When cyclones strike: Using mangroves to protect coastal areas
Let’s Talk Development, 28 November 2017
Massive flooding from storm surges is a major threat to lives and property in low-lying coastal areas during cyclones. Recent examples of devastating cyclone-induced storm surges include Haiyan 2013 (5.2m or 17 feet), Aila 2009 (4m/13ft), Ike 2008 (4.5m–6m/15–20 feet), Nargis 2008 (more than 3m/10ft), Sidr 2007 (4m /13ft), Katrina 2005 (7.6m–8.5m/25–28 feet). The impacts are particularly disastrous when storm surges strike densely populated coastal areas.
Mangroves, by obstructing the flow of water with their roots/husks and leaves, can reduce the vulnerability of adjacent coastal lands from storm surges. Although the potential utility of mangroves in disaster risk reduction is increasingly recognized by coastal managers, efficient use of this ecosystem-based protection is often hindered by scarcity of location-specific information on the protective capacity of mangroves. The extent of protection from mangroves depends on the width of forest, forest density, diameter of stems and roots of trees along with forest floor shape, bathymetry, spectral characteristics of waves and the tidal stage at which waves enter the forest.
Read the blog by Susmita Dasgupta.
Financial inclusion measurement goes mobile
All about Finance, 20 November 2017
These are exciting times for those of us in the business of measuring financial inclusion. Technology is remaking the financial system every couple of years — and we're adapting the Global Findex survey questions accordingly. Our new data, which we're launching in April 2018, features bundles of new questions on financial services accessed through mobile phones and the internet.
We started collecting data for the first round of the World Bank's Global Findex database — measuring how adults in more than 140 countries worldwide save, borrow, and make payments — in 2010. Back then, our survey asked people about their use of paper checks.
Mobile money was so nascent that we had a few questions about mobile payments, but nothing about mobile money accounts. That came later, with the vastly expanded mobile money module in the 2014 Global Findex.
Read the blog by Leora Klapper.
How well does regulation of private schools work in Sub-Saharan Africa?
Let’s Talk Development, 20 November 2017
A growing number of students in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are enrolled in private primary or secondary schools. The World Development Report 2018 (on which I was a co-author) highlighted an array of potential benefits and risks associated with broad provision of basic education by the private sector. “The key challenge for policy makers is to develop a policy and regulatory framework that ensures access for all children, protects families from exploitation, and establishes an environment that encourages education innovation. Managing a regulatory framework to achieve this is difficult: the same technical and political barriers that education systems face more generally come into play.”
Read the blog by David Evans.
Pro-market activism: A new role for the state in promoting access to finance
Let’s Talk Development, 14 November 2017
The debate on whether the state should play an active role in broadening access to finance or not is one that has lingered for decades. A recent book (de la Torre, Gozzi, and Schmukler, 2017) argues that a new a view has gained traction and is worth considering.
Read the blog by Sergio Schmukler and Facundo Abraham.
Hot off the press: The Global Financial Development Report 2017/2018: Bankers without Borders
All about Finance, 13 November 20177
The decade before the 2007–09 global financial crisis was characterized by a significant increase in bank globalization, which also coincided with dramatic increases in bank size. International banks became the cornerstone of many financial systems around the world, also in developing countries. Proponents of international banking emphasized the potential gains in terms of much-needed capital, know-how, and technological improvements that foreign banks bring, leading to more competitive and diversified banking systems, improved resource allocation, and greater financial and economic development.
However, the global financial crisis has led to a significant re-evaluation of this conventional wisdom. With the crisis, there was a backlash against globalization in general, and the emphasis shifted to the role international banks can play in shock transmission. Developing countries felt the impact of retrenchment by global banks. Global banks were criticized for taking excessive risks. Financial Stability Board (FSB) and the G20 voiced concerns about how to deal with the resolution of too-big-to-fail banks. Thus, regulations and restrictions got stricter in many countries, particularly in developing countries, further contributing to the retrenchment kicked off by the crisis.
Read the blog by Asli Demirgüç-Kunt and Ata Can Bertay.
Using satellite data to gauge terrorist incomes
Let’s Talk Development, 9 November 2017
The growing availability of satellite imagery and analysis means that all kinds of things we used to think were hard to quantify, especially in conflict zones, can now be measured systematically.
For example, estimating ISIS oil production. Soon after it proclaimed itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (a.k.a. ISIL/ISIS, the Islamic State, or Daesh, its Arabic acronym), the group was quickly branded the richest terrorist organization in history and oil was believed to be its major revenue source. A typical headline in Foreign Policy proclaimed “The Islamic State is the Newest Petrostate.”
Read the blog by Quy-Toan Do and Jake Shapiro.
Smaller businesses lack the financing to be sustainable. Here's how we can help
World Economic Forum, 8 November 2017
Sustainability was once a buzzword rolled out for corporate social responsibility reports then quickly forgotten. Not anymore.
Shareholders are ratcheting up pressure on management to address social and environmental issues. Climate change and policies aimed at mitigating it are poised to upend major industries, from forestry to garment manufacturing. Research shows that companies make more money when they invest in sustainability. Consumers want to buy products from companies that use socially responsible business practices.
All this helps explain why CEOs increasingly see sustainability as their top priority. A survey found that 91% of CEOs thought it was important to ensure the integrity of supply chains - the networks of businesses providing goods and services that corporations use to make their products.
The push for sustainability is good for workers and for the environment. But it also poses challenges for small businesses that supply big corporations, and which play a vital role in the economies of poor countries. These small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do not have the money needed to adapt to the new business realities.
Read the blog by Leora Klapper and Natascha Beinker.
Why digital payments are key to entrepreneurs’ success
Jobs and Development, 7 November 2017
In high-income countries, entrepreneurs routinely accept electronic payments from customers and make electronic payments to suppliers, tax authorities and others. But in developing countries, where more than a third of adults report being self-employed, digital payments are an underdeveloped business tool — one that can provide significant benefits to both entrepreneurs as well as society by bringing more people into the formal financial system. With the rapid growth of mobile phone ownership to facilitate digital payments in the developing world, shifting from cash to digital payments offers high potential payoffs for entrepreneurs worldwide. A new report shows how digital payments can benefit entrepreneurs.
Read the blog by Leora Klapper.
Poverty is falling faster for female-headed households in Africa
N-IUSSP, 6 November 2017
Living standards have risen generally, and poverty rates have fallen across Sub-Saharan Africa since the late 1990s (Chen and Ravallion, 2013). Less is known about how different groups have fared. In particular, what about Africa’s female-headed households, often thought to be poorer? It is of interest to ask what has happened to their prevalence and their living standards during this same period. Has poverty also been falling for them or have they been left behind?
Read the article by Dominique van de Walle and Annamaria Milazzo.
The economics and law of sexual harassment in the workplace
Development Impact, 6 November 2017
This week, I leave you with this short 2003 paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives by Kaushik Basu. It both follows somewhat from my last post, is related to the day's news, and relevant for thinking about principles for intervention in labor markets for a host of issues that our colleagues deal with in developing and developed economies...Here is the abstract — but you can read the paper in 30 minutes...
Suppose a firm has a widespread reputation for sexually harassing its employees. When a person signs up to work for such a firm, it would appear both the firm and the worker are better off by virtue of the "exchange". Is there a case then for government to ban sexual harassment in the workplace? Starting from this question, this paper constructs an argument for legislative intervention. This "economic approach" is applied to other labor market practices and is used to evaluate and critique the current law concerning sexual harassment in the U.S. and other nations.
Read the blog by Berk Özler.
Future Development Reads: 6 surprising findings in development economics
Future Development, 3 November 2017
Over the past few weeks, several unexpected findings have been published challenging views on different areas of economic development. Here’s a selection of my favorites.
Read the blog by Shanta Devarajan.
An Indian government effort to encourage account ownership produces surprising results
Let’s Talk Development, 2 November 2017
Can government policies designed to promote financial inclusion encourage people to open an account at a bank or other financial institution?
Results from our paper using a new survey of 13,000 adults across India suggest they can have an impact. Women, poor and illiterate adults were more likely to apply for an account after the government-led Jan Dhan Yojana (JDY) program was introduced in India to encourage account ownership.
Read the blog by Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Leora Klapper, and Saniya Ansar.
Hoping for a cloudy future for Caribbean statistics
The Data Blog, 1 November 2017
Systems of national statistics can provide critical information about the extent of a disaster, help guide recovery operations, and assess the preparedness of countries to future shocks. At the same time, the reliance of National Statistical Offices (NSOs) on local IT infrastructure makes them highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Computers, servers, and networks cannot operate without power; flooding and high humidity destroys hardware and storage media; looting and breaking into abandoned buildings puts sensitive information at the risk of falling into the wrong hands. Fortifying NSO buildings to withstand Category 5 hurricanes and enabling the offices to continue functioning afterwards is prohibitively expensive. Even if such structures were built, staffing would remain an issue, particularly if the entire population of the country was evacuated (as in case of Barbuda).
Cloud computing provides a very effective way to resolve that problem at a small fraction of the cost.
Read the blog by Michael Lokshin.
How digital payments can benefit entrepreneurs
IZA World of Labor, November 2017
Digital payment systems can conveniently and affordably connect entrepreneurs with banks, employees, suppliers, and new markets for their goods and services. These systems can accelerate business registration and payments for business licenses and permits by reducing travel time and expenses. Digital financial services can also improve access to savings accounts and loans. Electronic wage payments to workers can increase security and reduce the time and cost of paying employees. Yet, there are challenges as many entrepreneurs and employees lack bank accounts, digital devices, and reliable technology infrastructure.
Read the article by Leora Klapper.
Blog your job market paper 2017: Submissions open!
Development Impact, 27 October 2017
We are pleased to launch for the seventh year a call for PhD students on the job market to blog their job market paper on the Development Impact blog. We welcome blog posts on anything related to empirical development work, impact evaluation, or measurement.
Read the blog by David Evans.
What's The Meaning Of The World Bank's New Poverty Lines?
National Public Radio, 25 October 2017
According to the World Bank, if you're living on $1.90 a day or less, you're living in extreme poverty. The 767 million people in that category have $1.90 a day or less in purchasing power to fulfill their daily needs. Most of that money goes for food — only it may not be enough to purchase nutritious food or to stave off hunger. Hundreds of millions of the extreme poor are malnourished. Their housing may be of low quality. And they may not have enough money for school fees (primary education isn't always free) or health-care expenses.
Read the article.
Incentivising safer sexual behaviour: Evidence from a lottery experiment on HIV prevention
VoxDev, 30 October 2017
Lottery incentives targeting risk lovers led to a 20% reduction in HIV incidence
An estimated 1.2 million new HIV infections occurred in Africa alone in 2016, adding to the nearly 26 million people living with HIV on the continent. New infections continue to outpace antiretroviral (ARV) therapy uptake in most developing countries (UNAIDS 2016). Thus, the global need for effective HIV prevention programmes remains urgent.
HIV prevention programmes can be broadly divided into two types: biomedical interventions that aim at reducing susceptibility to HIV, and interventions aimed at reducing risky sexual behaviour. Several biomedical interventions, such as male circumcision and pre-exposure prophylaxis, have been shown to signiﬁcantly reduce HIV transmission in ﬁeld trials (Gray et al. 2007, Bailey et al. 2007, Auvert et al. 2005). Evidence from randomised controlled trials of behavioural interventions, however, is at best mixed (see McCoy et al. 2010, Padian et al. 2010 for reviews). No traditional programmes — offering some combination of risk-reduction counselling, condom promotion, referral and treatment for sexually transmitted infections — have documented signiﬁcant effects on HIV incidence.
Read the article by Martina Björkman Nyqvist, Lucia Corno, Damien de Walque, and Jakob Svensson.
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