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Ngram, Poverty, Food Prices, and Open Data

Swati Mishra's picture

What can Google Ngram tell us, besides being an intuitive tool? Poverty awareness. “Martin Ravallion of the World Bank traces poverty awareness over the last three centuries and finds we may be at a historical peak”, says Freakonomics in its post ‘Is poverty Awareness at its peak?’. There is more on this interesting finding from Martin Ravallion on VoxEu.

As rising food prices continue to create headlines, Economists and Scientists debate over who the main culprit is on New York Times’ ‘Room for Debate’. For now there is no clear winner, but the consensus is to tackle the situation, as food prices have reached dangerous levels. According to World Bank President Robert Zoellick, the rising food prices ”could hamper political transitions taking place in Egypt, Tunisia, the wider Middle East and Central Asia”. The recently released World Bank ‘Food Price Watch’ estimates that 44 million people have been pushed back to extreme poverty due to the spike in food prices. And as the G20 finance ministers and central bankers prepare to meet in Paris this weekend, the international community calls for their greater role in tackling food price inflation.

More and easily accessible data means, transparency, development, and dream job of the decade. Neil Fantom, of the World Bank's Development Data Group, describes this and the Bank's 'Open Data Initiative' in an interesting post on Devex.

Egyptians once again packed into Cairo’s Tahrir square today, but this time to participate in the ‘Victory march’. Among this jubilation there are some speculations on the cause(s) of the revolution. Was it corruption, foreign policy, technology or demographics? In an insightful post on the Poverty Matters blog, Duncan Green provides a good summary of all the possible factors.

And finally, are you ready for MDGs 2.0? Global Dashboard has an interesting summary of what might replace the MDGs post 2015. 

Some other interesting links:



Submitted by Kuldip Gyaneswar on
Dear Swati, Thanx for the wonderful blog post! I am sure world bank is opening itself from the secretive regime. The open data is definitely a welcome initiative and is a model for the development sector to share data and information. In today's world Information is power and if at all a significant populous is below poverty line, it is just because of hindrances in accessing information. The challenge before institutions like World Bank would be to develop multi layered mechanisms for the flow of information from the top tier to the grassroots. For e.g. even though prices of food commodity have gone up, poor farmers are still committing in large numbers in different corners of country like India. The challenge is therefore in ensuring that a farmer has access to real time market data. It is a mammoth task and challenge by itself!! Regards Kuldip