Syndicate content

April 2012

The Global Findex: The first database tracking how adults use financial services around the world

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt's picture

The post orginally appeared on All About Finance.

The facts are in. 50 percent of adults worldwide have an account at a formal financial institution. 21 percent of women save using a formal account. 16 percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa use mobile money. These are just a few of the thousands of data points now available in the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) database, the first of its kind to measure people’s use of financial products across economies and over time.

The Global Findex: The first database tracking how adults use financial services around the world

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt's picture

The facts are in. 50 percent of adults worldwide have an account at a formal financial institution. 21 percent of women save using a formal account. 16 percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa use mobile money. These are just a few of the thousands of data points now available in the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) database, the first of its kind to measure people’s use of financial products across economies and over time.

Thankfully, researchers and policymakers no longer have to rely on a patchwork of incompatible household surveys and aggregated central bank data for a comprehensive view of the financial inclusion landscape. The publically  accessible Global Findex provides comparable individual-level data that facilitate detailed analyses of how adults save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk in 148 economies. The data are based on more than 150,000 interviews with adults representing over 97 percent of the world’s population and was carried by Gallup Inc. as a component of its 2011 World Poll.

Enabling employment miracles

Caroline Freund's picture
World Bank | Arne Hoel | 2011How can policymakers engineer enduring reductions in unemployment? Middle East and North Africa’s (MENA) Regional Economic Update confronts this question head on. It looks back historically to examine how countries have generated episodes of swift, significant, and sustained unemployment reductions. These we call employment miracles. And to make miracles happen the analysis unambiguously points towards prudent macroeconomic management, sound regulation and good governance as critical enablers of job creation.

ILO/World Bank Discussion on Jobs and Policy - Responses to the Financial and Economic Crisis

Arup Banerji's picture

The World Bank’s spring meetings this year have been all about “Closing the Gap”. And one of the gaps the world certainly needs to close is the one on jobs – between those whose jobs are productive and those who scrape by in low-return work, and between those who have them and those who don’t. The recent crises have brought this gap into even sharper focus, if that’s possible – with growth slowdowns meaning that in many countries unemployment rose.Governments in rich and developing countries alike reacted with a slew of public policy measures to try and redress the situation. But until now, we haven’t had a full understanding of what really happened in terms of the sweep of policies put in place by different countries, and how these differed among countries themselves.

Zoellick: ‘We Have to Close the Gap’ in Safety Net Coverage

Donna Barne's picture

From left, Robert B. Zoellick, President, The World Bank; Corazon “Dinky” Juliano Soliman, Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippines; Romulo Paes de Sousa, Vice Minister of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger in Brazil; Michael Elliott, President and CEO, ONE; Dikembe Mutombo, NBA Global Ambassador; Maurice "Mo" Evans, Washington Wizards. Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

 

Safety nets are needed more than ever to stave off malnutrition, illiteracy and disease in an increasingly uncertain world, but many of the most vulnerable people still lack coverage.

That was the main message of an April 18 live event, Close the Gap: Safety Nets Work, held at the World Bank in Washington in the lead-up to the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. The event, which was webcast and live-blogged in English, French, Spanish and Arabic, followed the release of a new World Bank Social Protection and Labor strategy calling on countries to invest in stronger social protection and labor systems.

An online audience sent feedback and questions to a panel including World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick, ONE President and CEO Michael Elliott, high-ranking officials from Brazil and the Philippines, and two basketball stars. They were flanked by banners urging people to “act equal,” “create jobs,” and “protect the vulnerable with safety nets.”

Fire Engines, Underground Pipes, Overground Ladders ... and the Future of Safety Nets

Arup Banerji's picture

As a child, I loved fire engines. 

In this, of course, I wasn’t any different from millions of other young boys across the world.  I loved the bright red machines of my Calcutta youth – which sped to the scene of a fire, with shiny bells clanging, firemen quickly unrolling the long hoses, connecting them to the water hydrant at the roadside, and then spraying down the conflagration with great jets of cooling water.

So what does this have to do with social safety nets? 

Who benefits from fuel price subsidies?

Punam Chuhan-Pole's picture

Over half the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa subsidize fuel to protect consumers from high and volatile prices. But fuel subsidies are neither cheap nor likely to be sustainable (see the full analysis in the new Africa's Pulse). 

Data for 2010-11 show that fuel price subsidies consumed, on average, 1.4 percent of GDP in public resources: The fiscal cost in oil exporters was almost two-and-a-half times that in oil importers. In the face of high (and rising) world fuel prices, a number of countries have raised domestic prices to stem fiscal costs.  

For example, Ghana raised fuel prices by about 30 percent in January 2011. The Nigerian government removed the subsidy on gasoline this January, although a portion of the subsidy was subsequently reinstated.  With oil prices likely to remain elevated, fuel subsidies will continue to weigh on government budgets in Africa.

But who benefits from fuel price subsidies?  

Expenditure data for seven African countries show that the distribution of these subsidies is disproportionately concentrated in the hands of the rich.  Richer households spend a larger amount on fuel products, and, consequently, benefit more than poorer households from any universal subsidy on these products. On average the richest 20% receive over six times more in subsidy benefits than the poorest 20%. 

How to Catalyze Financial Inclusion through Commitments and Strategies

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. Join the conversation by tuning in on Thursday, April 19 or ask a question now in EnglishFrench, Arabic or Spanish.

Millions in the developing world are blocked from economic opportunity by their limited access to financial products and services.  Consequently, financial inclusion is increasingly a policy priority for governments and financial regulators, many of whom see it as a complement to their financial stability goals. To date, over 60 developing countries have committed to financial inclusion reforms.  But experience has taught us that putting expansion of financial services as a priority is only a start, and that there are other factors to consider in order to move forward towards full financial inclusion that benefits individuals, firms and the economy:

A commitment to strategic reform is needed: Surveys confirm that comprehensive reform programs and clear mandates can accelerate progress towards financial inclusion. Regulators with a financial inclusion strategy are likely to have more financial inclusion activities under their purview and more resources and staff dedicated to working on these matters. Robust regulatory frameworks (which, for example, provide a flexible or graduated approach to addressing concerns regarding Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism) can more effectively catalyze the private sector response that is needed to expand financial inclusion. For example, reforms that strengthen financial infrastructure underpin the introduction of low cost and lower risk products and delivery models that are critical to expanded financial inclusion.

Where the Cloud Forest Meets the City

Julianne Baker Gallegos's picture

Puntarenas, Cosa Rica

Standing in the middle of the cloud forest in my home country of Costa Rica as a child I made the choice to dedicate my life to protecting the environment. Back then, the first image that came to mind when thinking about biodiversity conservation was definitely not that of a flourishing city. Fast forward 20 years and you’ll find the same environmentalist sitting in front of a computer in an office working on the challenges cities face as a result of climate change. What is a biologist doing working on cities? Well, I’m basically doing what I promised myself to do as a child… just from a different angle and in an apparently less exotic setting.

Emerging Markets Lead in Job Recovery

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Photographer: Anvar Ilyasov, 2002One of the most distressing aspects of the frail economic recovery from the global crisis has been lagging job creation. In developed and developing countries alike, millions of people remain unemployed (some 200 million by ILO estimates), and many who still have jobs live in fear of losing them or seeing their incomes and benefits stagnate. Fortunately, the worst may be over in several parts of the world.


Pages