Enhancing the effectiveness of aid has long been the international development community’s core agenda, given the limited resources available for the fight against poverty. With the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 and the implementation of the Paris Declaration (PD) on Aid Effectiveness in 2005, the international community has continued to improve the impact of aid on development. However, poverty still persists despite drastic changes in the development landscape.
Recently, while reviewing a document, I came across a statistic about age dependency* in the Republic of Mauritius. Mauritius already had an age dependency ratio of 10.9 in 2010 and this is projected to rise to 25 by 2030 and 37 by 2050, which is at par with many East Asian economies. Aging issues in Europe and parts of Asia have already become an economic and fiscal policy concern over the last few years and will remain so for the foreseeable future, could it also become a problem for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) sooner than realized?
With 43 percent of the population below the age of 15 and only three percent above the age of 65, Sub-Saharan Africa is a predominantly young continent. The problems emanating from an ageing population, such as rising age dependency ratios and increasing health care costs, are far over the horizon as far as the continent is concerned. However, this may not remain so for long and definitely not for all the countries. Let me explain why.
'Africa: Digitizing Money -- A Big Opportunity for Broad-Based Growth in Africa,' is the title of an op ed by Geoffrey Lamb of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ruth Goodwin-Groen of the Better Than Cash Alliance in AllAfrica.com. The piece cites a new World Bank study by Leora Klapper and others on how better access to basic financial services can help break the cycle of poverty and contribute to broad-based growth.
Nigeria has launched national electronic i.d. cards and the country's President, Goodluck Jonathan, says the e-ID scheme will have a pervasive and positive impact on citizens.
In updating the Findex database on financial inclusion over the 2014 calendar year, I had the pleasure of traveling with Gallup, Inc., to pilot our expanded questionnaire. We visited people’s homes and asked them to describe to us how they save, borrow, make payments, and manage their risk.
A man who lives in a small home in a Kolkata slum with his wife, children, and parents works as a driver, and is paid directly to a bank account that was opened for him by his employer. With great pride, he told us that every month he leaves a balance in his account, which he believes is a safe place to save for his children’s education.
A substantial literature exists that argues for the alleviation of barriers to imports in general. However, more recently the spotlight has been on the imports of intermediate inputs. The potential benefits from such imports include not just cheaper inputs based on the principle of comparative advantage of fixed costs in production, but also greater adoption of technologies embedded in foreign inputs and potential complementarities between foreign and domestic inputs. The suggested far-reaching rewards in alleviating import restrictions on intermediate inputs include greater private sector development and an eventual increase in economic growth. However, far less has been established regarding the relationship between such imports and their barriers. Can a negative relationship be ascertained, and what is the magnitude of such a relationship?
Subsidized health insurance is unlikely to lead to Universal Health Coverage (UHC); insurance coverage doesn’t always improve financial protection and when it does, doesn’t necessarily eliminate financial protection concerns; and tackling provider incentives may be just as – if not more – important in the UHC agenda as demand-side initiatives. These are the three big and somewhat counterintuitive conclusions of the Health Equity and Financial Protection in Asia (HEFPA) research project that I jointly coordinated with Eddy van Doorslaer and Owen O’Donnell.
As we all now know, UHC is all about ensuring that everyone – irrespective of their ability to pay – can access the health services they need without suffering undue financial hardship in the process. The HEFPA project set out to explore the effectiveness of a number of UHC strategies in a region of the world that has seen a lot of UHC initiatives: East Asia. The project pooled the skills of researchers from six Asian countries (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam), several European universities and the World Bank.
Ebola's deadly spread is sobering, but luckily there are seasoned international health experts, as well as brave doctors and nurses mobilized to battle it. Senior UN System Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease, David Nabarro, was interviewed by the UN News Centre about efforts to contain unprecedented outbreak in West Africa and had some valuable insights, not least of all that survivors of Ebola are the best champions in tackling the virus.
An inspiring personal story is that of Nahid Bhadelia, epidemiologist at the Boston Medical Center who was featured in the Boston Globe just ahead of a mission to Liberia.
- weekly roundup
While homicide rates in most parts of the world fell by as much as 50 percent in the 2000s, Latin America was the only region where lethal violence actually increased during that period. This finding is puzzling as most Latin American countries experienced sustained economic growth in the 2000s as well as witnessed overall improvements in terms of poverty, inequality and other social outcomes. Is it possible that better economic conditions lead to reduced crime is a mistaken perception?
Last week's Free Exchange blog, run by The Economist, has a post titled 'Aid to the Rescue'. The piece cites a recent paper by Sebastian Galiani, Stephen Knack, Colin Xu and Ben Zou, which attempts to gauge the effects of aid on growth. Pondering whether it pays for donors to contribute 0.7% of national income toward development assistance, the piece goes on to explain the complexities of establishing causality when analyzing the pay offs from aid.
The quest for development effectiveness has been a learning process, both conceptually and empirically. One of the important outcomes of the process has been the emphasis on the notion that sustainable economic growth must be a precondition for poverty reduction. Structural fiscal policies which aim to shape the supply side of the economy to generate growth and structural transformation are critical. They complement private investment through the provision of public goods such as public infrastructure or the education of the workforce. But the question still remains: will public investment in infrastructure be sufficient for unleashing faster economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa?