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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    To What Extent Are Bangladesh's Recent Gains in Poverty Reduction Different from the Past?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2010-02) Kotikula, Aphichoke ; Narayan, Ambar ; Zaman, Hassan
    The poor in Bangladesh are more likely to belong to households with a larger number of dependents and lower education among household members, be engaged in daily wage labor, own little land, and be less likely to receive remittances. This poverty profile for 2005 is similar to the profile in the mid-1980s and hence at first glance it would appear that little has changed over time. A closer look at national household survey data suggests a more nuanced story. This paper uses the latest two rounds of the Bangladesh Household Income and Expenditure Survey to decompose the micro-determinants of poverty reduction between 2000 and 2005, closely following a similar analysis using five earlier rounds of the Survey. The comparison of results shows that the spatial distribution of poverty seen in earlier decades has changed with time and the drivers of poverty reduction are different in several respects.
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    Why Did Poverty Decline in India?: A Nonparametric Decomposition Exercise
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-03) Balcazar, Carlos Felipe ; Desai, Sonal ; Murgai, Rinku ; Narayan, Ambar
    This paper uses panel data to analyze factors that contributed to the rapid decline in poverty in India between 2005 and 2012. The analysis employs a nonparametric decomposition method that measures the relative contributions of different components of household livelihoods to observed changes in poverty. The results show that poverty decline is associated with a significant increase in labor earnings, explained in turn by a steep rise in wages for unskilled labor, and diversification from farm to nonfarm sources of income in rural areas. Transfers, in the form of remittances and social programs, have contributed but are not the primary drivers of poverty decline over this period. The pattern of changes is consistent with processes associated with structural transformation, which add up to a highly pro-poor pattern of income growth over the initial distribution of income and consumption. However, certain social groups (Adivasis and Dalits) are found to be more likely to stay in or fall into poverty and less likely to move out of poverty. And even as poverty has reduced dramatically, the share of vulnerable population has not.
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    Looking Back on Two Decades of Poverty and Well-Being in India
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-04) Narayan, Ambar ; Murgai, Rinku
    This paper provides an overview of poverty and well-being trends in India since the mid-1990s. Poverty reduction since 2005 has been much faster than the earlier decade, as a result of broad-based growth across most geographic areas. Underlying this is a pattern of high mobility in economic status that has led to an emerging middle class. Still, a vast (and rising) share of the population faces significant risk of slipping back into poverty. India's poor are increasingly concentrated in low-income states with historically lower rates of economic progress. Even as India has reduced poverty faster than the developing world as a whole, the degree of poverty reduction associated with growth has been substantially lower than in some of its middle-income peers. India faces important challenges in nonmonetary dimensions of welfare as well. Despite success on important fronts, such as infant and child mortality and secondary education, progress has been slow in others, such as sanitation and nutrition, and lags behind some other countries that are at a similar stage of development.
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    Assessing Ex Ante the Poverty and Distributional Impact of the Global Crisis in a Developing Country : A Micro-simulation Approach with Application to Bangladesh
    ( 2010-03-01) Habib, Bilal ; Narayan, Ambar ; Olivieri, Sergio ; Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina
    Measuring the poverty and distributional impact of the global crisis for developing countries is not easy, given the multiple channels of impact and the limited availability of real-time data. Commonly-used approaches are of limited use in addressing questions like who are being affected by the crisis and by how much, and who are vulnerable to falling into poverty if the crisis deepens? This paper develops a simple micro-simulation method, modifying models from existing economic literature, to measure the poverty and distributional impact of macroeconomic shocks by linking macro projections with pre-crisis household data. The approach is then applied to Bangladesh to assess the potential impact of the slowdown on poverty and income distribution across different groups and regions. A validation exercise using past data from Bangladesh finds that the model generates projections that compare well with actual estimates from household data. The results can inform the design of crisis monitoring tools and policies in Bangladesh, and also illustrate the kind of analysis that is possible in other developing countries with similar data availability.
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    Pathways to Reducing Poverty and Sharing Prosperity in India: Lessons from the Last Two Decades
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016) Chatterjee, Urmila ; Murgai, Rinku ; Narayan, Ambar ; Rama, Martin
    India is uniquely placed to help reduce global poverty and boost prosperity. The country has the largest number of poor people in the world, as well are the largest number of people who have recently escaped poverty. There is an emerging middle class but the majority of people are still vulnerable to falling back into poverty. What lessons do the past two decades offer for what it will take for the country to sustain progress and bring about deeper changes? This synthesis brings together the key insights from extensive and in-depth research conducted by the World Bank on India’s experience in reducing poverty and sharing prosperity over the last two decades. The beginning chapter of the synthesis offers an overview of the trends in living standards and mobility in India. This is followed by a chapter on the main drivers of poverty reduction. The third chapter sheds light on some of the gaps India needs to fill for sustaining mobility and spreading prosperity more widely.
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    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, Sutirtha
    People 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.