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  • Author: Guanghua Wan, Yin Zhang
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper proposes a framework for incorporating longitudinal distributional changes into poverty decomposition. It is shown that changes in the Sen-Shorrocks-Thon index over time can be decomposed into two components—one component reflects the progressivity of income growth among the original poor, the other measures the extent of downward mobility experienced by the incumbent poor. The decomposition is applied to appraising poverty trends in China between 1988 and 1996. The results indicate that the proposed decomposition can complement the widely-used growthdistribution decomposition in providing insights into poverty dynamics.
  • Topic: Development, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Guanghua Wan, Yin Zhang
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Applying the Shapley decomposition to unit-record household survey data, this paper investigates the trends and causes of poverty in China in the 1990s. The changes in poverty trends are attributed to two proximate causes; income growth and shifts in relative income distribution. The Foster-Greer-Thorbecke measures are computed and decomposed, with different datasets and alternative assumptions about poverty lines and equivalence. Among the robust results are: (i) both income growth and favourable distributional changes can explain China's remarkable achievement in combating poverty in rural areas in the first half of the 1990s; (2) in the second half of the 1990s, both rural and urban China suffered from rapidly rising inequality and stagnant income growth, leading to a slow-down in poverty reduction, even reversal of poverty trend.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Xavier Giné, Stefan Klonner
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: We study the diffusion of a capital intensive technology among a fishing community in south India and analyze the dynamics of income inequality during this process. We find that lack of asset wealth is an important predictor of delayed technology adoption. During the diffusion process, inequality follows Kuznets' well-known inverted U-shaped curve. The empirical results imply that redistributive policies favouring the poor result in accelerated economic growth and a shorter duration of sharpened inequality.
  • Topic: Development, Poverty, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Guanghua Wan, Zhang-Yue Zhou
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: A comparative study of the public distribution systems of foodgrains in India and China is expected to reveal lessons and experiences that are valuable to policymakers. This is particularly important for developing countries in their endeavour to ensure food security. This paper undertakes such an exercise. The main features and developments of the two public distribution systems are first highlighted. This is followed by a comparative analysis of their similarities and differences. The role of public foodgrain distribution systems in ensuring food security is then evaluated. Finally, policy implications are drawn.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia
  • Author: Rimjhim M. Aggarwal
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: It is often argued that an important reason why globalization may lead to GDP growth but fail to reduce poverty is because the poor are unable to participate in the new market opportunities and are marginalized. In this paper we examine the experience of resource-poor farmers in south India, who participated aggressively in the new market opportunities that opened up with trade reforms. However, these expanded market opportunities failed to improve their welfare. The paper examines why and how this happened.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Globalization, Poverty
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Prasanta K. Pattanaik, Craig Gundersen, Indranil Dutta
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Food insecurity and hunger have traditionally been measured by aggregate food supplies or by variables correlated with food insecurity. Because these measures often poorly reflect individuals' true deprivation, economists have turned to surveys with direct questions about food insecurity. Using these surveys, households have then been classified into broad categories, a classification system which ignores the richness of the multiple questions. In this paper, we propose food insecurity measures, along the lines of the well established poverty measures, which incorporates this richness and allow us to reflect the depth and severity, in addition to the incidence, of food insecurity. Using these indices, we calculate the extent of food insecurity and hunger in the United States. Along with giving a richer picture of food insecurity in the US, these food insecurity measures demonstrates that the ordering of various demographic categories differs depends on the choice of measure.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Guanghua Wan, Yin Zhang
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes the evolution of poverty in China from the late 1980s to the late 1990s, employing a version of Shapley decomposition tailored to unit-record household survey data. The changes in poverty trends are attributed to two proximate causes— income growth and shifts in income distribution. Different datasets, poverty lines, poverty measures, and equivalence scales are used to examine the robustness of the results. Potential biases arising from ignoring differential regional prices and inflation are also investigated. Notwithstanding some ambiguities in the results, it is consistently found that rural poverty increased in the second half of the 1990s and adverse distributional changes are the main cause.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Patrick Honohan
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Systematic information on household financial asset holdings in developing countries is very sparse; we review some available data and current policy debates. Although financial asset holdings by households are highly concentrated, deeper financial systems are correlated with improved income distribution. For low-income countries, the relevant question for poor households is not how much financial assets they have, but whether they have any access to financial products at all. Building on and synthesizing disparate data collection efforts by others, we produce new estimates of access percentages for over 150 countries. Across countries, access is negatively correlated with poverty rates, but the correlation is not a robust one, thus the supposed anti-poverty potential of financial access remains econometrically elusive. Despite policy focus on the value of credit instruments, it is deposit products that tend to be the first to be used as prosperity increases, before more sophisticated savings products and borrowing.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Author: Min-Dong Paul Lee
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This study attempts to convey an accurate and dynamic account of educational inequality in China during the last decade. The study finds that there is clear evidence of rapid expansion of education, and younger students all over China are benefiting from the expansion. One of the most notable achievements is the virtual elimination of gender bias against girls in educational attainment. However, analysis of province-level school enrolment data over the last decade shows evidence of persistent regional inequality of educational attainment. Students from inland provinces continue to face strong structural inequality in educational opportunity, and this structural inequality becomes more pronounced as they progress to higher grades. Moreover, inter-cohort analysis reveals that the inter-provincial inequality in upper grades is increasing for younger cohort of students, meaning that educational inequality in China is deteriorating further. Lastly, a decomposition analysis shows that the causes of inter-provincial educational inequality are quite complex and cannot simply be explained by the urban-bias hypothesis that is often suggested as the main source of income inequality.
  • Topic: Education, Human Rights, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Kuan Xu, Lars Osberg
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Before effective anti-poverty policy can be designed and implemented, the extent, trend and distribution of poverty must be identified. In this sense, poverty measurement is a crucial intermediate step in public policymaking and development planning. This paper asks whether the estimated proportion of the world's population with income below US$1 (adjusted according to purchasing power parity) per day is a good measure of trends in global poverty. We argue that the answer depends on two important issues in the measurement of poverty—the definition of the poverty line, and how best to summarize the level of poverty In this paper, we survey the literature on poverty measurement, demonstrate the importance of considering poverty incidence, depth and inequality jointly, present a simple but powerful graphical representation of the Sen and SST indices of poverty intensity (the poverty box) which is the FGT index of order 1 and extend our empirical work to China using the commonly accepted international poverty line definition of one half median equivalent income.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, Asia