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Aspirations and poverty

Markus Goldstein's picture
This week is the World Bank’s annual conference on development economics.    One of the papers being presented is by my colleague Kate Orkin (together with co-authors Tanguy Bernard, Stefan Dercon and Alemayehu Taffesse) and takes a look at a video intervention and its impact on aspirations among poor folks in Ethiopia.    In particular, what Kate and her co-authors are asking is:   can we shift aspirations and behavior by showing people more of what is possible?   

Thinking about how to target anti-poverty programs: ordeals or proxy means tests?

Markus Goldstein's picture
When we want to target a poor population for an anti-poverty program, we first need to figure out who is actually poor.    This isn’t straightforward – there are a range of potential targeting criteria and options.    In countries where poverty is less dense and data is decent, two of the more common options are self-targeting and proxy means tests.    A nice recent paper by Vivi Alatas, Abjijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Benjamin Olken, Ririn Purnamasari, and Matthew Wai-Poi sheds some light on the r

What happens when large ruminants (and some training) meet poverty traps

Markus Goldstein's picture
Can we break poverty traps?   An interesting new paper by Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess, Narayan Das, Selim Gulesci, Imran Rasul, and Munshi Sulaiman adds to this emergent literature with a definitive “yes we can.”     Bandiera, et. al. evaluate a program run by the NGO BRAC which provides a significant infusion of capital, coupled with training, for Bangladeshi women.  

"HAVEs" and "HAVE-nots": A Simple Global Poverty Target

Aart Kraay's picture

There has been much discussion around the World Bank on the choice of a "global poverty target" that can be used to measure global progress against poverty. To be successful, such a target needs to be (a) simple to understand, and (b) relevant to all World Bank client countries.

Health effects of non-health programs

Berk Ozler's picture

The previous post in this blog discussed the positive dynamic effects of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs in Mexico and Nicaragua – in particular on asset accumulation and the incidence of entrepreneurship by the rural poor.

Making small gains loom large: A review of Rosenzweig’s review of Poor Economics

Berk Ozler's picture

Suppose that you’re told that a program reduced the rate of dropping out of school among 15 year-olds by 17% and this reduction was statistically significant. You are also told that the same figure among 12 year-olds is 38%. You would likely take note. Suppose now you’re told that these are the effects of a conditional cash transfer program, where the dropout rate among the control group is 37.7% and 16.8%, respectively for ages 15 and 12, thus the absolute effect sizes are 6.4 percentage points in each case.

Rising Inequality in the United States: Lessons from developing countries

Francisco Ferreira's picture

As the United States prepares for its first presidential election after the Great Recession, inequality has emerged as a central political issue. This is not unremarkable: Americans have historically seemed much less troubled by income differences than, say, Europeans. You may remember a 2004 article by Alberto Alesina, Rafael di Tella and Robert MacCulloch in the Journal of Public Economics, which reported that happiness in the US was much less sensitive to inequality than in Europe.

The Regressive Demands of Demand-Driven Development

Berk Ozler's picture

There is a frustratingly weak and positive finding in the literature that examines the targeting performance of social funds projects, which, over time, took on many of the characteristics of community-driven development programs and became an important part of the social protection strategy in many countries by funding projects that provide public (and sometimes private) goods requested by communities: they are only moderately pro-poor.