August 2011

We measure relative poverty in rich countries; absolute poverty in poor ones – what if we combine them?

admin - August 31, 2011

Martin Ravallion, the World Bank’s head of research, has been doing some interesting thinking on poverty lines. We currently have an odd divide between poor countries, where absolute measures are more often used (eg $1.25 a day, the current international poverty line) and rich countries, which tend to use measures of relative poverty. For example, in Western Europe (including the UK) the poverty line is …

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Robin Hood breakthrough; emerging market businesswomen; China v India v The West in Africa; Libya's oil; climate change, conflict and US double standards; South Sudan's GDP: Links I liked

admin - August 30, 2011

Max Lawson updates us on a breakthrough moment on the Financial Transactions Tax (aka Robin Hood) and a new acronym – HFT or high frequency trading. ‘In China, 32% of senior managers are female, compared with 23% in America and 19% in Britain. In India, 11% of chief executives of large companies are female, compared with 3% of Fortune 500 bosses in America and 3% of …

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Can Cities build local 'developmental states'? Some surprising good news from Colombia

admin - August 26, 2011

Discussions of the role of states in development, and in particular the role of the hands-on ‘developmental state’ in producing impressive take-offs in East Asia and elsewhere, almost exclusively focusses on the national level. But in many countries, particularly since the push for decentralization in recent decades, local and city governments play an increasingly influential role. So might we see a ‘local developmental state’ emerge …

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What does giving cash transfers only to women do to household dynamics?

admin - August 25, 2011

Both in long-term development and short term emergencies, cash transfers (CTs) are all the rage, especially those handed over directly to women, who are widely thought to use the money more responsibly (spending it on food, rather than booze and fags etc).  But what’s the impact on household dynamics when a sudden influx of cash lands in the hands of its female members? A new-ish …

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Learning by failing; integrity v humour; China in Africa; South-south solar; behind India's corruption protests; Rick Perry on climate change: links I liked

admin - August 24, 2011

The first step to ‘learning by failing’ is recognizing and admitting the failures. Hats off to the World Bank on that one – what other development organization (including NGOs) would have the courage to admit publicly to a 40-70% failure rate on ICT projects? [h/t Chris Blattman]. It’s probably too optimistic to expect some belly laughs from something called the ‘The Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon …

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Anyone want my job? Oxfam’s looking for a new Head of Research

admin - August 23, 2011

So here’s the deal. After seven happy years in charge of Oxfam’s policy research team, I’m moving sideways to take up a new post as senior strategic adviser (though I personally prefer my colleague John Magrath’s suggestion of ‘chief opinionator’) and we’re looking for a new head of research. Here’s the blurb from the ad in the last week’s Guardian (the cartoons are added): The …

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Is inequality the root cause of global crisis? The World Bank's lead research economist thinks so

admin - August 22, 2011

Back from my week off (Edinburgh Festival – fab) with a load of holiday reading to review. Here’s the first installment – an eccentric new book by Branko Milanovic, inequality guru and lead economist at the World Bank’s research division. The Haves and the Have Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality is aimed at people who love playing around with data. In …

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How can advocacy NGOs respond to the global meltdown? FP2P Flashback

admin - August 19, 2011

OK, it’s looking ever more likely that we are heading for a European double plunge recession (double dip sounds too pleasant), so here’s some thoughts from December 2008 about how to respond. Ever since the global financial and economic meltdown broke, NGO colleagues have been debating how to respond. That debate is now focused on the G20 summit process, which started in Washington DC on …

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10 Challenges to 'business as usual' for development agencies: FP2P flashback

admin - August 18, 2011

OMG, nearly three years on and almost everything on this list would still be on today’s version. But at least I could point to progress, in the shape of specific bits of thinking, reseach and/or programming. on nearly all of them. What new additions would go on today’s list, I wonder? Domestic taxation; resource scarcity and planetary boundaries; the damage wrought by an excessively large …

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Advocacy v Service Delivery in Russia: FP2P flashback

admin - August 17, 2011

Next up in this holiday week selection of largely unread posts from the early days of the blog, a story from Russia Contrasting case studies from Oxfam GB’s Russia programme, which has tried different ways of supporting Russia’s estimated 5.6 million disabled people. Traditionally, we have run a microfinance programme which has benefited a total of 40,000 people – 5,500 recipients plus other beneficiaries, such …

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