Narayan, Ambar

Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank
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Welfare economics, Labor economics, Inequality, Poverty and social impact, Impact evaluation and economic shocks, Policy and program evaluation
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Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank
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Last updated August 29, 2023
Ambar Narayan, a Lead Economist in the Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank, leads and advises teams conducting policy analysis and research in development from a microeconomic perspective. Topics that he works on include inequality of opportunity, economic mobility, policy evaluation, economic transformation, country diagnostics, and impacts of economic shocks on households. Currently, he provides leadership to teams engaged in analyzing the distributional impacts of markets, institutions and private sector participation, and the inequality implications of COVID-19 for developing countries. Ambar has been a lead author for several large World Bank studies, including a recent global report on intergenerational mobility titled “Fair Progress?” as well as reports on inequality of opportunity, poverty, and the impacts of financial crisis in developing countries. In the past, he has worked in the South Asia region of the World Bank on knowledge and lending programs. He has authored a number of scholarly publications and working papers, which reflect the eclectic mix of topics he has worked on over the years. He holds a PhD in Economics from Brown University in the United States.

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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    COVID-19 and Inequality: How Unequal Was the Recovery from the Initial Shock?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) Agrawal, Sarthak ; Cojocaru, Alexandru ; Montalva, Veronica ; Narayan, Ambar ; Bundervoet, Tom ; Ten, Andrey
    The restrictions on mobility and economic activity that were put in place to mitigate the health impacts of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have had an unequal impact both across and within countries, with vulnerable populations within developing countries being affected disproportionately. An important concern is that the recovery may be similarly inequitable. Across the 17 developing countries in our sample, where policies became more conducive to mobility and economic activity, we indeed observe a partial recovery of employment and incomes in most countries, as well as improvements in food security. Although job recovery and lower policy stringency were accompanied by an overall fall in the share of the food-insecure population from 13 percent to 9 percent, those living in rural areas witnessed slower declines in food insecurity. However, the recovery was not only incomplete, but also uneven within countries. In particular, the recovery in employment among those who suffered larger initial shocks - - women, non-college-educated, and urban workers - - was not sufficient to significantly reduce the initial disparities in losses. By August-September, female employment had only recovered 30 percent of what was lost between pre-pandemic and May-June (versus 49 percent for men). Finally, more recent data for a smaller number of countries up to January 2021 indicates that while food security continued improving in these countries, recovery in employment appears to have stalled, while the disparities by gender and education persisted.
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    Intergenerational Mobility around the World
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) van der Weide, Roy ; Lakner, Christoph ; Mahler, Daniel Gerszon ; Narayan, Ambar ; Ramasubbaiah, Rakesh
    Using individual data from over 400 surveys, this paper compiles a global database of intergenerational mobility in education for 153 countries covering 97 percent of the world’s population. For 87 percent of the world’s population, it provides trends in intergenerational mobility for individuals born between 1950 to 1989. The findings show that absolute mobility in education—the share of respondents that obtains higher levels of education than their parents—is higher in the developed world despite the higher levels of parental educational attainment. Relative mobility—measuring the degree of independence between parent and child years of schooling—is also found to be greater in the developed world. Together, these findings point to severe challenges in intergenerational mobility in the poorest parts of the world. Beyond national income levels, the paper explores the correlation between intergenerational mobility and a variety of country characteristics. Countries with higher rates of mobility have (i) higher tax revenues and rates of government expenditures, especially on education; (ii) better child health indicators (less stunting and lower infant mortality); (iii) higher school quality (more teachers per pupil and fewer school dropouts); and (iv) less residential segregation.
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    COVID-19 and Economic Inequality: Short-Term Impacts with Long-Term Consequences
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-01) Narayan, Ambar ; Cojocaru, Alexandru ; Agrawal, Sarthak ; Bundervoet, Tom ; Davalos, Maria ; Garcia, Natalia ; Lakner, Christoph ; Mahler, Daniel Gerszon ; Montalva Talledo, Veronica ; Ten, Andrey ; Yonzan, Nishant
    This paper examines the short-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for inequality in developing countries. The analysis takes advantage of high-frequency phone survey data collected by the World Bank to assess the distributional impacts of the pandemic through the channels of job and income losses, food insecurity, and children’s education in the early days of the pandemic and subsequent period of economic recovery leading up to early 2021. It also introduces a methodology for estimating changes in income inequality due to the pandemic by combining data from phone surveys, pre-pandemic household surveys, and macroeconomic projections of sectoral growth rates. The paper finds that the pandemic had dis-equalizing impacts both across and within countries. Even under the assumption of distribution-neutral impacts within countries, the projected income losses are estimated to be higher in the bottom half of the global income distribution. Within countries, disadvantaged groups were more likely to have experienced work and income losses initially and are recovering more slowly. Inequality simulations suggest an increase in the Gini index for 29 of 34 countries in the sample, with an average increase of about 1 percent. Although these short-term impacts on inequality appear to be small, they suggest that projections of global poverty and inequality impacts of COVID-19 under the assumption of distribution-neutral changes within countries are likely to underestimate actual impacts. Finally, the paper argues that the overall inequality impacts of COVID-19 could be larger over the medium-to-long term on account of a slow and uneven recovery in many developing countries, and disparities in learning losses during pandemic-related school closures, which will likely have long-lasting effects on inequality of opportunity and social mobility.