around the world, representing more than 80% of global GDP and global financial assets, impose some restrictions on lending rates. These countries are not clustered in specific regions or income groups, but spread across all geographic and income dimensions.
Amid the recent rise of populism and protectionism, the labor market implications of trade have increasingly moved to the center of political and economic debates. Autor et al (2013), in an influential paper, find that U.S. regions that are more exposed to import-competing manufacturing industries witnessed larger declines in manufacturing employment and wages.
Non-energy prices fell almost 1 percent due to a drop in metal prices. Agricultural prices increased 1 percent, largely on higher cocoa prices (+18 percent), maize and soybean meal (+5 percent each), as well as cotton and soybeans (+4 percent each). Fertilizer prices rose more than 1 percent, led by TSP (triple superphosphate) (+3 percent) and DAP (diammonium phosphate) (+2 percent).
Metals prices dropped 5 percent, led by iron ore prices (-9 percent), zinc and lead (-7 percent each), and aluminum (-5 percent).
Precious metals prices were marginally down due to a 1 percent decline in silver prices.
The Pink Sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.
Source: World Bank.
Across European countries, women continue to earn less than men. Looking at data for full-time working women across 30 countries, we find that women would have needed an average raise of 19 percent of their hourly wage to match male wages. Take France, for example, where the gap is close to the regional average: this would mean going from 584 Euros to 697 Euros for a 40-hour work week. In fact, in some countries the gap was higher, reaching 1/3rd of women's salaries in 2015 (see Figure 1). However, the lowest observed gaps are not found in Scandinavia, as you might expect, but in Croatia, Greece, and Belgium, where women would require a 12% wage increase to fill the gap. And these gaps have persisted over time. Over a five-year period, the gap decreased in only 10 of the 30 European countries we looked at. The most notable decreases were in Estonia (10 percentage points), the Slovak Republic (5 percentage points), and Switzerland (7 percentage points). For others, the gap has increased, particularly in Poland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and France, where the gap has doubled, while in some Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway) and Latvia, the gap has remained relatively constant.