Person:
Narayan, Ambar

Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank
Loading...
Profile Picture
Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Welfare economics, Labor economics, Inequality, Poverty and social impact, Impact evaluation and economic shocks, Policy and program evaluation
Degrees
External Links
Departments
Poverty and Equity Global Practice of the World Bank
Externally Hosted Work
Contact Information
Last updated: August 29, 2023
Biography
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 - 10 of 30
  • Publication
    A Global Count of the Extreme Poor in 2012: Data Issues, Methodology and Initial Results
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-10) Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Chen, Shaohua; Dabalen, Andrew; Prydz, Espen Beer; Jolliffe, Dean; Narayan, Ambar; Serajuddin, Umar; Revenga, Ana
    The 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
    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; 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.
  • Publication
    Equality of Opportunities and Fiscal Incidence in Cote d'Ivoire
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-04) Abras, Ana; Hoyos, Alejandro; Narayan, Ambar
    This 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
    Looking Back on Two Decades of Poverty and Well-Being in India
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-04) Narayan, Ambar
    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.
  • Publication
    Assessing Poverty and Distributional Impacts of the Global Crisis in the Philippines : A Microsimulation Approach
    (2010-04-01) Habib, Bilal; Narayan, Ambar; Olivieri, Sergio; Sanchez-Paramo, Carolina
    As the financial crisis has spread through the world, the lack of real-time data has made it difficult to track its impact in developing countries. This paper uses a micro-simulation approach to assess the poverty and distributional effects of the crisis in the Philippines. The authors find increases in both the level and the depth of aggregate poverty. Income shocks are relatively large in the middle part of the income distribution. They also find that characteristics of people who become poor because of the crisis are different from those of both chronically poor people and the general population. The findings can be useful for policy makers wishing to identify leading monitoring indicators to track the impact of macroeconomic shocks and to design policies that protect vulnerable groups.
  • Publication
    Measuring the Quality of Education and Health Services : The Use of Perception Data from Indonesia
    (2009-08-01) Dasgupta, Basab; Narayan, Ambar; Skoufias, Emmanuel
    Satisfaction 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
    Electoral Accountability, Fiscal Decentralization and Service Delivery in Indonesia
    (2011-03-01) Skoufias, Emmanuel; Narayan, Ambar; Kaiser, Kai
    This paper takes advantage of the exogenous phasing of direct elections in districts and applies the double difference estimator to: (i) measure impacts on the pattern of public spending and revenue generation at the district level; and (ii) investigate the heterogeneity of the impacts on public spending. The authors confirm that the electoral reforms had positive effects on district expenditures and these effects were mainly due to the increases in expenditures in the districts outside Java and Bali and the changes in expenditures brought about by non-incumbents elected in the districts. Electoral reforms also led to higher revenue generation from own sources and to higher budget surplus. Finally, the analysis finds that in anticipation of the forthcoming direct elections, district governments tend to have higher current expenditures on public works.
  • Publication
    How Do Ex Ante Simulations Compare with Ex Post Evaluations? Evidence from the Impact of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs
    (2011-06-01) Leite, Phillippe; Narayan, Ambar; Skoufias, Emmanuel
    This paper compares the ex ante simulation of the impacts of conditional cash transfer programs against the ex post estimates of impacts obtained from experimental evaluations. Using data on program-eligible households in treatment areas from the same baseline surveys that are used for experimental evaluations of conditional cash transfer programs in Mexico and Ecuador, the authors use a micro-simulation model to derive ex ante estimates of the impact of the programs on enrollment rates and poverty. The estimates reveal that ex ante predictions of certain impacts of conditional cash transfer programs match up well against the benchmark estimates of ex post experimental studies. The findings seem to support the use of this model to assess the potential impact and cost efficiency of a conditional cash transfer program ex ante, in order to inform decisions about how the program would be designed.
  • Publication
    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.
  • Publication
    How Unfair is the Inequality of Wage Earnings in Russia?: Estimates from Panel Data
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-06) Tiwari, Sailesh; Narayan, Ambar
    This 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.