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Friday round up: Digitizing money, an Asia-focused poverty line, the limits of globalization, and 11 very funny economics papers

LTD Editors's picture

'Africa: Digitizing Money -- A Big Opportunity for Broad-Based Growth in Africa,' is the title of an op ed by Geoffrey Lamb of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ruth Goodwin-Groen of the Better Than Cash Alliance in AllAfrica.com. The piece cites a new World Bank study by Leora Klapper and others on how better access to basic financial services can help break the cycle of poverty and contribute to broad-based growth. 
 
Nigeria has launched national electronic i.d. cards and the country's President, Goodluck Jonathan, says the e-ID scheme will have a pervasive and positive impact on citizens.

Jarring Numbers on Financial Inclusion Point to Opportunities for Digitizing Payments

Leora Klapper's picture

In updating the Findex database on financial inclusion over the 2014 calendar year, I had the pleasure of traveling with Gallup, Inc., to pilot our expanded questionnaire. We visited people’s homes and asked them to describe to us how they save, borrow, make payments, and manage their risk.
 
A man who lives in a small home in a Kolkata slum with his wife, children, and parents works as a driver, and is paid directly to a bank account that was opened for him by his employer. With great pride, he told us that every month he leaves a balance in his account, which he believes is a safe place to save for his children’s education.

What Can We Say About Imported Intermediate Inputs and their Barriers?

Asif Islam's picture

A substantial literature exists that argues for the alleviation of barriers to imports in general. However, more recently the spotlight has been on the imports of intermediate inputs. The potential benefits from such imports include not just cheaper inputs based on the principle of comparative advantage of fixed costs in production, but also greater adoption of technologies embedded in foreign inputs and potential complementarities between foreign and domestic inputs. The suggested far-reaching rewards in alleviating import restrictions on intermediate inputs include greater private sector development and an eventual increase in economic growth.  However, far less has been established regarding the relationship between such imports and their barriers. Can a negative relationship be ascertained, and what is the magnitude of such a relationship?

We just learned a whole lot more about achieving Universal Health Coverage

Adam Wagstaff's picture

Subsidized health insurance is unlikely to lead to Universal Health Coverage (UHC); insurance coverage doesn’t always improve financial protection and when it does, doesn’t necessarily eliminate financial protection concerns; and tackling provider incentives may be just as – if not more – important in the UHC agenda as demand-side initiatives. These are the three big and somewhat counterintuitive conclusions of the Health Equity and Financial Protection in Asia (HEFPA) research project that I jointly coordinated with Eddy van Doorslaer and Owen O’Donnell.

As we all now know, UHC is all about ensuring that everyone – irrespective of their ability to pay – can access the health services they need without suffering undue financial hardship in the process. The HEFPA project set out to explore the effectiveness of a number of UHC strategies in a region of the world that has seen a lot of UHC initiatives: East Asia. The project pooled the skills of researchers from six Asian countries (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam), several European universities and the World Bank.

Friday Roundup: Ebola, World Economy in One Chart, Extremism, and Recognizing Humanitarians

LTD Editors's picture

Ebola's deadly spread is sobering, but luckily there are seasoned international health experts, as well as brave doctors and nurses mobilized to battle it. Senior UN System Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease, David Nabarro, was interviewed by the UN News Centre about efforts to contain unprecedented outbreak in West Africa and had some valuable insights, not least of all that survivors of Ebola are the best champions in tackling the virus.
 
An inspiring personal story is that of Nahid Bhadelia, epidemiologist at the Boston Medical Center who was featured in the Boston Globe just ahead of a mission to Liberia.

Does Lower Inequality Lead to Less Crime?

Hernan Winkler's picture

While homicide rates in most parts of the world fell by as much as 50 percent in the 2000s, Latin America was the only region where lethal violence actually increased during that period. This finding is puzzling as most Latin American countries experienced sustained economic growth in the 2000s as well as witnessed overall improvements in terms of poverty, inequality and other social outcomes. Is it possible that better economic conditions lead to reduced crime is a mistaken perception?

​Aid, Growth and Causality

LTD Editors's picture

Last week's Free Exchange blog, run by The Economist, has a post titled 'Aid to the Rescue'.  The piece cites a recent paper by Sebastian Galiani, Stephen Knack, Colin Xu and Ben Zou, which attempts to gauge the effects of aid on growth. Pondering whether it pays for donors to contribute 0.7% of national income toward development assistance, the piece goes on to explain the complexities of establishing causality when analyzing the pay offs from aid.  

Can the quest for development effectiveness in Africa also unleash faster economic growth?

Sudharshan Canagarajah's picture

The quest for development effectiveness has been a learning process, both conceptually and empirically. One of the important outcomes of the process has been the emphasis on the notion that sustainable economic growth must be a precondition for poverty reduction. Structural fiscal policies which aim to shape the supply side of the economy to generate growth and structural transformation are critical. They complement private investment through the provision of public goods such as public infrastructure or the education of the workforce. But the question still remains: will public investment in infrastructure be sufficient for unleashing faster economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Growth Escalators, Convergence, and Divergence

Ejaz Ghani's picture

The literature on growth convergence and divergence is vast and deep. Some have argued that divergence is persistent. Lant Pritchett in his paper, “Divergence, Big Time” has argued that backwardness appeared to carry severe disadvantages that generated long-term divergence between growth in per capita incomes of developing countries compared to rich countries. Others have found evidence in favor of convergence. Arvind Subramanian, in his paper, “The hyperglobalization of Trade and its Future”, has argued in favor of convergence, since the number of developing countries experiencing catch-up has more than trebled (from 21 to 75 countries) and the rate of average catch-up has doubled from 1.5 percent per year to over 3 percent. However, what has been overlooked in this debate is the role that agriculture, manufacturing and services have played in growth convergence/divergence. Which of these sectors have played a bigger role in growth convergence?

The Trade Stakes of WTO Disputes

Chad P Bown's picture

The WTO will soon initiate its 500th formal dispute, and discussions of such international litigation are now a media mainstay. Last Thursday, for example, the WTO’s Appellate Body released its latest ruling, upholding most of a set of legal challenges to China’s use of export restrictions on “rare earth” materials, a set of intermediate inputs important for green technologies such as wind turbines, batteries for gas-electric hybrid cars, etc. Other recent examples of formal WTO litigation in the news include the EU’s challenge to Russia’s import restrictions on vans, the US’s challenge to Chinese barriers to autos, and Canada’s and Norway’s challenges to an EU ban on trade in seal products.

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