Subsidies for food and energy are economically inefficient, but can often be politically popular. This column discusses the efforts by new leaders in Egypt, Indonesia, and India to cut unaffordable subsidies. Cutting subsidies now may even be the politically savvy choice if the alternative is shortages and an even more painful rise in the retail price in future. Ironically, it is India’s new Prime Minister Modi – elected with a large electoral mandate and much hype about market reforms – who is already shrinking from the challenge.
Jeffrey Frankel, Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Joachim De Weerdt, Kathleen Beegle, Jed Friedman, John Gibson, Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Whereas the Millennium Development Goal of reducing extreme poverty by half was achieved by 2010, the global hunger rate has only fallen by a third since 1990. Differences in survey design may account for part of this discrepancy. This column presents the results of a recent experiment in which households were randomly assigned to different survey designs. These different designs yield vastly different hunger estimates, ranging from 19% to 68% of the population being hungry.
Angus Deaton, Friday, January 10, 2014
Angus Deaton talks to Viv Davies about his recent book ‘The Great Escape: health, wealth and the origins of inequality’, that explains how inequality is the catalyst for the great escape from poverty and how the world is better because of it. They discuss the state of inequality in the US, economic growth in China and India and the ineffectiveness of international aid. Deaton stresses the importance of understanding that human well being will be achieved only through a holistic approach. The interview was recorded on 17 October 2013.
Louise Cord, Leonardo Lucchetti, Carlos Rodríguez Castelán, Adam Ratzlaff, Monday, December 23, 2013
Poverty and inequality declined over the past 15 years in Latin America and the Caribbean. This column describes these changes and raises the question of sustainability of the discussed trends. Countries in the region should protect the well-being not only of those who live in poverty, but also of those vulnerable to falling back to poverty.
Christiane Baumeister, Lutz Kilian, Saturday, November 30, 2013
Recently, there has been great concern among policymakers worldwide about rising food prices and increased food-price volatility. It is widely believed that oil and food prices have become closely linked after 2006, owing in part to a shift in US biofuel policies. This column presents evidence that challenges this conventional wisdom.
David Dollar, Tatjana Kleineberg, Aart Kraay, Tuesday, November 19, 2013
A key Millennium Development Goal was to halve the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day. This was met five years ahead of schedule, and the World Bank is promoting a new goal of ‘shared prosperity’ defined in terms of the growth rate of incomes in the bottom 40% of households. This column discusses research showing that there is a strong one-for-one relationship between overall growth and average income growth in the poorest quintiles. Overall growth is thus still important.
James Fenske, Saturday, November 9, 2013
Several theories link polygamy to poverty. Polygamy is concentrated in west Africa and has declined in recent decades. Geographic variation in women’s agricultural productivity does not predict differences in the prevalence of polygamy, but historical inequality and exposure to the slave trade do. Although contemporary female education does not reduce polygamy, areas with more educational investment in the past have less polygamy today. Conflict and lower rainfall lead to small increases in polygamy, whereas lower child mortality leads to a large decrease. National policies appear to have little effect.
Martin Ravallion, Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Poverty is in ascendency as a policy issue – but it has not always been that way. This column, based on the author’s “The Idea of Antipoverty Policy”, recounts how mainstream thinking until well into the 19th century saw little scope for fighting widespread chronic poverty. The revolution came with a deeper understanding of how market and governmental failures interact with inequality to both perpetuate poverty and retard development more broadly. New policies for fighting poverty emerged and now extreme absolute poverty is at an historic low. History suggests, however, that continued progress is not assured.
Kym Anderson, Maros Ivanic , Will Martin, Saturday, August 3, 2013
Food prices in international markets have spiked three times in the past five years. Most governments responded by altering trade restrictions to insulate the domestic market. Did this work? This column presents new research suggesting that altering trade restrictions has less impact than is commonly thought. Since there are other options – such as conditional cash transfers – that could better, more efficiently and more equitably protect against poverty, it is time we sought a multilateral agreement to desist from changing restrictions on trade when international food prices spike.
John Gibson, Chao Li, Thursday, August 9, 2012
Many an economist will tell you they base their decisions on evidence. But what if the evidence is based on incorrect or irrelevant data? This column asks what this might mean for our view on regional inequality in China.
Ejaz Ghani, Lakshmi Iyer, Saurabh Mishra, Friday, March 9, 2012
While the rate of economic growth in India and other South Asian countries is impressive, it does raise the question of whether this growth is inclusive. This column looks at a range of poverty measures over time and finds that while not all extremely poor people in the world are trapped in poverty, in India and South Asia the poorest are not catching up with the richest fast enough.
Dennis J Snower, Friday, July 29, 2011
The first Global Economic Symposium (GES) took place in the early autumn of 2008. Dennis Snower, President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and GES Director, talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about its continuing efforts to bring together people from many professions, nations and cultures to develop solutions to a wide range of global challenges, including financial crises, climate change, poverty and such ‘tragedy of the commons’ phenomena as deforestation and overfishing. The interview was recorded in July 2011.
Martin Ravallion, Monday, February 14, 2011
For how long have we cared about poverty? Tracing the number of references to the word “poverty” in books published since 1700, this column shows that there was marked increase between 1740 and 1790, culminating in a “Poverty Enlightenment”. Attention then faded through the 19th and 20th centuries, leaving room for the second Poverty Enlightenment in 1960 – and interest in poverty still rising.
Xavier Sala-i-Martin, Maxim Pinkovskiy, Monday, December 6, 2010
Sub-Saharan Africa has made little progress in reducing extreme poverty, according to the latest Millennium Development Report. This column presents evidence from 1970 to 2006 to the contrary.
M. Ataman Aksoy, Bernard Hoekman, Friday, October 8, 2010
The contributions in this latest book from CEPR and the World Bank review trends in international prices and trade patterns of key food commodities, and assess the incidence of food price changes in a number of developing countries using household level data on sources of incomes and consumption patterns.
Bilal Habib, Ambar Narayan, Sergio Olivieri, Carolina Sanchez-Paramo, Monday, April 19, 2010
A shortage of real-time data hinders evaluations of the impact of the global crisis on developing countries. This column uses a “microsimulation” approach to assess the poverty and distributional effects in Bangladesh, Mexico, and the Philippines. It finds that poverty will increase by well over a million, and that the crisis has been hardest for middle-income households.
Naotaka Sugawara, Victor Sulla, Ashley Taylor, Erwin R. Tiongson, Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The global crisis threatens the welfare of over 160 million people living around the poverty line in Europe and Central Asia. This column reports the findings of a recent World Bank analysis in the region. It estimates that the crisis will result in close to 35 million more people living around the poverty line.
Carol Graham, Saturday, January 30, 2010
What measures of human wellbeing are the most accurate benchmarks of economic progress and human development? This column presents new research suggesting that while people can adapt to be happy at low levels of income, they are far less happy when there is uncertainty over their future wealth. This may help explain why different societies tolerate such different levels of health, crime, and governance, and why US happiness plummeted during the global financial crisis but has since been restored despite incomes remaining lower.
Xavier Sala-i-Martin, Maxim Pinkovskiy, Friday, January 22, 2010
World poverty is falling. This column presents new estimates of the world’s income distribution and suggests that world poverty is disappearing faster than previously thought. From 1970 to 2006, poverty fell by 86% in South Asia, 73% in Latin America, 39% in the Middle East, and 20% in Africa. Barring a catastrophe, there will never be more than a billion people in poverty in the future history of the world.
Jonathan Morduch, Friday, December 18, 2009
Jonathan Morduch of New York University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his new book, Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day – co-authored with Daryl Collins, Stuart Rutherford and Orlanda Ruthven – which reports on the yearlong ‘financial diaries’ of villagers and slum dwellers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa. The interview was recorded in New York in August 2009.