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Macroeconomists for the Poor

Can a picture from space help to measure poverty in a Guatemalan village?

Andrea Coppola's picture

Also available in: Español

John Grunsfeld, former NASA Chief Scientist and veteran of five Space Shuttle flights, had several chances to look down at Earth, and noticed how poverty can be recognized from far away. Unlike richer countries, typically lined in green, poorer countries with less access to water are a shocking brown color. During the night, wealthier countries light up the sky whereas nations with less widespread electricity look dim.
 
Dr. Grunsfeld’s observation might have important implications. Pictures from satellites could become a tool to help identifying where poverty is, by zooming in to the tiniest villages and allowing a constant monitoring that cannot be achieved with traditional surveys.

The yawning divide between big city and countryside Tanzania

Nadia Belhaj Hassine's picture

Achieving shared prosperity, one of the World Bank’s twin-goals, isn’t just a middle-income country’s preoccupation. It has a special resonance in Tanzania, a US$1,000 per capita economy in East Africa.

Tanzania has seen remarkable economic growth and strong resilience to external shocks over the last decade. GDP grew at an annualized rate of approximately 7 percent.  Yet, this achievement was overshadowed by the slow response of poverty to the growing economy. The poverty rate has remained stagnant at around 34 percent until 2007 and started a slow decline of  about one percentage point per year, attaining 28.2 percent in 2012. To date, around 12 million Tanzanians continue to live in poverty, unable to meet their basic consumption needs, and more than 70 percent of the population still lives on less than US$2 per day. Promoting the participation of the poor in the growth process and improving their living standards remains a daunting challenge.

Agenda for lifting growth: macro, structural, or macro-structural?

Zia Qureshi's picture
Global growth has repeatedly disappointed in the past few years. Successive forecasts of an acceleration of global growth have failed to materialize, with outcomes consistently falling short of projections. In what has become a familiar pattern of late, forecasts for global growth were lowered again in the latest editions of the World Economic Outlook, the OECD Economic Outlook, and the Global Economic Prospects recently released by the IMF, the OECD, and the World Bank, respectively.

​When it comes to fiscal policy, it’s better to save for a rainy day than to let it pour

Otaviano Canuto's picture
While pro-cyclical fiscal policies – ie. expansionary fiscal policies in booms and contractionary fiscal stances in downturns - remain a common feature among developing countries, some countries have recently moved toward a less pro-cyclical fiscal stance, as a result of stronger institutions.

Stock-markets lead to more FDI...or is it vice-versa?

Fulbert Tchana Tchana's picture
Most studies on the relationship between foreign direct investments (FDI) and financial market development focus on financial market development as a link between FDI and economic growth. However at present our disciple has no deep understanding of direct causality between FDI and financial market development, especially in emerging markets, where financial markets are in the development stage.
 

Are we short-changing people in developing countries?

Vinaya Swaroop's picture
If you listen to Lant Pritchett, a Professor of International Development at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, he will tell you that lately there has been a trend of “defining development down” among the development agencies.  In his view, by choosing a low bar for development goals – such as setting a poverty threshold of “dollar a day”, or achieving universal primary education as laid out in the Millennium Development Goals – aspirations of billions of people living in developing countries, who are quite poor by the living standards of OECD countries, are being short-changed

The three transitions of the Western Balkans

Ivailo Izvorski's picture
The small, open economies of the Western Balkans* are at various stages of progress on three transitions: the transition to market economy, the transition to EU membership, and the transition to high-income status. The first transition started in the 1990s and its ultimate completion will help advance the second. Progress on the second transition, the EU integration, will unleash the EU convergence machine that has seen all but two countries in Europe achieve and sustain high income status.

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