There is a growing perception that spatial disparities in development indicators within countries are becoming more pronounced. Sub-national data are needed to inform policy makers on such matters. However, data on the sub-national level is less frequent (curated in a global setting) because sub-national administrative areas change frequently.
Claire Kfouri is a Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist at the World Bank and Task Team Leader of World Bank water operations in Lebanon.
Social scientists have for long acknowledged that people evaluate their own wellbeing not only on the basis of what they have but also on the basis of what they have relatively to what other people have. Adam Smith (1776) wrote that "By necessaries I understand not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without".1 And Marx (1847) wrote that "A house may be large or small; as long as the neighboring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirement for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks to a hut”.2
Despite the old age of these ideas, it is only during the second half of the twentieth century that scholars have tried to provide more analytical substance to the concept of relative deprivation. Duesemberry (1949)3 proposed a relative income hypothesis based on the idea that people determine their savings behavior not on their absolute incomes but on their relative position on the income scale. Runciman (1966)4 built an entire theory of social justice around the concept of relative deprivation defined as the sense of frustration that people experience when they observe other people having something they desire and within their reach but unattainable. While popular, these new theories struggled to become mainstream and it is only recently and thanks to studies on happiness that the concepts of relative deprivation have acquired new life.
World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte issued the following statement welcoming the United Nations announcement today of two new UN special envoys on climate change: John A. Kufuor, who served as president of Ghana from 2001 to 2009 and chairperson of the African Union from 2007 to 2008, and Jens Stoltenberg, the prime minister of Norway from 2000 to 2001 and 2005 to 2013.
"The appointment of President John A. Kufuor and former PM Jens Stoltenberg as the Special Envoys on Climate Change by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is a crucial step to mobilize political will in advance of the UN 2014 Climate Summit. At the World Bank Group we are working with countries to increase ambition and take climate action by highlighting their opportunities for action that build growth, jobs, and resilience. We are delighted to support the Special Envoys, who will be critical to meeting the climate challenge."
We asked our bloggers and guest bloggers for their predictions for 2014. Here is a summary of seven main themes, which we will re-visit in late 2014 to see how well we did.
1. Global growth will remain robust and tapering by the U.S. Fed will be less consequential to emerging markets than expected (Bhaskaran, Zaman, Raiser). China will do better than markets predict (Huang), and East Asia will continue to grow with relative stability (Quah). At the same time, the economic policies of some Latin American countries will bring their economies to a breaking point, causing political chaos as well (Gonzalez). Political turmoil and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa will continue to weigh heavily on these economies, with average growth for the region below 3 percent (Devarajan).
2. For Europe, 2014 will be a better year. 100 years after the beginning of the First World War, the Balkans will again be the focus of attention but for better reasons. A more pro-European outlook in Germany and a successful launch of negotiations with Serbia will bode well for the EU. Bosnia and Herzegovina, the scene of the assassination of heir apparent Franz Ferdinand which triggered the beginning first world war, will do surprisingly well at the World Cup in Brazil, for which it qualified for the first time ever. The joy, however, will only be short-lived because political infighting will continue to make it one of the least governable states in Europe (Fengler).
I recently saw saw a short video by Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, on the United Nations Foundation website, that illustrates how electricity can transform the lives of women and reduce poverty. There is no shortage of evidence to show how electricity can reduce the burden of manual labor for women, freeing them to study, start their own businesses, or invest more in their children. There are also many stories of how solar power and efficient stoves contribute to poverty reduction. These methods work, and I’m all for it. But I can’t help but be frustrated at their scale. It’s great to help people, one family at a time. But wouldn’t it be great if hundreds of thousands of people could get electricity, all at once?
Nowhere is the need for electricity greater than in Sub-Saharan Africa. Half a billion Africans live without electricity — more than half of its population of 910 million and a sizeable percentage of the 1.3 billion people without power globally.
The OECD this week released a report measuring how its member countries are performing in their efforts to stem illicit financial flows (IFF). While much attention is likely to focus on the chapters discussing money laundering, tax evasion and bribery -- the main sources of illicit financial flows -- the report features an important discussion of the other side of the equation: how are OECD countries performing in returning illicit financial flows?
Thanks to the efforts of the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), there is data available on the recovery of illicit flows from bribery and corruption. The OECD report previews some of this information, showing that OECD countries have improved their results in terms of freezing assets (increasing from US$1.225 billion in 2006-2009, to US$1.398 in the shorter period of 2010-June 2012). At the same time the figures demonstrate that there has been little progress on asset returns (from US$276 million in 2006-2009, to US$147 million in 2010-June 2012). Most of the activity in both periods has been in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States -- countries that have made asset recovery a political priority and that have adopted innovative approaches to overcome the barriers involved in the process.