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  • Author: Augustin Kwasi Fosu
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The study presents recent global evidence on the transformation of economic growth to poverty reduction in developing countries, with emphasis on the role of income inequality. The focus is on the period since the early/mid-1990s when growth in these countries as a group has been relatively strong, surpassing that of the advanced economies. Both regional and country-specific data are analysed for the US$1.25 andUS$2.50 level poverty headcount ratios using the most recent World Bank data. The study finds that on average income growth has been the major driving force behind both the declines and increases in poverty. The study, however, documents substantial regional and country differences that are masked by this 'average' dominant growth story. While in the majority of countries growth was the major factor behind falling...
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Third World
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Peter Warr
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Thailand's development strategy has been strongly market-oriented and open to trade and investment flows with the rest of the world. Since the late 1950s, its growth performance has been outstanding. Poverty incidence has declined dramatically, but economic inequality has increased. Economic progress has been reflected in very significant improvement in non-economic indicators of well-being such as life expectancy, infant and maternal morality, and literacy. Nevertheless, the performance of the education system is chronically poor. Environmental problems and institutional failures in resource management are ongoing. Reform is needed in several areas, including political and corporate governance, regulation of industry, and in the education and health systems.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Emerging Markets, Poverty, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Samuel Kobina Annim
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper examines the combined effect of interest rates and poverty levels of microfinance clients on loan size. Cross section data on 2,691 clients and non-clients households from Ghana is used to test the hypothesis of loan price inelasticity. Quantile regression and variants of least squares methods that explore endogeneity are employed. We find the expected inverse relationship only for the 20th to 40th quantile range. The semi-elasticity of loan amount responsiveness to a unit change in interest rate is more than proportionate and significant for the poorest group only. Market segmentation based on poverty level is suggested in targeting and sustaining microfinance clients.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Ravi Kanbur, Dennis Rodgers, Jo Beall
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper argues for a more systemic engagement with Latin American cities, contending it is necessary to reconsider their unity in order to nuance the 'fractured cities' perspective that has widely come to epitomise the contemporary urban moment in the region. It begins by offering an overview of regional urban development trends, before exploring how the underlying imaginary of the city has critically shifted over the past half century. Focusing in particular on the way that slums and shantytowns have been conceived, it traces how the predominant conception of the Latin American city moved from a notion of unity to a perception of fragmentation, highlighting how this had critically negative ramifications for urban development agendas, and concludes with a call for a renewed vision of Latin American urban life.
  • Topic: Development, Poverty, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Flavio Janches
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This article surveys the problem of urban marginalization by one of its more critical expressions in the contemporary city: the slums. The aim is to define an urban design strategy for the integration of those settlements as part of the city context, which enables to find solutions for the conflict improving these communities quality of life.
  • Topic: Poverty, Sociology, Urbanization
  • Author: Lucy Earle
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This study focuses on the city of São Paulo, Brazil and examines the ways in which irregular and illegal growth have influenced the collective action of social movements of the urban poor. The study describes how São Paulo grew as a socially segregated city during the twentieth century due to calculated neglect on the part of the municipal authorities. Highlighting the city's sociospatial inequality, degradation of the central districts and widespread irregularity, it illustrates how these factors have both negatively affected the urban poor and provided a catalyst for social mobilization.
  • Topic: Poverty, Social Stratification, Social Movement, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America
  • Author: Channing Arndt, M. Azhar Hussain, E. Samuel Jones, Virgulino Nhate, Finn Tarp1, James Thurlow
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Measuring poverty remains a complex and contentious issue. This is particularly true in sub-Saharan Africa where poverty rates are higher, information bases typically weaker, and the underlying determinants of welfare relatively volatile. This paper employs recently collected data on household consumption in Mozambique to examine the evolution of consumption poverty with focus on the period 2002/03 to 2008/09. The paper contributes in four areas. First, the period in question was characterized by major movements in international commodity prices. Mozambique provides an illuminating case study of the implications of these world commodity price changes for living standards of poor people. Second, a novel 'backcasting' approach using a computable general equilibrium model of Mozambique, linked to a poverty module.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Oleksiy Ivaschenko, Cem Mete
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Tajikistan's rural sector has witnessed substantial development since the country began to emerge from civil conflict in 1999. Gross agricultural output increased 64 per cent from 1999 to 2003, and there were significant developments in the agricultural reform agenda. This paper uses the panel component of two surveys conducted in Tajikistan at one-year interval (2003 and 2004) to explore the major determinants of the transition out of/into poverty of rural households. Poverty status is measured in the asset space, thus indicating structural rather than transitory poverty movements. The empirical analysis reveals several interesting findings that are also important from a policy perspective: first, cotton farming seems to have no positive impact on poverty levels, nor on mobility out of poverty. Second, the rate of increase in the share of private farming at the district level had little impact on poverty levels and poverty mobility.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Asia, Tajikistan
  • Author: Dominique van der Mensbrugghe, Maurizio Bussolo, Rafael E. De Hoyos, Denis Medvedev
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Over the past 20 years, aggregate measures of global inequality have changed little even if significant structural changes have been observed. High growth rates of China and India lifted millions out of poverty, while the stagnation in many African countries caused them to fall behind. Using the World Bank's LINKAGE global general equilibrium model and the newly developed Global Income Distribution Dynamics (GIDD) tool, this paper assesses the distribution and poverty effects of a scenario where these trends continue in the future. Even by anticipating a deceleration, growth in China and India is a key force behind the expected convergence of per capita incomes at the global level. Millions of Chinese and Indian consumers will enter into a rapidly emerging global middle class—a group of people who can afford, and demand access to, the standards of living previously reserved mainly for the residents of developed countries. Notwithstanding these positive developments, fast growth is often characterized by high urbanization and growing demand for skills, both of which result in a widening of income distribution within countries. These opposing distributional effects highlight the importance of analysing global disparities by taking into account—as the GIDD does—income dynamics between and within countries.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, India, Asia
  • Author: Alok Bhargava
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper estimated models for GDP growth rates, poverty levels, and inequality measures for the period 1990–2000 using data on 54 developing countries at five-yearly intervals. Issues of globalization were investigated by analysing the differential effects of the countries' exports and imports and by postulating trans-logarithmic models that allow for non-linear effects of literacy levels and measures of openness. The main findings were that literacy rates affected growth rates in a quadratic manner and countries with higher literacy were more likely to benefit from globalization. Second, the model for growth rates showed non-linear and differential effects of the export/GDP and import/GDP ratios. Third, the models indicated that population health indicators such as life expectancy were important predictors of GDP growth rates. Fourth, models for poverty measures showed that poverty was not directly affected by globalization indicators. Finally, the model for Gini coefficients indicated significant effects of 'medium' and 'high' skilled labour work force, with higher proportions of high-skilled labour implying greater inequality.
  • Topic: Development, Education, International Trade and Finance, Poverty
  • Author: Marie-Claude Martin
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The interaction between available individual and collective resources in the determination of health is largely ignored in the literature on the relationship between poverty and health in developing countries. We analyse the role public resources play in the perception that rural women in Morocco have of their health. These resources are taken to contribute directly and indirectly to the improvement of individual health by, on the one hand, providing a health-promoting environment and, on the other, improving the individual's ability to produce health. The empirical results of multilevel models confirm the expected associations between socioeconomic status, individual vulnerability factors and health. Furthermore, the random part of the model suggests that variation in state of health is also associated with the presence of collective resources. However, the higher the level of women's individual wealth, the less the characteristics of the community in which they live seem to be associated with their health, and the less the potential vulnerability factors seem to constrain their ability to maintain or improve health. Our results suggest that collective investments derived from various areas of activity will be more favourable to improving health, insofar as they are adapted to the initial capacity of women to benefit from them.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Health, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Raghav Gaiha, Katsushi Imai
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper measures the vulnerability of households in rural India, based upon the ICRISAT panel survey. We employ both ex ante and ex post measures of vulnerability. The latter are decomposed into aggregate and idiosyncratic risks and poverty components. Our decomposition shows that idiosyncratic risks account for the largest share, followed by poverty and aggregate risks. Despite some degree of risk-sharing, the landless or small farmers are vulnerable to idiosyncratic risks, forcing them to reduce consumption. Income-augmenting policies therefore must be combined with those that not only reduce aggregate and idiosyncratic risks but also build resilience against them.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: T.H. Gindling, Katherine Terrell
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: To be competitive in the global economy, some argue that Latin American countries need to reduce or eliminate labour market regulations such as minimum wage legislation because they constrain job creation and hence increase poverty. On the other hand, minimum wage increases can have a direct positive impact on family income and may therefore help to reduce poverty. We take advantage of a complex minimum wage system in a poor country that has been exposed to the forces of globalization to test whether minimum wages are an effective poverty reduction tool in this environment. We find the net effect of minimum wage increases in Honduras is the reduction of extreme poverty, with an elasticity of -0.18, and all poverty, with an elasticity of -0.10 (using the national poverty lines). These results are driven entirely by the effect on workers in large private sector firms, where minimum wage legislation is enforced. Increases in the minimum do not affect the incidence of poverty among workers in sectors where minimum wages are not enforced (small firms) or do not apply (self-employed and public sector). Hence, we show that minimum wages can be used as a poverty reduction tool in the formal sector. However, we do not endorse minimum wages as the best tool as we have not carried out a complete cost-benefit analysis of this policy vis-à-vis others.
  • Topic: Poverty
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Central America, Honduras
  • Author: Marlene Attzs
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper explores the linkages between poverty and disaster vulnerability in the context of remittance flows to households in the Caribbean. Jamaica is used as the case study country. The paper discusses the channels through which natural disasters and remittances affect each other but also reviews the distribution of female-headed households in Jamaica as a percentage of households living below the poverty line and seeks to identify whether flows of remittances alleviate the post-disaster living conditions of such households.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Gender Issues, Health, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Caribbean, Jamaica
  • Author: Alejandro de la Fuente
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: International remittances have been portrayed as the human face of globalization given their potential to alleviate poverty by directly increasing household income. Using a panel of rural households in Mexico from October 1998 to November 2000 this study assesses whether this is in fact the case. However, rather than examining whether transfers income would reduce future consumption poverty we asked if transfers are likely to reach people whose conditions are prone to worsen in the future. We used vulnerability to consumption poverty to quantify the extent to which risks and the more permanent disadvantages embedded in most rural livelihoods, can translate into future declines in well-being. We found, contrary to our expectations, a negative and statistically significant relationship between the remittance of transfers, including foreign remittances, and the threat to future poverty that rural households could experience.
  • Topic: Globalization, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Karen Macours, Renos Vakis
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper provides unique evidence of the positive consequences of seasonal migration for investments in early childhood development. We analyse migration in a poor shockprone border region in rural Nicaragua where it offers one of the main household income diversification and risk coping strategies. IV estimates show, somewhat surprisingly, that mother's migration has a positive effect on early cognitive development. We attribute these findings to changes in income and to the intrahousehold empowerment gains resulting from mother's migration, which offset potential negative ECD effects from temporary lack of parenting. This paper, hence, illustrates how increased opportunities in seasonal migration due to higher South–South mobility might positively affect early childhood development and as such long term poverty reduction.
  • Topic: Health, Migration, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Nicaragua
  • Author: Calum G. Turvey, Rong Kong
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper investigates the economic conditions of rural households in China. Historical survey data indicate that over 80 per cent of rural households earn less than 4,500 yuan in net disposable income each year, that for the vast majority of rural households disposable income is insufficient to meet food consumption needs, and that in terms of economic growth rural households are receiving an ever decreasing percentage of China's growing economy with rural household incomes being only 31 per cent of urban household income in 2004.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Paul Winters, Angeli Kirk, Benjamim Davis, Calogero Carletto
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: As developing countries continue on the path of economic liberalization, there is a compelling need to ensure that the benefits of globalization reach poor rural communities. Increased commercialization of agriculture and diversification into nontraditional exports (NTXs) is one strategy that has often been advocated as a way for developing countries to use their comparative advantage in lower labor costs and to achieve growth in the agricultural sector. Given the predominantly rural nature of most developing countries and the preponderance of poor people in these areas, high-value agricultural production is considered the ideal mechanism to extend the benefits of globalization directly to the rural poor:1 Allowing poor farmers to shift into the export sector and take advantage of internationally demand driven prices that are higher relative to traditional crops may reduce inequality while fostering overall economic growth (Nissanke and Thorbecke 2007).
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: T. H. Gindling, Katherine Terrell
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: To be competitive in the global economy, some argue that Latin American countries need to reduce or eliminate labor market regulations such as minimum wage legislation because they constrain job creation and hence increase poverty. On the other hand, minimum wage increases can have a direct positive impact on family income and may therefore help to reduce poverty. We take advantage of a complex minimum wage system in a poor country that has been exposed to the forces of globalization to test whether minimum wages are an effective poverty reduction tool in this environment. We find that minimum wage increases in Honduras reduce extreme poverty, with an elasticity of -0.18, and all poverty, with an elasticity of -0.10 (using the national poverty lines). These results are driven entirely by the effect on workers in large private sector firms, where minimum wage legislation is enforced. Increases in the minimum do not affect the incidence of poverty in sectors where minimum wages are not enforced (small firms) or do not apply (self-employed and public sector).
  • Topic: Globalization, Political Economy, Poverty, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ruslan Yemtsov
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: All countries in transition experienced increases in inequality. They have also undertaken massive privatization of key asset housing, often on give-away terms. Are these two phenomena related? Has transfer of ownership rights to residents slowed down the inequality increases or it pushed it up? Surprisingly little is known in this area. This paper attempts to provide empirical evidence to start answering these questions. It shows how housing privatization affected the distribution of personal wealth and inequality in current consumption based on recent representative household surveys from three transition countries: Poland, Russia and Serbia. Survey data are compared with figures derived from national accounts and housing statistics. Contrary to common belief and some earlier evidence of strong equalizing effect of housing distribution in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the paper finds that the contribution of housing to the overall inequality levels is not strong, and is not universally progressive. There is also a significant variation across countries. In Russia and Serbia progressive. There is also a significant variation across countries. In Russia and Serbia features of privatization programmes resulted in better off households capturing more valuable housing assets on extremely beneficial terms, while in Poland privatization and housing reform led to more equitable outcomes. When owner occupied housing rents and durables are properly accounted for, the effects of housing ownership on inequality in current consumption are mildly progressive in Russia and Poland and regressive in Serbia. The paper argues that the information collected by regular household surveys provides only a starting point to study housing wealth distribution, and there are a number of gaps which should be addressed through improved data collection.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Russia, Poland, Serbia