Here is a one-page instruction manual for managing an effective public service. It is based on a recent World Bank Policy Research Working paper by Imran Rasul, Martin Williams and myself.
This is the first in an occasional series of blogs on social boundaries and identity. I’m interested in the topic for obvious reasons. Social boundaries and identities, at least in some forms (and that is the rub!) have been argued to affect generalized trust and/or prejudice, governance and cooperation, and development outcomes. They may also be relevant to certain recent political developments. Here at the World Bank, the Mind, Behavior, and Development Unit (eMBeD) is involved in projects that aim to support social cohesion.
To what extent do politicians really keep bureaucrats focused on delivering public services? Politicians may distort the technical processes of the executive for political gain.
Labels matter. Girls who are reminded of stereotypes about how girls perform in math do worse on math exams (in some circumstances). Publicly revealing the caste of students in India led to worse performance of students from castes that were traditionally lower in the caste hierarchy. In the U.S., posting a banner with vegetables in the form of cartoon characters increased schoolchildren’s consumption of vegetables by 90 percent. These are all forms of labeling. New research suggests that labeling matters in school scholarships – merit-based versus needs-based – as well.
African widows often face considerable disadvantage relative to married women in their first union. How much so depends on the society they live in, with pronounced hardship in some contexts, yet benefits to widows in others. In the absence of effective policies, their situation is likely to depend heavily on the social-cultural norms applying to women following widowhood. In a recent paper, Annamaria Milazzo and I investigate this issue by comparing the well-being (as measured by BMI and rates of underweight) of young (15-49) Nigerian widows and non-widows across Christian and Muslim groups using the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) of 2008 and 2013.
This blog post is based on de Soyres, Frohm, Gunnella and Pavlova (2018), “Bought, Sold and Bought Again: Complex value chains and export elasticities”, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Series No. 8535.
Economics textbooks outline a clear-cut relationship between movements in a country’s exchange rate and its export volumes. When the currency depreciates, export volumes are expected to increase by some amount. By how much exports increase is called the exchange rate elasticity of exports. Yet, some recent episodes of significant exchange rate movements, such as those in Japan (2012–2014) and the United Kingdom (2007–2009), were not associated with very large movements in trade volumes.1 This perceived unresponsiveness of exports to exchange rate fluctuations has raised the question among some commentators as to whether the exchange rate elasticity of export volumes have changed or even become zero.
Your neighbor drives for a ride-sharing company. Your nephew just joined his third start-up. Your daughter lands a job as a freelance journalist. Your street vendor who sells flowers down the street has been absent due to an illness.
The changing nature of work is upending traditional employment. But as the gig economy, part-time jobs, contracts and other diverse and fluid forms of employment grow, what happens to the protections the traditional job market offered to people and workers?
It’s not so long since the days when speaking of ‘universal health coverage’ used to provoke shockwaves. Happily, the principle that “… everyone having access to the health care they need without suffering financial hardship” is now widely recognized and documented. And although few countries have achieved this goal in practice, it is clearly within reach, including in low-income countries like Rwanda.