Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank
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Fields of Specialization
Welfare economics, Labor economics, Inequality, Poverty and social impact, Impact evaluation and economic shocks, Policy and program evaluation
Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank
Externally Hosted Work
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 - 7 of 7
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-06) Tiwari, Sailesh ; Lara Ibarra, Gabriel ; Narayan, AmbarThis paper attempts to determine the extent to which inequality in wage earnings in the Russian Federation is unfair. Unlike other similar attempts that can, at best, produce a lower bound on the estimate of the share of inequality that is unfair, this paper exploits the longitudinal nature of the data to come up with a lower bound as well as an upper bound. The upper bound is further refined to take into account the indirect effect of circumstances at birth (gender, parental wealth, etc.) on effort. Results show that the upper bound on the inequality of opportunity may be three to four times the measured lower bound and significantly higher for females than males in the sample. Finally, comparison with the United States and Germany show that although total inequality is lower in Russia, the share of unfair inequality is distinctly larger. The markedly large explanatory role of extraneous factors, such as gender and parental characteristics, in wage inequality calls for a close examination of governments’ efforts to address inequities in the labor market.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-10) Ferreira, Francisco H. G. ; Chen, Shaohua ; Dabalen, Andrew ; Dikhanov, Yuri ; Hamadeh, Nada ; Jolliffe, Dean ; Narayan, Ambar ; Prydz, Espen Beer ; Revenga, Ana ; Sangraula, Prem ; Serajuddin, Umar ; Yoshida, NobuoThe 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.
Publication(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, StefanFair 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-09) Narayan, Ambar ; Yang, JudyThe 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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) Agrawal, Sarthak ; Cojocaru, Alexandru ; Montalva, Veronica ; Narayan, Ambar ; Bundervoet, Tom ; Ten, AndreyThe 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.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-06-23) Krishnan, Nandini ; Lara Ibarra, Gabriel ; Narayan, Ambar ; Tiwari, Sailesh ; Vishwanath, TaraPerceptions 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.
Does Food Insecurity Hinder Migration?: Experimental Evidence from the Indian Public Distribution System(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-08-29) Baseler, Travis ; Narayan, Ambar ; Ng, Odyssia ; Sinha Roy, SutirthaPeople may avoid migrating if they cannot insure themselves against the risk of a bad outcome. Governments can reduce the consumption risk faced by migrants by allowing them to access social protection programs in the destination. This study randomly informed around 62,000 households across 18 Indian states about a new program allowing migrants to collect their food ration across the country, together with information about practical barriers to using the program. Four months later, treated households held lower beliefs about food ration portability, and were less likely to migrate to cities. The findings indicate that food insecurity risk reduces urban migration.