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June 2018

What’s new in social protection – June edition

Ugo Gentilini's picture

Let’s start with social protection in Africa. A new paper by Kagin et al. estimates that in Malawi, each Malawi Kwacha (MK) transferred through the Social Cash Transfer Program generates 1.88 MK, while multipliers of public works are between 2.9-3.24 MK. In the same country, the Malawi Economic Monitor by Kandoole et al. has a very crisp, insightful edition discussing safety nets, e.g., spending is only 0.6% of GDP compared to 2% of input subsidies, and almost 6% on humanitarian aid.

Product market competition, regulation and inclusive growth

Ivailo Izvorski's picture

It is hard to overemphasize the role of productivity growth in reducing poverty and raising living standards.  Sustained productivity increases have made possible the unprecedented rise in prosperity over the last two centuries.  Recent evidence suggests that productivity growth has been on the decline around the world for the last decade, with a few exceptions.  Understanding whether this is correct, and, if so, what explains it and what can be done, are now priorities for economists and policymakers. 

Are men the new weaker sex? The rise of the reverse gender gap in education

Francisco Ferreira's picture
It is probably fair to say that the World Bank’s latest report on intergenerational mobility - Fair Progress? Economic Mobility across Generations around the World – is the first-ever attempt to paint a truly global picture of how achievement – or the lack thereof – is transmitted across generations. Though there are results for income mobility for a subset of countries, most of the analysis focuses on educational attainment across 148 economies, representing over 95% of the world’s population.

Are the poor getting poorer? A tale of two hemispheres

Francisco Ferreira's picture

A casual reader might be forgiven for being confused by the global conversation around poverty and inequality these days.  On the one hand, there is relentless talk about rising inequality, and the ever-larger income shares captured by the top 1%. In the United States, this trend – which is very pronounced – is accompanied by falling wages at the bottom of the distribution, at least according to Figure 4 here. This seems to confirm the timeless adage that the rich are getting richer, while the poor keep getting poorer.

In which countries do children have the best chances to surpass their parent’s education?

Roy Van der Weide's picture

In most economies, parents would like to see their children have a higher standard of living, and with it a better life, than they had themselves. When children are asked, they too tend to consider their parents a natural benchmark to compare their economic progress against (Goldthorpe, 1987; Hoschschild, 2016, Chetty at al., 2017). A simple measure that captures this notion of progress is the percentage of children who managed to surpass their parents, which we will refer to as absolute mobility. Chetty et al. (2017) find that the United States did exceptionally well by this measure for the generations born in the 1940s and 50s, when over 90 percent of children managed to do better than their parents in terms of income. Absolute mobility in the United States has since faded to around 50 percent for the current generation. How has absolute mobility fared elsewhere in the world? In which economies do children have the best chances to improve upon their parents? Are the highest rates of absolute mobility observed in economies that are starting from a low base?

Resilience is more than income – lessons from Accra’s 2015 floods

Stéphane Hallegatte's picture

In June 2015, after two days of heavy rain, flood water washed away Sarah’s small store in Accra, which provided for her family of three (1). The flood that hit the city in June 2015 affected around 53,000 people in the city and caused an estimated US$100 million in damages. Slum areas in the Odaw basin were among the worst hit.

What drives the radicalization of foreign terrorist recruits?

Mohamed Abdel Jelil's picture

A lack of economic opportunities in countries located closer to the Syrian Arabic Republic is among the factors explaining Daesh recruiting successes
 
The world has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of terrorist attacks since 2000 and especially since 2011. More than 100 countries were affected in 2016, with OECD countries suffering the highest number of casualties since the 9/11 attacks. The transnational nature of terrorism has become more salient with the emergence of multinational terror groups such as Al-Qaeda or, more recently, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS or Daesh, its Arabic acronym). The United Nations estimates that more than 25,000 foreign fighters went to the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq between the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011 and September 2016 to fight for either Daesh or the Al-Nusra Front.

How can more private sector participation in providing adult skills training be encouraged?

Priyam Saraf's picture

When private sector firms provide skills for adults, most do so through on-the-job training (OJT). However, under what conditions can private sector firms provide more OJT? Investigating this question is critical to help governments leverage scarce domestic resources for public investments, and to support, vulnerable groups, while enabling the private sector to take on the bulk of adult skills training provision.

Privacy law and services trade: Resolving the conflict

Aaditya Mattoo's picture

The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recently went into effect. You have probably received emails regarding your data resident on email servers and applications. And while the media focus has also remained on data concerns with Facebook and other personal data, the impact of the GDPR on developing countries has received little attention.  Their exports of data-based services rely on the free flow of data across borders. Strengthened regulation can make international data transfers more difficult. And traditional trade rules and regulatory cooperation cannot resolve this conflict.

Using satellite imagery to revolutionize the creation of tax maps

Daniel Ayalew Ali's picture

Municipalities need recurrent property taxes to finance service delivery

The ability for cities to raise revenues in a non-distortionary way for effective urban service delivery and infrastructure is essential to realizing the potential of urbanization. As most benefits from these investments will be capitalized in surging land values, recurrent taxes on land and other real property can be an incentive-compatible financing method. In developing countries, taxes on land and property are still far below those of developed countries, even in relative terms. Instead, cities often rely heavily on land transaction taxes, but these impose frictions on land market operations, push transactions into informality, and create incentives for fraudulent under-declaration of sales values.

Energy prices gain 7 percent in May–Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture
Energy commodity prices gained more than 7 percent in May, with advances in U.S. natural gas (+27 percent), coal (+12 percent) and oil (+7 percent), the World Bank’s Pink Sheet reported.

Non-energy prices changed little as a 1.4 percent gain in beverages was balanced by a 2 percent loss in raw materials and a 1.1 percent decline in Fertilizers.

Metals prices gained 0.4 percent, led by nickel (+3 percent) and aluminum (+2 percent).

Precious metals prices lost 2.1 percent, led by a similar decline in gold.

The Pink Sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.
 
Commodity prices advanced in May

Source: World Bank.

Trade growth: A surprising surge but precarious prospects

Cristina Constantinescu's picture
Also available in: Español | Français 

Trade unexpectedly rebounded in 2017, after a period of slow growth and despite recent uncertainty about trade policy.  Growth in the volume of trade in goods and services jumped to 4.3 percent in 2017—the fastest rate in 6 years (Figure 1). The recovery was widespread, with the largest contributions to growth coming from East Asia and the Euro area.  Data just released for the first quarter of 2018 suggests that the faster growth persists:  merchandise trade volumes grew by 4.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018 relative to the first quarter of 2017. What explains these developments?