Economic Premise

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The Economic Premise series summarizes good practices and key policy findings on topics related to economic policy. They are produced by the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) Network Vice-Presidency of the World Bank.

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    Can Trade Reduce Poverty in Africa?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-04) Le Goff, Maëlan ; Singh, Rajun Jan
    While most economists accept that, in the long run, open economies fare better in aggregate than closed ones, many fears that trade could harm the poor. African countries, for example, have realized significant improvements in trade liberalization in recent decades, yet Africa remains the poorest continent in the world. It seems that the large gains expected from opening up to international economic forces have been limited in Africa, especially for poor people. Drawing on the findings of a recently published working paper (Le Goff and Singh 2013), this note argues that the benefits of trade are not automatic, but rather depend on accompanying policies aimed at developing the financial sector, promoting primary education, and improving governance. This accompanying policy agenda allows people to take advantage of the opportunities offered by freer trade, by reallocating resources away from less productive activities to more promising ones. Trade liberalization therefore should not be implemented on its own, but with the necessary complementing policies.
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    The Drought and Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa : Impacts and Proposed Policy Responses for Kenya
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2011-11) Demombynes, Gabriel ; Kiringai, Jane
    As the world begins to feel the effects of climate change, the frequency of droughts is increasing in the Horn of Africa. In Kenya, the drought and food crisis affect welfare through two main channels. The first channel is the increased mortality of livestock in drought-affected areas, which are home to 10 percent of the country's population. The second channel is by exacerbating increases in food prices, which are largely driven by worldwide price trends. Considering these two channels, this note identifies four broad policy changes that can reduce Kenya's future vulnerability to such shocks: (i) investment in people in the arid and semiarid lands; (ii) reform of Kenya's maize policy; (iii) review of the East African Community grain trade policy; and (iv) formulation of a unified social protection system.