03. Journals

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These are journal articles published in World Bank journals as well as externally by World Bank authors.





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Now showing 1 - 10 of 264
  • Publication
    Identifying the poor – Accounting for household economies of scale in global poverty estimates
    (Elsevier, 2024-03-30) Jolliffe, Dean; Tetteh-Baah, Samuel Kofi
    Estimates of the number of people living in extreme poverty, as reported by the World Bank, figure prominently in international development dialogue and policy. An assumption underpinning these poverty counts is that there are no economies of scale in household size – a family of six needs three times as much as a family of two. This paper examines the sensitivity of global estimates of extreme poverty to changing this assumption. The analysis rests on nationally representative household surveys from 162 countries covering 97.5 percent of the population estimated to be in extreme poverty in 2019. We compare current-method estimates with a constant-elasticity scale adjustment that divides total household consumption or income not by household size but by the square-root of household size. While the regional profile of extreme poverty is robust to this change, the determination of who is poor changes substantially – the poverty status of 264 million people changes. We then discuss evidence suggesting that the assumption of economies of scale more closely aligns with non-consumption measures of poverty. Specifically, we draw from existing literature of subjective assessments of poverty and wellbeing, along with new empirical evidence from examining the partial correlation (conditional on household size) between the two measures of poverty and a set of presumed poverty covariates (i.e., years of schooling, literacy, asset index, working in agriculture, access to electricity, piped drinking water, improved sanitation).
  • Publication
    The Relationship between Climate Action and Poverty Reduction
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-12-30) Lankes, Hand Peter; Macquarie, Rob; Soubeyran, Éléonore; Stern, Nicholas
    There is growing awareness that actions by policymakers and international organizations to reduce poverty, and those to mitigate and adapt to climate change, are inextricably linked and interwoven. This paper examines relevant academic and policy literature and evidence on this relationship and explores the potential for a new form of development that simultaneously mitigates climate change, manages its impacts, and improves the wellbeing of people in poverty. First, as a key foundation, it outlines the backdrop in basic moral philosophy, noting that climate action and poverty reduction can be motivated both by a core principle based on the right to development and by the conventional consequentialism that is standard in economics. Second, it reviews assessments of the current and potential future impacts of weakly managed climate change on the wellbeing of those in poverty, paying attention to unequal effects, including by gender. Third, it examines arguments and literature on the economic impacts of climate action and policies and how those affect the wellbeing of people in poverty, highlighting the importance of market failures, technological change, systemic dynamics of transition, and distributional effects of mitigation and adaptation. Finally, the paper surveys the current state of knowledge and understanding of how climate action and poverty reduction can be integrated in policy design, indicating where further research can contribute to a transition that succeeds in both objectives.
  • Publication
    Social Protection and Foundational Cognitive Skills during Adolescence: Evidence from a Large Public Works Program
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-11-13) Freund, Richard; Favara, Marta; Porter, Catherine; Behrman, Jere
    Many low, and middle-income countries have introduced public works programs (PWPs) to fight poverty. This paper provides the first evidence that children from families who benefit from PWPs show increased foundational cognitive skills. The results, based on unique tablet-based data collected as part of a long-standing longitudinal survey, show positive associations between participation in the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) in Ethiopia during childhood with long-term memory and implicit learning, and suggestive evidence for working memory. These associations appear to be strongest for children whose households were still PSNP participants in the year of data collection. Evidence suggests that the association with implicit learning may be operating partially through children’s time reallocation away from unpaid labor responsibilities, while the association with long-term memory may in part be due to the program’s success in remediating nutritional deficits caused by early-life rainfall shocks.
  • Publication
    How Much Does the Food Insecurity Experience Scale Overlap with Poor Food Consumption and Monetary Poverty? Evidence from West Africa
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-10-12) Lain, Jonathan; Tandon, Sharad; Vishwanath, Tara
    The Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), which combines three food-access dimensions into a single indicator, is rapidly being incorporated into national statistical systems. However, there is no prediction about how one of the incorporated dimensions, subjective experiences associated with food insecurity, overlaps with poor food consumption. Using data from West Africa, this study illustrates that in 4 out of 10 countries, there is a similar prevalence of food insecurity according to the FIES among segments of the population that are likely undernourished and segments that are likely not undernourished. And in 5 out of 10 countries, there is a relatively large prevalence of food insecurity according to the FIES in the segments of the population that are least likely to be undernourished. Combined, the results offer guidance to policymakers when choosing food-access indicators and illustrate the importance of using the FIES along with other food-access measures.
  • Publication
    Raising the Age of Marriage Entry and Child’s Nutrition Intake? Evidence from the Reform of Ethiopia’s Family Law
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-08-29) Efobi, Uchenna
    This study investigates the impact of a family law reform in Ethiopia that raises the age of marriage entry for females (among other aspects of the law) on the nutritional intake of the children of affected women. Using the difference-in-differences and event-study strategies, the result suggests that exposure to the reform led to a significant increase in dietary diversity (14 percent increase relative to the mean) and a significant increase in the likelihood of consuming fruits and vegetables, fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A, green leafy vegetables, and animal-source foods. The effect does not appear to be due to changes in women’s economic engagement, such as their agency and outside options. Instead, it seems to imply that the implementation of the reform affects women’s social status in terms of their decision-making power over sexual and marital relations.
  • Publication
    Measuring Inequality Using Geospatial Data
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-08-25) Galimberti, Jaqueson K.; Pichler, Stefan; Pleninger, Regina
    The main challenge in studying inequality is limited data availability, which is particularly problematic in developing countries. This study constructs a measure of light-based geospatial income inequality (LGII) for 234 countries and territories from 1992 to 2013 using satellite data on night-lights and gridded population data. Key methodological innovations include the use of varying levels of data aggregation, and a calibration of the lights– prosperity relationship to match traditional inequality measures based on income data. The new LGII measure is significantly correlated with cross-country variation in income inequality. Within countries, the light-based inequality measure is also correlated with measures of energy efficiency and the quality of population data. Two applications of the data are provided in the fields of health economics and international finance. The results show that light- and income-based inequality measures lead to similar results, but the geospatial data offer a significant expansion of the number of observations.
  • Publication
    Reducing Delay in Payments in Welfare Programs: Experimental Evidence from an Information Dissemination Intervention
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-04-29) Das, Upasak; Paul, Amartya; Sharma, Mohit
    This paper assesses the impact of an information dissemination intervention on the local-level implementation of the rural public works program in India. One key feature of the intervention is to provide information to workers once their wages get credited into their accounts. Using administrative and survey data, its impact on delays in wage payments and days of work along with the awareness levels of the entitlements is evaluated. The findings indicate a substantial reduction in payment delays and in trips made for wage withdrawal, in addition to improvements in awareness. The decrease in the payment delays in the treated villages persists even beyond the intervention period. While a limited impact on work days is observed during the intervention, a significant increase in the post-intervention period is found. The findings substantiated through qualitative evidence provide a platform for an innovative and cost-effective intervention to improve the implementation of social protection programs.
  • Publication
    Girls’ Education at Scale
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-04-14) Evans, David K.; Acosta, Amina Mendez; Yuan, Fei
    Many educational interventions boost outcomes for girls in settings where girls face educational disadvantages, but which of those interventions are proven to function effectively at large scale In contrast to earlier reviews, this review focuses on large-scale programs and policies—those that reach at least 10,000 students, and on final school outcomes such as completion and student learning rather than intermediate school outcomes such as enrollment and attendance. Programs and policies that have boosted school completion or learning at scale across multiple countries include school fee elimination, school meals, making schools more physically accessible, and improving the quality of pedagogy. Other interventions, such as providing better sanitation facilities or safe spaces for girls, show promising results but either have limited evidence across settings or focus on intermediate educational outcomes (such as enrollment) or post-educational outcomes (such as income earning) in their evaluations. These and other areas with limited or no evidence demonstrate many opportunities for education leaders, partners, and researchers to continue innovating and testing programs at scale. The authors discuss three considerations for incorporating evidence-based solutions into local education policies - constraints to girls’ education, potential solutions, and program costs as well as lessons for scaling programs effectively.
  • Publication
    The Learning Crisis of Developing Country Elites: Lessons from PISA-D
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-02-27) Pritchett, Lant; Viarengo, Martina
    How much of the learning crisis can be addressed through inclusion, the equalization of grade attainment and learning outcomes across groups (e.g., girls/boys, rural/urban, poor/rich), and how much of the learning crisis requires improvement in the country’s system of basic education to improve learning outcomes across the board This study uses the data from the seven countries who participated in Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for Development (PISA-D) to show that for most countries and subjects the average learning outcome for the advantaged (male, urban, native-born, speakers of assessment language), and elite (95th percentile in PISA measured socio-economic status) students was below the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) minimum learning level target of PISA level 2. Even if every child in these countries were fully included had the same distribution of learning outcomes as the advantaged, SES elite, public school children, 80 percent of all children would still fall short of proposed global minimum levels of learning.
  • Publication
    Mobile Broadband, Poverty, and Labor Outcomes in Tanzania
    (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2023-02-06) Bahia, Kalvin; Castells, Pau; Cruz, Genaro; Masaki, Takaaki; Sanfelice, Viviane; Rodriguez Castelan, Carlos
    What are the impacts of expanding mobile broadband coverage on poverty, household consumption, and labor-market outcomes in developing countries Who benefits from improved coverage of mobile internet To respond to these questions, this paper applies a difference-in-differences estimation using panel household survey data combined with geospatial information on the rollout of mobile broadband coverage in Tanzania. The results reveal that being covered by 3G networks has a large positive effect on total household consumption and poverty reduction, driven by positive impacts on labor-market outcomes. Working-age individuals living in areas covered by mobile internet witnessed an increase in labor-force participation, wage employment, and non-farm self-employment, and a decline in farm employment. These effects vary by age, gender, and skill level. Younger and more skilled men benefit the most through higher labor-force participation and wage employment, while high-skilled women benefit from transitions from self-employed farm work into non-farm employment.