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Measuring women’s work—more vexing than you might think

Naila Kabeer's picture

Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates cited “time poverty” as a top priority in their 2016 Annual Letter, referring to the unpaid work that disproportionately falls on women and shining a spotlight on one of the most vexing challenges economists and statisticians face: how to accurately measure women’s work.

New choruses demanding a data revolution to gauge progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals better than their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals, are welcome—and indeed some challenges on the data front are new. Others, however, are very, very old. Accurate measurement of women’s work and contribution to productivity remains one of the latter.

Policymakers operate with a truncated view of the economy—with little idea of how growth impacts, or is affected by, women’s work. For the most part they fail to incorporate this work into their labour market policies.

Can growth benefit all?

Felipe Jaramillo's picture



As an economist, I always thought that sustained growth over many years was the key to reduce poverty and promote development. Now I know, that while growth is important, it is a particular type of growth, the one that is inclusive, that is key for sustained development to take place.

As policy makers we are now focusing all our efforts in identifying and promoting policies targeted at boosting the incomes of the bottom 40 percent of the population. We need to ensure that growth provides benefits to those that are in the lowest deciles of the income distribution.

Using fieldwork to ask better questions

Maira Reimao's picture
Evaluate the following statements according to whether they are “not at all true”, “hardly true”, “moderately true” or “exactly true”:
  • I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough.
  • I am confident that I can deal efficiently with unexpected events.
  • I can solve most problems if I invest the necessary effort.
  • I can usually handle whatever comes my way.

If, after reading the statements above, you were a little confused and found your eyes going back and forth between them, trying to figure out how they are different, you are not alone. When we tested these and similar survey questions on women in rural Guatemala, we found that they not only confused our respondents but also perhaps deflated them.

Improved market sentiment and a weakening dollar buoy commodity price indexes

John Baffes's picture

Most commodity price indexes rebounded in February-March from their January lows on improved market sentiment and a weakening dollar. Still, average prices for the first quarter fell compared to the last quarter of 2015, with energy prices down 21 percent and non-energy prices lower by 2 percent according to the April 2016 Commodity Markets Outlook.

India’s informal doctors are assets not crooks

Jishnu Das's picture

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read the original article.

Most of us would agree that when it comes to healthcare providers, some training is better than none. Yet even this seemingly innocuous statement is highly contentious in India, where training primary care providers who lack formal medical qualifications is anathema to the professional medical classes.
 
But the professionals are wrong. Training informal providers (IPs) could vastly improve the quality of care for millions of rural Indians and there is no evidence that it would make matters worse.
 
It is time to implement such training and critically evaluate its impact, to guide Indian states in deciding whether to treat these providers as an obstacle or an opportunity.

Getting more Bank for the buck

Jon Strand's picture

Whatever happened to the idea of getting the most ‘bang for the buck’? No, we don’t mean it in the literal sense of more firepower, as when the Eisenhower administration introduced the term in the 50’s. Nor do we refer to a derivative from the Cannabis plant, contrary to what an Indian colleague adamantly claimed was the origin of the term. We mean it in the unglamorous but important sense of getting the most benefit from the money and efforts spent by the World Bank, on its projects and other client support. Why is this imperative? Every dollar badly spent is a life that wasn’t saved; a child that didn’t receive education; a climate risk that wasn’t properly addressed. Such shortcomings make the Bank’s main targets, poverty eradication and inclusive growth, more difficult to attain.

Does child sponsorship pay off in adulthood?

Paul Glewwe's picture
An International Study of Impacts on Income and Wealth

International child sponsorship has long been a common way for people in industrialized countries to connect with the poor in developing countries. We estimate that there are at least 9 million internationally sponsored children today, which means that there may be up to 100 million people today in families that are directly affected by child sponsorship (9 million sponsored children and their family members, and 9 million sponsors and their family members)  Sponsorship typically involves payments of $30-$40 per month to an NGO to help support an overseas child's schooling, health, and other needs.  Some faith-based programs also place a strong emphasis on the spiritual mentorship of sponsored children.  But the question remains--does it work? Our research shows that sponsorship translates to higher education levels and future earnings for formerly sponsored children.

Negative interest rates as a fishhook

Kaushik Basu's picture




The State of the Global Economy


[Based on the opening remarks made at the Chief Economists’ Roundtable on “Growth and Inclusion in Turbulent Times”]
 
It is time for the annual Spring Meetings. Many of the world’s finance and development ministers, along with business and civil society leaders, are here is Washington and have been meeting with us at the World Bank this week to discuss what we can do to rise up to these challenging times. Most conversations have come to land on two important questions, namely: What is happening around the world in different regions? And: what can we do to stem the slowdown and disunity around the right policy way ahead?

Out of the shadows? Are firms more likely to formalize through tax simplification programs?

Caio Piza's picture
Red tape can be a significant barrier to having informal firms formalize and eventually benefit from any business support programs provided by governmental agencies. While the relationship between this formalization, access to finance and a firm’s performance has been implied by anecdotal evidence (de Soto 1989 and 2000), a recent survey of empirical evidence suggests that such programs may in fact achieve the opposite and not necessarily nudge firms to formalize. In fact, the evidence suggests that even with a significant reduction in red tape most informal firms decide to remain informal (see Bruhn and McKenzie 2013 for a survey).
 

This trade slowdown has a silver lining

Aaditya Mattoo's picture

Global trade seems to be in a perilous state.  The dynamic growth engine of the 1990s first slowed in the 2000s, then spluttered during the crisis, and is now sadly slacking behind GDP growth.  Preliminary data indicate that trade growth touched new lows in 2015, with merchandise imports growing at around 2 percent in 2015, down from 3 percent in 2014.  But the same factors that lie behind the most recent slowdown may be creating the conditions for a future upturn, if the global community takes the necessary steps.

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