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The World Region

International Open Data Hack Day: What Are You Looking For?

Aleem Walji's picture

As December 4th approaches, I’m getting excited for the International Open Data Hackathon and even more excited to see World Bank challenges and data featured in an event that will span 50 cities (and counting ) over 6 continents.  It’s thrilling to consider what hackers and users working together might mash-up and what role we (as data providers) can play in giving people access to clean and interoperable data sets for their using. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Having recently traveled in India and after meeting development folks of various stripes from economists in Delhi to social entrepreneurs in Hyderabad to geeks in Bangalore , I’m struck again by how important local data remains. It’s one thing to talk about global economic trends and macro indicators but quite another to understand what’s happening in one Indian state, say Andra Pradesh, compared to its neighbors. Imagine a citizen group comparing rainfall data between states, at the district level, compared to crop yields over two decades. That’s when things get interesting and potentially useful to users.

Getting to the Seoul of the Matter: Moving beyond currency disputes

Shahrokh Fardoust's picture
Photo: www.istockphoto.com

(Also available in Spanish)

Many observers predict that this week’s G-20 Summit in Seoul will be remembered mainly as a dance of high diplomacy aimed at persuading members to refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies and to reign in excessive current account imbalances.

If most headlines from Seoul are about spats over currencies and whose deficit or surplus is most harmful, then leaders  will have missed the Seoul of the Matter.

Indeed, such an outcome would be a setback for developing countries and could potentially erode the legitimacy of the G-20 as an inclusive broker of financial and economic cooperation in the global economy.

Food Security and Poverty—a precarious balance

Will Martin's picture

Children haveing a meal at school. Ghana. Photo: © Arne Hoel/The World Bank

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

This profoundly important—and seemingly-simple—definition of food security from the World Food Summit of 1996 actually has four elements:

1. Enough food must be available to meet people’s needs.
2. People must have access to the food that is available under normal circumstances.
3. Volatility in production or prices must not threaten this availability, and
4. The quality of food that people consume must be adequate for their needs.

Sectoral upgrading a half century later – 2010 is not 1960

Howard Pack's picture

There is an increasing consensus about the need of poorer economies to shift away from low technology, low productivity areas into new product areas, particularly to generate non-commodity exports. The figure below shows the low level of manufactured exports from the poorest region, sub-Saharan Africa (SSF) as well as from Southeast Asia (SAS) compared to other regions. It is this disparity that many have in mind in urging a sectoral transformation. In the 1950s and early ‘60s there was an argument for a “big push” in development premised on export pessimism.

*lcn- Latin America & Caribbean, mea- Middle East & Africa, SAS - Southest Asia, ssf- Sub-Saharan Africa, eap- East Asia & Pacific, and eca- Europe & Central Asia

The emphasis on the big push and balanced growth continued until the 1970s when the success of export oriented countries in Asia such as Korea and Taiwan (China) demonstrated that it was possible to escape  the need to have balanced  internal growth. Annual export growth of 15 percent or more helped to effect a major transformation in many of the newly industrialized Asian nations.  A critical question is whether five decades later this option is still open.

Statistics gets a day of its own

Swati Mishra's picture

The etymology of Statistics – derived from New Latin statisticum collegium ("council of state") and the Italian word statista ("statesman" or "politician") – might sound rarified, meant for only few expert number crunchers. But if we go past how it sounds, it’s actually quite interesting and in fact is for everyone. For some, it might be just reserving a hotel based on the number of stars in user’s reviews or finding high school pass rates in choosing a neighborhood to start a family. For others, like us in the World Bank, it is the core of our day-to-day work.

As summarized by Justin Lin in his post, 'World Statistics Day- Realizing Dreams', World Bank has been contributing to the international statistical system for more than five decades, through various products, publications, and services. It’s about time that we designate a day to celebrate the deep connection statistics have to our lives and most importantly, to the global development agenda. And as we celebrate the first ever World Statistics Day, we couldn’t resist asking some of the prominent data compilers and users - Prof. Angus Deaton, Princeton University, Dr. Pronab Sen, former Chief Statistician of India, and Gale Muller, Vice Chairman of Gallup World Poll - about their thoughts on this remarkable day.

Fighting Poverty at Each Stage of Development

Martin Ravallion's picture

One size does not fit all in development policy, as World Bank President, Robert B. Zoellick, emphasized in a recent speech, “Democratizing Development Economics.” The right policies depend on the stage of economic development (amongst other things). What does that mean for the Bank’s overarching objective, a world free of poverty?

Three construction workers return from a day of work as part of the Rural Roads project to improve access to markets in Rajasthan, India. Photo: Michael Foley

The Bank’s policy dialogues in poor countries have long emphasized policies to promote economic growth as the main means of fighting income poverty. These include efforts to ensure “pro-poor growth,” such as by avoiding policy biases against labor-intensive production.  However, direct redistributive policies in favor of the poor typically get far less attention.

It is not obvious why. Even some very poor countries have high inequality—in fact, some of the highest levels of income inequality in the world are found in poor countries (see the 2006 World Development Report: Equity and Development). And developing countries have redistributive policy options through tax and spending instruments (including cash transfers). There are concerns about trade-offs between equity and efficiency, though it can also be argued that high inequality is an impediment to economic growth. So should direct redistributive interventions play a bigger role?

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