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The international poverty line has just been raised to $1.90 a day, but global poverty is basically unchanged. How is that even possible?

Francisco Ferreira's picture

World Bank researchers have been trying to assess the extent of extreme poverty across the world since 1979 and more systematically since the World Development Report 1990, which introduced the dollar-a-day international poverty line. From the beginning, the idea was to measure income poverty with respect to a demanding line which, first, reflects the standards of absolute poverty in the world’s poorest countries and, second, corresponded to the same real level of well-being in all countries. The first requirement led researchers to anchor the international poverty line on the national poverty lines of very poor developing countries. And the second requirement led them to use purchasing power parity exchange rates (PPPs) – rather than nominal ones - to convert the line into the US dollar and, more importantly, into the currencies of each developing country.

Increasingly, inequality within, not across, countries is rising

Jos Verbeek's picture

During the second-half of the last century countries were placed in one of two mutually exclusive camps: north or south, east or west, advanced or emerging, developed or developing. Simple though this categorization of countries had been, it reflected prevailing realities. In 1970, for instance, the global distribution of per capita income showed a clear divide between richer and poorer countries (See Figures 1 and 2). These between-country differences were equally applicable to other development conditions, notably health and education. However, as Hans Rosling emphasized during his last presentation at the World Bank, for the 21st century this binary distinction between countries is outdated. Boundaries between developed and developing regions are less clear today because of the extraordinary social and economic progress achieved in the large majority countries. Global economic activity is less geographically concentrated and increasingly dispersed across production networks that connect metropolitan areas around the world.

Development in the digital age

Kaushik Basu's picture
I have spoken only once before at the UN. I was then just a professor and was invited to speak on my research on labor market regulation. I was told it would be a distinguished audience. However, as I got up to speak, almost all distinguished people seemed to leave the room. Only six hardy souls stayed behind to listen to me.

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.”

Emerging, frontier economies should brace for possible turmoil associated with U.S. Fed rate tightening

Carlos Arteta's picture

The U.S. Federal Reserve has been letting the world know for a while that it will soon embark in an interest rate tightening cycle, after years of leaving policy rates near zero to stimulate growth after a devastating financial crisis and recession.

But despite the careful buildup, there is a possibility that the Fed tightening cycle could at some point rattle financial markets, with potentially difficult consequences for the most vulnerable emerging and frontier markets, a Policy Research Note from the World Bank’s Development Prospects Group concludes.

Financial incentives in health: the magic bullet we were hoping for?

Adam Wagstaff's picture

After years of bad news from developing countries about high rates of health worker absenteeism, and low rates of delivery of key health interventions, along came what seemed like a magic bullet: financial incentives. Rather than paying providers whether or not they show up to work, and whether or not they deliver key interventions, doesn’t it make sense to pay them—at least in part—according to what they do? And if, after doing their cost-benefit calculations, women decide not to have their baby delivered in a health facility, not to get antenatal care, and not take their child to be immunized, then doesn’t it make sense to try to change the benefit-cost ratio by paying them to do so?