Poverty and empowerment
To mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October 2020, many observers have once again highlighted the enormous successes that the last three decades have brought in alleviating extreme poverty on a global level. However, current analysis casts something of a shadow over this view: on the one hand, the positive trends have slowed considerably in recent years, and the coronavirus pandemic has even raised fears that the trajectory will reverse – at least temporarily. On the other hand, an increasing number of people – including, recently, prominent figures like UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston – are questioning the metric commonly used for measuring poverty to date, namely the World Bank’s USD 1.90 poverty line.
The current issue of “Development in Brief” reports on the debate that has been reignited and the picture that emerges if other poverty metrics are incorporated.
There are scientific debates which suggest that progress in gender equality has lost momentum and even suffered setbacks. This issue of "Development in Brief" summarises the current state of the discussion with a focus on the following questions:
- What is the situation with regard to greater gender equality?
- What are the reasons behind this?
- What measures can be taken?
The decline in extreme poverty over the last few years has been remarkable. While in 1990 about 1.9 billion people were affected by extreme poverty, this figure had dropped to 736 million by 2015. But there is still no guarantee that the target will be achieved. A new picture has emerged in recent years, particularly in regional terms: around 85% of all extremely poor people (based on USD 1.90/capita/day) are expected to live in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2030.
To create a more comprehensive picture of global poverty trends, the World Bank now uses two additional indicators to measure absolute poverty for middle-income countries. The current issue of Development in Brief describes these indicators and discusses whether extreme poverty is really on the decline in view of recent developments and regional distribution and whether optimism for 2030 regarding SDG 1 is justified.
The world's population is expected to grow to around 9.8 billion by 2050. This exacerbates the already enormous challenges facing many countries on the path to development – and as they work towards achieving the SDGs. At the same time, around every fourth woman who would like to use contraception in developing countries has no access to options, despite the fact that the right to self-determined family planning is an integral element of the human right to health.
On the occasion of International Women's Day 2019, the current issue of Development in Brief will demonstrate why equality and empowerment of women is more expedient, effective and sustainable than active population policy when it comes to meeting the challenges of demographic development.
The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by UN member states 70 years ago was a historical moment. It stipulated that every person on this planet – regardless of origin, sex, religion or social status – had the same rights and freedoms, thereby laying the foundation of the international human rights protection system. The human rights laid down in the declaration apply to all political fields including development policy and are a common reference point for development cooperation partners. We are using the anniversary of the declaration as an opportunity to discuss the relationship between human rights and infrastructure expansion as a key development policy concern. What are chances and potential risks, and how should we handle them?
The issue of gender equality was once again on the agenda at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos. According to the current Global Gender Gap Report, even under favourable conditions, it will still likely take until almost the end of this century before gender equality is achieved in the workplace globally — a rather dismal prospect. In addition to the often-discussed differences between the sexes in terms of wages and employment, there are even more drastic gaps when it comes to entrepreneurship and corporate management.
The current issue of Development in Brief provides an overview of the causes behind women's low level of participation as self-employed entrepreneurs and in corporate structures.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the non-governmental organisation Oxfam, recently caused another stir with current figures on the growing inequality in the world, which is one of the major challenges of our time. The richest percent of the world's population could soon own more than half of global wealth. How the trends are assessed is largely dependent on the degree of inequality, the subject (income versus wealth) and the dimension (national, international, global). These are often used interchangeably in the global debate.
The current issue of Development in Brief presents a differentiated view of trends in global income inequality and outlines three different concepts that are the focus of global inequality discourse.
Since the issue of reducing inequality has been raised to the level of a universal goal within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG 10), widespread debate has flared up in the field of development economics as to how inequality is best measured. The broader public primarily uses relational measurements (income of x% of the richest as a multiple of y% of the poorest), while the field of economics uses the Gini Coefficient. But new measures are emerging at an ever-increasing rate, such as the Theil Index or the Robin Hood Index, for example.
In this issue of Development in Brief, we give you an overview of the most common measurements of income inequality used in expert discussions and present their respective strengths and weaknesses.
The digital transformation offers new global opportunities for economic and social development. However, not everyone benefits equally from their potential: significantly fewer women are online today than men, and women are also strongly under-represented in other areas of the digital transformation. Since access to the digital world is an increasingly critical requirement for economic and social participation, there is a significant risk of the gender gap continuing to widen.
This edition of Development in Brief focuses on the causes of the current digital gender divide and how international development cooperation can help both genders benefit equally from the digital transformation.
Poverty is a phenomenon that comes in many forms. A growing challenge for international development cooperation is urban poverty. More and more people around the world live in precarious living conditions in cities, a growing number of them in informal settlements and so called slums.
The current issue of Development in Brief discusses the distinctive characteristics of urban poverty and outlines several areas of activity for development cooperation that aim to reduce urban poverty.
What do transport systems in developing countries have to do with gender equality? Plenty! Contrary to widespread opinion, gender-specific travel needs and sociocultural restrictions on mobility play an especially important role in the design of transport systems.
This edition of Development in Brief analyses the gender relevance of transport systems. We demonstrate how improvements in transport services' accessibility and quality for women and girls can have impacts far beyond the transport sector on improving gender equality in partner countries.
50 years ago on 16 December, two key human rights treaties were adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR)
This issue of Development in Brief explores the content of both binding international covenants. It also uses proxy indicators to assess the progress that has been made in implementing the covenants over the past 50 years and identifies points where the international development cooperation can support partner countries to implement these treaties.
A legal proof of identity, such as an identity card or a birth certificate, is often an essential prerequisite for voting, opening a bank account or receiving public transfers. Considering the lack of performance and efficiency of civil registration systems in many developing countries, poor people often do not have an identity proof of this kind, which makes it difficult for them to get access to certain services or to exercise their civil rights.
The latest issue of our “Development in Brief” series presents different ways to overcome these constraints by using digital technologies (e-identity systems) and points out the necessary conditions to be put in place .
The idea of an unconditional basic income for everyone has been the subject of heated debate in industrialised countries in particular. However, the model has not been implemented there, mainly due to the costs involved. But what is the situation in developing countries, where the fundamental structural conditions are different?
Today’s edition of Development in Brief summarises the arguments in favour of and against an unconditional basic income, and discusses the instrument's potential to reduce poverty and inequality in developing countries.
Rising inequality has become one of the key development challenges of our time. Extreme inequality is a core development constraint as it often aggravates the fight against poverty, impairs social cohesion and might even bring about unrest and violent conflict. The World Bank was among the first development agencies which officially complemented its mission of “elimination of extreme poverty” by the “boosting of shared prosperity” (“twin goals”). Only last year, the United Nations pushed the “reduction of inequality within and among countries” to the level of a universal development goal (SDG 10).
In the current issue of Development in Brief, Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, explains why he is convinced that the fight against extreme inequality needs to be prioritized, which trade-offs have to be taken into account and how this goal might be translated into practice.
Poverty measures like the 1.9 USD World Bank poverty line don´t tell us anything about the individual deprivations poor people face every day. The international renowned philosopher Thomas Pogge and his fellow researchers worked closely together with the local population in 18 communities to find out what poverty imply for them. The resulting new measure – the IDM – was designed to promote a better understanding of the needs of the poor and to improve the targeting of development projects.
This edition of our “Development in Brief” series explains the differences between the IDM and other poverty indices, how the IDM will be calculated and what its strengths and weaknesses are.
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A lack of opportunities to work and earn money, unhealthy housing and living conditions, low levels of education and marginalisation - the causes of poverty are numerous, and comparatively well researched. One exception at present is what we call the "psychology of poverty". This is the focus of a new branch of research looking into the mental consequences of (a) material deprivation and (b) relatively low status within society.
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Participants of a Special Side Event of the United Nations General Assembly, entitled "Universal Multidimensional Poverty Measures for the Effective Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals", called for the creation of a new global multidimensional poverty measure - the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The goal is to be able to monitor poverty in its multiple forms and also enhance the effectiveness of measures used to eradicate it.
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