2016
  • A good article on the Supplementary Poverty Measure for the US and how it has tracked over time.
  • Latest results on household incomes from the Current Population Survey for 2015 indicate a drop in the poverty rate and rise in median household income. This is the largest proportionate decline in the official poverty rate in 16 years; see Census Bureau blog post. Strikingly, growth rates in household incomes tended to be higher for poorer groups, undoing some of the rise in inequality that we have been seeing in the US for many years. Good summaries in the media, here and here.
  • Something I did not know about the Great Depression is that it was the time that modern clothing styles emerged, with the implication that “as Americans’ wardrobes became more similar, bodies diverged along class lines.” See the interesting article by the historian Deborah Cohen.
  • New evidence from the Hamilton Project on the longer-term educational and other gains from America’s Head Start program.
  • In more than a hint of rebellion, an open letter from the the World Bank’s Staff Association to the Bank’s Board calls for an open, transparent selection process for WB President–consistently with what the institution advocates in its own operations.
  • Poverty in America is not getting much explicit attention in the vociferous debates on who should be the country’s next President; see this article in NYT. Also this article in the Economist magazine.
  • Check out this interesting new study of the evolution of adult heights (an indicator of wealth and health) across the world.
  • Tax records reveal that economic status in C15th Florence helps predict present status; see this summary of research by economists at the Bank of Italy.
  • On the vulnerabilities and financial stresses facing middle-class Americans see this article by Neal Gabler.
  • Poverty in America; see this review of Mathew Desmond’s Evicted.
  • New knowledge doesn’t trickle down in rural India; see Ravallion’s article in The Indian Express.
  • A review of the evidence from impact evaluations of seven cash transfer programs finds little evidence that the programs discouraged work effort.
  • The Economist on Ethiopia; this echoes debates on liberalizing reforms and poverty elsewhere; for example, on market-oriented land reforms (see the sub-page on reform under “Extra material”).
  • A debate rages in India about Facebook’s proposed “Free Basics” platform, which aims to provide free access to a selected slice of the internet (including, of course, Facebook). Critics argue that this is a “walled garden’ approach—a threat to net neutrality—and that there are better options; for example, see this piece by Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah. Facebook’s head, Mark Zuckerberg, defends Free Basics here, and expresses surprise about the criticisms.
  • Fertility in Africa: Here is a good piece in the Economist about Africa’s relatively higher fertility rate. Also, see this paper by Kelly Jones on contraceptive use and fertility in Ghana; cuts to the supply of contraceptives increased the number of births.
  • US mayors in 22 cities report rising homelessness and rising demands for emergency food. Full report here.
  • Rusty Radiator Awards for 2015 announced. The “winner” is BandAid30. See blog post for comments. The (well-deserved) winner of the Golden Radiator Award  is Zalissa’s Choice from Burkina Faso.

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