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Understanding the effects of the world’s largest workfare program

Klaus Deininger's picture

As the world’s largest workfare program, India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) has attracted much atten­tion. Yet its impacts on agriculture have been relatively neglected. A re­cent paper by Deininger, Nagarajan, and Singh addresses this gap by fo­cusing on the program’s effects on ag­ricultural productivity as well as labor market outcomes.

The program offers unskilled em­ployment, for up to 100 days a year per household, in projects to provide local productivity-enhancing infrastructure. Wages are set by statute, at rates that are equal for men and women and, it is hoped, not attractive enough to pre­vent effective self-targeting.

Unraveling the dynamics of agricultural input subsidies

Guigonan Serge Adjognon's picture

Inorganic fertilizer use by smallholder farmers is one way to boost soil fertility and associated crop-yields and farm incomes. Yet fertilizer use remains the lowest where yield increase is needed the most. Per the World Development Indicator database , inorganic fertilizer use averages 154 kgs/hectare in middle-income countries, while in low-income countries it is less than one-tenth this level at 13 kgs/hectare.  What is driving this situation? And are at times fiscally expensive programs, such as government subsidies, commonly used in low income countries, the right solution?

Better information to improve service delivery: New evidence

David Evans's picture

Countries around the world have experimented with “school report cards”: providing parents with information about the quality of their school so that they can demand higher quality service for their children. The results have been mixed. Andrabi, Das, and Khwaja bring a significant contribution to that literature in last month’s American Economic Review with their article using data from Pakistan, “Report Cards: The Impact of Providing School and Child Test Scores on Educational Markets.”

Most commodity price indexes rose in July, led by metals – Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture

Energy commodity prices increased 3 percent in July, led by a 3 percent gain in oil and 8 percent surge in coal, the World Bank’s Pink Sheet noted.

Agriculture prices rose 1 percent, led by 2 percent gains in oils & meals and beverages. Most other groups registered small increases, including raw materials (up nearly 1 percent). Fertilizer prices declined 1 percent.

Metals and mineral prices increased 5 percent, led by an 18 percent jump in iron ore prices. All base metal price recorded strong increases. Precious metals prices fell 2 percent led by a 5 percent decline in silver.

The pink sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.

Most commodity price indexes rose in July.

 

The growing economic clout of the biggest emerging markets in five charts

Ayhan Kose's picture

Global economic growth is accelerating. After registering the slowest pace since the 2007-2009 financial crisis in 2016, global growth is expected to rise to a 2.7 percent pace this year and 2.9 percent over 2018-19.

While much has been said about better economic news from the major advanced economies, the seven largest emerging market economies—call them the Emerging Market Seven, or EM7 – have been the main drivers of this anticipated pickup.

Chart 1:

The contribution of the seven largest emerging market economies to global output has climbed substantially over the last quarter century.

The EM7 -- Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia and Turkey – accounted for 24 percent of global economic output over 2010-2016, up from 14 percent in 1990s. Although this is a smaller share than the Group of Seven major industrialized economies, the G7’s portion of global economic output has narrowed to 48 percent from 60 percent over the same time frame.
 

Contribution to global output (percent)

Fredo or Michael? Parents play favorites among siblings

Shwetlena Sabarwal's picture

In The Godfather II, Vito Corleone chooses his younger son, Michael, instead of his older son, Fredo, as his successor. This decision is based on Michael's intelligence and ability. Fredo, who is considered weak, is dismissed to do more menial tasks for the family. This has huge implications for Michael, Fredo, and the Corleone saga. 


CC (The Godfather) Image courtesy of Insomnia Cured Here on Flickr

What makes parents decide to "invest" in one child over another? In economics, a key idea is that parents either reinforce or compensate for children’s endowments, such as health or intelligence. They reinforce by investing more in the human capital of their better-endowed children. Or they compensate by investing more in their worse-endowed children to reduce inequality among siblings. The core notion is : either parents are striving for equity (the compensating strategy) or efficiency (the reinforcing strategy of Vito Corleone).

Spending on bling: What explains the demand for status goods?

Martin Kanz's picture

When people spend money, their decisions are often influenced by the desire to signal wealth and attain social status. This insight is not entirely new – even Adam Smith, in the Wealth of Nations, complains that his contemporaries spend too much on “status goods” that are not a necessity of life, and which they most likely can’t afford.

Social signaling motives in consumption seem to be present in many different economic settings, and may in fact be so widespread that they can be linked to larger economic phenomena, such as inequality and persistent poverty. Studies using household surveys show, for example, that the poor around the world spend a strikingly large share of their income on visible expenditures, which may have negative implications for asset accumulation, household indebtedness, and investments in education.The same pattern has been shown to hold for ethnic minorities in the Unites States – so much so, that a recent study argues that differences in conspicuous consumption may account for as much as one third of the wealth gap between Whites and African Americans

Rejuvenating regionalism

Aaditya Mattoo's picture

Regionalism can have three dimensions:  trade integration, regulatory cooperation and infrastructural coordination.  In a thought provoking blog, Shanta Devarajan argues for a drastic shift in focus, away from trade and towards infrastructure.

Regional trade agreements do sometimes divert not just trade but attention from other beneficial forms of cooperation.  And what type of integration makes economic and political sense, in what sequence, differs across regions. But it would be wrong to exclude trade, to focus only on one dimension, and to ignore important new constraints and old questions.

Rural electrification: How much does Sub-Saharan Africa need the grid?

Michael Toman's picture

An intense debate continues on how best to provide electricity to the 1.1 billion people currently without access to it -- of whom 600 million are living in Sub-Saharan Africa, many of them in rural areas. According to a 2015 IEG evaluation, low-access countries received about 3.6 billion USD per year into the electricity sector from all sources over 2000 – 2014. The bulk of these funds has gone into extension of the traditional electricity grid. The IEG report also states that to achieve universal grid access in current low-access countries by 2030 will require over 17 billion USD per year, including about 12 billion USD per year for new transmission and distribution capacity.  An additional 20 billion USD per year will be needed to address current supply inadequacies and expand generation capacity to meet growing demand.  The largest share of this investment would be in Sub-Saharan Africa, given the size of the population without access and the challenges of making effective infrastructure investments there (Foster and Briceño-Garmendia, 2010).

Energy prices fell 6 percent in June — Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture

Energy commodity prices declined 6 percent in June, led by a 7.5 percent plunge in oil, the World Bank’s Pink Sheet said.

Agriculture prices dropped nearly 2 percent, with most groups easing, including food and beverages (down 1 percent each) and raw materials (off 3.5 percent). Fertilizer prices gained 2 percent.

Metals and mineral prices slid 1 percent, led by an 8 percent tumble in iron ore prices. Precious metals prices increased 1 percent.

The Pink Sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.

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