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Remember to call your grandparents: Multigenerational mobility in the developing world

Daniel Mahler's picture

A large body of literature has shown that the outcomes of children are tied to the outcomes of their parents or, in other words, that children face different life prospects based on their family background. But there is no reason to believe that such “persistence” of outcomes is limited to two generations. Social mobility (or lack thereof) depends not just on how parents influence the outcomes of their children, but also on how outcomes persist across multiple generations, from grandparents to grandchildren.

Automation and innovation: Forces shaping the future of work

Simeon Djankov's picture

IT’S robots that mostly come to mind when you ask people about the future of work. Robots taking our jobs, to be specific. And it’s a reaction that’s two centuries old, in a replay of Lancashire weavers attacking looms and stocking frames at the start of the first Industrial Revolution. A secondary reaction, among a much smaller group, is the creation of new jobs in the coming fourth Industrial Revolution.

Professor Ed Glaeser at Harvard neatly summarizes this dichotomy in one figure:


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.