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The MDGs and Beyond

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture

I feel privileged to be appointed as the World Bank Group President’s Special Envoy for the MDGs.  Nothing could be more important for achieving growth and shared prosperity than the MDGs, which are meant to provide people with the very basic capabilities they need to thrive – freedom from extreme poverty, education, health, clean water and sanitation.  Nations can only succeed when people thrive.

In my new position, with regard to the MDGs I will focus on four objectives. The first is to ensure that we are doing all we can to get as close to achieving the MDGs as possible by the 2015 deadline.  Progress on many targets is lagging, particularly in countries affected by weak governance, conflict, or large populations.  Progress is significantly lagging on some indicators, such as maternal and child health.   United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim have recently committed to a process of in-depth country-level diagnostics to identify priority actions to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs.  My hope is that these reviews will point not only to specific actions for governments and donors, but also serve as lessons for a broader range of countries.

Human Development and Inequality of Opportunity: a reply to Wagstaff

Francisco Ferreira's picture

In a recent post in Let’s Talk Development, my colleague Adam Wagstaff raised a number of interesting points about measuring inequality of opportunity in the context of human development indicators, such as access to health services or educational achievement variables.  His three main arguments, as I read them, were: 

  1. The Human Opportunity Index (HOI), first proposed in this LAC regional study, inevitably understates the true extent of unfair inequality in access to services among children. This is because the dissimilarity index – the measure of inequality of opportunity within the HOI – captures only some of the inequality in (say) access to water among children while, in Adam’s view, all of that inequality is unfair.
  2. The Index of Economic Opportunity (IEO), used in the second part of that regional study, is also likely to understate the share of inequality in, say, student achievement among 15 year-olds, for a similar reason: students are partitioned into groups with identical circumstances (family background, gender, place of birth, race or ethnicity, etc.), and inequality of opportunity is measured as the share of the overall variance in test scores that occurs between – rather than within - those groups. Adam feels this is too little, because some of the within-group inequality may also be caused by factors beyond the young person’s responsibility – such as feeling sick on the day of the test, for example.
  3. Finally (though not in this order), Adam questions whether the HOI really is of much use to policymakers, because “it makes it hard to dig down and see what’s going on”. He suggests, as an alternative, the between-component of the Gini coefficient or, I think more precisely, of a concentration index.

We need to move from arbitrary crisis response to systematic risk management: A perspective from WDR 2014

Norman Loayza's picture

An old proverb cautions that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” There is a lot of truth to this: interventions to prevent infectious disease and infant malnutrition have repeatedly been estimated to have very high returns, with benefit-cost ratios as high as 15 to 1.

The proverb also applies outside health. Time and again, failure to prevent and prepare has tragic and costly consequences—economic and financial crises, natural disasters, ruinous health outcomes, social unrest—that often could have been avoided at moderate cost. In 2010, an earthquake in Haiti cost more than 220,000 lives, while one of much larger magnitude in Chile produced about 500 fatalities. Chile’s enforcement of building codes appears to account for much of the difference.

Friday round up: Social media innovation, a handy graphic, inequality, and Kaushik in the news

LTD Editors's picture

From tracking World Bank projects to Twitter conversations with Rwanda's health minister, technology is driving innovation. Read about it in ‘Poverty Matters.’

The fastest growing and shrinking economies in 2013 are laid out in a handy graphic in The Economist online.

The study of distribution and inequality is ‘au courant’ among economists these days and Branko Milanovic of the World Bank’s Research Group contributes to the debate in a post on the Harvard Business Review’s blog platform.

Some thoughts on human development, equal opportunity, and universal coverage

Adam Wagstaff's picture

I was asked recently to advise on some ongoing work on human development, equal opportunities, and universal coverage. The work was building on previous work undertaken by the World Bank in its Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region that had developed a new index known as the Human Opportunity Index (HOI).

The core idea underlying the HOI isn’t new. The argument is that inequalities are inequitable insofar as they’re the result of circumstances beyond the individual’s control (inequality in opportunity), but not if they reflect factors that are within the individual’s control. The object of the exercise is to separate empirically the two.

Year-end Reflections and Trends for 2013: Final Friday Roundup for 2012

LTD Editors's picture

It’s the end of the year, which means there are all sorts of retrospectives on the big things that happened in 2012.  Here’s a list of interesting articles that recap the year gone by.

• Andres Marroquin’s blog lists the top ten economic papers of 2012. Topping the list is a working paper from the Journal of Politics 201 titled ‘Economic Conditions and the Quality of Suicide Terrorism’. See more papers here.

• Consider yourself an aficionado of the latest in global development issues? Then test your knowledge by taking a quiz put together by The Guardian.

A guide to the top World Bank blogs and blog posts of 2012

Adam Wagstaff's picture

Last year I wrote a post listing the most read 100 World Bank blogposts of 2011. I also compared the Bank’s 26 English-language blogs with one another in terms of how many posts they got in the top-200. 2012 was an even more successful year for World Bank bloggers.

Fig 1 compares the Bank’s 29 blogs in terms of their shares of the top-200 posts for both 2011 and 2012. (I excluded pages that didn’t look like posts – blog home pages, blogger profiles, thematic pages, and so on. I may have inadvertently dropped some posts in which case my apologies to the blogger.) Africa Can End Poverty retains the number one slot, accounting for 20% of the top-200 in both years. Development Impact, which started mid-way through 2011, increased its share to 10% in 2012 with 20 posts in the top-200; it now occupies 2nd position. Last year’s runner-up (East Asia & the Pacific on the rise) slipped to 4th position this year, and last year’s #3 (Let’s Talk Development) slipped to 5th position. Open Data, new this year, came in strongly at #7. Voices - Perspectives on Development improved its position considerably, while Development in a Changing Climate slid the other way.

The Real Winners and Losers of Globalization

Branko Milanovic's picture

It is generally thought that two groups are the big winners of the past two decades of globalization: the very rich, and the middle classes of emerging market economies.

The statistical evidence for this has been cobbled together from a number of disparate sources. The evidence includes high GDP growth in emerging market economies, strong income gains recorded for those at the top of the income pyramid in the United States and other advanced economies, as well as what seems to be the emergence of “a global middle class” and casual observations of the rising affluence of Chinese and Indians.

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