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East Asia and Pacific

Spending on bling: What explains the demand for status goods?

Martin Kanz's picture

When people spend money, their decisions are often influenced by the desire to signal wealth and attain social status. This insight is not entirely new – even Adam Smith, in the Wealth of Nations, complains that his contemporaries spend too much on “status goods” that are not a necessity of life, and which they most likely can’t afford.

Social signaling motives in consumption seem to be present in many different economic settings, and may in fact be so widespread that they can be linked to larger economic phenomena, such as inequality and persistent poverty. Studies using household surveys show, for example, that the poor around the world spend a strikingly large share of their income on visible expenditures, which may have negative implications for asset accumulation, household indebtedness, and investments in education.The same pattern has been shown to hold for ethnic minorities in the Unites States – so much so, that a recent study argues that differences in conspicuous consumption may account for as much as one third of the wealth gap between Whites and African Americans

Global Economic Prospects in 10 Charts: June 2017

Ayhan Kose's picture
Also available in: Chinese

The World Bank forecasts that global economic growth will strengthen to 2.7 percent in 2017 as a pickup in manufacturing and trade, rising market confidence, and stabilizing commodity prices allow growth to resume in commodity-exporting emerging market and developing economies.  Growth in advanced economies is expected to accelerate to 1.9 percent in 2017, a benefit to their trading partners. Amid favorable global financing conditions and stabilizing commodity prices, growth in emerging market and developing economies as a whole will pick up to 4.1 percent this year from 3.5 percent in 2016. Nevertheless, substantial risks cloud the outlook. These include the possibility of greater trade restriction, uncertainty about trade, fiscal and monetary policy, and, over the longer term, persistently weak productivity and investment growth.

Download the June 2017 Global Economic Prospects report.
 
Global growth is projected to strengthen to 2.7 percent in 2017, as expected. Emerging market and developing economies are anticipated to grow 4.1 percent – faster than advanced economies.
 
Global Growth

Charting a new path to income convergence

Margaret McMillan's picture

Developing countries made considerable gains during the 2000s, resulting in a large reduction in extreme poverty and a significant expansion of the middle class. More recently that progress has slowed—and the prognosis is for more of the same, given an environment of lackluster global trade, a lack of jobs coupled with skills mismatches, greater income inequality, unprecedented population aging in richer countries, and youth bulges in the poorer ones. As a result, developing countries are unlikely to close the development gap anytime soon.

Gender-based violence, power and norms

Annamaria Milazzo's picture

Many laws prohibiting a range of gender violence have been ineffective in reducing the prevalence of harmful practices.  This is mainly due to the influential role that deeply rooted social norms—one of multiple and sometimes competing normative orders people adhere to—play in determining behavior and outcomes.

Gender-based violence (GBV) reflects power inequalities between women and men. Women and girls are more commonly the victims of GBV—a manifestation of power imbalance tilted in favor of men that characterizes many, mostly patriarchal, cultures around the world.  Collectively shared norms about women’s subordinate role in society and violence against them can also perpetuate the power imbalance. In the upcoming World Development Report 2017 we discuss how norms can reinforce existing power inequalities in society and how change can happen.

How has China moved-up the global value chains?

Hiau Looi Kee's picture
The last few decades have witnessed the rise of global value chains (GVC), with factories being set up in the faraway countries, such as China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Mexico, producing and shipping products for the US and EU markets.  Typically, being part of a GVC entails firms importing materials and intermediate products for further processing before exporting to other countries.  This implies that, together with the engagement of GVCs, these countries most likely face the inevitable decline in their domestic value added embedded in their exports (see Figure 1).  In other words, less value

From population bomb to development opportunity: New perspectives on demographic change

S. Amer Ahmed's picture

A generation ago, the World Development Report 1984 focused on development challenges posed by demographic change, reflecting the world’s concerns about run-away population growth. Global population growth rates had peaked at more than two percent a year in the late 1960s and the incredibly high average fertility rates of that decade – almost six births per woman – provided the momentum to keep population growth rates elevated for several decades (Fig 1). Indeed, the population and development zeitgeist spawned works such as Ehrlich’s 1968 book “Population Bomb,” which painted apocalyptic images of a world struggling to sustain itself under the sheer weight of its people. The policy discussion of the WDR 1984 reflected these concerns, focusing on how to feed the growing populations in the poorest and highest fertility countries, while also presenting a case for policies that would reduce fertility.

The road not shared: Turning to the arts to help increase pedestrian safety

Patrick Kabanda's picture

The Creative Wealth of Nations is a series of blogs related to Patrick Kabanda's forthcoming book on the performing arts in development.

It was a scene I still can’t forget.
 
A few years ago on a busy Kampala intersection, cars zoomed by while pedestrians braced themselves to cross a road. They lurched back and forth, like a fence being blown hither and tither by heavy winds. In frustration, a voice of a woman with a baby tucked on her back cried out: senga no wabawo atusasira. “I wish someone would be kind to us.”

When China met Africa

Tehmina S. Khan's picture
China’s expanding presence in Sub-Saharan Africa has been a major catalyst for growth in the region. Contrary to widespread opinion, its engagement covers all aspects of development. Stronger domestic policies will help countries in the region increase the gains from this growing partnership.

What do we know (and what not) about safety nets in urban areas?

Ugo Gentilini's picture
Cities are magnets of opportunity: they offer better standards of living than rural areas, and will soon house 75% of the global economy. But when demand for housing, jobs, and services outstrips capacity, urban areas can turn into congested, haphazard locales that amplify extreme poverty.

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