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Views from the Center

Global Development: Views from the Center features posts from Nancy Birdsall and her colleagues at the Center for Global Development about innovative, practical policy responses to poverty and inequality in an ever-more globalized world.

 

The World Bank’s Poverty Statistics Lack Median Income Data, So We Filled In the Gap Ourselves — Download Available

PovcalNet, the World Bank’s global poverty database, provides all kinds of country statistics, including mean income, the share (and number) of the population living in absolute poverty ($1.90), the poverty gap and several measures of income inequality, such as the Gini coefficient. But one thing it doesn’t provide is median income or consumption. The median is a better measure of “typical” well-being than the mean, which is always skewed to the right.

We’ve been waiting for the World Bank to add these medians to its PovcalNet database, but we got impatient and did it ourselves. By manually running a few hundred queries in PovcalNet, we now have (and can share with you) the latest median income/consumption data for 144 countries (using 2011 PPPs — more on our methods below).

El Niño vs El Tío: What’s Causing Food Insecurity in Southern Africa?

The UN’s World Food Program now estimates that some three million Zimbabweans, or roughly one-quarter of the population, may require food aid this year. Zimbabwe is suffering from erratic rainfall this year, blamed in large part on the El Niño weather phenomena. An estimated 70% of Zimbabweans rely on agriculture, so the impact on poverty and human welfare will no doubt be severe. But in reading about Zimbabwe’s current predicament, something struck me:  neighboring Zambia seems to have no urgent food aid requirements.

Run, Lagarde, Run

Last week, within a few hours of announcing she was running for a second term as head of the IMF, it appeared that Christine Lagarde had the nomination sewn up. That’s little surprise given the incumbent’s track record. But what better time than now — when Europe’s candidate would most likely win without a stitch-up — to push reform?

The World Bank Is Turning 70. Do We Still Need It?

The World Bank opened in 1946 to finance a global economy just emerging from colonization and warfare and just embarking on the Cold War. Today the global development landscape is radically different, and capital circles the globe at volumes unthinkable back then. Why keep the World Bank now?

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