Graduating from college remains one of the best routes out of poverty. Recent research shows that returns to higher education are now larger than the returns to any other education sector, and they are particularly large for low-income countries. In low- and middle-income countries, the private (wage) returns to accessing higher education are 26.8 percent and 20.2 percent, respectively, relative to obtaining a high school degree. Women tend to have higher rates of return than men, and there is even some evidence (from the United States) that children from poor families benefit the most from higher education.
A large body of literature has shown that the outcomes of children are tied to the outcomes of their parents or, in other words, that children face different life prospects based on their family background. But there is no reason to believe that such “persistence” of outcomes is limited to two generations. Social mobility (or lack thereof) depends not just on how parents influence the outcomes of their children, but also on how outcomes persist across multiple generations, from grandparents to grandchildren.
How has your life changed for you compared to your parents or grandparents when they were your age? How do you see your children’s lives and possibilities compared to your own? To find out we’ve kicked off a social media campaign to highlight the issue of intergenerational mobility. And we invite you to take part in the #InheritPossibility campaign and share your stories.
Machine learning methods are increasingly applied in the development policy arena. Among many recent policy applications, machine learning has been used to predict poverty, soil properties, and conflicts.
In a recent Policy Research Working Paper by Paolo Brunori, Paul Hufe and Daniel Mahler (BHM hereafter), machine learning methods are utilized to measure a popular understanding of distributional injustice – the amount of unequal opportunities individuals face. Equality of opportunity is an influential political ideal since it combines two powerful principles: individual responsibility and equality. In a world with equal opportunities, all individuals have the same chances to attain social positions and valuable outcomes. They are free to choose how to behave and they are held responsible for the consequences of their choices.
We know that fiscal policy can be harnessed to reduce inequality in low- and middle-income countries, but until now, we knew less about its ability to reduce poverty. Our recent volume looks at the revenue and spending of governments across eight low and middle income countries (Armenia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Russia, South Africa and Sri Lanka), and it reveals that fiscal systems, while nearly always reducing inequality, can often worsen poverty.
Inequality can be both good and bad for growth, depending on what inequality and whose growth. Unequal societies may be holding back one segment of the population while helping another. Similarly, high levels of inequality may be due to a variety of factors; some good, some bad for growth.