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Social Development

Economies of empathy: The moral dilemmas of charity fundraising

Iason Gabriel's picture

We’ve all been there. Leafing through a magazine, or on the subway, glancing up at the billboards, and then a moment of painful awareness as our eyes meet those of a starving child. Limbs grotesquely proportioned, belly distended, the image is accompanied by a request for help. For some small sum of money you too can save a life. Again you see the image… and reach for your phone. You text CHILD or SAVE or LIFE to the relevant organization. Then, conscience temporarily assuaged, you encounter a sinking feeling as you remember you’ve seen this before. How exactly will your donation help the child? What purpose do these images really serve?

There is enough evidence on humanitarian cash transfers. Or perhaps not?

Ugo Gentilini's picture

Take these two numbers: 165 and 1. The former is the number of children in millions who are chronically malnourished or ‘stunted’; the latter is the number of robust impact evaluations comparing cash and in-kind transfers on malnutrition.
 
I emphasize ‘comparing’ since there is plenty of evidence on individual cash and in-kind (and voucher) programs, but very few studies deliberately assessing them under the same context, design parameters, and evaluation framework.

What to expect when you’re expecting, in Nigeria: Lessons from a series of health impact evaluations

Anushka Thewarapperuma's picture
The life of a Nigerian midwife


Childbirth is a time for expectant mothers to revel in the wonders and joy surrounding the arrival of a new human being; one breathing crisp new air, bawling with resonance in finding their voice and opening their eyes in awe to see the world around them. It’s the last conceivable moment where a mother wants to worry about the cleanliness of the birth facility, the baby’s life and, least of all, her own life. But in many developing countries including Nigeria, this is the reality.  

Lights, camera, action on entertainment education!

Anushka Thewarapperuma's picture

Also available in: Español | Français | العربية

Behavior change campaigns are all around us. They remind us to get our flu shots; warn us that food and drinks are not allowed when using public transportation; even prompt us to turn off the lights when we leave a room. They invoke socially acceptable norms and indirectly guide us towards positive behavior change. The advent of an assortment of new technologies and mass media outlets enables us to spread last-mile awareness on handwashing, safe sex, and gender-based violence, to name just a few.

Indeed, we in development, and governments that we work with, invest millions of dollars in behavior campaigns. However, many of these campaigns are unconvincing, lack inspiring narratives, and are communicated through outmoded and uninteresting outlets such as billboards and leaflets. Research shows that traditional mass media interventions are often ineffective in promoting behavior change, especially in the long run (Grilli et al 2002, Vidanapathirana et al 2005).
 
Entertainment Education

From population bomb to development opportunity: New perspectives on demographic change

S. Amer Ahmed's picture

A generation ago, the World Development Report 1984 focused on development challenges posed by demographic change, reflecting the world’s concerns about run-away population growth. Global population growth rates had peaked at more than two percent a year in the late 1960s and the incredibly high average fertility rates of that decade – almost six births per woman – provided the momentum to keep population growth rates elevated for several decades (Fig 1). Indeed, the population and development zeitgeist spawned works such as Ehrlich’s 1968 book “Population Bomb,” which painted apocalyptic images of a world struggling to sustain itself under the sheer weight of its people. The policy discussion of the WDR 1984 reflected these concerns, focusing on how to feed the growing populations in the poorest and highest fertility countries, while also presenting a case for policies that would reduce fertility.

Investing in women and the next generation: The case for expanding childcare in Turkey

Ana Maria Munoz-Boudet's picture

Women’s participation in Turkey’s labor force is comparatively low. Why is that, especially when Turkey has acted to increase women’s skills and education?

One reason is that more needs to be done to help women balance work and family life, particularly when it comes to care responsibilities. As of 2014, only 1-in-3 working age women were active in the labor market (33.6%)—nearly half the OECD average of 64%[1]. According to the recent Demographic and Health Survey in Turkey, 1/3 of women report not working due to childcare responsibilities. Pre-primary school enrollment in Turkey is 29%--far less than OECD’s 81%, as well as countries with similar levels of GDP per capita, such as Chile, Mexico, Bulgaria, and Romania. Early childhood development and education is not only important to a child’s development, it also helps mothers combine family and work responsibilities and continue to participate in the labor force.

The road not shared: Turning to the arts to help increase pedestrian safety

Patrick Kabanda's picture

The Creative Wealth of Nations is a series of blogs related to Patrick Kabanda's forthcoming book on the performing arts in development.

It was a scene I still can’t forget.
 
A few years ago on a busy Kampala intersection, cars zoomed by while pedestrians braced themselves to cross a road. They lurched back and forth, like a fence being blown hither and tither by heavy winds. In frustration, a voice of a woman with a baby tucked on her back cried out: senga no wabawo atusasira. “I wish someone would be kind to us.”

What do we know (and what not) about safety nets in urban areas?

Ugo Gentilini's picture
Cities are magnets of opportunity: they offer better standards of living than rural areas, and will soon house 75% of the global economy. But when demand for housing, jobs, and services outstrips capacity, urban areas can turn into congested, haphazard locales that amplify extreme poverty.

Natural resource booms are a mixed blessing for local communities, too*

Punam Chuhan-Pole's picture

The impact of natural resource wealth on macroeconomic outcomes is well researched, with the debate centered on whether resources are bad for development (i.e., the phenomenon of the resource curse). However, relatively little attention has been given to examining the effect on communities where those resources are located. 

But interest in the local impact of resource abundance is growing, underpinning a nascent literature.  The focus of this research is on exploring whether extractive activities improve or harm welfare in adjoining regions, and how the benefits or costs are transmitted to the local population.  The answers to these questions can inform policy, leading to better outcomes, and may also help us understand the sources of regional and social tensions associated with extractive industries. 

In Mexico, a rising rate of homicides has zero impact on educational outcomes. That’s good news.

Carlos Rodríguez Castelán's picture
Economists are often disappointed by research findings that show a statistically insignificant effect. This sometimes even leads researchers to stop pursuing a topic that might otherwise engage them fruitfully. This outcome thus represents a loss to social science: knowledge and insights are not put forward to be built upon.
 

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