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Human Capital

Poverty and Disasters—Why resilience matters

Jun Erik Rentschler's picture
Family whose home floods every year. Colombia | Photo: © Scott Wallace / World Bank
Family whose home floods every year. Colombia
Photo: © Scott Wallace / World Bank

It is an alarming trend: extreme weather events and disasters recorded around the globe are increasing in frequency, and in the magnitude of overall economic losses they cause. The recent devastation left by Taiphoon Haiyan in the Philippines is a tragic reminder that many countries around the world continue to be highly vulnerable to natural hazards. While low- and high-income countries alike experience extreme natural events, it is particularly in lower income countries where such events result in economic and humanitarian disasters.

However, the statistics on casualties and economic losses reported in the media fail to give us the full picture of a much more complex, extensive, and prolonged tragedy — which is mainly experienced bythe poorest.

The Philippine Jobs Challenge: How to create more and better jobs?

Karl Kendrick Chua's picture
The Philippine Jobs Challenge
By 2016, around 12.4 million Filipinos would be unemployed, underemployed, or would have to work or create work for themselves in the low pay informal sector by selling goods like many seen here in Quiapo, Manila.

The Philippines faces an enormous jobs challenge. Good jobs—meaning jobs that raise real wages or bring people out of poverty—needed to be provided to 3 million unemployed and 7 million underemployed Filipinos—that is those who do not get enough pay and are looking for more work—as of 2012.

In addition, good jobs need to be provided to around 1.15 million Filipinos who will enter the labor force every year from 2013 to 2016. That is a total of 14.6 million jobs that need to be created through 2016.

Did you know that every year in the last decade, only 1 out of every 4 new jobseeker gets a good job? Of the 500,000 college graduates every year, roughly half or only 240,000 are absorbed in the formal sector such as business process outsourcing (BPO) industry (52,000), manufacturing (20,000), and other industries such as finance and real estate.

Is the human capital 'gender gap' a matter of experience, education or both?

Mohammad Amin's picture

After a long job search, you are rewarded by the phone call all job seekers wait patiently for, the interview invitation. You prep and spend as much time on the outfit you plan to wear as you do practicing mock interviews with your friends. You get to the interview all prepared to discuss your semester abroad as a graduate student, your thesis that took you to Congo and extensive work experience that landed you coveted past jobs. Your prospective employer will be as interested in your past work experience as in your formal education or schooling. The quality and the quantity (number of years) of relevant experience could drop you out of the race all together or…land you the job, determine your pay bracket and impact your future career growth.

 


Is a solid education enough to level the gender gap in human capital? (Credit: World Bank)

What It Takes for Trade to Reduce Poverty in Africa

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Despite tremendous progress in poverty reduction over the last two decades, poverty still persists. Along with South Asia,  Africa is a region where large numbers of people continue to live in extreme poverty. It is also a region where there is clearly room for higher foreign trade levels (see Chart). Given that trade can generate growth – and thus poverty reduction – focus on trade-related reforms (e.g. lower tariffs, better logistics, and trade facilitation)  deserves to be a high priority of the region.

Brazilian Competitiveness: Folia and Hangover

Otaviano Canuto's picture

As the Carnival in Brazil kicked off last weekend, Brazilians were ready for a party. They have reasons to celebrate. Despite a lackluster GDP performance in the last two years, unemployment rates remain at record low levels.

Is Infrastructure Capital Productive?

From a theoretical and empirical standpoint, the contribution of infrastructure capital to aggregate productivity and output has been extensively researched. Public capital has been modeled as an additional input in Ramsey-type exogenous growth models and in endogenous models as well. On the empirical front, the literature has witnessed a proliferation of research over the last 20 years following Aschauer’s (1989) seminal paper on the effects of public infrastructure capital on US total factor productivity. His finding of excessively high returns to infrastructure, however, has not held up. Subsequent research using a large variety of data and more robust econometric techniques has yielded widely contrasting empirical results. For instance, Bom and Ligthart (2008) find that estimates of the output elasticity of public capital range from -0.175 to +0.917 in a wide set of empirical research for industrial countries.

Stepping It Up For Vocational Education

Nicole Goldstein's picture

Students themselves stepping it up. Last weekend, I was fortunate to be at the same dinner party as Jeff Puryear, co-director of PREAL and a luminary in the education field. We got talking about his PhD thesis from 1977, which I later found out, was perhaps the first serious study of the impact of job training in Colombia's SENA industrial training programs in Bogotá.

His study had three goals:
 

First, to analyze the socioeconomic characteristics of people who enrolled with SENA relative to those who did not, with a view to identifying the kind of candidates that the programs attracted; second, to estimate the impact of SENA training on the wages of a randomly-chosen individual who had undergone no training before taking part in a SENA program; and third, to calculate the private and social benefits of the SENA program. 

The Cross-Over Effect: Education Can Be a Fault Line or the Bedrock for Development

Christine Horansky's picture

Haiti's Ministry of Education is leveled by the Jan 2010 earthquakeWhat is the relationship between education and geological processes? At first glance, some might think: Not much. One concerns the opening and enlightenment of the mind; the other is as old, rock-solid and unpredictable as the Earth itself.

But the collapse of so many buildings and homes that killed more than 200,000 people in the Haiti earthquake was in large part due to an utter "lack of qualified architects, urban planners, builders and zoning experts," points out a recent article in the New York Times.

In the tragedy of these moments it becomes painfully clear what a lack of adequate education and training has meant. Even worse, such revelation shines a light on very hard questions for posterity. What will the future of a country look like that has lost so many of its doctors, teachers and future leaders?

What Can Sri Lanka and Africa Learn from Each Other?

Shanta Devarajan's picture

The title of this post may seem a bit odd. What can an island of 20 million people and a diverse continent of 47 countries have in common? The answer: Both were thought to have initial advantages that would generate rapid economic growth; instead, they have fallen painfully short of expectations. 

In the African case, the advantage was its rich natural resources such as oil and minerals. But instead of exploiting this potential ticket to poverty reduction, Africa’s natural resource producers have seen their per capita income grow more slowly than that of non-mineral countries. Nigeria is a case in point. Its per capita income in 1970 (before the oil boom) was $913; today it is $454.

Sri Lanka’s asset is its human resources—reflected in the high levels of literacy and low levels of child and maternal mortality that have stood out since the 1960s. Like Africa, Sri Lanka has been an exercise in disappointment. In fact, there is no other country with a lower infant mortality rate and a lower per capita income than Sri Lanka.

The question for Africa and Sri Lanka is therefore how to manage the enormous assets they posses in a way that translates into sustainable wellbeing for their populations?