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Empowering women : evidence from a field experiment in Afghanistan

Andrew Beath's picture

In societies with widespread gender discrimination, development programs that encourage female participation in local governance can potentially redress gender imbalances in economic, political, and social outcomes. Using a randomized field experiment encompassing 500 Afghan villages, this study finds that a development program which incorporates mandated female participation increases female mobility and involvement in income generation, but does not change female roles in family decision-making or attitudes toward the general role of women in society.

Read the working paper:
Empowering Women: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan.”

Rethinking Sustainable Development

Nemat Shafik's picture

As the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals approaches, much thought is being devoted to what should succeed that framework for measuring global progress against hunger, disease, and poverty. Any successor framework must reflect global aspirations and arise from a rich consultative process. I believe that the new framework must embrace a broader understanding of development — one that is relevant for all countries, rich as well as poor.

The world today looks very different from a few years ago. Many countries have high levels of debt that could make it difficult to undertake spending initiatives for many years. Financial sector incentives and regulation may have to be rethought, existing growth models refined to deliver sufficient new employment opportunities, and the functioning of the international monetary system revisited.

Friday Roundup: Migration and Development, Global Economy and Innovation, and WDR App

LTD Editors's picture

About 3% of the world's people live outside the country of their birth. What does this mean for the migrants, and their countries – most of which are developing? The Guardian is inviting comments and questions on the topic of migration and its impact on development for its monthly podcast. To learn more, read “Talk point: what is the impact of migration on development?,” which also quotes the latest remittances figures from the World Bank.

According to the latest edition of Global Economic Prospects, (GEP), the global GDP  is estimated to grow by  2.4 percent in 2013, marked by weaker growth in  developed countries. With the global economy remaining fragile, a return to the “good times” seems farther now. The Economist argues that the economic stagnation of the rich countries is also hurting innovation, which has direct links to economic growth. Read the post from to know more. While on this topic, according to figures from the GEP, the value of exports from developing countries to other developing countries (“South-South” trade) now exceeds exports from poor countries to rich ones (“South-North” trade). Read the full article on The Economist here.

World Economy – a glass half empty or half full?

LTD Editors's picture

As Kaushik Basu said yesterday, downside risks to the global economy have diminished, market conditions look better, borrowing costs in advanced economies are down from worrying levels seen last June, and developing country growth is still in the 5 percent range. Yet this improvement is transmitting to the real side very minimally.

That was just one of the takeaways from Global Economic Prospects 2013, launched January 15. A new-look global outlook site allows users to access a wealth of analysis, forecasts and data for the world’s economies.

Human Development and Inequality of Opportunity: a rejoinder to Ferreira

Adam Wagstaff's picture

My colleague and (I hope still) friend, Chico Ferreira recently took the trouble to write a comment on my earlier LTD post on measuring inequality of opportunity in the context of human development. Early on in his comment, Chico also paid me the compliment of a being a “clever guy”, which was nice until I read on and found that while he agreed with some of what I said there was a lot he didn’t like. Now Chico is a really clever guy, and this is an area he knows a lot about. So I realize I’m treading on thin ice when I say I’m not completely convinced about his ripostes. But let me take the risk. Chico’s not just super-clever – he’s also very nice. So if the ice cracks and I fall in, I think there’s a good chance he’ll pull me out.

The MDGs and Beyond

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture

I feel privileged to be appointed as the World Bank Group President’s Special Envoy for the MDGs.  Nothing could be more important for achieving growth and shared prosperity than the MDGs, which are meant to provide people with the very basic capabilities they need to thrive – freedom from extreme poverty, education, health, clean water and sanitation.  Nations can only succeed when people thrive.

In my new position, with regard to the MDGs I will focus on four objectives. The first is to ensure that we are doing all we can to get as close to achieving the MDGs as possible by the 2015 deadline.  Progress on many targets is lagging, particularly in countries affected by weak governance, conflict, or large populations.  Progress is significantly lagging on some indicators, such as maternal and child health.   United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim have recently committed to a process of in-depth country-level diagnostics to identify priority actions to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs.  My hope is that these reviews will point not only to specific actions for governments and donors, but also serve as lessons for a broader range of countries.

Human Development and Inequality of Opportunity: a reply to Wagstaff

Francisco Ferreira's picture

In a recent post in Let’s Talk Development, my colleague Adam Wagstaff raised a number of interesting points about measuring inequality of opportunity in the context of human development indicators, such as access to health services or educational achievement variables.  His three main arguments, as I read them, were: 

  1. The Human Opportunity Index (HOI), first proposed in this LAC regional study, inevitably understates the true extent of unfair inequality in access to services among children. This is because the dissimilarity index – the measure of inequality of opportunity within the HOI – captures only some of the inequality in (say) access to water among children while, in Adam’s view, all of that inequality is unfair.
  2. The Index of Economic Opportunity (IEO), used in the second part of that regional study, is also likely to understate the share of inequality in, say, student achievement among 15 year-olds, for a similar reason: students are partitioned into groups with identical circumstances (family background, gender, place of birth, race or ethnicity, etc.), and inequality of opportunity is measured as the share of the overall variance in test scores that occurs between – rather than within - those groups. Adam feels this is too little, because some of the within-group inequality may also be caused by factors beyond the young person’s responsibility – such as feeling sick on the day of the test, for example.
  3. Finally (though not in this order), Adam questions whether the HOI really is of much use to policymakers, because “it makes it hard to dig down and see what’s going on”. He suggests, as an alternative, the between-component of the Gini coefficient or, I think more precisely, of a concentration index.

We need to move from arbitrary crisis response to systematic risk management: A perspective from WDR 2014

Norman Loayza's picture

An old proverb cautions that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” There is a lot of truth to this: interventions to prevent infectious disease and infant malnutrition have repeatedly been estimated to have very high returns, with benefit-cost ratios as high as 15 to 1.

The proverb also applies outside health. Time and again, failure to prevent and prepare has tragic and costly consequences—economic and financial crises, natural disasters, ruinous health outcomes, social unrest—that often could have been avoided at moderate cost. In 2010, an earthquake in Haiti cost more than 220,000 lives, while one of much larger magnitude in Chile produced about 500 fatalities. Chile’s enforcement of building codes appears to account for much of the difference.

Friday round up: Social media innovation, a handy graphic, inequality, and Kaushik in the news

LTD Editors's picture

From tracking World Bank projects to Twitter conversations with Rwanda's health minister, technology is driving innovation. Read about it in ‘Poverty Matters.’

The fastest growing and shrinking economies in 2013 are laid out in a handy graphic in The Economist online.

The study of distribution and inequality is ‘au courant’ among economists these days and Branko Milanovic of the World Bank’s Research Group contributes to the debate in a post on the Harvard Business Review’s blog platform.

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