Global Practice on Poverty and Inequality
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Fields of Specialization
Welfare, Poverty, Inequality, Labor markets, Refugees, Middle East, North Africa, former Soviet Union
Global Practice on Poverty and Inequality
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Paolo Verme is Lead Economist at the World Bank. A Ph.D. graduate of the London School of Economics, he was Visiting Professor at Bocconi University in Milan (2004-2009) and at the University of Turin (2003-2010) before joining the World Bank in 2010. For almost two decades, he served as senior advisor and project manager for multilateral organizations, private companies and governments in the areas of labor market, welfare and social protection policies. His research is widely published in international journals, books and reports. His most recent book is on the welfare of Syrian refugees, a joint study between the World Bank and the UNHCR.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 29
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-03) Ceriani, Lidia ; Verme, PaoloDespite the growing numbers of forcibly displaced persons worldwide, many people living under conflict choose not to flee. Individuals face two lotteries -- staying or leaving -- characterized by two distributions of potential outcomes. This paper proposes to model the choice between these two lotteries using quantile maximization as opposed to expected utility theory. The paper posits that risk-averse individuals aim at minimizing losses by choosing the lottery with the best outcome at the lower end of the distribution, whereas risk-tolerant individuals aim at maximizing gains by choosing the lottery with the best outcome at the higher end of the distribution. Using a rich set of household and conflict panel data from Nigeria, the paper finds that risk-tolerant individuals have a significant preference for staying and risk-averse individuals have a significant preference for fleeing, in line with the predictions of the quantile maximization model. These findings are contrary to findings on economic migrants, and call for separate policies toward economic and forced migrants.
Estimating Poverty for Refugee Populations: Can Cross-Survey Imputation Methods Substitute for Data Scarcity?(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-12) Dang, Hai-Anh H. ; Verme, PaoloThe increasing growth of forced displacement worldwide has led to the stronger interest of various stakeholders in measuring poverty among refugee populations. However, refugee data remain scarce, particularly in relation to the measurement of income, consumption, or expenditure. This paper offers a first attempt to measure poverty among refugees using cross-survey imputations and administrative and survey data collected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jordan. Employing a small number of predictors currently available in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees registration system, the proposed methodology offers out-of-sample predicted poverty rates. These estimates are not statistically different from the actual poverty rates. The estimates are robust to different poverty lines, they are more accurate than those based on asset indexes or proxy means tests, and they perform well according to targeting indicators. They can also be obtained with relatively small samples. Despite these preliminary encouraging results, it is essential to replicate this experiment across countries using different data sets and welfare aggregates before validating the proposed method.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-07) Araar, Abdelkrim ; Verme, PaoloThe paper provides basic guidelines and tools for simulating subsidy reforms with Stata using a single cross-section survey. Simulations are discussed under a partial equilibrium and medium-term framework using a marginal approach. The paper distinguishes between single priced products, such as fuel or bread, and multiple priced products, such as household utilities. Part I provides basic instructions for carrying out subsidy analyses. Part II outlines economic theory and formulae for the two types of products considered. Part III illustrates the use of the Stata codes, which are downloadable from the Internet.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-06) Serajuddin, Umar ; Verme, PaoloOne of the recurrent explanations of the Arab spring is that governments were disconnected from their populations and that public policies were simply not in line with people's sentiments and expectations. This paper provides a methodology to better understand how objective conditions of deprivation are translated into subjective feelings of deprivation using a strand of the recent literature on relative deprivation. The authors apply this methodology to better understand the question of gender and youth deprivation in the context of the Moroccan labor market. They find that the reference group (the people with whom people compare themselves) plays a pivotal role in understanding how feelings of labor deprivation are generated. This can explain the apparent mismatch between objective conditions and subjective feelings of deprivation related to joblessness among young men and women. The methodology can help us understand why greater discontent may be exhibited by a group of individuals who are in fact less deprived in a material sense. It can also potentially help governments design public policies that address objective conditions of deprivation, such as unemployment, with a better understanding of subjective implications.
Intergenerational Impact of Population Shocks on Children's Health: Evidence from the 1993-2001 Refugee Crisis in Tanzania(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-12) Wang Sonne, Soazic Elise ; Verme, PaoloThis paper examines how parents' early childhood exposure to a refugee crisis impacts their children's health status. Based on Demographic and Health Survey data from Tanzania with the migration history of mothers and fathers, the analysis exploits geographical, time, and cohort variations using shock intensity and distance from refugee camps to instrument treatment. The findings show that children who were born to parents who were living closer to refugee camps during their early childhood have lower height for their age and are more likely to be stunted. The results are robust to alternative functional forms of the distance from camps, alternative specifications of the treatment and control groups, alternative cohorts of mothers, and several placebo tests.
Publication( 2011-02-01) Verme, PaoloDo people care about income inequality and does income inequality affect subjective well-being? Welfare theories can predict either a positive or a negative impact of income inequality on subjective well-being and empirical research has found evidence on a positive, negative or non significant relation. This paper attempts to determine some of the possible causes of such empirical heterogeneity. Using a very large sample of world citizens, the author tests the consistency of income inequality in predicting life satisfaction. The analysis finds that income inequality has a negative and significant effect on life satisfaction. This result is robust to changes in regressors and estimation choices and also persists across different income groups and across different types of countries. However, this relation is easily obscured or reversed by multicollinearity generated by the use of country and year fixed effects. This is particularly true if the number of data points for inequality is small, which is a common feature of cross-country or longitudinal studies.
Publication( 2012-01-01) Pugno, Maurizio ; Verme, PaoloThe paper investigates the relation between social capital and life satisfaction focusing on the distinction between bonding and bridging. Using the latest version of the combined World and European Values Surveys, the authors first address the question of measurement of social capital by means of a multi-step factor analysis. Through this procedure, they nd that proxies typically used for social capital tend to polarize around two dimensions interpreted as bonding and bridging. These two dimensions are in fact associated with a single latent variable with opposite signs suggesting that they describe two sides of the same latent variable rather than two independent latent variables. The authors call this latent variable the locus of socializing and use it to explore the relation between social capital and life satisfaction across world citizens and across groups of similar countries. The results indicate that people with extreme bonding or bridging attitudes are less happy than people with more balanced attitudes. Unlike the literature on social capital and economic growth that finds bridging attitudes more desirable than bonding attitudes, they nd that bonding attitudes are at least as important as bridging attitudes for life satisfaction. This suggests that the social capital dimensions important for economic growth may not necessarily coincide with the social capital dimensions important for life satisfaction.
Publication( 2012-01-01) Silber, Jacques ; Verme, PaoloThis paper proposes two new indices of relative deprivation, derived from an extension of the concept of the generalized Gini for the measurement of distributional change. Population- and income-weighted relative deprivation indices are then defined and, using panel data from the Consortium of Household Panels for European Socio-Economic Research, this paper checks which of the various ways of defining individual deprivation best fits the answers given by individuals on the degree of their satisfaction with income. The analysis finds that the deprivation indices proposed are consistently and negatively correlated with income satisfaction as reported by respondents, that income weighted measures fit better than population weighted measures, and that this fit improves with countries that experienced deep institutional changes such as the transitional economies of Eastern Europe.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2013-08) Hlasny, Vladimir ; Verme, PaoloBy all accounts, income inequality in Egypt is low and had been declining during the decade that preceded the 2011 revolution. As the Egyptian revolution was partly motivated by claims of social injustice and inequalities, this seems at odds with a low level of income inequality. Moreover, while income inequality shows a decline between 2000 and 2009, the World Values Surveys indicate that the aversion to inequality has significantly increased during the same period and for all social groups. This paper utilizes a range of recently developed statistical techniques to assess the true value of income inequality in the presence of a range of possible measurement issues related to top incomes, including item and unit non-response, outliers and extreme observations, and atypical top income distributions. The analysis finds that correcting for unit non-response significantly increases the estimate of inequality by just over 1 percentage point, that the Egyptian distribution of top incomes follows rather closely the Pareto distribution, and that the inverted Pareto coefficient is located around median values when compared with 418 household surveys worldwide. Hence, income inequality in Egypt is confirmed to be low while the distribution of top incomes is not atypical compared with what Pareto had predicted and compared with other countries in the world. This would suggest that the increased frustration with income inequality voiced by Egyptians and measured by the World Values Surveys is driven by factors other than income inequality.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-05) Douidich, Mohamed ; Ezzrari, Abdeljaouad ; Van der Weide, Roy ; Verme, PaoloThe paper shows how Labor Force Surveys can be used effectively to estimate poverty rates using Household Expenditure Surveys and cross-survey imputation methods. With only two rounds of Household Expenditure Survey data for Morocco (2001 and 2007), the paper estimates quarterly poverty rates for the period 2001-2010 by imputing household expenditures into the Labor Force Surveys. The results are encouraging. The methodology is able to accurately reproduce official poverty statistics by combining current Labor Force Surveys with previous period Household Expenditure Surveys, and vice versa. Although the focus is on head-count poverty, the method can be applied to any welfare indicator that is a function of household income or expenditure, such as the poverty gap or the Gini index of inequality. The newly produced time-series of poverty rates can help researchers and policy makers to: (a) study the determinants of poverty reduction or use poverty as an explanatory factor in cross-section and panel models; (b) forecast poverty rates based on a time-series model fitted to the data; and (c) explore the linkages between labor market conditions and poverty and simulate the effects of policy reforms or economic shocks. This is a promising research agenda that can expand significantly the tool-kit of the welfare economist.