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.
World Bank researchers have been trying to assess the extent of extreme poverty across the world since 1979 and more systematically since the World Development Report 1990, which introduced the dollar-a-day international poverty line. From the beginning, the idea was to measure income poverty with respect to a demanding line which, first, reflects the standards of absolute poverty in the world’s poorest countries and, second, corresponded to the same real level of well-being in all countries. The first requirement led researchers to anchor the international poverty line on the national poverty lines of very poor developing countries. And the second requirement led them to use purchasing power parity exchange rates (PPPs) – rather than nominal ones - to convert the line into the US dollar and, more importantly, into the currencies of each developing country.
During the second-half of the last century countries were placed in one of two mutually exclusive camps: north or south, east or west, advanced or emerging, developed or developing. Simple though this categorization of countries had been, it reflected prevailing realities. In 1970, for instance, the global distribution of per capita income showed a clear divide between richer and poorer countries (See Figures 1 and 2). These between-country differences were equally applicable to other development conditions, notably health and education. However, as Hans Rosling emphasized during his last presentation at the World Bank, for the 21st century this binary distinction between countries is outdated. Boundaries between developed and developing regions are less clear today because of the extraordinary social and economic progress achieved in the large majority countries. Global economic activity is less geographically concentrated and increasingly dispersed across production networks that connect metropolitan areas around the world.
Women’s participation in Turkey’s labor force is comparatively low. Why is that, especially when Turkey has acted to increase women’s skills and education?
One reason is that more needs to be done to help women balance work and family life, particularly when it comes to care responsibilities. As of 2014, only 1-in-3 working age women were active in the labor market (33.6%)—nearly half the OECD average of 64%. According to the recent Demographic and Health Survey in Turkey, 1/3 of women report not working due to childcare responsibilities. Pre-primary school enrollment in Turkey is 29%--far less than OECD’s 81%, as well as countries with similar levels of GDP per capita, such as Chile, Mexico, Bulgaria, and Romania. Early childhood development and education is not only important to a child’s development, it also helps mothers combine family and work responsibilities and continue to participate in the labor force.
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.”
The U.S. Federal Reserve has been letting the world know for a while that it will soon embark in an interest rate tightening cycle, after years of leaving policy rates near zero to stimulate growth after a devastating financial crisis and recession.
But despite the careful buildup, there is a possibility that the Fed tightening cycle could at some point rattle financial markets, with potentially difficult consequences for the most vulnerable emerging and frontier markets, a Policy Research Note from the World Bank’s Development Prospects Group concludes.