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PPPs and Global Poverty: July 9 Seminar at 12:30 PM, Join Online!

LTD Editors's picture

The Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rates released in April 2014, based on the 2011 round of the International Comparison Program (ICP), entail some seemingly dramatic revisions to price levels and real incomes across the world. Looking back over the last three ICP rounds, back to 1993, it feels like we have been on an “ICP roller coaster” with falls in the estimated real incomes of many developing countries up to 2005 and then rises in 2011. The 2011 revisions have been taken to suggest substantially less poverty and inequality in the world than the 2005 round had implied. If we believe these new PPPs then the economic map of the world is quite different to what we thought. But can they be believed? A public debate has been generated by the new PPPs.

On July 9, 2014 Martin Ravallion (Department of Economics, Georgetown University) will shed more light on this ongoing debate at the Poverty and Applied Macro seminar hosted by the World Bank's research department.

Infrastructure planning today determines what carbon taxes can accomplish tomorrow

Stéphane Hallegatte's picture

Traffic congestion, air pollution, accidents – the negative externalities from car transport are not just a popular field of economic research, but also a daily arduous reality for millions of commuters around the world. However, there is more: carbon emissions and climate change may be a less visible externality from road transport, but the economic and social costs will be substantial and borne at a global scale.

When dealing with such externalities, pricing instruments (such as carbon or fuel taxes) are the policy response favored by economists: if car users paid the full cost of driving, they would adjust their driving practices and thus reduce the negative environmental and social impacts.

Inequality is bad for growth of the poor (but not for that of the rich)

Roy Van der Weide's picture

In a new World Bank policy research working paper, Branko Milanovic and I assess the impact of overall inequality, as well as inequality among the poor and among the rich, on the growth rates along various percentiles of the income distribution. The analysis uses micro-census data from U.S. states covering the period from 1960 to 2010. The paper finds evidence that high levels of inequality reduce the income growth of the poor and, if anything, help the growth of the rich.

Comparative Advantage, International Trade, and Fertility

Quy-Toan Do's picture

A new World Bank policy research working paper by Andrei Levchenko, Claudio Raddatz, and me analyzes theoretically and empirically the impact of comparative advantage in international trade on fertility. It builds a model in which industries differ in the extent to which they use female relative to male labor and countries are characterized by Ricardian comparative advantage in either female labor or male labor intensive goods. The main prediction of the model is that countries with comparative advantage in female labor intensive goods are characterized by lower fertility. This is because female wages and therefore the opportunity cost of children are higher in those countries.

How should donors respond to resource windfalls in poor countries?

Alan Gelb's picture

Natural resources are being discovered in more countries, both rich and poor. Many of the new and aspiring resource exporters are low-income countries that are still receiving substantial levels of foreign aid. Resource discoveries open up enormous opportunities, but also expose producing countries to huge trade and fiscal shocks from volatile commodity markets if their exports are highly concentrated. A large literature on the "resource curse" shows that these are damaging unless countries manage to cushion the effects through countercyclical policy. It also shows that the countries least likely to do so successfully are those with weaker institutions, and these are most likely to remain as clients of the aid system. A new World Bank policy research working paper by Anton Dobronogov, Fernando Brant Saldanha, and  me considers the question of how donors should respond to their clients' potential windfalls. It discusses several ways in which the focus and nature of foreign aid programs will need to change, including the level of financial assistance.

Long-Term Finance in EMEs: Navigating between Risks and Policy Choices

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Emerging market economies (EMEs) are making important strides in developing long-term finance capital market vehicles to support investment in strategic areas such as infrastructure. However, since last year, EMEs have suffered from big shifts in terms of market sentiment. While EMEs’ prospects were clearly overhyped in the wake of the crisis, the bleak forecasts that dominated headlines in the second half of last year were similarly exaggerated. There are still a number of factors indicating that EMEs’ role in the global economy will continue to grow—just not as rapidly or dramatically as previously thought.

Trade policy through 2013: Signs of improvement but new policy concerns

Chad P Bown's picture

Temporary trade barriers have become more than an important bellwether for contemporary protectionism; with persistent tariff levels, they are now a primary obstacle to free trade. The World Bank’s newly updated Temporary Trade Barriers Database suggests that the Great Recession-era increases in import protection may be levelling off. Now policymakers begin to face the daunting task of dismantling all of those temporary barriers they imposed during the early phase of the crisis.

Gamification of Thrones

Sana Rafiq's picture

If you put a target in the toilet, men will miss less. That’s the intuition behind the proliferation of strategically placed fake flies in public urinals. While anyone who has had to clean up after a careless aimer might say, “It’s about time,” anyone who has studied behavioral economics might say, “It’s about games.”

Games are fun. We play them for hours on end, of our own free will, without pay, in return for a feeling of accomplishment or virtual badges or points or just the promise of seeing all the cards bounce across the screen at the end of Windows Solitaire.

Development, on the other hand, is serious. People’s health, happiness, and well-being are at stake. Super Mario Brothers? Game. Candy Crush Saga? Game. Poverty, hunger, disease: Not games.

Trade vs. Megacities

Cem Karayalcin's picture

In 2000, Port-au-Prince and San Juan accounted for 62 percent of the urban population respectively of Haiti and Puerto Rico. Though they tied for number one in the world rankings as those urban agglomerations that had the highest percentage of their countries urban populations, they were by no means exceptions. Luanda had 57 percent of the urban population of Angola, while Brazzaville had 54 percent of that of Congo. The list goes on to include many developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
 
These remarkably high concentrations of urban populations in one dominant city were a long time in the making. Around 1930, when developing market economies had an average level of urbanization of 13 percent, 16 percent of their urban population lived in fourteen large cities (cities that had populations of more than half a million). Such high urban concentrations in the developed world had been attained in 1880, when its average level of urbanization stood much higher at 23 percent. The number of the large cities in the developing world as well as their share of the total urban population increased dramatically between 1930 and 1980, by which date they had 43 percent of the urban population, a number which paralleled that of the developed countries. However, the level of urbanization in the latter stood at 65 percent whereas developing market economies had an urbanization level closer to 30 percent.

Friday Roundup: WB to update income classifications July 1, Ravallion on the LIS, Oxfam releases poverty index, and solar innovation

LTD Editors's picture

On July 1, the World Bank's Data Group will update its analytical income classification of all the world's economies and, in a related move, they are reviewing their methodology and considering changes going forward. Read the Open Data blog on 'LICs, LMICs, UMICs, and HICs: classifying economies for analytical purposes.' 

Martin Ravallion has a new working paper on the Luxembourg Income Study, or LIS. He ponders whether the LIS is the best model for the truly global micro database that poverty experts need to accurately track and analyze poverty and inequality. 

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