Syndicate content

Does Your Country Export What It Should?

Siddhesh Kaushik's picture

Customs reforms have made trade easier in Georgia. Photo - Irakli Tabagari / World Bank.One of the core principles of trade economics is that of “comparative advantage.” First described by David Ricardo, the theory says that countries are best off if they specialize in products that they can make relatively more efficiently – with lower opportunity cost – than other countries. If this happens, the theory goes, global welfare will increase. This concept is more difficult than it sounds, however – as Paul Krugman has pointed out quite eloquently – and benefits from illustration.

Basketball genius Michael Jordan stars in one example sometimes used in textbooks and classrooms: If Jordan mows his lawn faster than anyone else in the neighborhood, he has anabsolute advantage in lawn mowing. But that doesn’t mean that he should mow his neighbor John Smith’s lawn, because that would come at an opportunity cost: in the same two hours it would take Jordan to cut the grass, he could earn much more by playing basketball or making a commercial.

While it is difficult to measure comparative advantage in world trade, one indicator is something called “Revealed Comparative Advantage” (RCA). This is a measure of how a country’s exports compare to those of a bigger group, such as a region or the rest of the world. For example, if a country’s RCA in wheat is high (typically greater than one), that means wheat makes up a higher share of that country’s total exports than it does of the world’s exports. This suggests that that country is a more efficient wheat-producer than the average country.

But countries don’t always produce the products in which they have a revealed comparative advantage. Sometimes Michael Jordan mows the lawn. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples from this new data visualization tool.

Open data on the ground: Nigeria’s Follow the Money initiative

Sandra Moscoso's picture

Follow the Money (http://followthemoneyng.org/) is a community action organization that leverages open budget and aid spending data from the Nigerian government and its aid partners.  The organization also advocates for specific issues that impact communities, most recently, in the Zamfara State. 
 
Follow the Money activists collect, publish, and visualize data, then connect findings to national and global social media networks in order to bring government attention to crises on the ground that require resources or immediate action. Once visualized, the data become a resource for citizens in affected communities to track government expenditures against actual outcomes.  
 
The team has tackled issues like lead poisoning, flood relief, and most recently, education. They also host partners with other organizations, like Indigo Trust U.K. to offer regular data literacy events for other non-profits, journalists, government officials, legal professionals, and open data activists.
 

What exactly is the US Government’s Digital Services Playbook?

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.23.05 AM.png

US Digital Services Playbook on Github

The White House launched a new “US Digital Service” yesterday - a small team of of word-class technology experts tasked with working with other government agencies to improve the design and delivery of digital services. This is a similar idea to the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) which has succeeded in bringing into government the technology approaches once found only in the more dynamic elements of the private sector.  What are these approaches?

The Digital Services Playbook

The playbook outlines 13 specific strategies that draw on successful best practice from the private sector that, if followed together, “help government build effective digital services.” The plays are:

  1. Understand what people need
  2. Address the whole experience, from start to finish
  3. Make it simple and intuitive
  4. Build the service using agile and iterative practices
  5. Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery
  6. Assign one leader and hold that person accountable
  7. Bring in experienced teams
  8. Choose a modern technology stack
  9. Deploy in a flexible hosting environment
  10. Automate testing and deployments
  11. Manage security and privacy through reusable processes
  12. Use data to drive decisions
  13. Default to open

As with the GDS’ 10 Design Principles, I like the clarity with which these are explained,  and that the entire playbook is published on Github, and open for public comment and collaboration. I’d recommend taking a few minutes to read it and think about how many of the approaches your government or institution uses.

Where in the world are young people out of work?

Leila Rafei's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية | Español

As International Youth Day approaches next week, I've found myself wondering what are the primary issues affecting young people throughout the world. One topic that seems to be a common thread across regions and income groups is youth unemployment, which remains more than double the rate of unemployment for the general population.

It's well known that youth populations are on the rise in the developing world, particularly. What does this mean for the millions of young people who enter the workforce every year?

Youth unemployment is defined as individuals aged 15-24 who are without work, but are currently available for work and have sought it in the recent past. Below, I analyze data from World Development Indicators. These data come originally from the International Labour Organization (ILO), which produces its own estimates that are harmonized to account for inconsistences in the data source, definition, and methodologies. ILO estimates may differ from official unemployment statistics produced by national statistical offices.  

Asia maintains lowest levels of youth unemployment
Regional levels of youth unemployment have barely changed in the past two decades. South Asia and East Asia and Pacific have maintained the lowest rates, hovering at about 10% for the last 20 years. Meanwhile, the Middle East and North Africa region has had the highest rate of youth unemployment since the 1990s, and clocked in a figure of about 27% in 2012. The biggest increase in the youth unemployment rate has been in the Europe and Central Asia region, where after years of steady decline rates have risen to over 20% since the financial crisis in 2008.

Chart 1

Three things I learned at the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival

Tariq Khokhar's picture
 

okf-logo-top.png

 

I was lucky to be in Berlin with some colleagues earlier this month for the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival and associated fringe events.

There’s really too much to distill into a short post - from Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, making the case for “Embracing the open opportunity” to Patrick Alley’s breathtaking accounts of how Global Witness uses information to expose crime and corruption in countries around the world.

A few things really stuck with me though from the dozens of great sessions throughout the week, here they are:

Can open data boost economic growth and prosperity?

Amparo Ballivián's picture

What interventions are needed by governments - and by the World Bank - to stimulate and support the realization of the economic benefits of Open Data for everyone?  How do we prioritize what kind of data is needed?  These were some of the simmering questions that were posed at last Wednesday's World Bank Live event.  A collaborative effort among World Bank global practices and units – Transport and Information & Communications Technologies (ICT), the Development Data Group (DECDG), Open FinancesExternal and Corporate Relations, and others – this global policy dialogue event served as an opportunity to listen in on leading experts explaining and debating the latest evidence of the economic benefits of Open Data and how it can be applied to advance socioeconomic growth in the developing world.

From the short videoconference presentations we heard from five country officials, we learned that Open Data is already making an impact.

Examples of Open Data's use and impact in India, Russia, Macedonia, Ghana, and Mexico
We first heard from Rajendra Kumar, Joint Secretary (eGov) at the Department of Electronics and Information Technology of India.  "Ever since India launched its Open Government Data Platform, we've witnessed more government participation and interest – across ministries and state governments," stated Kumar.  He also pointed to an often underappreciated result of open data programs: increased data sharing among government agencies.

"Open Data is a major source for growth in Russia, especially for Internet and IT companies," commented Ekaterina Shapochka, Advisor to the Russian Minister of Open Government.  She also added that Open Data could help increase the quality of government services to its citizens.

Advancing Open Financial Data in online and offline communities across Kenya and Indonesia

Samuel Lee's picture

62.3% of people in Indonesia and 63.9% in Kenya who want public financial information do not know how to access it.

Understanding the demand for open data seems like more of an art than a science. In many cases, given the "free" nature of open data, we are often limited to analyzing unique visitors, downloads, and consumption patterns at data engagement events. To publishers of open data seeking to respond to stakeholder demand, this incomplete measurement of data use and consumption can feel limiting and frustrating.

Open data in large part is possible due to the dramatic power and potential that the Internet and other technologies continue to bring us. As the latest information revolution continues to unfold, estimates suggest that about three-fifths of the world is offline in 2014. Given current access to connectivity, is the Internet reinforcing inequality in the real world? From an international development perspective, this is troubling. As initiatives and projects like Facebook's Internet.org, Google Loon, and Oluvus seek to extend affordable Internet access, it is still critical to understand what the potential impact of open data efforts may be on the path to a more open and connected world.

Open Data for economic growth: the latest evidence

Andrew Stott's picture
Also available in: Español

One of the key policy drivers for Open Data has been to drive economic growth and business innovation. There's a growing amount of evidence and analysis not only for the total potential economic benefit but also for some of the ways in which this is coming about. This evidence is summarised and reviewed in a new World Bank paper published today.

There's a range of studies that suggest that the potential prize from Open Data could be enormous - including an estimate of $3-5 trillion a year globally from McKinsey Global Institute and an estimate of $13 trillion cumulative over the next 5 years in the G20 countries.  There are supporting studies of the value of Open Data to certain sectors in certain countries - for instance $20 billion a year to Agriculture in the US - and of the value of key datasets such as geospatial data.  All these support the conclusion that the economic potential is at least significant - although with a range from "significant" to "extremely significant"!

New Metadata Query Feature in DataBank

Paige Morency-Notario's picture

DataBank is a data retrieval, analysis, and visualization tool that allows users to create, save, and share custom charts, tables, and maps. We launched the tool two years ago and have been making improvements based on user feedback ever since. Last year we released a multilingual version of the tool, and today we're pleased to announce a new feature that allows users to query country, series, time, and footnote metadata.

What can DataBank do?

  • It enables users to easily create custom queries on data drawn from 52 databases
  • It lets users create and customize charts, tables, and maps
  • It makes it easy to select, save and share data and visualizations
  • It's available on both computers and mobile devices
  • DataBank and selected data are available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Chinese
  • It now allows users to create custom metadata queries
  • Watch the tutorial and read the FAQs to learn more about the basics of DataBank 

Full set of International Comparison Program 2011 results now available

Nada Hamadeh's picture

The big splash from the April 2014 summary release provided users with a glimpse of the International Comparison Program's (ICP) 2011 results and findings, as revealed in Haishan Fu's blog post and related press release.  Users can now explore the full set of the 2011 ICP results released in June 2014.

These results provide data on purchasing power parities (PPPs) of currencies, expenditure shares of gross domestic product (GDP), total and per capita expenditures in United States dollars (USD) both in exchange rate terms and PPP terms, and price level indices. This dataset covers 26 expenditures categories for goods and services for 199 participating economies from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Latin America, Eurostat-OECD, Western Asia, singleton economies, and the Pacific Islands. Also included are estimated results for non-participating economies.

Figure 1 below presents a multidimensional comparison of per capita GDP - scaled to the relative size of each economy - against its price level index (PLI) with the world equal to 100. The PLI, the ratio of a PPP to a corresponding exchange rate, is used to compare price levels between economies.

Pages