I'll be hosting a one-hour live Question & Answer discussion on a new report I co-wrote with Asli Demirguc-Kunt titled "Measuring Financial Inclusion: The Global Findex Database," and will discuss its data methodology and main messages.
The leasing or purchase of agricultural land in the developing world has become a hot button issue as the planet has grown more crowded and the pressure to stake out more arable land – whether for food or biofuels – grows. At the same time, agricultural productivity in many of the poorest communities around the globe has stagnated and, unless higher crop yields can be attained, far too many people will remain trapped in poverty. Helping such smallholders catch the wave of rising interest in farmland is a key aim of the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, which began Monday. Our theme this year is ‘Land Governance in a Rapidly Changing Environment.”
It’s clear that this year, many stakeholders who are either taking part in the conference or criticizing the event from outside think that global interest in farmland in the developing world is at a tipping point.
Even though “The golden age of finance has now ended,” (Barry Eichengreen in reference to the Great Recession), the golden age of industrialization in the developing world has just begun.
In a recent paper,'Leading Dragons phenomenon: new opportunities for catch-up in low-income countries,' Vandana Chandra, Yan Wang and I have presented evidence on how modern economic development is accompanied by structural transformation from an agrarian to an industrial economy and occurs through a process of continuous industrial and technological upgrading. Since the 18th century, all countries that industrialized successfully in Europe, North America and East Asia had two features in common: one, they exploited their comparative advantage; and two, they leveraged the late-comer advantage to emulate the industrial upgrading patterns of countries richer than them. Except for a few oil exporting countries, no country has achieved a high-income status without industrializing. In general, a change in GDP per capita is strongly and positively correlated with growth in value added in the manufacturing sector (figure 1). If a natural resource- or land-rich country has achieved a middle income status without a large manufacturing sector, it has rarely succeeded in sustaining growth.
Our world is only three years away from the 2015 deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Two global targets have been reached well ahead of schedule – according to preliminary estimates for extreme poverty the proportion of people living on less than a $1.25 a day has fallen below half its 1990 value. The same is true for the target to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water.
A few more MDGs are in sight of the finish line. These are primary school completion rate and gender equality in primary and secondary education.
However, some others will need a real push, particularly child and maternal mortality and access to improved sanitation facilities. Hence, it is too early to claim that the mission has been accomplished, especially when we look at individual countries and achievements per region. Disparities among regions and countries remain large and much remains to be done to make progress towards the MDGs a reality for all.
The post orginally appeared on All About Finance.
The facts are in. 50 percent of adults worldwide have an account at a formal financial institution. 21 percent of women save using a formal account. 16 percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa use mobile money. These are just a few of the thousands of data points now available in the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) database, the first of its kind to measure people’s use of financial products across economies and over time.
Much of the attraction of ‘green’ growth to politicians and policy-makers is the apparent promise of job creation. Many developing countries face the prospect of rapidly growing labor forces, so measures that stimulate labor demand look attractive. But is the promise justified? That depends on how labor markets work and how ‘green’ growth policies are implemented.
As candidates for the presidency of the World Bank have been the focus of attention in recent weeks, divergent views have been exchanged regarding what ‘development’ actually is, how it should be conducted, and how efforts to bring it about should be assessed. Beyond the geo-strategic issues, how these questions are answered inexorably shapes what kind of leader one thinks should head up the world’s largest multilateral development agency, what kind of agenda that agency should pursue, and what kind of skills its staff should have.
Today's launch of the World Bank's Open Knowledge Repository (OKR) and Open Access Policy might not seem a big deal. But it is.
The knowledge bank’s assets are huge, but until today were hard to access
The Bank is a huge producer of knowledge on development. This knowledge surfaces in formal publications of the Bank – the institution publishes books and flagship reports like the World Development Report. It also surfaces in publications of external publishers, including journal articles – up to now, these external publications haven't been seen by the Bank as part of its knowledge output despite the fact they dwarf the Bank's own publications in volume and in citations. The Bank's knowledge also surfaces in reports, and in informal "knowledge products" like briefing notes and other web content.
Africa has launched a new wave of special economic zone or industrial park initiatives in recent years. Countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia, Mali, Botswana, etc., either have built some SEZs or are in the initial stages of building SEZs at various scales. While this seems to be an exciting development, it has to be dealt with great caution as well.
Growth to job creation to poverty reduction — that would be the ideal dynamic to get countries like Tanzania and Ethiopia on the track toward middle income country status. Yet, a trip to both places earlier last month that was focused on the promise of light manufacturing for Africa made it clear that the production line to prosperity can only be set up with the right incentives, with a smart but selective helping hand from the government.