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October 2013

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fairness in Health Systems in the Arab World

Ece Özçelik's picture

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fairness in Health Systems in the Arab World - Credit: Arne Hoel

Developing countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region spent 5.8 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on health in 2011, compared to 4.4 percent in 1995. On the surface, this rise in health spending may seem like MENA governments are prioritizing health. Yet, between 2006 and 2011 public spending on health as a proportion of government budget in the MENA region was the second lowest globally, after South Asia. As a result, the people are paying the price. Out-of-pocket expenditures on healthcare remained close to 47 percent of the total health spending throughout the period. These trends suggest that increased spending on healthcare is mainly due to increased private spending at the point of service and as such made health systems less fair and affordable for the people of MENA.

 

Prospects Daily: Japanese stocks decline on stronger yen, Spain exits recession, South Africa annual headline inflation slows

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture
Financial Markets…Japanese stocks declined the most in three weeks as stronger yen pushed exporters’ shares lower. The benchmark Topix index lost 1.5%, the steepest drop since October 2, and the Nikkei 225 index fell 2%. The Japanese currency appreciated against all of its 16 major counterparts, gaining 0.8% versus the dollar to 97.37. The Topix has been the worst performer among 24 developed-market benchmark stock indexes this month, after the Japanese government decided to raise the sales tax for the first time since 1997 and the U.S.

Inclusive Growth Revisited: Measurement and Evolution

Saurabh Mishra's picture

Inclusive growth refers to both the pace and distribution of economic growth. For growth to be sustainable and effective in reducing poverty, it needs to be inclusive (Berg and Ostry 2011a, Kraay 2004). Traditionally, poverty (or inequality) and economic growth analyses have been conducted separately. Recent work indicates that there may not be a trade-off between equity and efficiency, as suggested by Okun (1975), and “that it would be a big mistake to separate analyses of growth and income distribution” (Berg and Ostry 2011b). Ianchovichina and Gable (2012) describe inclusive growth as raising the pace of growth and enlarging the size of the economy by providing a level playing field for investment and increasing productive employment opportunities.

Powerless in Kanpur

Sheoli Pargal's picture
Katiyabaaz - master of illegal connections
Documentary on the power crisis in Kanpur, a North Indian city.

Kaatiyabaaz” is a compelling documentary film that highlights the power crisis in Kanpur, a city of three million people in north India. 

It has all the elements of a steamy Hindi movie: 45-degree Celsius heat, power outages that last 12-15 hours, and illegal connections that come up every night and disappear in the morning. The everyday characters are gripping too. There’s a Robin-Hood-like street electrician who “provides power” by hooking to transmission lines. An upright bureaucrat (a woman, imagine that!) trying to get people to pay their bills and prevent theft. A city full of tired, angry citizens fed up with poor service provided.  The film underlines how people will do whatever it takes to get some juice in their wires so that they can get lights, fans, water…the basic necessities of 20th century life.
 

Russia’s Great Deceleration

Birgit Hansl's picture

Russia’s fortune and growth prospects remain tied to its most important economic partners in the Euro area and its main export products: oil and gas. In the last decade Russia grew at around 6 percent (if we exclude the crisis year of 2009 - 4.7 percent on average otherwise).

This high growth was driven by high commodity prices, but it also translated into the non-tradables. Russians enjoyed a higher standard of living and consumed more. The economy still looked strong in 2012 when the country grew at 3.4 percent, especially when compared to Europe, the US and Japan, but also vis-à-vis emerging economies such as Brazil and Turkey. Unemployment dropped to record lows and real wages grew, with poverty decreasing dramatically in recent years.
 

In the past, given the buoyant oil revenues, Russia followed a pro-cyclical growth model of stimulating domestic demand, partly through public investment projects and partly through increasing public wages and other public income sources such as pensions.

If the prices of oil and gas were to drop in the near future, Russia’s growth model might be in need of urgent adjustment.

A Global Challenge: Can We Achieve Financial Inclusion by 2020?



The issue of financial inclusion seems to be everywhere – from the World Bank Annual Meetings to the new UN post-2015 development goals. It’s got buzz in the private sector, public sector and development organizations big and small. Policymakers are increasingly making financial inclusion a priority through specific financial inclusion targets and commitments, such as the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s Maya Declaration. In fact, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim recently launched an initiative “to provide universal financial access to all working-age adults by 2020.”
 
As we know from the Global Findex, more than 2.5 billion people lack access to even a basic bank account — a huge gap in inclusion and an enormous opportunity. Demographic changes, economic growth and advances in technology are making global financial inclusion more possible than ever before. With a massive new market of people demanding new services as incomes rise among the bottom 40 percent, the stage is set for dramatic leaps in access in the next few years. Emerging technologies are bringing down costs and opening new business models while providing greater access to a range of services.
 
Recognizing that the time is ripe for significant progress on financial inclusion, the Center for Financial Inclusion developed a consultative process aimed to raise everyone's sights about the possibilities of achieving full inclusion within a foreseeable timeframe – using the year 2020 as a focal point. The process sought to build a more cohesive financial inclusion “community” through the development of a common vision. It brought together experts from the World Bank, IFC and CGAP along with many representatives of the private sector and the social sector. Financial Inclusion 2020’s Roadmap to Financial Inclusion is the result.

Ask Malala: 'A Woman Is Even More Powerful Than Men'

Katrin Schulz's picture



On this year’s International Day of the Girl, I was part of the vast audience in the Atrium of the World Bank who had the opportunity to hear Malala Yousafza, the young activist who is inspiring the world with her bravery and courage, speak about her passionate fight for girls’ education.

Just the night before, she had wowed Jon Stewart on his television show with her poignantly articulate and exceedingly wise responses. Among them, she said: “I believe in equality. And I believe there is no difference between a man and a woman. I even believe that a woman is more powerful than men.”

These words, though spoken by a teenager, could scarcely ring more true amid the battle to eliminate poverty. Women are indeed more powerful than men, in the sense that, when you invest in a woman, you also invest in her family, her community and her country at large.

Phailin: Lessons Learned and More

Swati Mishra's picture

“How can risk be measured and managed better globally? “

 ADRA India/European Commission, Creative Commons.This was the question posed to the panelists of the “Risk and Opportunity” event on Oct 9, 2013. It was ironic that a World Development Report (WDR) on risk, which I supported through online publicity, was launching at the same time that a serious storm was threatening Odisha, my home state in India.  As the Annual Meetings of top ministers, policy experts and civil society organizations progressed, so did cyclone Phailin, and the importance of the theme of the WDR 2014 couldn’t have been more pronounced.

A Billion-dollar Opportunity for Developing Countries

Otaviano Canuto's picture
The decision last week by the Swiss government to sign the OECD’s somewhat lengthily named Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters is the latest of a series of developments that have radically increased the amount and quality of tax information available to governments.

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