Goma is a girl, born in rural Kalikot. Her parents are illiterate, belong to the Dalit community and are in the bottom 20 percent of Nepal’s wealth distribution. Champa is also a girl born to a household very similar to Goma’s, but her parents are from a village in Siraha. Avidit is a boy born to an upper caste household in urban Kathmandu. Both his parents have a university education and come from affluent backgrounds.
In a society where opportunities are equally available for children of all socio-economic backgrounds, Goma, Avidit and Champa would all have equal odds of becoming doctors, or engineers or successful entrepreneurs. But in Nepal, the life trajectory of these children begins to diverge very early in life.
It has been almost ten years since Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein wrote Nudge, but the revolution in behavioral policymaking is still unfolding.
Around the world, behavioral economists and policymakers strive to show that a richer model of human behavior can improve both individual and social welfare in virtually all domains of society.
"You can commit to what you control; if you commit to what you don’t control, you are just a fool.”
- Tidjane Thiam, in response to criticism of his new plan for Credit Suisse. Rather than dramatic restructuring seen at other banks, Credit Suisse will reduce the amount of risk-weighted assets by about a fifth and raise equity through a combination of increasing capital by $6.3 billion from sales of shares, scaling back investment banking, slashing costs and a modest shake-up among senior management.
Thiam is a French Ivorian businessman and former politician who became the Chief Executive of Credit Suisse in June 2015. Born in Côte d'Ivoire, he holds dual Ivorian and French citizenship.
In one such case, both bankers and critics of public-private partnerships (PPPs) are happily united in dumping risks on unsuspecting taxpayers – precisely the citizens whose interests they profess to serve. How so?
Banks are unusual firms. They carry little equity relative to debt – often no more than five percent of total assets at best. Typical firms in other sectors would find such levels of equity positively dangerous. They often carry equity worth 50 percent of assets, many even more.
Bankers say equity is expensive and debt cheap. Hence low leverage – little equity as a share of assets – makes sense. If that were it, firms other than banks would be fairly dim-witted. They should also load up on debt and thus lower costs. So why don’t they?
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a growing clamor for a global commitment to universal health coverage (UHC). You might have seen the recent special issue of the Lancet on “the struggle for UHC”. Inevitably, accompanying this clamor, there’s been a lot of wracking of brains on how to measure progress toward UHC. With the excitement of a new political agenda, there’s understandably a desire to carve out a new measurement agenda too. While not wanting dampen people’s enthusiasm for the UHC cause, I would like us to reflect whether on the measurement agenda we’re building enough on what’s been done before.
The World Bank is revising its Operational Guidelines for Textbooks and Reading Materials [pdf]. Commonly referred to as our 'textbook policy', this is a guidance document for our ‘clients’ and partners in ministries of education and finance, our own staff and (to a lesser extent) broader stakeholder communities interested and involved in the development, procurement, dissemination, and assessment of the use, of learning materials (especially within the context of World Bank-funded projects in the education sector).
The current policy dates from 2002. My first reaction when I heard that the World Bank would be revising its “textbook policy” was to the term itself. In 2012, surely we should be thinking beyond just 'textbooks', more broadly encompassing a wide variety of educational resources than the traditional conception of a printed book landing with a thud on the desk of a student? Despite regular proclamations from certain quarters about the impending ‘death of the printed book’, printed textbooks – especially in the developing countries where the World Bank is active -- aren’t going away any time soon. That said, there is no doubt that the landscape of and business climate for ‘educational publishers’ is changing radically in much of the world, and that this change is being fueled in large part by the increased distribution and adoption of a variety of disruptive technologies, which are increasingly to be found in schools and local communities, even in some of the poorest.
How might, or should, a new World Bank ‘textbook policy’ be relevant and useful in such a world going forward? How narrowly – or expansively – should it consider its guidance related to learning materials? To what extent should such a policy attempt to signal or highlight the potential relevance or importance of certain trends, approaches or perspectives – especially as they relate to the emergence of a variety of new technologies?
Leveraging Technology and Partnerships to Promote Equity in South Asia
Wednesday, April 18 at 9:00AM
The Next South Asia Regional Flagship on equity and development (March 2013) will feature an eBook which will combine interactive multimedia as a part of the World Bank Open Data and Open Knowledge initiatives. This signals a new era in development analysis is produced and shared.
Please RSVP to Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday, April 17th to attend.
Twitter hashtag: #wbequity
Breaking Down Barriers: A New Dawn on Trade and Regional Cooperation in South Asia
Thursday, April 19 at 3:00PM
As I was packing for a trip to the 2011 ABCDE on “Broadening Opportunities for Development” in Paris, I got a call from an old friend: Would I write a blog on how I saw the “impact” of the 2006 World Development Report, which was entitled “Equity and Development”, over the last five years? Since my friend was paying my ticket to Paris, I could not really refuse, but I did tell her that I had heard Esther Duflo was also going to the ABCDE, so I had better not pretend that one could assess the real “impact” of that report on the practice of development economics…
I am glad to reminisce, though! The World Development Report (WDR) 2006, which Michael Walton and I led under François Bourguignon’s guidance, was an attempt to bring issues of distribution back into the core of the development debate. Distribution was central to the concerns of early development economists, from W. A. Lewis and Simon Kuznets in the 1950s, to Ahluwalia and Chenery’s Redistribution with Growth (1974). After an interlude - marked by the onslaught of representative agent models in macroeconomics and by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan on the global stage – inequality made a tentative return to mainstream economics in the early 1990s. At that time, a number of authors suggested that today’s distribution of wealth (or income) might affect tomorrow’s growth and development prospects, via a myriad pathways: investment capacity, occupational choice, political economy, etc.