‘Development Economics: The Big Questions’ was the topic of a lecture I delivered April 7 at Georgetown University. During my talk, I touched on micro-theoretic issues related to Mind, Society, and Behavior (the topic of the WDR 2015) and as well as on governance and the law (the topic of the WDR 2017, which is in its very early stages). From assumptions about rational actors, to the role of social norms, as well as lessons from game theory, I attempted to shed a rather different light on human foibles and the challenges of development than is typically expected from the World Bank.
Currently around 43.2 million people or 30% of the population of Bangladesh live in poverty. Alarmingly, this figure includes 24.4 million extremely poor who are not even able to meet the basic needs of food expenditure. These numbers will be even higher if we do not address climate change. Preparation for climate change is essential for poverty alleviation to be sustainable.
Concentration of poor in climate-vulnerable coastal region
In densely populated and land scarce Bangladesh, poor households are disadvantaged with regards to land access, and many end up settling in low-lying regions close to the coast. The poverty map developed by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, World Food Program and the World Bank identifies a high incidence of poverty near the coast, where 11.8 million poor are located in 19 coastal districts in 2010.
If you want to see exemplified the contrast between the old World Bank and the new – where we came from and where we are going – you need look no further than the recent pronouncements of Prof. Lant Pritchett.
As a new member of the World Bank, and one who spent a long time before joining considering whether the values of this institution matched my own, I have followed Prof. Pritchett’s blog and attended his recent talk with interest. Apparently I am not the only one; the standing-room only presentation generated much lively discussion.