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March 2018

What’s new in social protection – March edition

Ugo Gentilini's picture

Plenty of vibrant discussions on the role of cash transfers in the ‘graduation’ agenda…
 
Banerjee et al are back with a new NBER paper on the classic graduation model (a package of assets, training, coaching, and savings). They explore two variants: whether the transfer of assets only would generate similar impacts, and whether access to a savings account and a deposit collection service would generate comparable impacts. Neither outperforms the holistic package. Similarly, a CSAE paper by Sedlmayr et al assesses graduation variants in Uganda--the full package of transfers and training, only the transfers, transfers with only a light-touch training and just attempting to boost savings. They find that cash only was less effective than the more integrated interventions. 

Can satellites deliver accurate measures of crop yields in smallholder farming systems?

Talip Kilic's picture

How much food is produced on a plot of land? The answer is central to several pressing questions in agricultural and development economics: How efficiently do smallholders use their labor and land? What interventions are most effective at lifting smallholders out of poverty? Are smallholders better off investing more time and resources on the farm, or intensifying their reliance on off-farm employment? The answers in part depend on the ability to accurately measure crop production. This is why household and farm surveys across the developing world, such as those supported by the World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) initiative, attempt to obtain precise, within-farm measures of crop production and productivity.

Shifting commodity markets in a globalized world

Rabah Arezki's picture
In Shifting Commodity Markets in a Globalized World, we track developments in energy, metals, and food markets since the early 2000s, when a “commodities super cycle” began. The super cycle first was marked by a decade-long increase in commodity prices—as rapid urbanization and a strong surge in infra­structure spending, especially in China, boosted demand for nearly all commodities. Then prices began to decline, in part due to short-term factors such as the global financial crisis. But longer-term issues were important to both the run up and subsequent fall in prices. In the book, which is published by the International Monetary Fund, we focus on those long-term issues, examining the relative importance of technology, geography, demography, and policy in each commodity mar­ket and how their interplay sends price signals to producers and consumers, who in turn adjust their behavior:

Navigating education's complexity: A review of the 2018 WDR

Brian Levy's picture

In a sector where a proliferation of research seemingly has contributed at least as much to confusion as to progress, the 2018 World Development Report (WDR), Learning to Realize Education’s Promise  sheds new light, and points towards fresh, hopeful pathways forward. It is a landmark contribution.
 
“Education for all” was the seductive promise of the millennium. Yet all too many children are attending school without acquiring even basic literacy or numeracy.  Why?

 

Artificial Intelligence for Economic Development Conference: Roundup of 27 presentations

Maria Jones's picture

Is artificial intelligence the future for economic development? Earlier this month, a group of World Bank staff, academic researchers, and technology company representatives convened at a conference in San Francisco to discuss new advances in artificial intelligence. One of the takeaways for Bank staff was how AI technologies might be useful for Bank operations and clients. Below you’ll find a full round-up of all the papers and research-in-progress that was presented. All slides that were shared publicly are linked here, as well as papers or other relevant sites.

Closing the gap between policy and practice on women’s land rights

Chris Jochnick's picture
Momentum is building behind a land rights revolution. Last year, just prior to the World Bank’s Annual Land and Poverty Conference, I wrote about the many factors pushing land to the top of the global agenda.  To maintain this momentum we must pay greater attention to gender and women’s land rights.
 
Anju's Dream

 

A school is not a factory: Why teacher specialization in early grades may not work

David Evans's picture


In chapter 1 of book 1 of Adam Smith’s foundational economics book, The Wealth of Nations, he explains the concept of the division of labor. He uses the example of a pin factory.
 
    To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of a pin-maker: a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade, nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty.

For billions without formal land rights, the tech revolution offers new grounds for hope

Klaus Deininger's picture
Also available in: Français | Español  | العربية | Русский

Many of today’s increasingly complex development challenges, from rapid urban expansion to climate change, disaster resilience, and social inclusion, are intimately tied to land and the way it is used. Addressing these challenges while also ensuring individuals and communities are able to make full use of their land depends on consistent, reliable, and accessible identification of land rights.

WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and Doing Business reforms: Are they related and how?

Inés Zabalbeita Múgica's picture

Small differences in the time and cost to trade can determine whether or not a country participates in global value chains. In this respect, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which came into force on February 22, 2017, is a landmark achievement given its comprehensive coverage of the issues around cutting red tape and promoting efficiency and transparency, as well as the fact that it is the first multilateral agreement since the establishment of the WTO in 1995.  Coincidentally, the Trading Across Borders (TAB) indicator of Doing Business measures the efficiency of national regulations in trade facilitation and keeps track of relevant reforms, allowing us to analyze how the provisions of the TFA are related to the reform efforts of governments around the world.

No, 70% of the world’s poor aren’t women, but that doesn’t mean poverty isn’t sexist

Carolina Sánchez-Páramo's picture
“Seventy percent of the world’s extreme poor are women”. If you’ve encountered this statistic before, please raise your hand. That is a lot of hands. And yet, this is what we call a ‘zombie statistic’: often quoted but rarely, if ever, presented with a source from which the number can be replicated.

This International Women’s Day, 3 things you can take from behavioral science for a more equitable world

Caren Grown's picture

Many insights from behavioral science apply directly towards better understanding and addressing inequalities between men and women, in education and health, ownership of assets, access to more and better jobs, and the capacity to act on one’s own behalf and interests.

Here are three insights that stand out as critical to closing these inequalities by 2030.

February energy prices declined, non-energy prices advanced–Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture
Energy commodity prices fell 5 percent in February—ending seven months of gains—led by a 4 percent drop in crude oil prices, the World Bank’s Pink Sheet reported.

Non-energy prices advanced by over 1 percent. Agricultural prices increased almost 2 percent, largely on higher prices for soybean meal (+12 percent), cocoa (+9 percent), maize and sorghum (+5 percent each). Fertilizer prices rose 2 percent, led by phosphate rock (+6 percent), DAP, and Urea (+2 percent each).

Machine learning and the measurement of injustice

Daniel Mahler's picture

Machine learning methods are increasingly applied in the development policy arena. Among many recent policy applications, machine learning has been used to predict poverty, soil properties, and conflicts.

In a recent Policy Research Working Paper by Paolo Brunori, Paul Hufe and Daniel Mahler (BHM hereafter), machine learning methods are utilized to measure a popular understanding of distributional injustice – the amount of unequal opportunities individuals face. Equality of opportunity is an influential political ideal since it combines two powerful principles: individual responsibility and equality. In a world with equal opportunities, all individuals have the same chances to attain social positions and valuable outcomes. They are free to choose how to behave and they are held responsible for the consequences of their choices.