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January 2018

Depression and its links to conflict and welfare in Nigeria

Julie Perng's picture
Innovation in food may seem obscure. There are only so many ways you can cut a carrot and you cannot simply reinvent the pig. But in an increasingly busy and wealthy world, the nature of demand for food is changing and scope exists for innovation in the way we deliver food to match people’s lifestyles. With demand for such new segments rapidly growing across Europe, Croatia seems well-poised to exploit this trend.

So why aren’t more farmers and firms champing at the bit to get a piece of this economic pie?



 

In evaluating development projects, pressing for better tools in measuring job creation

Alvaro Gonzalez's picture
It is an article of common sense that effective solutions can only be achieved once problems have been clearly defined. While this is a sound rule-of-thumb, it can seem like a distant goal in an environment where facts are presented through a filtered lens, and no universally accepted method for measuring exists. For decades Tunisians were confronted with facts at odds with their perceptions. To the outside world, there was little statistical evidence to support domestic frustration over the lack of economic opportunities.

Your Cow, Plant, Fridge and Elevator Can Talk to You (But Your Kids Still Won’t!)

Raka Banerjee's picture
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The Internet of Things (IoT) heralds a new world in which everything (well, almost everything) can now talk to you, through a combination of sensors and analytics. Cows can tell you when they’d like to be milked or when they’re sick, plants can tell you about their soil conditions and light frequency, your fridge can tell you when your food is going bad (and order you a new carton of milk), and your elevator can tell you how well it’s functioning.

At the World Bank, we’re looking at all these things (Things?) from a development angle. That’s the basis behind the new report, “Internet of Things: The New Government to Business Platform”, which focuses on how the Internet of Things can help governments deliver services better. The report looks at the ways that some cities have begun using IoT, and considers how governments can harness its benefits while minimizing potential risks and problems.

In short, it’s still the Wild West in terms of IoT and governments. The report found lots of IoT-related initiatives (lamppost sensors for measuring pollution, real-time transit updates through GPS devices, sensors for measuring volumes in garbage bins), but almost no scaled applications. Part of the story has to do with data – governments are still struggling how to collect and manage the vast quantities of data associated with IoT, and issues of data access and valuation also pose problems.

What’s new in education research? Impact evaluations and measurement – January 2018 round-up

David Evans's picture
Here is a selected round-up of recent research on education in low- and middle-income countries, with a few findings from high-income countries that I found relevant. This is mostly but not entirely from the “economics of education” literature. If I’m missing recent articles that you’ve found useful, please add them in the comments!

What is education good for?
  • Education saves lives, but only some of them! “Education is strongly associated with better health and longer lives.” But is that mere correlation, or is a causal link? It depends! This review finds no impact on obesity, inconsistent impact on smoking, and “an effect of education on mortality exists in some contexts but not in others, and seems to depend on (i) gender; (ii) the labor market returns to education; (iii) the quality of education; and (iv) whether education affects the quality of individuals’ peers” (Galama, Lleras-Muney, and van Kippersluis).

Are we there yet? – A journey towards sustainable flood risk management in Pacific Island countries

Simone Esler's picture
The Mataniko River floodplain at Koa Hill, Solomon Islands, after the April 2014 flood. Many houses were completely washed away and several lives were lost. (Photo: Alan McNeil, Solomon Islands government)

 

‘Are we there yet?’ On a long road trip, perhaps you’ve asked or heard this question.

Let’s direct this question to the state of urban flood risk management in Pacific Island countries.  In this case, the ‘destination’ is flood-resilient communities.

For Pacific Island countries, no, we’re not there yet, but are we heading in the right direction?

“But what about Singapore?” Lessons from the best public housing program in the world

Abhas Jha's picture
Also available in: Mongolian | Chinese
 
Photo of Singapore by Lois Goh / World Bank

 
As we approach the 9th World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur next week, one of the essential challenges in implementing the New Urban Agenda that governments are struggling with is the provision at scale of high quality affordable housing, a key part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 of building sustainable cities and communities.
 
When I worked on affordable housing in Latin America, one consistent piece of advice we would give our clients was that it is not a good idea for governments to build and provide housing themselves. Instead, in the words of the famous (and sadly late) World Bank economist Steve Mayo, we should enable housing markets to work. Our clients would always respond by saying, “But what about Singapore?” And we would say the Singapore case is too sui generis and non-replicable.

[Learn more about the World Bank's participation in the World Urban Forum]
 
Now, having lived in the beautiful red-dot city state for two and half years, and seeing up close the experience of public housing in Singapore, one is struck by elements of the Singapore housing experience that are striking for its foresight and, yes, its replicability!
 
Singapore’s governing philosophy has famously been described as “think ahead, think again and think across.” Nowhere is this more apparent than how the founding fathers designed the national housing program, and how it has adapted and evolved over the years, responding to changed circumstances and needs.

It is hard to believe today but in 1947 the British Housing Committee reported that 72% of a total population of 938,000 of Singapore was living within the 80 square kilometers that made up the central city area. When Singapore attained self-government in 1959, only 9% of Singaporeans resided in public housing. Today, 80% of Singaporeans live a government built apartment. There are about one million Housing and Development Board (HDB) apartments, largely clustered in 23 self-contained new towns that extend around the city’s coastal core.
 
How has Singapore succeeded where so many other countries have failed dismally? At the risk of over-simplification, there seem to be four essential ingredients to this astonishing success story:

Chart: Economic Development and the Composition of Wealth

Tariq Khokhar's picture

The composition of wealth fundamentally changes with economic development. Natural capital—energy, minerals, land and forests—is the largest component of wealth in low-income countries. Its value goes up, but its share of total wealth decreases as economies develop. By contrast, the share of human capital, estimated as the present value of future incomes for the labor force, increases as economies develop. Overall, human capital accounts for two-thirds of the wealth of nations. Read more in The Changing Wealth of Nations

 

Chart: Global Wealth Grew 66% Between 1995 and 2014

Tariq Khokhar's picture

التصدي لتغيُّر المناخ الآن: بناء حلول قابلة للتوسع في تطبيقهايعرض أحدث تقرير من الهيئة الحكومية الدولية المعنية بتغيُّر المناخ سيناريوهات للمخاطر المتزايدة التي ينطوي عليها تغيُّر المناخ من ارتفاع منسوب مياه البحار، وتدمير مصايد الأسماك، وانعدام الأمن الغذائي، وموت أشجار الغابات تدريجيا من جراء الحر الشديد، ليرسم بذلك صورة لمستقبل مُعقَّد لا يخرج منه أحد سليما، وتتفاقم فيه مواطن الضعف، ويجب علينا –على حد تعبير فريد بيرس- "الاستعداد للأسوأ."
 
ولكن، كما يشير العلماء بحق، ليس لزاما أن يكون الأمر على هذا النحو.

Incentives for cleaner cities in Nepal

Charis Lypiridis's picture
The "orange city" of Dhankuta, Nepal. Photo: World Bank
The "orange city" of Dhankuta, Nepal. Photo: World Bank


Cities across Nepal—and in the developing world—produce more waste than ever before, due to a spike in population and a surge in new economic activity and urbanization. Properly disposing and managing solid waste has thus become urgent for city municipalities.

Although collecting, storing, and recycling solid waste can represent up to 50 percent of a municipality’s annual budget, many local governments don’t collect enough revenue from waste management services to cover these costs.

As a result, landscapes and public spaces in Nepal’s urban centers are deteriorating. Less than half of the 700,000 tons of waste generated in Nepal’s cities each year is collected. Most waste is dumped without any regulation or oversight and several municipalities do not have a designated disposal site, leading to haphazard disposal of waste—often next to a river—further aggrevating the problem.

With urbanization rising, the costs of inaction are piling up and compromising people’s health and the environment. In most cases, the poor suffer the most from the resulting negative economic, environmental, and human health impacts.

Limitations of Cash Payment Limitations

Nikos Passas's picture
This page in: Français

Across European countries, women continue to earn less than men. Looking at data for full-time working women across 30 countries, we find that women would have needed an average raise of 19 percent of their hourly wage to match male wages. Take France, for example, where the gap is close to the regional average: this would mean going from 584 Euros to 697 Euros for a 40-hour work week. In fact, in some countries the gap was higher, reaching 1/3rd of women's salaries in 2015 (see Figure 1). However, the lowest observed gaps are not found in Scandinavia, as you might expect, but in Croatia, Greece, and Belgium, where women would require a 12% wage increase to fill the gap. And these gaps have persisted over time. Over a five-year period, the gap decreased in only 10 of the 30 European countries we looked at. The most notable decreases were in Estonia (10 percentage points), the Slovak Republic (5 percentage points), and Switzerland (7 percentage points). For others, the gap has increased, particularly in Poland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and France, where the gap has doubled, while in some Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway) and Latvia, the gap has remained relatively constant.


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