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February 2016

1995: Helping implement Mongolia’s Poverty Alleviation Program

Jim Anderson's picture
Photo courtesy of WB Group Archives
Growth picked up to 6.4% in 1995, but it was a short-lived acceleration—it would be another eight years before Mongolia reached that level of growth again.  The World Bank/IDA’s first ever Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Mongolia noted that, as painful as the first half of the 1990s had been for Mongolia, it was not as bad as in the countries of the former Soviet Union.  Only the Baltic countries had growth resume by 1994.  The CAS attributed Mongolia’s turnaround to five factors: strong monetary, fiscal and exchange rate policies to achieve macroeconomic stabilization; an early privatization program which opened the door for a private sector supply response; prompt and continued assistance of the international community; political stability and progress on institutional reforms, including the adoption of several new laws to support the new market-oriented economy; and government commitment: “When controversial decisions need to be taken, reform-oriented views have prevailed within the Cabinet and Parliament. The Government, and society at large, are aware that a return to the past is impossible and emphasize that a market-oriented economy based on democratic principles is central to their development philosophy.”

Focus on the “day before” to better plan for the “day after”

Raja Rehan Arshad's picture
Recovery efforts from the conflict in the Ukraine can learn much from reconstruction after natural disasters. Photo Credit: Alexey Filippov for UNICEF


Lessons learned over time from post-conflict recovery and reconstruction efforts reflect the need to reinforce stabilization immediately following the end of a conflict.

Being ready in advance with a recovery and reconstruction plan is one way to ensure that critical interventions can be implemented quickly following the cessation of hostilities.This can be achieved to a large extent by coordinating with humanitarian efforts in the recovery continuum during active conflict.
 
Such a plan helps to identify actionable opportunities that can help to support local-level recovery. This includes immediate improvements in services and enhancing livelihood opportunities essential to establishing popular confidence in state institutions and to fostering social cohesion.

Did you do your power calculations using standard deviations? Do them again...

Berk Ozler's picture

As the number of RCTs increase, it’s more common to see ex ante power calculations in study proposals. More often than not, you’ll see a statement like this: “The sample size is K clusters and n households per cluster. With this sample, the minimum detectable effect (MDE) is 0.3 standard deviations.” This, I think, is typically insufficient and can lead to wasteful spending on data collection or misallocation of resources for a given budget.

1994: Assessing the real costs of the economic contraction

Jim Anderson's picture
Today we look at 1994.  At last the economic collapse of the early 1990s bottomed out and growth resumed.  The economic hardship of the first years of transition, however, had taken its toll.  A study on financing of education found that “Between 1990 and 1992, government expenditures and education expenditures were cut by 57.6 percent and 56.0 percent, respectively. The decline in public spending was more than three times as much as the decline in GDP. In 1993, the allocation to education was reduced to 15.2 percent of the state budget, and to 3.8 percent of GDP.”

Enrolments fell generally, but herders' children who attended boarding schools were affected more severely than other children. “Enrollment of boarders in 1992 was only half of that in 1989. In sum, those who bear the brunt of structural adjustment are rural children.”  The challenge of educating herders’ children remains to this day a part of the World Bank program in Mongolia.

The gamification of education

Mariam Adil's picture

Also available in: Español

Randomania" simulates the challenges of designing randomized control trials for health and education interventions.
Changing behavior is tough. It is tough to quit smoking, to save more money, or to choose walking up the stairs over an elevator. Behavior change becomes even tougher when it’s compounded with the challenges of poverty.
 

Remittances and integrity: how to exist in harmony

Emily Rose Adeleke's picture

Page also available: French, Spanish



How do countries ensure that remittance service providers – who are often serving the world’s poorest people – mitigate their risk for abuse by money launderers and terrorist organizations?
 
This important question is addressed by new Guidance from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international standard-setting body for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).
 
The United Nations estimates that developing countries received over US$400 billion in remittances from migrants living abroad in 2014. These funds are often the first financial service that migrants and their families use, so it is important that people can send and receive funds with relative ease and at reasonable cost. However, remittance service providers and the governments that supervise them, must ensure that they are not abused by parties undertaking illegitimate activities such as money laundering or terrorist financing.  

To grow sustainably, cities first need to get their finances right

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Local and municipal governments often operate with limited financial resources, yet they are responsible for delivering an ever-expanding range of infrastructure and services. In many countries, decentralization also tends to put additional pressure on municipal finances, as cities and towns are increasingly expected to take the lead in implementing national policies locally. Yet, this transfer of responsibilities from the national to the local level often does not come with an adequate transfer of resources.
 
In other words, cities are expected to "do more with less"... This can only happen if local government practitioners have the right tools and knowledge to manage their resources as strategically and efficiently as possible. To help cities get their financial house in order, the World Bank has developed the Municipal Finances Handbook (available in English and Spanish), which provides government officials with extensive guidance on controlling expenditures, strengthening revenues, mobilizing external funds, achieving creditworthiness, and adopting good borrowing practices.
 
Lead Urban Specialist Catherine Farvacque-Vitkovic tells us more about the handbook and the associated e-learning course: “Municipal Finances - A Learning Program for Local Governments”.
 
Please note the next edition of our online course will run from March 30 - May 23, 2016. Click here to learn more and sign up (registration ends March 30).

Employers install technology, robots don’t

Siddhartha Raja's picture
Newspapers and conferences are abuzz with how machines are taking over the world of work. The predictions about how many jobs will be lost or skills rendered obsolete are often dire; some suggest that more than half of today’s jobs could be lost to automation, for example. The problem with much of this analysis, however, is that it glosses over how machines have no agency. People make decisions about who stays employed and who does not. Rather fixating on the future of work as technology versus humans, it is more useful to think about how and when employers may adopt and adapt to technology, and what that means both for them and for their workers.
 

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