This is the seventh in this year's series of posts by PhD students on the job market.
Conditional cash transfers (CCTs), cash transfers targeted to poor households made conditional on investments in children's human capital, have become increasingly popular over the past two decades (Bastagli et al, 2016). However, CCTs have been criticized as some argue that the poorest households may find the conditions too costly to comply with and thus be excluded from receiving aid (e.g., Freeland, 2007, Baird et al, 2011). Unconditional cash transfers (UCTs), cash transfers with “no strings attached”, are therefore thought to be superior at alleviating current poverty. Consequently, when deciding whether to impose conditions, governments are thought to trade-off the extent to which they increase human capital investments in children versus the extent to which they alleviate current poverty.
This is the seventh in this year's series of posts by PhD students on the job market.
It’s a dusty September morning, and Kiran Devi is finishing her chores at lightning speed.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to keep 5,000 women waiting, especially when it’s a celebration,” she says with a touch of gushing pride and makes her way to the annual general meeting of the women-owned Aaranyak Agri producer company.
Located in Purnea district in Bihar—one of India’s poorest states—the company is made up of small local women small farmers and producers and lies in the most fertile corn regions in eastern India.
But until recently, small farmers did not fully reap the benefits of this productive land.
Local traders and intermediaries dominated the unregulated market. Archaic and unfair trading practices like manual weighing, unscientific quality testing, and irregular payments made it difficult for small farmers to get the best value for their produce.
“The trader would come, put some grains under his teeth and pronounce the quality and pricing. For every quintal of maize [corn], 5-10 kilos additional grains were taken, sometimes through faulty scales and sometimes simply by brazenly asking for it,” says Lal Devi, one member of the company. “We had the choice between getting less or getting nothing.”
Such practices stirred local women farmers into action, and they formed the Aaranyak Agri Producer Company Limited (AAPC) to access markets directly and improve their bargaining power.
The company established a farmer-centric model and received funding and technical assistance through JEEViKA (livelihoods in Hindi), a World Bank program that supports the Government of Bihar and has achieved life-changing results for Bihar’s rural communities.
Joining forces helped lower costs and boost production. Together, the groups saved $120 million and leveraged more than $800 million in bank loans.
Further, digital technologies have been introduced as an innovative way to improve the production, marketing, and sale of small-farmers’ produce.
For example, women farmers receive regular periodic updates on their mobile phones to learn best practices to grow corn as well as weather information to inform farming decisions.
During harvest season, farmers receive daily pricing information from major nearby markets to help them stay abreast of the latest variations in prices.
At one point, it was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. From 1990 to 1993, more than 6,000 people were murdered annually. Drive-by shootings were regular and indiscriminate, stemming from warfare between gang lords, drug criminals, and para-military groups. The need for change was urgent and led to radical urban experimentation.
The city’s political and business leaders recognized that Medellín’s security issues could not be dealt with through policy measures alone. They initiated a series of radical programs to reshape the social fabric of the city’s neighborhoods and to mobilize the poor.
City planners began addressing the problem of endemic violence and inequity through the design of public spaces, transit infrastructure and urban interventions into marginalized neighborhoods. Key to their approach was a commitment to making the public realm a truly shared space, and a faith that they could transform Medellín’s public spaces from sites of segregation and warfare into spaces where communities would come together.
The poorest country in the Middle East and North Africa even prior to the conflict, Yemen has through violence and subsequent economic freefall landed at the epicenter of a series of interrelated emergencies that the United Nations describes as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” This is the first of a three-part blog series on the Bank’s response in Yemen.
In July of this year, I assumed the role of Country Manager for Yemen. Much has happened in my first 100 days as CM.
Globally, poverty by employment status is highest among unpaid workers (22 percent), followed by self-employment, and those out of the labor force (both 12 percent). Not surprisingly, income-earning capacity (proxied by employment status) is strongly associated with poverty and gender. When disaggregated by sex, there are roughly equal numbers of men and women among the poor who are unemployed. There are more men than women among the self-employed poor. However, women make up most of the poor who are unpaid workers or out of the labor force. To learn more, read the recently released Poverty and Shared Prosperity report 2018, “Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle.”
This is the second in this year's series of posts by PhD students on the job market.
Each evening the sun sets more than 90 minutes later in west India than in the east of the country. This is because time on clocks across India are set to Indian Standard Time, regardless of location. In China all clocks are set to Beijing Time, which means in western part of the country the sun sets 3 hours later than the east of the country. The sun sets at least an hour later in Madrid than in Munich because Franco’s Spain switched clocks ahead one hour to be in sync with Nazi Germany in 1940, even though Spain is geographically in line with Britain, not Germany. Similarly, for a range of historical reasons, clocks in large parts of the planet – e.g., France, Algeria, Senegal, South Sudan, Russia, and Argentina – are set to be ahead of their (solar) time. Therefore, these places see the sun set later in the day. In my job market paper, I show that these arbitrary clock conventions -- by generating large discrepancies in when the sun sets across locations -- help determine the geographic distribution of educational attainment levels.
Its annual average economic growth of 7.6 percent between 2007 and 2017 far exceeds the average global growth rate of 3.2 percent.
This high growth has contributed to reducing poverty: Extreme poverty was mostly eradicated and dwindled from 8 percent in 2007 to 1.5 percent in 2017, based on the international poverty line of $1.90 a day (at purchasing power parity).
Access to basic services such as health, education and asset ownership has also improved significantly.
The country has a total of 32 hospitals and 208 basic health units, with each district hospital including almost always three doctors.
The current national literacy rate is 71 percent and the youth literacy rate is 93 percent.
The recent statistics on lending, inflation, exchange rates and international reserves (Sources: RMA, NSB) confirm that
Gross foreign reserves have been increasing since 2012 when the country experienced an Indian rupee shortage.
Reserves exceeded $1.1 billion, equivalent to 11 months of imports of goods and services, which makes the country more resilient to potential shocks.
The nominal exchange rate has been depreciating since early 2018 (with ngultrum reaching Nu. 73 against the US dollar in early November).
Child stunting, measured as low height for age, is associated with numerous health, cognition and productivity risks with potential intergenerational impacts.
and the pace of decline remains slow and uneven.
In Sindh, for example, things have worsened over time, with one in two children now stunted!
The policy response to this enormous health crisis has been almost entirely centered on interventions at the household level—reducing open defecation (OD), improving household behaviors like child feeding and care practices and food intake.
A recent World Bank report, which I co-authored, suggests that a major shift is this policy focus is required for significant progress on child stunting.
The report begins by showing that .
This has improved dietary diversity, even among the poorest, and increased household investment in a range of assets, including toilets within the home.
This has, in turn, led to a major drop in OD, from 29 percent to just 13 percent. Curative care has also expanded, with the mainstreaming of basic health units and the lady health worker program.
Progress is being made in closing energy access gaps in Africa and Asia. A big reason is falling renewable energy costs, which have made home solar systems, mini-grids and other distributed renewable energy (DRE) solutions a viable option for providing first-ever electricity in remote, rural areas far removed from electric grids.
For the first time ever, the number of people gaining access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa is outstripping population growth. More than 700,000 home solar systems have been installed in Kenya alone and another 240,000 poor, rural households are expected to be connected soon under a new $150 million off-grid project backed by the World Bank. In South Asia, progress has been ever faster.
Consider two households that have the same level of consumption (or income) per person but they differ in the following ways. All the children in the first household go to school, while the children in the second household work to support the family. The first household obtains drinking water from a tap connected to the public distribution network, whereas the second household fetches water from a nearby stream. At night, the first home is illuminated with electricity, whereas the second home is dark. A lay person would easily recognize which of these two families is better off. Yet, traditional measures of household well-being would put the two households on par because conventionally, household well-being has been measured using consumption (or income).