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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Excuse Me, World Bank, This Time Is Last Time’s Next Time

Historically the World Bank’s President was nominated by the USA and that person was then approved by the World Bank’s Board (and in a reciprocal agreement Europe nominated the head of the IMF).  Now, discussions have begun “over how and whether to reappoint” Jim Yong Kim, when his first term ends next June. I agree with the World Bank Staff Association that we need to be able to have confidence in this process.

New Approach to Managing Environmental and Social Risks in World Bank Programs

On Thursday, August 4, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a new “Environmental and Social Framework” for bank-financed investment projects. While the new policy framework has cleared the hurdle of Board approval, many questions remain. Will the new framework succeed? Will it enhance country capability and commitment to managing environmental and social risks? And will it reduce the bureaucratic hassles associated with bank lending and bolster demand?

Doing More than Safeguarding the Safeguards at the World Bank

Depending on who you listen to, the World Bank has either just launched an unprecedented reach into the domestic political affairs of sovereign nations, or it has gutted the rules that have helped define its essential character as a global norm-setter. Both can’t be right, and most likely, neither is. To better understand the objectives of the bank's newly adopted “safeguards” regime, and why I’m somewhat encouraged by it, it’s worth looking more closely at the arguments of critics on both sides.

What’s in a World Bank Income Classification?

Every July 1, the World Bank releases updated income classifications for the new fiscal year, often resulting in headlines about various countries’ graduations to “middle income” status. But despite the global attention to these classifications and graduations, there is still widespread confusion about their meaning and significance. Let’s explore three myths that could be leading you astray.

Which Countries Have Graduated from Each Income Group, and When?

There are some questions that a majority of the researchers in a field will ask themselves at least once. In our field, one such question is which countries have graduated from each income group, and when. This is an important question because the world has been quietly transforming since the 1980s.

What Is the World Bank Doing to Improve the Lives of Women and Girls?

Today is International Women’s Day. How do we make sure that the fine words and aspirations tripping off the tongues of premiers and ministers this March 8th transfer into tangible progress for women and girls?

One small part of the solution is to make sure that the institutions dedicated to financing and implementing gender and development-related projects and programs are producing positive results. And that small part of the solution still requires some significant change to accomplish.

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).

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