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 - 6 of 6
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    Do African Children Have an Equal Chance? : A Human Opportunity Report for Sub-Saharan Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015) Dabalen, Andrew ; Narayan, Ambar ; Saavedra-Chanduvi, Jaime ; Suarez, Alejandro Hoyos ; Abras, Ana ; Tiwari, Sailesh
    This study explores the changing opportunities for children in Africa. While the definition of opportunities can be subjective and depend on the societal context, this report focuses on efforts to build future human capital, directly (through education and health investments) and indirectly (through complementary infrastructure such as safe water, adequate sanitation, electricity, and so on). It follows the practice of earlier studies conducted for the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region (Barros et al. 2009, 2012) where opportunities are basic goods and services that constitute investments in children. Although several opportunities are relevant at different stages of an individual s life, our focus on children s access to education, health services, safe water, and adequate nutrition is due to the well-known fact that an individual s chance of success in life is deeply influenced by access to these goods and services early in life. Children s access to these basic services improves the likelihood of a child being able to maximize his/her human potential and pursue a life of dignity.
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    Born with a Silver Spoon : Inequality in Educational Achievement across the World
    (World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2015-01) Balcazar, Carlos Felipe ; Narayan, Ambar ; Tiwari, Sailesh
    This paper assesses inequality of opportunity in educational achievement using the Human Opportunity Index methodology on data from the Programme for International Student Assessment. The findings suggest that there are large inequalities in learning outcomes as measured by demonstrated proficiency in Programme for International Student Assessment test scores in math, reading, and science. Differences in wealth, parental education, and area of residence explain a bulk of this inequality in most of the countries in the sample. Consistent with what has been documented previously in the literature, the paper also finds a strong and stable correlation between inequality of opportunity and public spending on school education. An exploration of the changes in inequality of opportunity between the 2009 and 2012 rounds of the Programme for International Student Assessment, using parametric and nonparametric techniques, suggests that there has been little progress.
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    Fair Progress?: Economic Mobility Across Generations Around the World
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-05-09) Narayan, Ambar ; Van der Weide, Roy ; Cojocaru, Alexandru ; Lakner, Christoph ; Redaelli, Silvia ; Mahler, Daniel Gerszon ; Ramasubbaiah, Rakesh Gupta N. ; Thewissen, Stefan
    Fair Progress? Economic Mobility Across Generations Around the World looks at an issue that has gotten much attention in the developed world, but with, for the first time, new data and analysis covering most of the world, including developing economies. The analysis examines whether those born in poverty or in prosperity are destined to remain in the same economic circumstances into which they were born, and looks back over a half a century at whether children’s lives are better or worse than their parents’ in different parts of the world. It suggests local, national, and global actions and policies that can help break the cycle of poverty, paving the way for the next generation to realize their potential and improve their lives.
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    Economic Mobility Across Generations in the Developing East Asia and Pacific Region
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-09) Narayan, Ambar ; Yang, Judy
    The pace and success of economic growth in the developing East Asia and Pacific region (EAP) has been described as nothing short of a miracle. Education and its complementarities are often linked and credited significantly for the region's positive story on economic growth. During the early stages of the region's development, education kept pace and complemented labor needs; widespread basic literacy and numeracy met demands in manufacturing and assembling. This led to rapid improvements in educational mobility across generations in absolute terms, where mobility is understood as the rise in education levels from one generation to the next. On the other hand, progress has been slower and uneven in relative mobility, which is more closely linked to inequality in education and income and refers to the extent to which an individual's position in society is influenced by that of his or her parents.
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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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    Uneven Odds, Unequal Outcomes: Inequality of Opportunity in the Middle East and North Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-06-23) Krishnan, Nandini ; Lara Ibarra, Gabriel ; Narayan, Ambar ; Tiwari, Sailesh ; Vishwanath, Tara
    Perceptions of eroding living standards and low life satisfaction are widespread in the Middle East and North Africa region today, along with pessimism about prospects for economic mobility. Conventional measures of economic well-being offer little in the way of explanation – in most countries in the region, extreme poverty is low and declining and economic inequality is lower than in other parts of the world. This book investigates possible reasons for this disconnect, focusing on the role played by inadequate and unequal access to opportunities to realize one’s aspirations for economic mobility. The inability of most countries in the region to meet the aspirations of citizens is closely linked to persistent weaknesses in the labor markets where the pace of job creation has been chronically below levels required to absorb the growing and increasingly better educated population. A high degree of segmentation in the labor markets also puts the youth and women in the region at a particular disadvantage. While labor markets are critical for mobility, opportunities and life paths can diverge even earlier in life if access to basic services in health, education and infrastructure are unequally distributed among children in their formative years. This book documents sharp disparities in the quality of services available to children of varying birth circumstances in the region. Although the most intense debates in development coalesce around inequality of income or wealth, the notion of inequality of opportunity has an intuitive appeal that can bridge ideological differences. By drawing attention to the notion of equality of opportunity to create a level playing field for all sections of society, the book highlights the need to critically examine the social contract and governance structures that guide the delivery of services and are instrumental for implementing necessary reforms to make labor markets more dynamic and equitable.