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May 2017

Leveraging behavioral insights in the age of big data

Germán Reyes's picture

This blog is part of the series "Small changes, big impacts: applying #behavioralscience into development".

Access to an extremely large amount of data has enabled us to pursue research endeavors that just a couple of years ago seemed unimaginable. Examples of amazing big data applications in the field of economics are all over the place: using job-portals data to inform labor market policies; analyzing citizens’ reactions to public policies using Twitter; creating daily inflation data using billions of records from online retailers around the world; and even measuring economic growth from outer space!

The data revolution is open to anyone with the right tools, and big data can be useful to answer policy questions. Pairing big data with some of the traditional methods of data gathering such as household surveys can yield timely information and can help shape appropriate policy responses. For instance, traditional household surveys, from which unemployment estimates are calculated could carry outdated employment data by the time they become available. But big data can complement this effort in places where unemployment rates correlate with the frequency with which people use Google to search for jobs, as in the case of Brazil, that could be used to estimate real-time unemployment rates.

Monthly unemployment rate and google searches for “looking for a job” in Brazil, 2006-17

In Malawi, planting trees in fields of maize bumps up yields

Magda Lovei's picture


During my recent trip to Malawi, I saw that the expansion of agriculture, of illegal logging, and of charcoal production are decimating the country’s once-forested hillsides, causing soil to wash into rivers, wetlands, and lakes. This loss of topsoil is reducing crop yields, putting stress on agriculture-dependent communities, and leading to increasingly intense land use.

Media (R)evolutions: How users purchase goods online differs by country

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

The 2017 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust conducted by Ipsos (global research company), on behalf of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Internet Society reveals interesting findings on Internet security, user trust, and e-commerce behaviors.

The survey found stark differences between countries in terms of how users purchase goods online. While in China, India and Indonesia more than 86% of respondents expect to make mobile payments on their smartphone in the next year, only 30% in France, Germany and Japan expected to do so. The chart below shows the percentage of respondents likely to use mobile payments on their smartphone in the next year.
 

Source: Ipsos

Most G-8 countries mark near the bottom of this list, while emerging economies are near the top, with Indonesia leading at 55%. 

The survey also found that among those surveyed 49% said that lack of trust is the main reason they don’t shop online, suggesting that Internet users are increasingly concerned about their online privacy.

New Zealand has much to offer the world

Annette Dixon's picture
 
New zealand - World maps on line
New Zealand Map.  Photo Credit: Academia maps GeoAtlas


When people think about New Zealand’s most famous son, Sir Edmund Hillary, they mostly think about the quiet Auckland bee-keeper who conquered Everest in 1953.

Of course, there’s much more to the man. He raised money for the Sherpa communities in Nepal that built schools, hospitals and much more. His commitment to the people of South Asia was also reflected in his successful term in the 1980s as New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India.

As the most senior New Zealander in the management of the World Bank, I have come to appreciate Sir Edmund’s commitment to the people of South Asia and believe it shows how much New Zealand can offer the world.  This will not only make the world a better place but can also help New Zealand too.

Global talent flows: Causes and consequences of high-skilled migration

Caglar Ozden's picture

Co-authors: Sari Kerr, William Kerr, and Chris Parsons

Highly skilled workers play a starring role in today’s knowledge economy. They make exceptional direct contributions, including breakthrough innovations. As teachers, policy makers, and entrepreneurs they guide the actions of others. They propel the knowledge frontier and spur economic growth. In this process the mobility of skilled workers, within and across national borders, becomes critical to enhancing productivity. Using newly available data, a recent paper by Kerr, Kerr, Özden, and Parsons reviews the landscape of global talent mobility and discusses the causes and consequences of highskilled migration.

Much attention has been paid to understanding the worldwide distribution of human capital and how global migration flows further tilt the deck against poor countries. The migration patterns we see today are the result of a complex tangle of firms and other employers pursuing scarce talent, governments trying to manage these flows through policy, and individuals seeking their best options given the constraints imposed on them. The central outcome, however, is clear: the flows of high-skilled migrants are very concentrated, both within and across national borders.

Putting one more piece in the global poverty puzzle: the case of Algeria

Gabriel Lara Ibarra's picture


The World Bank Group (WBG) has clear goals to end poverty by 2030 and to promote shared prosperity in every country, both of which guide our operations, analysis, and policy advice. In setting these ambitious goals, it is not surprising to note that the WBG has made the measurement of extreme poverty an explicit corporate goal and has taken up a commitment to undertake a close and reliable monitoring.

World No Tobacco Day 2017: Why Does It Matter?

Patricio V. Marquez's picture


"Sugar, rum, and tobacco, are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, [but] which are ... objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation."

-    Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776)


World No Tobacco Day 2017 focuses on the links between tobacco use, tobacco control, and sustainable development. Does this mean that tobacco use is more than a public health issue?  The answer is an emphatic yes, rooted in robust scientific evidence accumulated over the past five decades and country experiences worldwide. Let me explain.

Blog post of the month: Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Lower Food Miles

Vivek Prasad's picture

Each month People, Spaces, Deliberation shares the blog post that generated the most interest and discussion. For May 2017, the featured blog post is "Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Lower Food Miles" by Vivek Prasad and Iftikhar Mostafa. 

Millions of urban dwellers cultivate vegetables and fruit trees in home gardens, both for their families and for sale. In Dakar, 7500 households “grow their own” in micro-gardens. In Malawi, 700 000 urban residents practice home gardening to meet their food needs and earn extra income. Low-income city gardeners in Zambia make US$230 a year from sales. In cities like Bamako, Accra and Kumasi, depending on crop and season, between 60 and 100 per cent of leafy vegetables consumed are produced within the respective cities with employment figures ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 jobs. Even megacities such as Shanghai, with about 15% population growth per year, one of the fastest growing cities on the planet, maintains its urban farming as an important part of its economic system.

 

Farm plots amidst apartment blocks in Chaozhou, China.

Around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farms already supply food to about 700 million residents of cities, representing about a quarter of the world’s urban population.    

Most cities in developing countries are facing challenges to create formal job opportunities. Urban agriculture can play an important role not only in enhancing food security but also in contributing to the eco-system - improved nutrition, poverty alleviation, local economic development and job creation as well as productive reuse of urban wastes.

Cuba has a system of urban organic farms called Organopónicos, which provides a fresh supply of organic food to the community, neighborhood improvement, beautification of urban areas, as well as employment opportunities. Cuba has more than 7,000 organopónicos, with some 200 gardens in Havana alone, covering more than 35,000 hectares of land, which supply its citizens with 90% of their fruit and vegetables. In Havana, 117,000 jobs in Havana and income for 150,000 low income families were directly provided by urban and peri-urban agriculture.

The PPP Reference Guide: Strengthening infrastructure governance through public-private partnerships

Olivier Fremond's picture



In New York on September 25, 2015, an extraordinary event took place: 200 developed and developing countries agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The development of sustainable infrastructure is at the core of the SDGs. Unfortunately, to procure such infrastructure, a constant issue is inadequate financing.

Recently, there has been an increased emphasis on crowding in private sector financing to alleviate these deficiencies. To do so, infrastructure governance and decision-making processes need to improve. If we fix the governance gap and help governments make choices that are transparent, clear and standardized, projects will be better chosen and designed; funding mechanisms (either user fees or government payments) will be more credible; private investors will feel more secure; and investment will follow. To begin to address these points, it is important to understand what the key challenges for infrastructure governance are.

Armenia’s future – imagined in drawings and words

Vigen Sargsyan's picture


As the Armenian-American writer and humanitarian William Saroyan (1908-81) once said, children are “the only race of the earth, the race of man.” Indeed, young children exude a sincerity and innocence when expressing themselves – often captured so well in their drawings and paintings. They can be extremely creative – whether at painting, drawing, music, or performance – and especially before the age of 10 to 11 years, according to tutors.
 
Therefore, as part of our broad public consultations in designing the World Bank’s upcoming Systemic Country Diagnostic for Armenia, we decided to hold a creative contest for young Armenians.
 
First, we went to Yerevan’s School No. 19 and asked fourth and fifth graders to describe for us how they envisioned their “future Armenia”. To our great delight, the kids submitted over 100 drawings for consideration by a jury composed of their tutors.

It’s no surprise that kids’ drawings are often used in psychology as a tool to measure such things as emotional intelligence, confidence, and identity. Indeed, their drawings can be candid reflections of life as they see it, incorporating their unique observations of the world around them. Each drawing, it seems, is like a snowflake – no two are alike.


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