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 - 8 of 8
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015) Dabalen, Andrew ; Narayan, Ambar ; Saavedra-Chanduvi, Jaime ; Suarez, Alejandro Hoyos ; Abras, Ana ; Tiwari, SaileshThis 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.
Publication(World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2015-01) Balcazar, Carlos Felipe ; Narayan, Ambar ; Tiwari, SaileshThis 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.
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, 2012-04) Abras, Ana ; Cuesta, Jose ; Hoyos, Alejandro ; Narayan, AmbarThis study analyzes opportunities for children in Cote d'Ivoire, where opportunities refer to access to basic services and goods that improve the likelihood of a child maximizing his or her human potential. The principle that guides this analysis is one of equality of opportunity, which is that a child's circumstances at birth should not determine his or her access to opportunities. The analysis computes the Human Opportunity Index, which measures the extent to which access to basic services is universal and evenly distributed among children of different circumstances. Opportunities are limited in Cote d'Ivoire, despite some improvements in access to electricity and timely access to primary education. Otherwise, trends on access remain stagnant. Scale effects (variations across the board) are behind these trends, with little improvement observed from equalizing interventions. Circumstances such as region and household head characteristics affect a child's access to opportunities, while household incomes and a child's gender and ethnicity play a relatively small role in access differentials. Public spending on education opportunities is shown to be regressive and pro-rich, especially when analyzed across the distribution of circumstances rather than acroos income level.The groups of children that are particularly behind in terms of educational opportunities are those whose household heads lack primary education and reside in rural areas. Closing the enrollment gap of these children should be a priority for targeted educational interventions. However, improving opportunities may require more than a single type of intervention: opportunities with low coverage may need to be scaled up, while those with large inequalities of access may require equalizing interventions.
Publication( 2009-08-01) Dasgupta, Basab ; Narayan, Ambar ; Skoufias, EmmanuelSatisfaction surveys offer a potentially convenient and cost-effective means for measuring the quality of services. However, concerns about subjectivity and selection bias impede greater use of satisfaction data. This paper analyzes satisfaction data about health and educational services from the 2006 second round of the Governance and Decentralization Survey in Indonesia to assess whether satisfaction data can serve as reliable indicators of quality, despite dubiously high levels of reported satisfaction. The authors use an expectation disconfirmation model that posits that a user s satisfaction with a facility improves with the (positive) difference between the actual quality of the facility and the household s expected standard for quality, which is influenced by its socioeconomic characteristics. The findings show that, after taking into account the expectations of households, reported satisfaction does vary significantly with objective indicators of quality. The analysis also checks for possible selection bias affecting the results by using a two-stage selection model. The model yields policy-relevant insights into the aspects of service delivery that most affect satisfaction, highlights differences across rich and poor districts, and shows that once the role of expectations has been factored in, the variation in user satisfaction can be highly informative for policymakers and researchers alike.
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, 2011-06-27) Hoyos, Alejandro ; Narayan, AmbarAuthors apply a decomposition method to a measure of inequality of opportunities among children (the human opportunity index) to examine the question of how much does gender of a child contribute to inequality in access to critical services that should be available as basic minimum opportunities to all children. Authors use a database of 47 countries for which Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data is available during 2003-2010, four indicators for opportunities and a limited set of circumstances or characteristics of the child. On the average and for most countries, the contribution of gender of the child to inequality of opportunity in two measures of school attendance and immunization tends to be low and much below the contribution of household factors such as economic status and urban/rural location. In a few countries, however, gender still plays a more substantial role in influencing a child's access to a particular service. Preliminary evidence also suggests that inequalities and contributions of gender to inequality across opportunities are correlated, particularly for opportunities in the same sector.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-06) van der Weide, Roy ; Lakner, Christoph ; Mahler, Daniel Gerszon ; Narayan, Ambar ; Ramasubbaiah, RakeshUsing 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.