China’s rapid development of e-commerce has begun to reshape production and consumption patterns as well as change people’s daily lives. In 2016, the World Bank and the Alibaba Group launched a joint research initiative to examine how China has harnessed digital technologies to aid growth and expand employment opportunities through e-commerce development in rural areas. The research seeks to distill lessons and identify policy options to enhance the positive effect of e-commerce on the reduction of poverty and inequality. Emerging findings from that research show that rural e-commerce evolves from grassroots development to become a potential tool for poverty alleviation with public-private partnerships.
E-commerce has grown quickly in China. Total e-commerce trade volume increased from less than 1,000 billion yuan (US$120.8 billion) in 2004 to nearly 30,000 billion yuan (US$4.44 trillion) in 2017. While e-commerce is more developed in urban areas, online retail sales in rural areas have grown faster than the national average. From 2014 to 2017, online retail sales in rural China increased from RMB 180 billion to 1.24 trillion, a compound annual growth rate of 91%, compared to 35% nationally.
Ghana recently held a Family Planning (FP) 2020 stock-taking event as a countdown to the country’s FP 2020 goals and commitment made during the 2012 London summit. The conference, which brought together multi-sector stakeholders, reviewed Ghana’s progress, challenges and options to accelerate achievement of the country’s FP 2020 targets and commitment.
With a high unmet need for family planning compared to many other early demographic dividend countries across lower-middle income countries, three in 10 Ghanaian women who want contraception to space or limit births currently lack access. Access to contraception is a key strategic lever for development – to empower women, improve investments in children, and ultimately contribute to poverty reduction. Unplanned pregnancies, including teenage pregnancy, perpetuated by lack of access to family planning are linked with higher risks of birth complications such as maternal deaths and early child deaths, and malnutrition in children under-five, particularly in the critical window of child development - the first 1000 days. Securing access to family planning services therefore remains a critical component of building human capital in Ghana.
On the eve of International Women’s Day, I was at a UN WOMEN side event in NYC when my phone started buzzing with well wishes for a happy women’s day from my friends in Asia, filling me with — ambivalence. To be honest, the day always leaves me with mixed feelings: despite the great strides that the world has made in women’s rights in various ways, for me, it’s also a reminder of how so many women still don’t enjoy our basic human rights.
As we’ve returned from women’s day to what in many ways is still a man’s world, I wanted to share three thoughts about the intersection of women’s rights with our data world today.
In the first post of this blog series, we traveled to the center of Côte d’Ivoire during rice harvesting season and met two people whose livelihoods depended on the outcome: Sali Soro, a smallholder farmer and member of a regional rice cooperative, and Zié Coulibaly, director of the Katiola rice mill.
Their stories illustrate the challenges faced by local farmers and millers and show how the chain is not reaching its full potential in contributing to poverty reduction in Côte d’Ivoire.
Inclusive education has been a universally acknowledged goal for over two decades, since Salamanca Statement (1994). This goal has been further strengthened by the Convention on the Rights of persons with disabilities (2006) and the Sustainable Development Goals (2015), the former making inclusive education a fundamental human right and the latter tying it to a broader global development agenda. The central role of the teacher cannot be underestimated if we aim to provide universal and inclusive education for all.
- Why the World Bank needs a research department: Penny Goldberg offers a strong rationale on Let’s Talk Development
- On VoxDev, Battaglia, Gulesci and Madestam summarize their work on flexible credit contracts, which is one my favorite recent papers – they worked with BRAC in Bangladesh to offer borrowers a 12 month loan, with borrowers having the option to delay up to two monthly repayments at any time during the loan cycle. This appears to be a win-win, with the borrowers being more likely to grow their firms, and the bank experiencing lower default and higher client retention. However, although the post doesn’t discuss it, the product seemed less successful in helping larger SMEs.
- Political business cycles in Africa – Rachel Strohm notes a Quartz Africa story on a phenomenon that has held up a number of my impact evaluations – “Having contracts stalled and major projects abandoned is “very common”... The uncertainty is also magnified because newly-elected administrations could take months to form a cabinet and appoint heads of key agencies... as a bulk of voters travel to their ancestral homes to cast their ballot, businesses are forced to shutter or maintain skeletal operations... [this] has even made phrases like “after elections” a colloquial mainstay”.
- The JDE interviews Eric Edmonds about his experience with the registered report process: “I thought I wrote really good pre-analysis plans and then I saw the template and realized, no, I write really bad pre-analysis plans too. I think just the act of providing that template to give some kind of standardization, is a great service to the profession... I think we need to be in a place where we have pre-analysis plans and we review them, and when we choose to deviate from them in our analysis, we're just able to be clear and to talk about why that is.” (h/t Ryan Edwards)
- development impact links
Anyone who visits Malaysia will quickly come to realize that Malaysians are blessed with enormous talent, ranging from the myriad of entrepreneurs creating new businesses online to those active in the creative industries including music, culture and sports. But there is also still a widespread sense that Malaysia is not making the most of its human capital, with concerns that despite large investments in education and health, the returns are not as high as they should be, and that a large share of Malaysians are still being left behind.