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When It Comes to Tackling Inequality, Start Early

Ana Revenga's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | العربية

It seems that everyone is talking about inequality these days, and I, for one, am happy to see this issue at the forefront in the development discussion.

We can look at inequality in a number of ways, which are not unrelated. One of the most visible types of inequality on the radar is inequality of outcomes — things like differences in academic achievements, career progression, earnings, etc. — which, in and of themselves, are not necessarily bad. Rewarding an individual’s effort, innate talents and superior life choices can provide incentives for innovation and entrepreneurship, and can help drive growth.  

However, not all inequalities are “good.” When inequality perpetuates itself because those born poor consistently do not have access to the same opportunities as those born rich, what emerges is a deep structural inequality that is bad for poverty reduction, bad for economic growth, and bad for social cohesion. How pervasive are these deep inequalities? Much more than we would like. Indeed, when we examine what is happening in many countries around the world today, we find large and persistent, even growing, gaps in earnings between rich and poor. And we find that those who start out in poverty or are part of a disadvantaged group tend to remain there, with little opportunity to work their way out.

How do we explain this, and what can we do to tackle it? We need to take a step back and look at where this inequality originates, and that is where the concept of equality of opportunity comes in to play. This concept broadly refers to access to a basic set of services that are necessary, at the minimum, for a child to attain his or her human potential, regardless of the circumstances — such as gender, geographic region, ethnicity, and family background — into which he or she is born. Too often, access to such basic services like electricity, clean water, sanitation, health care and education is much lower among children born into circumstances that place them at a disadvantage. Children from disadvantaged groups thus set off on an unequal path from day one, which curbs their opportunities and potential into adulthood.

Learning from Data-Driven Delivery

Aleem Walji's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | 中文 | Français

Given confusion around the phrase “science of delivery,” it’s important to state that delivery science is not a “one-size-fits-all” prescription based on the premise that what works somewhere can work anywhere. And it does not profess that research and evidence ensure a certain outcome.
 
A few weeks ago, the World Bank and the Korea Development Institute convened a global conference on the science of delivery. Several development institutions assembled including the Gates Foundation, the Grameen Foundation, UNICEF, the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, and the mHealth Alliance. We discussed development opportunities and challenges when focusing on the extremely poor, including experiments in health care, how technology is reducing costs and increasing effectiveness, and the difficulty of moving from successful pilots to delivery at scale.
 
The consensus in Seoul was that a science of delivery underscores the importance of a data-driven and rigorous process to understand what works, under what conditions, why, and how. Too often in international development, we jump to conclusions without understanding counterfactuals and assume we can replicate success without understanding its constituent elements.

Jim Yong Kim: Targets Will Help Fight Against Poverty

Jim Yong Kim's picture

MADRID -- One thousand days. That's all we have left to meet the Millennium Development Goals, a series of commitments to improve the lives of families in the developing world. I was just in Madrid to attend the United Nations' Chief Executives Board -- the heads of the UN agencies -- and we talked about the importance of setting targets to spur urgent action. Watch the video blog below to learn more.

Video series documents Bank-supported projects in Turkey

Angie Gentile's picture

Over the next five days, the Bank will be featuring a series of video stories, documenting the challenges and results of projects aimed at addressing Turkey’s vulnerabilities to earthquakes, as well as issues related to health care, landfill environmental protection, small business growth, and women’s development.

Marwan Muasher, World Bank Senior Vice President for External Affairs, talks with Turkish NTV. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankToday’s feature showcases work being done by the Turkish government, with help from the World Bank, to protect the beautiful, ancient city of Istanbul and its inhabitants against the threat of earthquakes. See the video.

Speaking earlier today with Turkish NTV, Marwan Muasher, World Bank Senior Vice President for External Affairs, emphasized the Bank’s commitment to helping all countries work through the economic crisis. He added: “For Turkey in particular, we are focused on helping spur a recovery in domestic consumer demand, as well as job creation. Social protection is very important, to help safeguard those groups most vulnerable to the impact of the slowdown, particularly children and young workers.”

• Turkey: World Bank Country Brief 2009
• Ten Things to Know About the World Bank in Turkey
• Turkey and the World Bank: News and Events
• World Bank Projects and Programs in Turkey