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July 2013

The Time to End Poverty Is Now

Joachim von Amsberg's picture



If you saw how poor I was before, you would see that things are getting better.
 
When I hear stories like that of Jean Bosco Hakizimana, a Burundian farmer whose life was transformed by a cow, I get excited about the change we can all make. Jean Bosco’s income is improving, his kids are eating better, his wife has some nice clothes, and his manioc fields are yielding better harvests — all thanks to the milk and fertilizer from this one cow.
 
A similar story is playing out in more than 2,600 communities across Burundi, offering new life to a people once decimated by civil war. These community agricultural programs sponsored by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, show that development doesn’t have to be that complicated and that collective effort can make all the difference.

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.

Monthly World Bank Updates on Economic Developments in Russia Now Available

Birgit Hansl's picture
Also available in: Русский

Since our most recent Russia Economic Report (RER) just four months ago, the World Bank revised its 2013 growth outlook for Russia – down from 3.3 percent to 2.3 percent. This downward revision in May represents a decline in our projections by 1.0 percentage point compared with March, and 1.3 percentage points compared with October 2012.

From Mozart to Sustainability – New Ideas from Salzburg

Benedikt Lukas Signer's picture

Jim Bacchus (standing), a former U.S. congressman, WTO appellate judge and chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Governance for Sustainability, watches a session.To most of us, Salzburg is known as the birthplace of Mozart and the Sound of Music. But the city is also host to another global institution, much less well known yet influencing thinking around the world. For over 60 years, the Salzburg Global Seminar has been “convening imaginative thinkers from different cultures and institutions,” providing a space for people from all walks of life to “challenge present and future leaders to solve issues of global concern.” Past speakers at Salzburg include our own President Jim Yong Kim (by video link).

I recently returned from four days in Salzburg, participating in a seminar on “New thinking for Sustainability,” a joint initiative with the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Governance for Sustainability. The organizers did a great job bringing together a wide range of thinkers and practitioners from 26 countries. Participants ranged from a local government official in Pakistan to a former Mexican presidential candidate; from a young Thai researcher at the beginning of her career to a former secretary general of the Club of Rome looking back on decades of experience.

Opinions about the actions needed to face the challenges of the 21st century were almost equally diverse. Some participants emphasized the need for action at the local level, others stressed the crucial role of private sector, others still passionately argued that feasible solutions can only come through a strong state.

Yet a number of general principles seem to have found wide agreement (my own summary):

A Voice Against Corruption

Leonard McCarthy's picture

Last week, Transparency International published its 2013 Corruption Barometer, which reports the findings of a survey of 114,000 people in 107 countries on their interactions with corruption, the institutions and sectors they see as most corrupt, and their perceptions on whether they have a role in combating corruption. The report captures a number of trends, including the view that corruption is worsening across many sectors; it also calls for governments to strengthen their accountability platforms and enhance standards for procurement and public financial management.

This year’s survey found that 27% of people report having paid a bribe in the past year, nearly the same percentage as in the 2010/2011 report (26%). This indicates that more than a quarter of people surveyed have been touched by bribery.
 
There was a follow-up question: If the respondent did pay a bribe, what was the reason? The answer given most often, with 40% of responses, was “to speed things up.” This high rate of bribes for speed of service, to me, suggests a troubling complicity: The person paying the bribe may feel entitled to more rapid service at the expense of others.

A Lesson from Malala: Girls’ Education Pays Off

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture



When I heard the news last autumn that 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan had been shot simply for standing up for her right as a girl to get an education, I was horrified.

It also reminded me how lucky I was.

When I was offered a rare scholarship to study abroad, it wasn’t acceptable for me, as a young married Indonesian woman, to live apart from my husband. My mother laid out two options: Either he would join me, which meant giving up his job, or I had to decline the offer.

I know it was her way to advocate for my husband to support me, which he did without hesitation. We both went to the United States to complete our master’s degrees. I combined it with a doctorate in economics, and we had our first child, a daughter, while we both were graduate students.

Democracy and Crime: An Old Question Awaiting New Answers

José Cuesta's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية | Español

The recent political unrest and violence occurring across the world have revived an old question, one that is so straightforward that it rarely gets a straightforward and convincing answer: Does democracy fuel or quench violence? For decades, sociologists, historians, political scientists, criminologists, and economists have hypothesized numerous associations, predicting just about any result.

Let’s focus on democracy’s relationship with crime. Democracies have been predicted to fuel crime (conflict theory); decrease crime (civilization theory); initially raise and then decrease crime (modernization perspective); have no impact at all (null hypothesis); or have an unpredictable impact depending on the development of their political institutions (comparative advantage theory).

In a recently published paper, I argue that the many existing explanations relating crime and democracy suffer from what I describe as an “identification” problem. The different explanations are not necessarily exclusionary in terms of their determinants, mechanisms, and predictions, which makes testing those explanations a rather difficult business. Furthermore, predictions are imprecise. This is unsurprising when dealing with concepts as fluid as democratization, political transitions, and democratic maturity. Arguments talk vaguely of early and late stages and of short or medium terms to describe the processes’ dynamics. The result is a broad range of predictions consistent with various hypotheses simultaneously. 

Improving Learning in Peru Will Help Reduce Inequality

Jim Yong Kim's picture
Also available in: Español


Lamay, Peru — In this Andean town outside Cuzco, I traveled with Peru's First Lady Nadine Heredia to the San Luis Gonzaga primary school. This school, and many others in the area, have had poor learning outcomes. But I was impressed by the government's and the school's commitment to improve, which will be critical in the efforts to reduce inequality and boost shared prosperity in Peru. Watch this video from a second-grade classroom to learn more.  

Improving learning in Peru will help reduce inequality