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Learning from Data-Driven Delivery

Aleem Walji's picture

Given confusion around the phrase “science of delivery,” it’s important to state that delivery science is not a “one-size-fits-all” prescription based on the premise that what works somewhere can work anywhere. And it does not profess that research and evidence ensure a certain outcome.
 
A few weeks ago, the World Bank and the Korea Development Institute convened a global conference on the science of delivery. Several development institutions assembled including the Gates Foundation, the Grameen Foundation, UNICEF, the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, and the mHealth Alliance. We discussed development opportunities and challenges when focusing on the extremely poor, including experiments in health care, how technology is reducing costs and increasing effectiveness, and the difficulty of moving from successful pilots to delivery at scale.
 
The consensus in Seoul was that a science of delivery underscores the importance of a data-driven and rigorous process to understand what works, under what conditions, why, and how. Too often in international development, we jump to conclusions without understanding counterfactuals and assume we can replicate success without understanding its constituent elements.

Democracy and Crime: An Old Question Awaiting New Answers

José Cuesta's picture

The recent political unrest and violence occurring across the world have revived an old question, one that is so straightforward that it rarely gets a straightforward and convincing answer: Does democracy fuel or quench violence? For decades, sociologists, historians, political scientists, criminologists, and economists have hypothesized numerous associations, predicting just about any result.

Let’s focus on democracy’s relationship with crime. Democracies have been predicted to fuel crime (conflict theory); decrease crime (civilization theory); initially raise and then decrease crime (modernization perspective); have no impact at all (null hypothesis); or have an unpredictable impact depending on the development of their political institutions (comparative advantage theory).

In a recently published paper, I argue that the many existing explanations relating crime and democracy suffer from what I describe as an “identification” problem. The different explanations are not necessarily exclusionary in terms of their determinants, mechanisms, and predictions, which makes testing those explanations a rather difficult business. Furthermore, predictions are imprecise. This is unsurprising when dealing with concepts as fluid as democratization, political transitions, and democratic maturity. Arguments talk vaguely of early and late stages and of short or medium terms to describe the processes’ dynamics. The result is a broad range of predictions consistent with various hypotheses simultaneously. 

Moneyballing Development: A Challenge to our Collective Wisdom of Project Funding

Tanya Gupta's picture
The biggest promise of technology in development is, perhaps, that it can provide us access to consistent, actionable and reliable data on investments and results.  However, somewhat shockingly, we in development have not fully capitalized on this promise as compared to the private sector.  Would you invest your precious pension hoping you will get something back but without having any reliable data on the rate of return or how risky your investment is?  If you have two job applicants, one who is a methamphetamine addict and the other is one who has a solid work history and great references, would you give equal preference to both?  If your answer to either is no, then take a look at the field of international development and consider the following:
  • Surprising lack of consistent, reliable data on development effectiveness: Among the various sectoral interventions, we have no uniformly reliable data on the effectiveness of every dollar spent.  For example of every dollar spent in infrastructure programs in sub-Saharan Africa, how many cents are effective? Based on the same assumptions, do we have a comparable number for South East Asia? In other words why don’t we have more data on possible development investments and the associated costs, benefits/returns and risks?
  • Failure to look at development effectiveness evidence at the planning stage: Very few development programs look at the effectiveness evidence before the selection of a particular intervention.  Say, a sectoral intervention A in a particular region has a history of positive outcomes (due to attributable factors such as well performing implementation agencies) as opposed to another intervention B where chances of improved outcomes are foggy.  Given the same needs (roughly) why shouldn’t we route funds to A instead of B in the planning stage? Why should we give equal preference to both based purely on need?

Privacy is so 20th Century

Sina Odugbemi's picture
Modern life is life on the grid: credit cards, smart phones, internet connections, social media presence and so on. And here is the truth: Life on the grid is life in a fishbowl erected on stilts in a bazaar. As a result, something that we once thought was important to us as citizens is not simply lost, it is irretrievably lost: it is the idea of privacy.

The concept of privacy itself is notoriously difficult to define. In reading around the subject, I found this description of it by Larry Peterman in a 1993 essay in The Review of Politics titled ‘Privacy’s Background’:

We look upon the private as that part of our lives insulated against the communal or public broadly constructed, protected from unwarranted intrusion by others, including political authorities, and the place where, in the last resort, we can clothe ourselves in anonymity.


I think that is exactly right. It is what Grant Mindle, in an earlier essay, calls ‘concealment and seclusion’ that protected place where we can have parts of our lives that will not leak into the public arena.

Between Hope, Cynicism, Anger and the Banality of Data

Maitreyi Bordia Das's picture

The World Bank and Oxfam India co-organized a high energy event earlier this week - Joining Forces to End Violence Against Women. It was an intense two days – about 200 participants from diverse backgrounds  gathered to listen, to educate each other, to speak up, and to build alliances; in short, to join forces towards the next step. Several of them congratulated the “movement” on progress – on having coopted unlikely allies, on the fact that more men were involved than ever before, and that public outrage against violence is widespread in South Asia.  Surely, this will lead to change, is the implicit hope.  But long-time warriors like Flavia Agnes, voiced angst and discouragement, as only those who have spent a lifetime of struggle are entitled to. Finally, the anger came from 21-year old Urmila Chaudhary – freed from bondage as a Kamalari – “where were you all when I was pledged to a family as a maid at the age of six”, she asked a somber audience?

World Bank to publish Purchasing Power Parities in December 2013

Frederic A. Vogel's picture

Given the complex nature of the ICP and the fact that it has become the largest worldwide statistical operation, the program decided that the December release will be postponed until March 2014, in an effort to produce the utmost quality results. Read more ...

The preliminary results from the 2011 round of the International Comparison Program (ICP) will be released in December 2013 followed by a more in-depth report in March 2014. The first release will provide Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs), price level indexes, and real expenditures for gross domestic product (GDP) and major aggregates for over 190 countries. Major economic indicators on the global economy produced by the World Bank are based on PPPs which are used to provide internationally comparable price and volume measures for GDP and its expenditure components. The same PPPs are used to determine comparable poverty levels across countries based on the $1.25 per day poverty line.

Quote of the Week: Ian Bremmer

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Around the world, the race is on between a communications revolution that empowers the individual and a data revolution designed to protect the state. This contest will play out in different countries in different ways…We can’t yet know how this race will end, but it is a mistake to assume the state can’t hold its own for years to come.”

- Ian Bremmer. Author and President of Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm.

Announcing the launch of the GPFI Basic Set of Financial Inclusion Indicators

Leora Klapper's picture


GPFI: 2011 Branch Penetration Map

The ascent of financial inclusion in the policy agendas of governments and international organizations has been swift, to say the least. Its rise has been accompanied by a torrent of financial inclusion data, from supply-side indicators of bank branch penetration, to demand-side measures of the usage of formal accounts, to wide-ranging data on finance at the firm level. Yet with all these different datasets floating around, it has often been difficult to arrive at a holistic understanding of the financial inclusion landscape in a particular country, or develop international standards of measurement and monitoring. With the release on April 21st of the G20’s Financial Inclusion Data Portal showcasing the ‘G20 Basic Set of Financial Inclusion Indicators’, we hope that that will change.

DataDive Q&A with Data Ambassadors: Identifying Fraud and Corruption with Technology

Itir Sonuparlak's picture

This post is part of the Q&A Series with the Data Ambassadors from DataDive2013. You can also read an interview with the fraud and corruption data ambassadorsa recap of Data Dive 2013, and watch the presentations from the weekend.

Photo credit: Itir Sonuparlak

During DataDive 2013, each project had an assigned data ambassador, a leader to guide and direct the research and efforts of the teams. In the days following the DataDive, we spoke with two of the data ambassadors from the fraud and corruption related projects to learn more about their experiences. Read their responses below and join the conversation in our comments section.

  • Taimur Sajid develops financial models to asses risk for a financial firm and acted as a data ambassador during the DataDive.
  • Marc Maxson is an Innovation Consultant with Global Giving and brought his Heuristic Auditing Tool to the DataDive.

 

DataDive Q&A with Data Ambassadors: Tackling Poverty with Technology

Itir Sonuparlak's picture

This post is part of the Q&A Series with the Data Ambassadors from DataDive2013. You can also read an interview with the poverty data ambassadorsa recap of Data Dive 2013, and watch the presentations from the weekend.

 Carlos Teodoro Linares Carvalho

Data Ambassadors posing at the end of DataDive 2013. Photo Credit: Carlos Teodoro Linares Carvalho.

During DataDive 2013, each project had an assigned data ambassador, a leader to guide and direct the research and efforts of the teams. In the days following the DataDive, we spoke with four of the data ambassadors from the poverty projects to learn more about their experiences. Read their responses below and join the conversation in our comments section.

  • Monique Williams is an independent consultant and a statistician at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She led and represented the UNDP Resource Allocation team.
  • Nick McClellan is the web production editor for the New America Foundation and he represented the Night Illumination team.
  • Max Richman is an independent consultant who provides research and technology services to non-profits, foundations and governments focused on international development. He led the Website Scraping team.
  • Tom Levine works in data analysis and he represented the Arabic Tweets project. 

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