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April 2012

Addressing the Digital Divide

Tanya Gupta's picture

Perhaps the biggest challenge to harnessing technology for economic development is addressing the digital divide.  How can we do so?  This is a big question and to answer it comprehensively by looking at all the work on this area is beyond the scope of this blog. However let’s look at a few obvious ways of overcoming the digital divide:

(1) Development projects that focus on, and are relevant to the poor.  The Monitoring of Integrated Farm Household Analysis Project (IFHAP) was conducted every five years from 1996 to 2007 in the thirty-three (33) major rice- producing provinces in the Philippines.  The study noted the potential of mobile phones as key tool for information dissemination in agriculture as they are widely owned. In 2007, 90% of the farm households surveyed owned at least one mobile phone.  I agree with the authors of this study that while policy, infrastructure, and digital divide do indeed aid in assessing readiness; a social dimension is also present, which we ignore at our own peril.

Moving the Needle on Healthier Environments and Sustainable Development

Rachel Kyte's picture

Over the past few days of the World Bank/IMF spring meetings, it’s been exciting to see just how much interest and real commitment there is among the world’s finance ministers to move toward inclusive green growth and sustainable development.

Several finance ministers at the Rio breakfast with Ban Ki-moon, Bob Zoellick, and Christine Lagarde talked about the need for better national wealth measurements that incorporate natural resources. Some were already implementing new forms of natural capital accounting. Others wanted to know more.

They were absolutely clear about two things: They want better methodology, data, and evidence to help guide them on the path to sustainable development, and they see a clear role for the World Bank as a source of that knowledge.

Blogging Social Inclusion: Why Now?

Maitreyi Bordia Das's picture

Part of a series on social inclusion

China is talking of a harmonious society, Brazil of social integration, India of social inclusion, and so on. The United Nations just released its first World Happiness Report, and more and more countries are asking their people how they feel! The social aspects of growth are causing more anxiety in the last few years than arguably ever before, as the Economist said, reporting on a 2010 Asian Development Bank meeting in Tashkent.

Social inclusion is a pillar of the Bank’s social development strategy, and we have just embarked on a new policy research program through an upcoming flagship report. In the process, we hope to position social inclusion as a central feature of the World Bank’s work on equity and poverty.

Remittance data update for 2011

Dilip Ratha's picture

Newly available data from several countries reveal that officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries reached $372 billion in 2011, an increase of 12.1 percent over 2010 (figure 1). Worldwide remittance flows, including those to high-income countries, reached $501 billion in 2011 and are expected to increase to $615 billion by 2014. Please see Migration and Development Brief 18 for global and regional data. Country-level time series data are posted here. This is higher than our earlier estimate of $351 billion.

Can global headwinds slow down Mexico’s economy?

Paloma Anós Casero's picture

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Uncertainty surrounding the global economy remains high. Despite relative calm in the markets, several black clouds are on the global economic horizon in 2012, with potentially serious consequences for Mexico, depending on how complicated the global situation becomes.

Collective Intelligence and Poverty

Randeep Sudan's picture

The World Bank’s mission is to fight poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results. Over the coming years the locus of poverty will increasingly shift to urban areas. Two thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2025, and a third of these residents are likely to be poor. By 2030, the urban population in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa – the world’s poorest regions – is expected to double. The Bank in keeping with its inspiring mission will necessarily have to focus more energy and resources in tackling the problems of urban poverty. 

Leading Dragons Phenomenon: New Opportunities for Low Income Countries to Catch UP

Justin Yifu Lin's picture

Even though “The golden age of finance has now ended,” (Barry Eichengreen in  reference to the Great Recession),  the golden age of industrialization in the developing world has just begun.

In a recent paper,'Leading Dragons phenomenon: new opportunities for catch-up in low-income countries,' Vandana Chandra, Yan Wang and I have presented evidence on how modern economic development is accompanied by structural transformation from an agrarian to an industrial economy and occurs through a process of continuous industrial and technological upgrading. Since the 18th century, all countries that industrialized successfully in Europe, North America and East Asia had two features in common: one, they exploited their  comparative advantage; and two, they leveraged the late-comer advantage to emulate the industrial upgrading patterns of countries richer than them.  Except for a few oil exporting countries, no country has achieved a high-income status without industrializing.  In general, a change in GDP per capita is strongly and positively correlated with growth in value added in the manufacturing sector (figure 1).  If a natural resource- or land-rich country has achieved a middle income status without a large manufacturing sector, it has rarely succeeded in sustaining growth.

Whether weather….and other issues in indexed insurance

This post is part of our Closing the Gap: Financial Inclusion blog series, which shares the views of selected experts and practitioners on different financial inclusion topics.

Crop insurance can improve the lives of farmers, who make up the majority of the world's poor. (Credit: Mukul Soni, Flickr Creative Commons)

How do you insure hundreds of millions of small farmers spread over many developing countries? There is no easy answer. Individual insurance would entail assessing crop yields in millions of farms within the short harvest windows – a virtually impossible task. And even if this were possible, costs would be prohibitive and data quality, a significant issue.

Yet the importance of finding a solution cannot be underestimated. First, farmers make up the majority of the world’s poor. With high dependence on rain-fed cultivation, agriculture is risky. Mitigation of those risks is critical to stabilizing the income of poor farmers. Otherwise, a crop failure could erode savings, lead to inability to service crop loans, push farmers into a vicious debt trap as they are forced to borrow from moneylenders and in extreme cases, lead to starvation or even worse.


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