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December 2016

Education’s hollow promise of social mobility in Europe

Christian Bodewig's picture
The new PISA data shows that, in many countries in the European Union, the promise of social mobility continues to be a hollow one. (Photo: Flore de Préneuf /World Bank)

This blog originally appeared in the Brookings Institute blog on December 7, 2016.

As 2016 draws to a close, few questions are asked with greater urgency in Europe than this: How can countries tackle inequality? Education usually tops the list of most promising solutions to inequality between rich and poor or between advanced and lagging regions. Education equips children and youth, regardless of their social background, with the skills to get a good job. As such, it is an engine of social mobility. So goes the theory. But what about the practice? 

Media (R)evolutions: Social media and communication tools under assault?

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

According to the latest “Freedom on the Net ” report “In a new trend, governments increasingly target messaging and voice communication apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram.” Annual report of the Freedom House, it tracks improvements and declines in governments’ policies and practices. This year the report covered 65 countries.  

While Facebook and Twitter have long been targeted by governments, silencing messaging apps is somewhat new.

Messaging apps have become an integral part of peoples’ lives, enabling millions of them to communicate with their friends and family much easier, faster, and cheaper. If messaging apps are so helpful in connecting people, why do governments target them so much? One of the main reasons is encryption! In addition to low, or often no cost associated with them, messaging apps also offer a sense of security not often available in other modes of communication. Many messaging apps, like WhatsApp, use encryption. Encryption ensures that messages are secured and encrypted, making it harder, if not impossible, for governments, to monitor content.
 

Source: Freedom House

How better data on infrastructure projects can support private investment in emerging markets

Joaquim Levy's picture

We live in an inter-connected, data-driven world. Investors, like many other professionals, rely more and more on data to make informed decisions on where, when, and how they should invest their money.

But, as I discussed in a recent blog, a number of commercial dashboards are aiming to close this gap, with information on infrastructure projects that need financing in emerging markets. These and other specialized commercial databases are trying to map the market, giving investors tools to identify investment-ready opportunities with the best chance of a sizeable return.

Ushering in a new era for jobs and economic transformation through IDA18

Thomas Farole's picture
With IDA18, new approaches to operations, new financial instruments, as well as new analytics and tools will help ensure we deliver on the jobs agenda. Photo: © John Hogg/World Bank

On December 14th and 15th donor and borrower country representatives of the World Bank Group will meet in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to finalize details for the 18th replenishment of IDA. The final agreement on IDA18 is expected to usher in a new era for IDA, the Bank’s fund for the poorest, dramatically increasing the level of financing and the potential for impact on development for the world’s poorest countries.
 
Central to the discussions on IDA over the past year has been the issue of jobs – how to deliver more jobs to meet the demands of a growing youth population; how best to improve job quality, particularly for the vast majority of workers in IDA countries who struggle in subsistence-level self-employment and other forms of informal employment; and how to make jobs more inclusive to women, youth, and populations in remote and lagging regions.

#10 from 2016: Nudge for good: How insights from behavioral economics can improve the world— and manipulate people

Roxanne Bauer's picture
Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2016. This post was originally posted on August 16, 2016.
 
Richard H. Thaler is a world-renowned behavioral economist and professor of finance and psychology. Recently, he was interviewed by The Economist. The discussion covers some of the fundamental studies in the field, like “save more tomorrow” which encourages people to save more by signing up to increase their savings rate every year and auto-enrollment for pensions that have drastically increased employee participation in pension funds.

Thaler also suggests, in the interview, that behavioral economics has the ability to influence human behavior for both good and bad. He argues that much of what behavioral economics does is remove barriers. The goal is not to change people but to make life easier, but that idea can be skewed by organizations or individuals looking to capitalize on the biases of people. Whenever he is asked to sign a copy of his book Nudge, he writes “nudge for good” which is a plea, he says, to improve the lives of people and avoid insidious behavior.

The list of ways companies nudge behavior is endless, and I would love to hear more examples from you all in the comments section. In the meantime here are a few- I’ll let you judge which ones “nudge for good”:

Financial incentives in health: supply- vs. demand-side. Your help is needed!

Adam Wagstaff's picture

A blogpost on financial incentives in health by one of us in September 2015 generated considerable interest. The post raised several issues, one being whether demand-side financial incentives (like maternal vouchers) are more or less effective at increasing the uptake of key maternal and child health (MCH) interventions than supply-side financial incentives (variously called pay-for-performance (P4P) or performance-based financing (PBF)).

The four of us are now hard at work investigating this question — and related ones — in a much more systematic fashion. And we'd very much welcome your help.

How are PPPs really financed?

Jenny Chao's picture



One of the prevailing notions about PPPs is that upfront costs are wholly paid for by the private sector, allowing the public to spread their costs (whether as users or through taxes) throughout the life of the project. However, this is a myth – governments, multilateral development banks (MDBs), and bilateral financing institutions all play strong roles in the various stages of financing PPPs. Just what kind of role, and how big, requires looking at the data.

Fortunately, now for the first time, it is possible to view the breakdown of financing sources for PPPs in low- and middle-income countries on the PPI Database. Accompanying the data is a recently released note that analyzes the sources of financing for 2015 PPP projects in these countries. The findings indicate that, in fact, financing for PPPs comes from a diverse mix of sources.

The Sources of Financing Note, available on the PPI Database website, breaks down the data on how upfront capital costs in PPPs in the dataset are financed globally, and by region and sector.

Do the right thing: Tax tobacco!

Alex Kremer's picture
Both my grandfathers smoked when they were young. My father’s father was a shopkeeper who smoked a pipe and my mother’s father was a smallholder who smoked cigarettes. Both died of heart failure and left my grandmothers as widows. My father grew up as a little boy in an atmosphere of pipe smoke and sometimes I wonder whether this contributed to his asthma and his own heart problems. My mother became a doctor, a cancer specialist, and she always used to tell my brother and me that we should never smoke, because she saw every day what smoking had done to her patients.

Can you crowdsource water quality data?

Pratibha Mistry's picture
Photo: Adapted from Archana Jarajapu
on Flickr under
Creative Commons 2.0.
The recently released Contextual Framework for Crowdsourcing Water Quality Data lays out a strategy for citizen engagement in decentralized water quality monitoring, enabled by the “mobile revolution.”

According to the WHO, 1.8 billion people lack access to safe drinking water worldwide. Poor source water quality, non-existent or insufficient treatment, and defects in water distribution systems and storage mean these consumers use water that often doesn’t meet the WHO’s Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality.

The crowdsourcing framework develops a strategy to engage citizens in measuring and learning about the quality of their own drinking water. Through their participation, citizens provide utilities and water supply agencies with cost-effective water quality data in near-real time. Following a typical crowdsourcing model: consumers use their mobile phones to report water quality information to a central service. That service receives the information, then repackages and shares it via mobile phone messages, websites, dashboards, and social media. Individual citizens can thus be educated about their water quality, and water management agencies and other stakeholders can use the data to improve water management; it’s a win-win.

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