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LTD Editors's blog

Welfare dynamics measurement: Two definitions of a vulnerability line and their empirical application

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Little research currently exists on a vulnerability line that distinguishes the poor population from the population that is not poor but that still faces significant risk of falling back into poverty. A new World Bank policy research working paper by Hai-Anh H. Dang and Peter F. Lanjouw attempts to fill this gap by proposing vulnerability lines that can be straightforwardly estimated with panel or cross-sectional household survey data, in rich- and poor-country settings. These vulnerability lines offer a means to broaden traditional poverty analysis and can also assist with the identification of the middle class or resilient population groups. Empirical illustrations are provided using panel data from the United States (Panel Study of Income Dynamics) and Vietnam (Vietnam Household Living Standards Survey) for the period 2004-2008 and cross-sectional data from India (National Sample Survey) for the period 2004-2009. The estimation results indicate that in Vietnam and India during this time period, the population living in poverty and the middle class have been falling and expanding, respectively, while the opposite has been occurring in the United States.

Friday Roundup: Vint Cerf and Mark Zuckerberg, Global Housing Markets, MDG Update, Free Vaccines in India, and Disaster Risk Reduction

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Internet pioneer and Google's Vice President Vinton G. Cerf will talk about the major emerging trends and threats about the Internet that will dramatically shape the global economy on July 14, 2014 at the World Bank headquarters. Watch the event live here.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg writes in The Wall Street Journal about global internet access and its impact on poverty reduction.

The IMF has a new, Global Housing Markets database that tracks developments in housing markets around the world.

Services, Inequality, and the Dutch Disease

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A new World Bank policy research working paper by Bill Battaile, Richard Chisik, and Harun Onder shows how Dutch disease effects may arise solely from a shift in demand following a natural resource discovery. The natural resource wealth increases the demand for non-tradable luxury services due to non-homothetic preferences. Labor that could be used to develop other non-resource tradable sectors is pulled into these service sectors. As a result, manufactures and other tradable goods are more likely to be imported, and learning and productivity improvements accrue to the foreign exporters.

PPPs and Global Poverty: July 9 Seminar at 12:30 PM, Join Online!

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The Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rates released in April 2014, based on the 2011 round of the International Comparison Program (ICP), entail some seemingly dramatic revisions to price levels and real incomes across the world. Looking back over the last three ICP rounds, back to 1993, it feels like we have been on an “ICP roller coaster” with falls in the estimated real incomes of many developing countries up to 2005 and then rises in 2011. The 2011 revisions have been taken to suggest substantially less poverty and inequality in the world than the 2005 round had implied. If we believe these new PPPs then the economic map of the world is quite different to what we thought. But can they be believed? A public debate has been generated by the new PPPs.

On July 9, 2014 Martin Ravallion (Department of Economics, Georgetown University) will shed more light on this ongoing debate at the Poverty and Applied Macro seminar hosted by the World Bank's research department.

Friday Roundup: WB to update income classifications July 1, Ravallion on the LIS, Oxfam releases poverty index, and solar innovation

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On July 1, the World Bank's Data Group will update its analytical income classification of all the world's economies and, in a related move, they are reviewing their methodology and considering changes going forward. Read the Open Data blog on 'LICs, LMICs, UMICs, and HICs: classifying economies for analytical purposes.' 

Martin Ravallion has a new working paper on the Luxembourg Income Study, or LIS. He ponders whether the LIS is the best model for the truly global micro database that poverty experts need to accurately track and analyze poverty and inequality. 

Inequality of opportunity and economic growth: A cross-country analysis

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Income differences arise from many sources. While some kinds of inequality, caused by effort differences, might be associated with faster economic growth, other kinds, arising from unequal opportunities for investment, might be detrimental to economic progress.  A new World Bank study by Francisco H. G. Ferreira, Christoph Lakner, Maria Ana Lugo, and Berk Özler uses two new metadata sets, consisting of 118 household surveys and 134 Demographic and Health Surveys, to revisit the question of whether inequality is associated with economic growth and, in particular, to examine whether inequality of opportunity -- driven by circumstances at birth -- has a negative effect on subsequent growth. The results are suggestive but not robust: while overall income inequality is generally negatively associated with growth in the household survey sample, the study finds no evidence that this is due to the component associated with unequal opportunities.

​Friday Roundup: World Cup Migrants, Conflict in Iraq, Dreams and Questions in India, Brain Regain, and Sizing the Middle Class

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The "beautiful game" has finally begun! And as countries compete for the coveted FIFA World Cup, the winner ultimately will be "migrants," writes Christian Eigen-Zucchi. Read his post in the People Move blog here

Vox writes about the terrorist group ISIS, or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which earlier this week took over part of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, provoking questions about how things got this bad and what can be done to quell the unrest.

Friday Roundup: Of drug resistant malaria, child labor in Brazil, microinsurance via mobile phones, and risky business

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Kathleen McLaughlin writes in The Guardian about a new wave of drug-resistant malaria that may be spreading from Southeast Asia to other parts of the developing world, saying it threatens millions.

'Child Labor and Learning' is the title of a new working paper Patrick Emerson, Vladimir Ponczek and Andre Portela Souza. They use a unique micro panel dataset of Brazilian students to investigate the impact of working while in school on learning outcomes. The potential endogeneity is addressed through the use of difference-in-difference and instrumental variable estimators. A negative effect of working on learning outcomes in math and Portuguese is found. The effects of child work range from 3 to 8 percent of a standard deviation decline in test score, which represents a loss of about a quarter to a half of a year of learning on average.

What do we know about preferential trade agreements and temporary trade barriers?

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Two of the most important trade policy developments to take place since the 1980s are the expansion of preferential trade agreements and temporary trade barriers, such as antidumping, safeguards, and countervailing duties. Despite the empirical importance of preferential trade agreements and temporary trade barriers and the common feature that each can independently have quite discriminatory elements, relatively little is known about the nature of any relationships between them. A new World Bank policy research working paper by Chad P. Bown, Baybars Karacaovali, and Patricia Tovar surveys the literature on some of the political-economic issues that can arise at the intersection of preferential trade agreements and temporary trade barriers and uses four case studies to illustrate variation in how countries apply the World Trade Organization's global safeguards policy instrument. The four examples include recent policies applied by a variety of types of countries and under different agreements: large and small countries, high-income and emerging economies, and free trade areas and customs unions. The analysis reveals important measurement and identification challenges for research that seeks to find evidence of systematic relationships between the formation of preferential trade agreements, the political-economic implications of their implementation, and the use of subsequent temporary trade barriers.

Friday round up: Syria, Piketty pushes back, Universal Health Coverage, GMOs to fight hunger, and Brazil

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Syria's economy is heading into ruin, warns a Reuters news story based on a new study by the Damascus based-Syrian Centre for Policy Research. Commissioned by the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the study estimates that there was a 40 percent contraction in GDP since the start the conflict in 2011 and two-thirds of the nation's population is estimated to be living in extreme poverty.

Thomas Piketty, author of 'Capital in the 21st Century,' has responded in detail to the FT's recent assertion that his blockbuster book used erroneous computations.

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