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Ferreira, Francisco H.G.

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Inequality and Shared Prosperity, Poverty Measurement and Analysis, Social Protection and Growth
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Last updated: January 31, 2023
Biography
Francisco H. G. Ferreira is a Senior Adviser in the World Bank’s Development Research Group, where he oversees the Bank’s research programs on poverty and inequality. He was formerly the Bank’s Chief Economist for the Africa Region, and has also served as Deputy Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, and as co-Director of the World Development Report 2006, on Equity and Development. Francisco is also a non-resident Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA, Bonn), and has published widely in the fields of poverty and inequality in developing countries. He was awarded the Haralambos Simeonides and the Adriano Romariz Duarte Prizes by the Brazilian Economic and Econometric Societies respectively, and the Kendricks Prize by the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth. Francisco serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Economic Inequality (where he was previously Editor in Chief), the Review of Income and Wealth, and the World Bank Economic Review. Francisco has taught at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and at the Paris School of Economics. He was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics.
Citations 370 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 57
  • Publication
    The Analysis of Inequality in the Bretton Woods Institutions
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-08) Ferreira, Francisco H. G.
    This paper assesses the evolution of thinking, analysis, and discourse about inequality in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund since their inception in 1944, on the basis of bibliometric analysis, a reading of the literature, and personal experience. Whereas the Fund was largely unconcerned with economic inequality until the 2000s but has shown a rapidly growing interest since then, the Bank’s approach has been characterized by ebbs and flows, with five phases being apparent. The degree of interest in inequality in the two institutions appears to be largely determined by the prevailing intellectual profile of the topic in academic research, particularly in economics, and by ideological shifts in major shareholder countries, propagated downward internally by senior management. Data availability, albeit partly endogenous, also plays a role. Looking ahead, World Bank and International Monetary Fund researchers continue to have an important role to play, despite a much more crowded field in inequality research. The paper suggests that this role involves holding firm to an emphasis on inequality “at the bottom” and highlighting four themes that may deserve special attention.
  • Publication
    Lives and Livelihoods: Estimates of the Global Mortality and Poverty Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
    (Elsevier, 2021-09) Decerf, Benoit; Ferreira, Francisco H.G.; Mahler, Daniel G.; Sterck, Olivier
    We evaluate the global welfare consequences of increases in mortality and poverty generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Increases in mortality are measured in terms of the number of years of life lost (LY) to the pandemic. Additional years spent in poverty (PY) are conservatively estimated using growth estimates for 2020 and two different scenarios for its distributional characteristics. Using years of life as a welfare metric yields a single parameter that captures the underlying trade-o between lives and livelihoods: how many PYs have the same welfare cost as one LY. Taking an agnostic view of this parameter, we compare estimates of LYs and PYs across countries for different scenarios. Three main findings arise. First, we estimate that, as of early June 2020, the pandemic (and the observed private and policy responses) had generated at least 68 million additional poverty years and 4.3 million years of life lost across 150 countries. The ratio of PYs to LYs is very large in most countries, suggesting that the poverty consequences of the crisis are of paramount importance. Second, this ratio declines systematically with GDP per capita: poverty accounts for a much greater share of the welfare costs in poorer countries. Finally, a comparison of these baseline results with mortality estimates in a counterfactual herd immunity scenario suggests that welfare losses would be greater in the latter in most countries.
  • Publication
    Death and Destitution: The Global Distribution of Welfare Losses from the COVID-19 Pandemic
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-05) Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Mahler, Daniel
    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about massive declines in well-being around the world. This paper seeks to quantify and compare two important components of those losses—increased mortality and higher poverty—using years of human life as a common metric. The paper estimates that almost 20 million life-years were lost to COVID-19 by December 2020. Over the same period and by the most conservative definition, more than 120 million additional years were spent in poverty because of the pandemic. The mortality burden, whether estimated in lives or years of life lost, increases sharply with gross domestic product per capita. By contrast, the poverty burden declines with per capita national income when a constant absolute poverty line is used, or is uncorrelated with national income when a more relative approach is taken to poverty lines. In both cases, the poverty burden of the pandemic, relative to the mortality burden, is much higher for poor countries. The distribution of aggregate welfare losses—combining mortality and poverty and expressed in terms of life-years —depends on the choice of poverty line(s) and the relative weights placed on mortality and poverty. With a constant absolute poverty line and a relatively low welfare weight on mortality, poorer countries are found to bear a greater welfare loss from the pandemic. When poverty lines are set differently for poor, middle-income, and high-income countries and/or a greater welfare weight is placed on mortality, upper-middle-income and rich countries suffer the most.
  • Publication
    Occupational Dualism and Intergenerational Educational Mobility in the Rural Economy: Evidence from China and India
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-07) Emran, M. Shahe; Ferreira, Francisco; Jiang, Yajing; Sun, Yan
    This paper extends the Becker-Tomes model of intergenerational educational mobility to a rural economy characterized by farm-nonfarm occupational dualism and provides a comparative analysis of rural China and rural India. The model builds a micro-foundation for the widely used linear-in-levels estimating equation. Returns to education for parents and productivity of financial investment in children's education determine relative mobility, as measured by the slope, while the intercept depends, among other factors, on the degree of persistence in nonfarm occupations. Unlike many existing studies based on coresident samples, our estimates of intergenerational mobiity do not suffer from truncation bias. The sons in rural India faced lower educational mobility compared with the sons in rural China in the 1970s to 1990s. To understand the role of genetic inheritance, Altonji et al. (2005) sensitivity analysis is combined with the evidence on intergenerational correlation in cognitive ability in economics and behavioral genetics literature. The observed persistence can be due solely to genetic correlations in China, but not in India. Fathers' nonfarm occupation and education were complementary in determining a sons' schooling in India, but separable in China. There is evidence of emerging complementarity for the younger cohorts in rural China. Structural change in favor of the nonfarm sector contributed to educational inequality in rural India. Evidence from supplementary data on economic mechanisms suggests that the model provides plausible explanations for the contrasting roles of occupational dualism in intergenerational educational mobility in rural India and rural China.
  • Publication
    Lives and Livelihoods: Estimates of the Global Mortality and Poverty Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-06) Decerf, Benoit; Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Mahler, Daniel G.; Sterck, Olivier
    This paper evaluates the global welfare consequences of increases in mortality and poverty generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Increases in mortality are measured in terms of the number of years of life lost (LY) to the pandemic. Additional years spent in poverty (PY) are conservatively estimated using growth estimates for 2020 and two different scenarios for its distributional characteristics. Using years of life as a welfare metric yields a single parameter that captures the underlying trade-off between lives and livelihoods: how many PYs have the same welfare cost as one LY. Taking an agnostic view of this parameter, estimates of LYs and PYs are compared across countries for different scenarios. Three main findings arise. First, as of early June 2020, the pandemic (and the observed private and policy responses) has generated at least 68 million additional poverty years and 4.3 million years of life lost across 150 countries. The ratio of PYs to LYs is very large in most countries, suggesting that the poverty consequences of the crisis are of paramount importance. Second, this ratio declines systematically with GDP per capita: poverty accounts for a much greater share of the welfare costs in poorer countries. Finally, the dominance of poverty over mortality is reversed in a counterfactual "herd immunity" scenario: without any policy intervention, LYs tend to be greater than PYs, and the overall welfare losses are greater.
  • Publication
    Shared Prosperity: Concepts, Data, and Some Policy Examples
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-05) Galasso, Emanuela; Ferreira, Francisco H.G.; Negre, Mario
    "Shared prosperity" has become a common phrase in the development policy discourse. This short paper provides its most widely used operational definition -- the growth rate in the average income of the poorest 40 percent of a country's population -- and describes its origins. The paper discusses how this notion relates to well-established concepts and social indicators, including social welfare, poverty, inequality, and mobility, and reviews some of its design shortcomings. The paper then looks at household survey data to assess recent progress in this indicator globally. The analysis finds that during 2008–13, mean incomes for the poorest 40 percent rose in 60 of 83 countries. In 49 of them, accounting for 65 percent of the sampled population, it rose faster than overall average incomes. Finally, the paper briefly reviews a (non-exhaustive) range of 'pre-distribution' and 'redistribution' policies with a sound empirical track record of raising productivity and well-being among the poor, thus contributing to shared prosperity.
  • Publication
    Ageing Poorly?: Accounting for the Decline in Earnings Inequality in Brazil, 1995-2012
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-03) Firpo, Sergio P.; Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Messina, Julian
    The Gini coefficient of labor earnings in Brazil fell by nearly a fifth between 1995 and 2012, from 0.50 to 0.41. The decline in earnings inequality was even larger by other measures, with the 90-10 percentile ratio falling by almost 40 percent. Although the conventional explanation of a falling education premium did play a role, an RIF regression-based decomposition analysis suggests that the decline in returns to potential experience was the main factor behind lower wage disparities during the period. Substantial reductions in the gender, race, informality and urban-rural wage gaps, conditional on human capital and institutional variables, also contributed to the decline. Although rising minimum wages were equalizing during 2003-2012, they had the opposite effects during 1995-2003, because of declining compliance. Over the entire period, the direct effect of minimum wages on inequality was muted.
  • Publication
    Estimation and Inference for Actual and Counterfactual Growth Incidence Curves
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-01) Firpo, Sergio; Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Galvao, Antonio F.
    Different episodes of economic growth display widely varying distributional characteristics, both across countries and over time. Growth is sometimes accompanied by rising and sometimes by falling inequality. Applied economists have come to rely on the Growth Incidence Curve, which gives the quantile-specific rate of income growth over a certain period, to describe and analyze the incidence of economic growth. This paper discusses the identification conditions, and develops estimation and inference procedures for both actual and counterfactual growth incidence curves, based on general functions of the quantile potential outcome process over the space of quantiles. The paper establishes the limiting 0 distribution of the test statistics of interest for those general functions, and proposes resampling methods to implement inference in practice. The proposed methods are illustrated by a comparison of the growth processes in the United States and Brazil during 1995-2007. Although growth in the average real wage was disappointing in both countries, the distribution of that growth was markedly different. In the United States, wage growth was mediocre for the bottom 80 percent of the sample, but much more rapid for the top 20 percent. In Brazil, conversely, wage growth was rapid below the median, and negative at the top. As a result, inequality rose in the United States and fell markedly in Brazil.
  • Publication
    Appraising Cross-National Income Inequality Databases: An Introduction
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-11) Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Lustig, Nora
    In response to a growing interest in comparing inequality levels and trends across countries, several cross-national inequality databases are now available. These databases differ considerably in purpose, coverage, data sources, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and quality of documentation. A special issue of the Journal of Economic Inequality, which this paper introduces, is devoted to an assessment of the merits and shortcomings of eight such databases. Five of these sets are microdata-based: CEPALSTAT, Income Distribution Database, Luxembourg Income Study, PovcalNet, and Socio-Economic Database for Latin America and the Caribbean. Two are based on secondary sources: All the Ginis and the World Income Inequality Database; and one is generated entirely through multiple-imputation methods: the Standardized World Income Inequality Database. Although there is much agreement across these databases, there is also a nontrivial share of country/year cells for which substantial discrepancies exist. In some cases, different databases would lead users to radically different conclusions about inequality dynamics in certain countries and periods. The methodological differences that lead to these discrepancies often appear to be driven by a fundamental trade-off between a wish for broader coverage on the one hand, and for greater comparability on the other hand. These differences across databases place considerable responsibility on both producers and users: on the former, to better document and explain their assumptions and procedures, and on the latter, to understand the data they are using, rather than merely taking them as true because available.
  • Publication
    A Global Count of the Extreme Poor in 2012: Data Issues, Methodology and Initial Results
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-10) Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Chen, Shaohua; Dabalen, Andrew; Prydz, Espen Beer; Jolliffe, Dean; Narayan, Ambar; Serajuddin, Umar; Revenga, Ana
    The 2014 release of a new set of purchasing power parity conversion factors (PPPs) for 2011 has prompted a revision of the international poverty line. In order to preserve the integrity of the goalposts for international targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the World Bank’s twin goals, the new poverty line was chosen so as to preserve the definition and real purchasing power of the earlier $1.25 line (in 2005 PPPs) in poor countries. Using the new 2011 PPPs, the new line equals $1.90 per person per day. The higher value of the line in US dollars reflects the fact that the new PPPs yield a relatively lower purchasing power of that currency vis-à-vis those of most poor countries. Because the line was designed to preserve real purchasing power in poor countries, the revisions lead to relatively small changes in global poverty incidence: from 14.5 percent in the old method to 14.1 percent in the new method for 2011. In 2012, the new reference year for the global count, we find 12.7 percent of the world’s population, or 897 million people, are living in extreme poverty. There are changes in the regional composition of poverty, but they are also relatively small. This paper documents the detailed methodological decisions taken in the process of updating both the poverty line and the consumption and income distributions at the country level, including issues of inter-temporal and spatial price adjustments. It also describes various caveats, limitations, perils and pitfalls of the approach taken.