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  • Author: Gisela Robles Aguilar, Andy Sumner
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Who are the world’s poor? This paper presents a new global profile of multidimensional poverty using three specifications of multidimensional poverty. The paper draws comparisons with the global monetary poverty profile and with the new World Bank measure of combined monetary and non-monetary poverty; discusses how global poverty differs by specification, the extent of multidimensionality, and presents a set of estimates of the disaggregated characteristics of global multidimensional poverty in 2015. We find the following: (i) at an aggregate level, the overall characteristics of global multidimensional poverty are similar to those of global monetary poverty at $1.90 per day; (ii) at a disaggregated level, we find that poverty in rural areas tends to be characterized by overlapping deprivations in education and access to decent infrastructure (water, sanitation, electricity, and housing) and counterintuitively, given the proximity, in principle, to better health care and economic opportunities, it is child mortality and malnutrition that is more frequently observed within urban poverty; and (iii) the extent of the multidimensionality of poverty differs substantially by region; moreover, some deprivations frequently overlap while others do not.
  • Topic: Poverty, World Bank, Inequality, Rural
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Scott Morris, Gailyn Portelance
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Under the World Bank’s 2018 capital agreement, borrowing countries are expected to gradually reduce their portfolios once a base income threshold—the Graduation Discussion Income (GDI)—is reached. However, the agreement also affirms the case for ongoing lending to these countries. One justification is tied to external value beyond the borrowing country’s borders (global public goods, or GPGs). Another is tied to building capacity within the borrowing country, which can mean a focus on sub-regions where poverty remains high and capacity weak. In this paper, we examine World Bank graduation policies and lending through the lens of China, which maintains a large portfolio of World Bank projects. China currently exceeds the GDI thresholds for IBRD borrowing at the national level, while income inequality within the country leaves many noncoastal provinces below the GDI per capita threshold. Aggregate and provincial-level analysis of World Bank lending in China shows that less than half of China’s portfolio comprises activities clearly linked to GPGs, while a slight majority of projects are based in provinces with per capita income below the GDI threshold. A substantial number of World Bank projects in China focus on climate change mitigation and transportation infrastructure construction, while a smaller number relate to capacity building. Overall, we find evidence that China’s borrowing is broadly consistent with the 2018 principles of institutional capacity strengthening and GPG-related engagement, although significant areas of bank engagement do not appear to fall within the parameters of these principles.
  • Topic: Poverty, Infrastructure, World Bank, Inequality
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper presents results on the impact of fiscal policy on inequality and poverty in sixteen Latin American countries around 2010. The countries that redistribute the most are Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Uruguay, and the least, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru. At higher social spending, greater redistribution is achieved, but countries with a similar level of social spending show different levels of redistribution which suggests that other factors such as the composition and targeting of the expenditures are involved in determining the redistributive effect beyond its size. Fiscal policy reduces extreme poverty in twelve countries. However, the incidence of poverty after taxes, subsidies and monetary transfers is higher than the pre-fisc poverty rate in Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, even when fiscal policy does reduce inequality. Expenditure on pre-school and primary education is equalizing and pro-poor in all countries. Spending on secondary education is equalizing in all countries and also pro-poor in some countries but not all. Expenditure on tertiary education is never pro-poor, but it is equalizing, with the exception of Guatemala, where it is regressive and unequalizing and in Venezuela, where its redistributive effect is zero. Health spending is always equalizing but it is pro-poor only in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Poverty, Capitalism, Income Inequality
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Nora Lustig, Margarita Beneke, José Andrés Oliva
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We conducted a fiscal impact study to estimate the effect of taxes, social spending, and subsidies on inequality and poverty in El Salvador, using the methodology of the Commitment to Equity project. Taxes are progressive, but given their volume, their impact is limited. Direct transfers are concentrated on poor households, but their budget is small so their effect is limited; a significant portion of the subsidies goes to households in the upper income deciles, so although their budget is greater, their impact is low. The component that has the greatest effect on inequality is spending on education and health. Therefore, the impact of fiscal policy is limited and low when compared with other countries with a similar level of per capita income. There is room for improvement using current resources.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Income Inequality
  • Political Geography: El Salvador
  • Author: Peter Edward, Andy Sumner
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper makes new estimates of global poverty and inequality in 2012 using both ‘old’, 2005 and ‘new’, 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP) price data in order to assess systematically what difference PPP data makes to the estimates. The methodology for the 2011 PPP data is thought to be superior. However, contentions remain. We discuss the PPPs and justify the use of 2011 PPP data to estimate global poverty and inequality, at least for comparison purposes.
  • Topic: Poverty
  • Author: Peter Edward, Andy Sumner
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper considers the effectiveness and efficiency of global growth, as a route to poverty reduction, since 1990 and then demonstrates the redistributive challenges implicit in various poverty lines and scenarios: the significance being that this historical data can inform understanding and appreciation of what it would involve to end global poverty in the future. We find that a very modest redistribution of global growth could have ended poverty already at the lowest poverty lines. However, higher, but arguably more reasonable, poverty lines present radically different challenges to the current workings of national economic systems and to global (normative) obligations.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Humanitarian Aid, Poverty
  • Author: Nora Lustig
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper examines the redistributive impact of fiscal policy for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa using comparable fiscal incidence analysis with data from around 2010. The largest redistributive effect is in South Africa and the smallest in Indonesia. While fiscal policy always reduces inequality, this is not the case with poverty.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Africa, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Christian J. Meyer
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We argue that survey-based median household consumption expenditure (or income) per capita be incorporated into standard development indicators, as a simple, robust, and durable indicator of typical individual material well-being in a country. Using household survey data available for low- and middle-income countries from the World Bank's PovcalNet tool, we show that as a measure of income-related well-being, it is far superior to the commonly used GDP per capita as well as survey-based measures at the mean. We also argue that survey-based median measures are "distributionaware", i.e. when used as the denominator of various widely available indicators such as mean consumption expenditure per capita they provide a "good-enough" indicator of consumption (or income) inequality. Finally, as a post-2015 indicator of progress at the country-level in promoting shared development and reducing inequality, we propose that the rate of increase in median consumption per capita after taxes and transfers exceed the rate of increase in average consumption in the same period.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Poverty, World Bank
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Oeindrila Dube, Omar Garcia-Ponce, Kevin Thom
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We examine how commodity price shocks experienced by rural producers affect the drug trade in Mexico. Our analysis exploits exogenous movements in the Mexican maize price stemming from weather conditions in U.S. maize-growing regions, as well as export flows of other major maize producers. Using data on over 2,200 municipios spanning 1990-2010, we show that lower prices differentially increased the cultivation of both marijuana and opium poppies in municipios more climatically suited to growing maize. This increase was accompanied by differentially lower rural wages, suggesting that households planted more drug crops in response to the decreased income generating potential of maize farming.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Poverty, War on Drugs, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Michael Clemens, Timothy N. Ogden
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: It is time to fundamentally reframe the research agenda on remittances, payments, and development. We describe many of the research questions that now dominate the literature and why they lead us to uninformative answers. We propose reasons why these questions dominate, the most important of which is that researchers tend to view remittances as states do (as windfall income) rather than as families do (as returns on investment). Migration is, among other things, a strategy for financial management in poor households: location is an asset, migration an investment. This shift of perspective leads to much more fruitful research questions that have been relatively neglected. We suggest 12 such questions.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, Political Economy, Poverty, Labor Issues, Immigration