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August 2012

Why are Kenyans still brilliant runners but disappointing footballers?

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

 When Churchill was asked for the secret of his long and healthy life, he famously quipped: “No sport!” (that was Winston, not Kenya’s beloved entertainer). The British PM would have been a poor ambassador for the London Olympics, which just ended in great fanfare.

Today, many would challenge his perspective. Obesity is a massive problem in rich societies and rapidly becoming one in emerging economies too. As a result, heart disease and diabetes are also on the rise.

But for me, sport means so much more than just personal fitness. I practiced Judo competitively as a child, which helped me to stay focused, taught me important life skills –especially teamwork— and formed friendships that have lasted until this day. My passion for sport has been reenergized in Kenya, where you can be outdoors all day long and all year round… much better than sitting in front of the TV (football games excepted).

But at the macro level, is sport also contributing to national development? Does it help or hurt in building a nation and growing an economy?

Voices of Youth: Ideas to Encourage the Public to Embrace Mass Transit

Nandish Kenia's picture

What does one generally looks for while travelling? Quick, hassle free, safe and convenient mode of transportation! To get people to shift from private to public transport, the usability and access to public transport should be such that people choose it over their own vehicles.

This is however a classic chicken and egg problem because until the public sees an improvement in public transport they are not going to use it, and till the government sees people using it, it will not invest in public transport. In this case, the government will have to take the first bold steps and invest in the infrastructure of public transportation systems.

Points to be considered:

Rising food prices: time to put your money where your mouth is?

Marie Chantal Messier's picture

Also available in Portuguese, Español

There is no arguing that high food prices are taking a heavy toll on Latin America’s families, business and governments, fueling ripple effects on people’s budgets and the economy as a whole.

But behind the cold hard numbers of price increases, shrinking budgets and inflationary fears, the simple truth is high food prices can kill –or severely impair- people, especially kids from underprivileged environments.

Is working a privilege in the Middle East & North Africa? Who is most affected by MENA’s Joblessness Trap?

Matteo Morgandi's picture
Like many of my colleagues, I have now spent several years trying to understand the reality of labor markets in MENA, especially for young people. Looking back over the research involved to define labor market dynamics for the whole region, a focus group with young Moroccans about their work as informal street venders in Casablanca comes to mind.  None of them considered what they did a “real job”. Their work was rarely rewarding, was risky, often persecuted by the police, and, more importantly from their standpoint, it did not provide them with the means to propose to a girl, let alone to start a family.
 

Quote of the Week: Malcolm Gladwell

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Social and economic mobility, in any system, is essentially slack arbitrage: hard work is a successful strategy for those at the bottom because those at the top no longer work so hard. By custom, we disparage the idleness of the idle rich. We should encourage it. It is our best chance of taking their place. “

 

-Malcolm Gladwell, Staff Writer, The New Yorker

-As quoted in The New Yorker article, Slackers, July 30, 2012.

The impact of bank competition on access to finance

Maria Soledad Martinez Peria's picture

The impact of bank competition on financial markets and firms is an important topic of concern for policymakers and researchers alike. Interest in this topic intensified during the recent global financial crisis as researchers and policymakers questioned whether high competition was partly to blame.1 Those against bank competition make two main arguments. First, competition may lead to risky lending practices as financial institutions search for higher margins. The increase in subprime lending is an example of such behavior prior to the recent crisis. Second, higher competition may erode banks’ profit margins and leave them with insufficient capital cushions, something that also played a role in the recent crisis. On the other hand, those in favor of competition argue that it can improve access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises, and that any negative effects on stability are better addressed by proper regulation and supervision of financial institutions.

Globalization and the Gender Earnings Gap in the Apparel Industry

Gladys Lopez-Acevedo's picture

The 2012 World Development Report, Gender Equality and Development, argues that gender equality “contributes to economic efficiency and the achievement of other key development outcomes.”  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated at the APEC Women and the Economy Summit that “the increase in employment of women in developed countries during the past decade has added more to global growth than China has, ” and argued that incorporating women into the formal workforce is critical for economic progress.  Understanding how major policy changes affect women’s employment and the gender wage gap is therefore critical for implementing future policies that may affect women’s status and opportunities.

Voices of Youth: How Can We Mainstream and Sustain Student Learning in India?

Garima Agarwal's picture

The state of India’s school education does not paint a very pretty picture. No doubt a whopping 97% of all children between the ages of 6-14 years in rural India are enrolled in school. However, national school attendance averaged just about 70%, dipping below 60% for populous states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. Performance was much worse. Amongst the standard 5 kids surveyed, over half could not read a standard 2 level text fluently and more than one-third could not do basic standard 2 level subtraction.

India’s problem is not so much about getting children into school anymore. We now face the far more complex issue of keeping them there and ensuring effective learning. Crumbling public infrastructure, poverty, corruption, lack of attractive compensation and training for primary school teachers and a lack of awareness among uneducated rural parents about their child’s progress at school are huge obstacles in the path to educational attainment.

Gates Foundation Awards "Toilet for the Future"

Soma Ghosh Moulik's picture

... and the winner is an entry from the California Institute of Technology! Michael Hoffman received the prize for the "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge" from Bill Gates himself on August 14, 2012 in Seattle. The award winning technology model is based on a self-contained, sun-powered system that recycles water and breaks down human waste into storable energy.

What Can We Learn From a Really Annoying Paper on NGOs and Development?

Duncan Green's picture

I’ve got a paper I want you to read, particularly if you work for an NGO or other lobbying outfit. Not because it’s good – far from it – but because reading it and (if you work for an NGO) observing your rising tide of irritation will really help you understand how those working in the private sector, government or the multilateral system feel when they read a generalized and ill-informed NGO attack on their work.
 
The paper in question is from a reputable institution (Manchester University’s Brooks World Poverty Institute) and authors (Nicola Banks and David Hulme), and is about ‘the role of NGOs and civil society in development and poverty reduction’.  Here’s the abstract:
 


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