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The Academic Sting Operation

Adam Wagstaff's picture

Nobody likes to be stung. Doctors regard it as unethical. Publishers say it betrays the trust of their profession. But the fact is, as three recent studies have demonstrated, sting operations can be extremely effective at exposing questionable professional practices, and answering questions that other methods can't credibly answer.

Sting #1: Are open-access journals any good? 

Much of the world has gotten fed up with the old academic publishing business. Companies like the Anglo-Dutch giant Elsevier and the German giant Springer earn high profit margins from their academic journals (Elsevier earns 36% profit, according to The Economist), through a mix of ‘free’ inputs from academics (the article itself and the peer-review process) and high (and rapidly rising) subscription charges that impede access by academics working in universities whose libraries can’t afford the subscriptions. Of course, many of these universities paid for the authors’ time in the first place, and/or that of the peer-reviewers; tax-payers also contributed, by direct subsidizing universities and/or by the research grants that supported the research assistants, labs, etc. Unsurprisingly, libraries, universities, academics and tax-payers aren’t happy.

Friday Roundup: Inequality demystified, CCTs, GiveDirectly, post offices to expand financial inclusion, and malaria in Africa

LTD Editors's picture

Globalization has benefited an emerging “global middle class,” mainly people in places such as China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil, along with the world’s top 1 percent, said Branko Milanovic at a recent Policy Research Talk. But people at the very bottom of the income ladder, as well as the lower-middle class of rich countries, lost out.

In an article published by The Economist today, World Bank researcher Berk Ozler contends that conditional cash transfers work better when the problems individuals face go beyond mere shortage of cash.  If families do not appreciate the real value of education, for instance, or if part of the benefit of doing something comes when everyone does it (vaccination is a case in point), people left to themselves may not spend enough on education or health. CCTs help to overcome that.

Economic Analysis and Knowledge Agenda: Keeping the World Bank Group at the forefront?

Sudharshan Canagarajah's picture

Over the past sixty years, the World Bank has been at the forefront of economic analysis through the projects and programs it has designed and financed in the developing world. The robust economic analysis that was carried out for many early infrastructure and later social sector projects helped client countries to learn the key cost and benefit parameters that underlay these projects. When I was at university, cost benefit analysis (CBA) publications of World Bank were used to illustrate how to carry out economic analysis of projects, including what factors to consider, the limitations of standard methods, the nuances which need to be considered, and the sensitivity analysis that needed to be carried out to ensure that the analysis is technically robust.

Piloting the 2014 Findex

Leora Klapper's picture

As President Kim pointed out earlier this month at the plenary of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, 2.5 billion adults worldwide aren’t using the formal financial system. He used the statistic to illustrate the Bank’s new commitment to harnessing knowledge and becoming a bolder institution, a pledge he quickly followed through on by launching a new initiative to provide universal financial access to all working-age adults by 2020.

We’re thrilled to see high-level citations of Global Findex data, particularly in the context of spurring greater action to increase financial access for the world’s poor. We certainly believe that the 2011 Findex data have been a valuable tool for benchmarking, diagnostics, and cross-sectional analyses related to financial inclusion. But the best is yet to come.

Inclusive Growth Revisited: Measurement and Evolution

Saurabh Mishra's picture

Inclusive growth refers to both the pace and distribution of economic growth. For growth to be sustainable and effective in reducing poverty, it needs to be inclusive (Berg and Ostry 2011a, Kraay 2004). Traditionally, poverty (or inequality) and economic growth analyses have been conducted separately. Recent work indicates that there may not be a trade-off between equity and efficiency, as suggested by Okun (1975), and “that it would be a big mistake to separate analyses of growth and income distribution” (Berg and Ostry 2011b). Ianchovichina and Gable (2012) describe inclusive growth as raising the pace of growth and enlarging the size of the economy by providing a level playing field for investment and increasing productive employment opportunities.

Phailin: Lessons Learned and More

Swati Mishra's picture

“How can risk be measured and managed better globally? “

 ADRA India/European Commission, Creative Commons.This was the question posed to the panelists of the “Risk and Opportunity” event on Oct 9, 2013. It was ironic that a World Development Report (WDR) on risk, which I supported through online publicity, was launching at the same time that a serious storm was threatening Odisha, my home state in India.  As the Annual Meetings of top ministers, policy experts and civil society organizations progressed, so did cyclone Phailin, and the importance of the theme of the WDR 2014 couldn’t have been more pronounced.

Friday Roundup: Globalization, schooling gaps, the five hour energy guy, inequality, Phailin's wake and China in world trade

LTD Editors's picture

Simon J Evenett and Douglas Irwin debate on the future and prospects of globalization in the latest edition of the Economist Debates.

In 'The Gap Between Schooling and Education' on the NYT Economix blog, Annie Lowrey interviews CGD's Lant Pritchett about his new book, "The Gap Between Schooling and Education."

The WSJ's 'At Work' blog carries an interview by Rachel Feintzeig with Manoj Bhargava, a CEO who dropped out of Princeton and lived like a monk in India for 12 years before making it big.

Joe Stiglitz has a piece titled 'Inequality is a Choice' on the NYT's opinionator blog.

An EU-US trade pact: Good or bad for developing countries?

Aaditya Mattoo's picture

For a world weary of waiting for the WTO’s Doha trade round to conclude, even a bilateral trade initiative may seem like a boon, especially when “bilateral” covers half of the world’s economy. But there is a serious downside:  the deal could hurt developing-country exporters unless the EU and US make a special effort to protect their interests. 

The feature of the proposed pact that elicits the most excitement – its focus on regulatory barriers like mandatory product standards – should actually incite the greatest concern. Given low tariffs in the EU and the US – less than 5%, on average – further preferential reductions will not seriously handicap outsiders. But, when it comes to standards – such as those governing safety, health, and the environment – the market-access requirements are brutal and binary: either you meet the established standard or you do not sell.

Champions of risk management

Rasmus Heltberg's picture

The declaration, in 1979, of the worldwide eradication of smallpox marked a highly unusual achievement. The only human disease ever to be eradicated, the eradication of smallpox is also unusual in being an instance of successful risk management that many people have actually heard about. When it comes to risk management, there is often more attention to the failures than to the successes. While crises, crimes, disasters, and social unrest dominate the front pages, and the attention of our leaders, the champions of risk management whose foresight averts damage and destruction rarely get the credit they deserve.

That is a shame because many development problems have a basis in deficient risk management. Take poverty. While every year many families escape from poverty, others fall on hard times. Illness, for example, is a frequent cause of poverty in developing countries where most people have no health insurance and friends and family provide the only safety net. In fact, the toxic mix of high risk and inadequate risk management are implicated in a host of development problems, ranging from malnutrition, infant mortality, civil strife, crime, violence, to sclerotic private sector investment and job creation. To overcome these problems and prosper, the developing world needs champions of risk management.

Stiglitz on Milanovic and inequality

LTD Editors's picture

In today's NYT opinionator blog, Joe Stiglitz writes about inequality and the research of Branko Milanovic, World Bank lead economist and inequality expert. In his post, Stiglitz draws from Milanovic's research on long range inequality trends to ponder who the winners and losers of globalization have been and how the most recent worldwide financial crisis affected both the level of global inequality and the relative importance of differences in mean country income vs. nationally based inequalities. His post explores whether we envisage a situation where income inequality continues, by and large, to increase within nations, but, spurred by the high growth of China and India, decreases globally. Stiglitz also ponders the hollowing-out of traditional middle classes in rich countries.

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