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May 2016

Wonderful Life: Biodiversity for sustaining people and their livelihoods

Adriana Moreira's picture
Francisco "Chico" Mendes (1944 - 1988), Brazilian rubber-tapper and environmentalist, actively involved in protecting the Amazon forest through his advocacy for the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples. Photo credit: Miranda Smith 

As a young scientist, I travelled to the Brazilian Amazon to research forest fires. After weeks of talking to rural producers, rubber tappers, indigenous peoples and cattle ranchers, I realized that I had to think beyond conservation science and climate change implications to understand the Amazonian landscape. The nexus between people and the rainforest was also important. I came away wanting to help ensure that the value of forests to people, and the value of people to forests remained closely linked and well-recognized.

The loss of biodiversity—which is driven by rapid conversion of habitats and landscapes, the depletion of ocean fisheries, and climate change—is not new. But concern for how to decrease the loss of biodiversity is. We are no longer just scientists and conservationists. The international community now makes the loss of biodiversity central to the global political debate: nations have the responsibility to protect natural assets.

Three myths about China in Kenya

Apurva Sanghi's picture

In recent years, China’s presence in sub-Saharan Africa has risen rapidly. Many fear that China spells doom for the Kenyan economy. Producers of manufactured goods, for example, face more competition from China in both foreign and domestic markets. Others argue that China will exploit Kenya’s resources and leave it unable to industrialize. If the manufacturing sector fails to take off, it will be harder to move people out of poverty.

Preventing distortions in minimum wages

Ximena Del Carpio's picture
The minimum wage is a basic labor policy for workers and used in most countries around the world. But can we prevent the distorted use of the minimum wage? In theory yes. It is difficult although not impossible. Using objective methods based on economic tools that design formulas that link specific parameters and criteria to socio-economic context determines optimal levels and discards suboptimal levels. This approach can prevent minimum wages from being used for purposes that ultimately may end up generating undesirable effects on the economy.
 

ThinkHazard! – A new, simple platform for understanding and acting on disaster risk

Alanna Simpson's picture
ThinkHazard! platform


Too many times after a natural hazard strikes, public outcries follow once the level of devastation becomes clear. People wonder – and often rightly so – if the disaster could have been prevented.  After the 2015 Nepal earthquake for example, years of investment in school buildings was wiped away in seconds because schools were not built to withstand earthquakes – often because people were not aware of the earthquake risk. Fortunately, it was a Saturday so the schools that collapsed did not also result in unimaginable human tragedy.  

Can Moldova have a viable pension system … if retirement age is increased?

Yuliya Smolyar's picture
Pensioner in Moldova

In my first blog on Moldova’s pension system, I discussed challenges and reform options. My second one focused on the incentives to contribute into that pension system. Now, in this third blog, I am going to discuss Moldova’s retirement age: why it is important to raise it ... and why it is equally challenging to do so.
 
To better understand the issues faced by public pension systems today, it is important to remember that they are generally pay-as-you-go schemes. This means that those who work today pay the pensions of those who are retired.
 
This particular system was first introduced in Germany back in the 19th century, when the workforce was growing – a very different situation from what we have today. Rapidly ageing societies, longer life expectancy at retirement, lower fertility and migration are all adding pressures on pension systems in many European countries, including Moldova.

A tale of many cities: monitoring the world's urban transformation

Chandan Deuskar's picture


This is part of a series of blogs focused on the Sustainable Development Goals and data from the 2016 Edition of World Development Indicators.  Chris Sall also contributed to this blog.

By 2030 around 60 percent of people will live in urban areas, according to the UN. Much of the 1 billion increase in urban population between now and 2030 will be in Asia and Africa, both of which are in the midst of transformations that will permanently change their economic, environmental, social, and political trajectories.

Sustainable Development Goal 11 aims to ensure that cities and other human settlements are safe, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable by targeting housing and slums, transportation, participatory planning processes, cultural heritage, waste management, air quality, disaster risk management, and other issues.

Weekly links May 20: AEA P&P Special Edition

David McKenzie's picture
The latest AEA papers and proceedings has a number of interesting papers:
  • In the Richard T. Ely lecture, John Campbell discusses the challenge of consumer financial regulation – he distinguishes 5 dimensions of financial ignorance many households exhibit: 1) ignorance of even the most basic financial concepts (financial illiteracy); 2) ignorance of contract terms (such as not knowing about the fees build into credit cards or when mortgage interest rates can change); 3) ignorance of financial history – relying too much on own experiences and the recent past; 4) ignorance of self- a lot of financially illiterate people are over-confident about their abilities; and 5) ignorance of incentives, strategy and equilibrium – failure to take account of incentives faced by other parties to transactions.  Given these problems, and the limits of financial education and disclosure requirements to fix them, he discusses what financial regulation is needed: “consumer financial regulation must confront the trade-off between the benefits of intervention to behavioral agents, and the costs to rational agents….the task for economists is to confront this trade-off explicitly”

Humanitarian assistance versus safety nets: are we asking the right questions?

Ugo Gentilini's picture
Ebola survivors Mariatu and her daughter Adam. Photo © Dominic Chavez / World Bank

As the World Humanitarian Summit approaches, the buzz around humanitarian issues is reaching fever pitch (see here, here and here). This is complemented by a growing literature on how government safety nets such as cash transfer programs can be ‘scalable’ in response to shocks (see here and here).
 
Amidst the excitement, the distinction between humanitarian assistance and safety nets is not always clear: how do they differ? Are they complementary or alternatives? What are the trade-offs? In a recent note, I tried to explore some these quandaries. 


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