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 12
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, 2013-09) Verme, PaoloThe paper provides a review of the empirical literature in economics that has attempted to test the relative income hypothesis as put forward by Duesemberry (1949) and the relative deprivation hypothesis as formalized by Runciman (1966). It is argued that these two hypotheses and the empirical models used to test them are essentially similar and make use of the same relative income concept. The review covers the main intellectual contributions that led to the formulation and tests of these hypotheses, the main formulations of the utility and econometric equations used in empirical studies, the main econometric issues that complicate tests of the hypotheses, and the empirical results found in the literature. The majority of studies uses absolute and relative income together as explanatory factors in utility models and finds absolute income to have a positive and significant effect on utility (happiness). The majority of studies also finds relative income to be a significant factor in explaining utility but the sign of this relation varies across studies. The source of this variation is complex to detect given that few results are directly comparable across studies because of differences in model specifications.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-03) Verme, Paolo ; Barry, Abdoul Gadiry ; Guennouni, Jamal ; Taamouti, MohamedDuring the past 20 years, Morocco has implemented a wide range of macroeconomic, social, and labor market reforms that have delivered in terms of growth of gross domestic product and household welfare. Yet, these positive developments are not reflected by the main labor market indicators, a phenomenon observed elsewhere in developed and developing economies alike and labeled as "jobless growth." For the first time for Morocco, this paper uses quarterly panel data to investigate the question of labor mobility in an effort to determine whether people have moved to better sectors and jobs. The results point to significant labor mobility between labor statuses with quite distinct features across population groups. All groups experience some form of labor market mobility every quarter and women are as mobile as men. However, the transitions that women experience are very different from the transitions than men experience and women's performance is worse than men s performance in almost all aspects of labor mobility.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-01) Ceriani, Lidia ; Verme, PaoloThe paper defines the Gini index as the sum of individual contributions where individual contributions are interpreted as the degree of diversity of each individual from all other members of society. Among various possible forms of individual contributions to the Gini found in the literature, the paper shows that only one form satisfies a set of desirable properties. This form can be used for decomposing the Gini into population subgroups. An empirical illustration shows the use of this approach.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-04) Verme, PaoloDespite sustained output growth since 1997, low-income Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries (CIS-7) have not experienced growth in employment, a phenomenon observed elsewhere in transitional economies and labeled as "jobless growth." The author addresses the causes of this phenomenon in the CIS-7. He argues that the lack of job creation is explained by a combination of structural factors, including capital-intensive growth, large potential for productivity gains among existing workers, and compartmentalized economies best depicted by a dual labor market framework. Agriculture and industry have performed asymmetrically and grown apart during the recession and during the growth periods. Agriculture provides subsistence and refuge from urban poverty and unemployment but is unable to grow beyond subsistence because it is disconnected from industrial manufacturing and because the agricultural infrastructure is depleted and underinvested. Industry has progressively lost its manufacturing capacity, and focuses on capital-intensive, highly productive sectors, and provides good wages for the few highly skilled workers. With governments and the international community currently refraining from investing in agricultural and industrial policies focused on reviving manufacturing, jobless growth is likely to persist.
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.
A Multiple Correspondence Analysis Approach to the Measurement of Multidimensional Poverty in Morocco, 2001–2007(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-06) Ezzrar, Abdeljaouad ; Verme, PaoloThe measurement of multidimensional poverty has been advocated by most welfare scholars and is experiencing a growth in interest, partly explained by controversial debates that have emerged across academics and practitioners. This paper follows one of the least explored approaches -- Multiple Correspondence Analysis -- to assess multidimensional poverty in Morocco between 2001 and 2007. Multiple Correspondence Analysis provides two major advantages for the measurement of multidimensional poverty: it generates a matrix of "weights" based on the variance-covariance matrix of all welfare dimensions selected and provides a natural approach for constructing a composite welfare indicator that satisfies essential poverty ordering axioms. The application shows that poverty in Morocco has declined according to both monetary and multidimensional indicators and that these findings are robust to stochastic dominance tests. The paper concludes that the sustained positive growth that Morocco experienced during the last decade has translated in improvements in living conditions well beyond monetary returns.
Economic Development and Female Labor Participation in the Middle East and North Africa : A Test of the U-Shape Hypothesis(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-06) Verme, PaoloThe Middle East and North Africa region is known for having low female labor market participation rates as compared with its level of economic development. A possible explanation is that these countries find themselves at the turning point of the U-shape hypothesis when countries transition from declining to rising female participation rates. This paper tests the U-shape hypothesis in countries in the Middle East and North Africa. It finds that the region has outperformed other world regions in terms of the main drivers of the U-shape hypothesis, including gross domestic product per capita, economic transformation away from the agricultural sector, female education, and fertility rates. These facts are consistent with nonparametric evidence that shows countries in the region are distributed over a U-shaped curve. However, parametric tests of the hypothesis point in a different direction. The region shows an inverted U-shape overall and great heterogeneity across countries and age cohorts that defies any law on the relation between gross domestic product and female participation rate. The explanation behind these findings may be economic and cultural. Jobless growth and the lack of growth in employment sectors such as manufacturing and services, which proved critical for female employment in other countries, weaken labor demand and strengthen the role of institutions that may discourage female participation, such as marriage, legislation, and gender norms.
Publication(World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2014-09) Verme, Paolo ; Barry, Abdoul Gadiry ; Guennouni, JamalFemale labor participation in the Arab world is low compared with the level of economic development of Arab countries. Beyond anecdotal evidence and cross-country studies, there is little evidence on what could explain this phenomenon. This paper uses the richest set of panel data available for any Arab country to date to model female labor participation in Morocco. The paper finds marriage, household inactivity rates, secondary education, and gross domestic product per capita to lower female labor participation rates. It also finds that the category urban educated women with secondary education explains better than others the low level of female labor participation. These surprising findings are robust to different estimators, endogeneity tests, different specifications of the female labor participation equations, and different sources of data. The findings are also consistent with previous studies on the Middle East and North Africa region and on Morocco. The explanation seems to reside in the nature of economic growth and gender norms. Economic growth has not been labor intensive, has generated few jobs, and has not been in female-friendly sectors, resulting in weak demand for women, especially urban educated women with secondary education. And when men and women compete for scarce jobs, men may have priority access because of employers' and households' preferences.
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.