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The ten richest Africans own as much as the poorest half of the continent

Christoph Lakner's picture
In January 2014, Oxfam released a widely-cited briefing paper which argued that the richest 85 people in the world owned more than the poorest half of the population in 2013 (Oxfam, 2014).[1] In this blog post I estimate this statistic for Africa. The blog builds on background research for an upcoming flagship report “The State of Poverty and Inequality in Africa” led by the World Bank’s Africa Chief Economist Office. I find that the ten richest Africans own more than the bottom half of the continent.

The three transitions of the Western Balkans

Ivailo Izvorski's picture
The small, open economies of the Western Balkans* are at various stages of progress on three transitions: the transition to market economy, the transition to EU membership, and the transition to high-income status. The first transition started in the 1990s and its ultimate completion will help advance the second. Progress on the second transition, the EU integration, will unleash the EU convergence machine that has seen all but two countries in Europe achieve and sustain high income status.

Building feedback into project implementation: A visit to the Social Observatory

Ken Chomitz's picture
“Do you decide on what types of clothes to wear based on your own preferences?”  That’s a question on a survey instrument designed to assess whether Tamil Nadu’s Empowerment and Poverty Reduction Project (part of the Pudhu Vaazhvu Project or PVP) is actually having an impact on women’s empowerment. The question resonated strongly with the project beneficiaries I met. For them, it was a touchstone indicator of empowerment. That may be because it was crafted by a group of the women for whom the project is designed. 
 

Women are still pushing a boulder uphill, but progress is real

Kaushik Basu's picture
Most women today still get the short end of the economic stick - by virtually every measure available to us, women are more constrained and economically excluded than men.
Globally, men are nearly twice as likely as women to hold full-time jobs. On average, women earn between 10 and 30 percent less than working men, while they spend at least twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work, such as caring for family members and doing housework.

Oil Price Plunge holds promise and peril

Kaushik Basu's picture
An understanding of the long- and short-term factors that were behind the recent plunge in oil prices is essential for all with an interest in economic policy, given that we still live in the age of oil.

Today my team has published a paper that looks into how the rapid expansion of oil supply from unconventional sources, OPEC’s change of strategy, and weak global demand drove the decline in oil prices.

Dysfunctional mental models, marginalization, and perverse legitimacy: Reflections from the WDR 2015

James Walsh's picture

What does the World Development Report 2015 have to say about power and institutions – two central determinants of development?

When we think of power, social institutions like the police and the military often come to mind – organizations with the ability to use brute force to compel people to follow rules and obey commands. But while the power structures we observe in the world around us are very real, (they are not simply “in the head”) part of their clout nevertheless lies in their “schematizing role.” Institutions, we argue, are more than just the “rules of the game” as is conventionally understood in the disciplines of economics and political science.

Information as intervention: A visit to Digital Green

Ken Chomitz's picture

The tiny village of Narma Dih, off-grid in Bihar, India, was lit only by the full moon and the beam of a battery-powered pico projector.  A makeshift screen hung on the outside wall of a modest dwelling. A clump of small children clung to each other and stared at the screen, transfixed. Behind them sat a circle of sari-clad women, equally absorbed. A few men stood in back. The object of their rapt attention? Not a Bollywood extravaganza, but a locally produced how-to video on seed preparation for okra cultivation.  

Farmer displays a Digital Green
– informed innovation

I was in Narma Dih to get a first-hand look at Digital Green, which uses technology to accelerate the diffusion of agricultural innovations. The WDR 2016 is all about storing and sharing information, and that is at the heart of agricultural extension. There can be high returns to putting the right information in the right hands at the right time. This is especially true if you can show farmers ways of being more productive with their existing resources -- for instance, showing them how to intercrop, or to make better compost.  But credibly transmitting this kind of information has always been difficult, labor-intensive and costly.  Agricultural extension agents are typically assigned to serve an impossibly large number of farmers spread over a logistically daunting stretch of countryside. And the traditional form of information transmittal leaves something to be desired.  In Bihar, the agents have travelled the back roads shlepping flipcharts, text-heavy and just plain heavy, one per topic.  The flipcharts may not adequately convey new techniques to illiterate farmers, let alone give them confidence to try a risky new idea.  Would you believe someone who told you that you could sow 90% fewer seeds while boosting your yield?  (That's the promise of the system of crop intensification, whose diffusion is a goal of the Bank-supported Jeevika Project.)
 

Inclusive growth for shared prosperity

Vinaya Swaroop's picture
Announced in April 2013, the twin global goals of the World Bank – eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity – have become the guiding principles of its development work.  While reducing poverty has always anchored the Bank’s work, the goal of boosting shared prosperity – measured by the income of the bottom 40 percent – is new.

Friday Round up: Financial Services for the Poor, India’s Budget, Worldwide Nutrition, HIV/AIDS and Behavior, Basu to deliver Amartya Sen lecture

LTD Editors's picture
Microcredit has been both praised and criticized as a development tool.  In a Financial Services for the Poor conference hosted by CGAP, IPA, J-PAL, and the World Bank, researchers, practitioners, and thought leaders examine and discuss the lessons and implications of the latest research on microcredit.

​Are mega-trade agreements a threat to Brazil?

Otaviano Canuto's picture
The landscape of international trade negotiations has been undergoing an upheaval. On the multilateral level, after 15 years of unsuccessful attempts to close the Doha Development Round at the World Trade Organization (WTO), the negotiation system has shown to be highly vulnerable to blockades by any small group of member countries. The complex web of diverse individual country objectives, cutting across several interrelated themes, made reaching a deal harder than originally expected.

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