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October 2017

Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) - Call for papers

Claudia Sepúlveda's picture

The Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE), organized by the World Bank’s Development Economics (DEC) Vice Presidency, is one of the world's leading conference series promoting the exchange of innovate and leading research among researchers, policymakers, and development practitioners.

Commodity prices to continue rising in 2018

John Baffes's picture
Prices for industrial commodities are forecast to level off in 2018 after big increases this year, the World Bank’s October Commodity Markets Outlook says.

Oil prices are expected to rise to an average of $56 per barrel in the coming year from an average of $53/bbl in 2017 as a result of steadily growing demand, production cuts among oil exporters, and stabilizing U.S. shale oil production.

“Nudge units” – where they came from and what they can do

Zeina Afif's picture

You could say that the first one began in 2009, when the US government recruited Cass Sunstein to head The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to streamline regulations. In 2010, the UK established the first Behavioural Insights Unit (BIT) on a trial basis, under the Cabinet Office. Other countries followed suit, including the US, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, and Germany. Shortly after, countries such as India, Indonesia, Peru, Singapore, and many others started exploring the application of behavioral insights to their policies and programs. International institutions such as the World Bank, UN agencies, OECD, and EU have also established behavioral insights units to support their programs. And just this month, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland launched its own Behavioral Economics Unit.

Financial globalization: A glass half empty?

Sergio Schmukler's picture

For many years, financial globalization has been promoted as a vehicle to raise living standards throughout the world, particularly in developing countries. However, a mounting body of empirical literature shows that in practice the effects of financial globalization have been overall mixed; financial globalization has only brought limited positive effects while it has also increased risks.

System-wide education reform is hard – but it is possible

Tara Beteille's picture

The elusive quest to scale
Some 15 years ago, I was in a small town in Hoshangabad district (India) attending a workshop with government schoolteachers, where we were examining student test scores. Instructors from Eklavya, a non-profit supporting the government, were skillfully leading teachers through an intensely engaging session on why a child might have written a particular answer, what was right and what was wrong with the answer, how to grade it, and how a teacher could help the child improve. Everyone was sharing lessons and learning.

Against the tide: A look at the countries where poverty has been on the rise, despite falling global numbers

Francisco Ferreira's picture

The last quarter century saw remarkable progress against extreme poverty, globally. Between 1990 and 2013, the percentage of the world’s population living at or under $1.90/day fell from 35.3% to 10.7% - that is, from more than one in three people to approximately one in ten, planet-wide. Even in the shorter period between 2002 and 2013, the reduction was from 25.8% to 10.7%, meaning that about 850 million people moved out of extreme poverty during that decade alone.

The power and limits of personal connection

David Evans's picture

I Will Always Write Back is the true story of Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka, who became pen pals -- between Zimbabwe and the USA -- in middle (or lower secondary) school. Over time, they learn from each other, and ultimately Caitlin's family realizes the depth of need of Martin and his family -- living in a slum on the outskirts of the city Matate -- and provides support beyond the letters, all to an inspiring end (which I won't spoil).
 
This book is on many middle school reading lists, with good reason. My thirteen-year-old son just read and enjoyed it. It provides an introduction to life in Zimbabwe and a range of challenges that might never occur to a child (or adult, for that matter) in a high-income country. I've never worked in Zimbabwe, but I have studied education in many countries, including several countries around Sub-Saharan Africa, and the characterizations of life broadly rang true. 
 

The 2017 global poverty update from the World Bank

Francisco Ferreira's picture
This year’s global poverty update from the World Bank is a minor one. Until reference year 2008, the World Bank published new poverty estimates every three years, and between 2010 and 2013 we released new numbers every year (see here).

Trade agreements as public goods

Aaditya Mattoo's picture

If a trade economist were abruptly woken up by somebody shouting, “preferential trade agreements” (PTAs), their first thought is likely to be “trade creation among participants and trade diversion away from those left out.” That is a measure of the influence of Jacob Viner’s classic book The Customs Union Issue on the profession, on the policy debate and on our attitude towards PTAs.
 
Brexit and the renegotiation of NAFTA have renewed interest in the impact of trade agreements and the consequences of undoing them.  In a recent paper, Mattoo, Mulabdic and Ruta (2017) and column (VOXEU), we use new information on the content of PTAs to examine their trade effects.

A richer array of international poverty lines

Francisco Ferreira's picture

Is poverty absolute or relative? When we think of (one-dimensional) income poverty, should we define the threshold that separates the poor from the non-poor as the cost of purchasing a fixed basket of goods and services that allows people to meet their basic needs?  Or should we instead think of it as relative deprivation: as earning or consuming less than some given proportion of the country’s average living standard?

A celebration of Richard Thaler’s Nobel Prize and a new field – Behavioral Development Economics

Karla Hoff's picture

Could a parent’s decision to vaccinate a child depend on a free bag of lentils?  The premise seems implausible:immunization can be a matter of life and death, and a bag of lentils is worth only a dollar.  Yet a randomized controlled trial in India showed that a gift to parents of a 1 kg bag of lentils and a set of plates can dramatically raise the percentage of children protected against major disease (Banerjee et al. 2010).  Providing a quality immunization camp alone increased the percentage of fully immunized children from 6% to 18%.  The addition of the lentil and plate ‘incentives’ raised the figure to a whopping 39%.  How can we explain the outsize effect of a gift of everyday household items?

Everyone misbehaves: Putting the 2017 Economics Nobel Prize to work for development

eMBeD Team's picture

Monday’s announcement of the 2017 Nobel Prize for economics, to Richard Thaler, for his groundbreaking work incorporating psychology into economic theory, was a victory not only for the University of Chicago Professor and co-author of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, but for behaviorally-informed policy worldwide.

Got wings? Lessons on the survival of the skilled

Alexandria Valerio's picture

In a recent exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, “Dinosaurs Among Us,” paleontologists use prehistoric fossil records of bones, feathers, and nests to show that some dinosaurs did not go extinct but, rather, evolved into the creatures we see today. The links they trace show how avian dinosaurs (ones that fly) evolved into modern-day birds. Paleontologists argue that avian-dinosaurs’ swift aerial mobility played a key role in determining their survival while their land-based relatives failed to thrive. Flight enabled them to relocate and adapt to drastically changing environments—a skill that their land-based relatives lacked.
 
Figure 1. Paleontologists argue that avian-dinosaurs (left) adapted to the changing environment quickly and evolved into birds (right).

Source: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/dinosaurs-among-us/
 

A new twist on the inverse scale-productivity relationship in African agriculture

Talip Kilic's picture

One of the most storied topics in agricultural economics, dating back to Chayanov’s work on Russian peasants published nearly a century ago, is the inverse relationship between scale (in terms of farm or plot size) and (land) productivity - commonly known as the IR.

Nearly all commodity price indexes rose in September – Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture
Energy commodity prices increased more than 5 percent in September—the third consecutive monthly gain—led by a surge in oil prices, the World Bank’s Pink Sheet reported.

Non-energy prices rose modestly. Agriculture prices climbed a little over 1 percent, led by strong upturns in most edible oils and wheat.
The outlier to the trend of increases, beverage prices, fell 1 percent due to weakness in coffee prices. Fertilizer prices surged over 6 percent, led by a 16 percent jump in Urea.