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Machine learning and the measurement of injustice

Daniel Mahler's picture

Machine learning methods are increasingly applied in the development policy arena. Among many recent policy applications, machine learning has been used to predict poverty, soil properties, and conflicts.

In a recent Policy Research Working Paper by Paolo Brunori, Paul Hufe and Daniel Mahler (BHM hereafter), machine learning methods are utilized to measure a popular understanding of distributional injustice – the amount of unequal opportunities individuals face. Equality of opportunity is an influential political ideal since it combines two powerful principles: individual responsibility and equality. In a world with equal opportunities, all individuals have the same chances to attain social positions and valuable outcomes. They are free to choose how to behave and they are held responsible for the consequences of their choices.

Latin America: Is better technical and technological higher education the answer?

Diego Angel-Urdinola's picture
A new World Bank study finds that some Chilean technicians with a two-year degree have education returns that are only slightly lower than those of professionals. (Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank)

Two years ago, 23-year-old Pedro Flores became a technician specializing in renewable energy—all thanks to a degree from a technical institute in Maule, located in one of Chile’s poorest regions. After completing his degree in just two years, Flores became the only person in his family to obtain an advanced degree. Today, he lives in Santiago and works for a private solar energy multinational corporation, where he earns a competitive salary that is only slightly below the average for entry-level professionals in his field, most of whom spent over five years in university.

The principal makes the difference

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. (Photo: Sarah Farhat​ / World Bank)

All schools are different. I’m not referring to the building, the number of students or teaching practices. I’m talking about the school’s spirit. When you walk into a good school, the building is often well-organized and clean. The students look busy and happy. You don’t see strict discipline; ideally, you see organized chaos.

When you see a well-functioning school, most likely, there is a good principal behind it. A leader who sets a vision for the school and sets clear objectives. Someone who creates the space that fosters teachers’ professional and personal development, and encourages students’ personal growth, creativity, and their own journey of discovery.

Running a school efficiently is a very difficult challenge. A principal must be a pedagogical leader to dozens of teachers: observing them in the classroom, evaluating institutional performance, and helping them get the professional development opportunities they need. Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. They need to respond to parents, each with their own expectations for the school. And principals also need to contend with the administrative and financial burdens imposed by the bureaucracy.  

Land tenure for forest peoples, part of the solution for sustainable development

Gerardo Segura Warnholtz's picture
© Gerardo Segura Warnholtz 
© Gerardo Segura Warnholtz 

In Science magazine, earlier this year, researchers revealed that ancient forest peoples of the Amazon helped create much of the imposing forest landscape that the world inherits today.

A growing body of evidence shows that the indigenous peoples and other rural communities who now inhabit these ancestral Amazonian "gardens" continue to be vital to their survival. 

Reduce and Reuse: Surprising insights from UC Berkeley Professor Sedlak on what makes a city more water resilient

Lauren Nicole Core's picture

Cities are becoming thirstier  a 50 percent increase in urban water demands is anticipated within the next 30 years. Rapid urban population growth, economic expansion, and competing demands are increasing thirst and tightening the availability of water in areas where water scarcity is already a reality.
In a bid to develop concrete solutions for a water scarce future, the World Bank launched the Water Scarce Cities Initiative (WSC), to bolster awareness of integrated and innovative approaches to managing water resources and service delivery.     

Professor David Sedlak

Matching institutional investors and infrastructure investments

Morten Lykke Lauridsen's picture

Editor's Note: Join us April 22nd at 10AM ET for the 2017 Global Infrastructure Forum when the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), the United Nations, the G-20, and development partners from around the world meet to discuss opportunities to harness public and private resources to improve infrastructure worldwide, and to ensure that investments are environmentally, social and economically sustainable. Check out the event site to view the livestream on April 22.

This post was originally published on the International Finance Corporation's Medium channel.

Swedish firms provide training and consider an inadequately educated workforce as the major obstacle to their operations

Silvia Muzi's picture
The private sector is a critical driver of job creation and economic growth. However, several factors can undermine private enterprise and, if left unresolved, may blunt growth. Through rigorous face-to-face interviews with managers and owners of private firms, the World Bank Group’s Enterprise Surveys benchmark the business environment in countries, based on the direct experiences of firms.
This blog is based on the Sweden Enterprise Survey (ES), which covered 600 firms across 4 regions and 6 business sectors.

Gender equality is one of the cornerstones of modern Swedish society. In the workplace, however, women are still underrepresented at the upper levels of corporate responsibility and decision-making, especially in the private sector. While women constitute more than one-third of the country’s private sector workforce, they account for only 23% of all managers—with an even smaller percentage of top managers. In 2013, when the Sweden Enterprise Survey was conducted, only 12% of firms in Sweden were led by a top woman manager.

Promoting equity in education to prepare for a greying Europe

Christian Bodewig's picture
PISA measures the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science.
Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank 

Investing in people starts by ensuring that graduates leave school with strong basic/foundational skills, such as in reading and mathematics. Such skills are critical for subsequent study, for quickly finding a first job, and for adapting to continuous technological change. But are countries in the EU ready to face that challenge?

Can emigration lead to political change in poor countries? It did in 19th century Sweden: Guest Post by Mounir Karadja

This is the fourth in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.

Institutions are widely believed to be important drivers of development. Recently, economists have begun using detailed micro data to study how historical institutions can shape development outcomes decades or even centuries down the line. But for anyone interested in development, a key question is what causes institutions to change over time. Here, the evidence is more scant. In my job market paper, my co-author Erik Prawitz and I ask if large-scale emigration can be a mechanism leading to political change in origin countries.

Among wealthy nations, Nordic countries are leading the pack on sustainable development

Craig James Willy's picture
Source: Bertelsmann Stiftung

Sustainable development was once thought of as primarily a concern for the poorer, so-called “developing” countries. Today, with industrial civilization spreading across the entire world, devouring ever more resources and emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, economists believe wealthy countries too are in a sense still “developing” ones. Life on Earth will not survive in its current form if lifestyle of the northern countries remains as it is and extends across the planet.

That is the spirit behind the Bertelsmann Foundation’s latest report on wealthy country’s progress on fulfilling Sustainable Development Goals. Recent developments have often not been pretty. Many countries have stuck to energy-intensive economic models, and inequality has been rising almost everywhere, with economic elites getting an ever-larger part of the pie, while working and middle classes decline.