Development

Ulugbek Aminjonov, Olivier Bargain, Tanguy Bernard, 09 October 2021

In many countries, poorer people have been more exposed to Covid-19 as they cannot afford to stay at home instead of going to work. This column shows that in low- and middle-income countries, emergency income support schemes have significantly reduced differences in rates of contagion due to wealth or poverty status by allowing poorer people to also stay at home. As well as preserving livelihoods and alleviating poverty, income support has also been successful in curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Joshua Blumenstock, 01 October 2021

There is often an urgent need for humanitarian assistance in low-income countries. But how can it be targeted efficiently and quickly? Joshua Blumenstock tells Tim Phillips how, in Togo, a combination of machine learning and mobile phone data dramatically increased the effectiveness of Covid assistance.

Read more about the research discussed and download the free discussion paper:

Aiken, E, Bellue, S, Blumenstock, J, Karlan, D and Udry, C. 2021. 'Machine Learning and Mobile Phone Data Can Improve the Targeting of Humanitarian Assistance'. CEPR

Thorsten Beck, 29 September 2021

The World Bank permanently suspended its Doing Business project earlier this month. This column argues that the suspension puts an end to a very useful data-collection exercise that went astray by focusing on rankings and political publicity. Beyond specific conflicts of interest within the World Bank, the demise of Doing Business reaffirms Goodhart’s Law that when an index becomes a policy target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Gerhard Toews, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 23 September 2021

‘Enemies of the people’ were the millions of artists, engineers, managers, or professors who were thought to be a threat to the Soviet regime solely for being the educated elite. Along with millions of non-political prisoners, they were forcedly resettled to the Gulag, the system of labour camps across the Soviet Union. This column looks at the long-run consequences of this dark resettlement episode. It shows that areas around camps with a larger share of enemies of the people among camp prisoners are more prosperous today, as captured by firms’ wages and profits, as well as night lights per capita. 

Jasmien De Winne, Gert Peersman, 29 August 2021

The world is expected to see a significant rise in the frequency, duration, and intensity of extreme weather events. This column examines the macroeconomic effects of global food commodity price increases that are caused by global harvest and weather disruptions, and finds that the decline in economic activity is substantial and greater in advanced than in low-income countries. The findings suggest that the consequences of climate change for advanced countries may be greater than previously thought, and the strong rise in food prices since the outbreak of COVID-19 could seriously impede the recovery.

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