On Gender Equality in Education

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

According to The World Bank’s World Development Indicators, there are now more or less an equal number of boys and girls enrolled in primary and secondary school around the World. The worldwide Gender Parity Index has been going up steadily over the last several decades, reaching 99 girls for every 100 boys in 2014, and at this rate of change we would have reached parity last year. This is due to dramatic improvements in girls’ enrolment in Africa and Asia. In Latin America and the Caribbean, in contrast, there have been more girls enrolled than boys already since the early 1980s (see Figure 1).

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The Many Dimensions of Inequality

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

“The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed”
William Gibson

The scale of inequality in this world is almost unfathomable. In 2013, the average inhabitant of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Qatar earned more in one day than what the average inhabitant of Malawi and Burundi earned during an entire year[1]. Apart from the staggering between-country inequality, there is also vast and increasing inequality within countries. According to United Nations, on average—and taking into account population size—income inequality increased by 11 per cent in developing countries between 1990 and 2010[2]. Currently, about 60% of the variation in incomes across the globe is explained by country citizenship alone, while another 20% is explained by parental income class[3]. This means that at least 80% of the variation in incomes are determined already by birth, leaving less than 20% to be determined by own effort, ingenuity, planning, determination, risk-taking and passion. Thus, the world is not just a place of huge inequality of outcomes, but also of huge inequality of opportunity. Read More »

Incredible Internet Inequality

Lykke Andersen

By: Lykke E. Andersen & Fabián Soria*

According to the latest Bolivian Population Census (2012), only 9.6% of households have Internet access (either fixed or wireless). Considering that the Bolivian Constitution puts telecommunications (including Internet) on par with water, sanitation and electricity as a basic human right, this coverage is outrageously low.

The main reason for the low coverage is the high cost. Even after nationalizing the telecommunications sector (2008) and investing USD 300 million in our very own telecommunications satellite, Tupac Katari (2013), Internet services in Bolivia remain patchy, expensive and slow compared to other countries in the region. For most Bolivians, having Internet at home is simply unaffordable.

Figure 1 shows that, for an average person in Bolivia, one hour of work would buy less than 1 day of a lousy 1Mbps (Megabits per second) Internet connection, whereas the average person in “developed countries,” such as the Netherlands, South Korea, Denmark, and China could buy several years worth of such a service for just one hour of work.

Figure 1: Internet Purchasing Power (days of 1Mbps Internet service that can be bought for one hour of work), as well as average download speed and average cost per Mbps.

Source: Authors’ elaboration based on a survey among Facebook friends (and friends’ friends) during February 2015 Notes: The calculations are rough and based on a very limited number of observations in each country (often just one). Effective download speed was measured by all participants using The average hourly salary is estimated from the Gross National Income per person. Most friends are located in main cities, which may not be representative of the whole country. In some places, free cable TV is included in the price.

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Why is it important to cooperate with Middle Income Countries?

Cecilia JuambeltzBy Cecilia Juambeltz*

In the field of international cooperation, particularly in development cooperation, much is said of High, Middle and Low Income Countries. This characterization may only seem as a way of ordering these countries. But in practice it has important consequences, as it defines the type of aid these countries receive. Donor countries base on these categories to define their aid strategies.

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First in Queue: How improving water access for the poor can help meet other Millennium Development Goals.


The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to reduce by half the number of people without access to clean water by 2015 as target ten of goal number seven: ensure environmental sustainability. And—although this fact remains controversial*—this target was met three years early in March 2012. However, this is not a cause for complacency since, according to the 2012 report by the Joint Monitoring Program—the body that carries out MDGs target assessments—780 million people are still at the back of the queue for access to clean water. In the future, improving access to water for the remaining three quarters of a million people without it will need to become a bigger, more crosscutting priority because it has much more to offer than environmental sustainability. Read More »

Opinion: Why happiness does not matter for the problem of poverty.

As shown in our post “Is there more to life than money? Mapping happiness of people and planet”, several attempts have been made to measure happiness and wellbeing globally. However, consensus proved elusive since different studies brought very diverse results. That is because happiness is a very hard thing to define – if it had a clear, objective definition, our lives would be a lot easier, wouldn’t they? Still, there are several working definitions, and most of them can be grouped in either of the following two categories. On one hand, there is a happiness that relates to one’s satisfaction with their lives. That often involves a feeling of having achieved one’s goals in life, having an option not to work in an extremely degrading job, having good relationships, etc. On the other hand, there is a more emotional happiness. That is much more momentary, it is the “state of mind of feeling good”. According to the latter definition, one’s happiness would be measured by how often, how intensely, and for how long one “feels good”.  Read More »

Graphics: Why investing in girls and women is key to development

What exactly leads to development is a topic of great debate in academic and practical circles. Proposed cures for underdevelopment vary from providing infrastructure to enacting large-scale macro-economic reforms. Yet, often, there is little conclusive evidence of many solutions’ consistently marked effects on different countries’ economic prosperity or social and environmental cohesion. One factor that does stand out, which is frequently promoted in reports by the likes of the World Bank, United Nations (UN), the OECD, ActionaAid and even Forbes Magazine as the key to achieving all Millennium Development Goals, is investment in the health, education and equality of women.

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Theory Bites: Development, Underdevelopment and Dependency

The contemporary common language of development divides the world between developed and underdeveloped countries. This common-sensical classification also guides us to think of the two groups as rich and poor. Or even further, that the developed world, despite its imperfections, is “fine” and its people are happy—they represent the way human society should generally be—while the underdeveloped, for whichever reason, has just fallen behind—its people suffer and are not an example of what we’d like to see for humanity. The assumption is that everyone would prefer to live in a city, drive their car to work, and enjoy air conditioning and washing machines, since humans can and should “achieve” much more than washing their clothes by hand or farming for their own survival.

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Book Roast: The Cartoon Introduction to Economics

“What’s the difference between a recession and a depression,” asks a member of the public. “A recession is when you lose your job; a depression is when I lose mine,” replies an economist.

This is just one of numerous little jokettes that colour the pages of The Cartoon Introduction to Economics—a brilliant must-have for any student or teacher of economics or, indeed, anyone else interested in getting to know or simply recapping on the basics of a field that is currently positioned at the center of local, national and global decision-making. Read More »

Guest Roast: From Crisis to Resilience: Rethinking Macroeconomic Vulnerability

By Anuradha Seth

The frequency of global financial and economic crises has increased over the past decade and a half, and they appear to have become a systemic feature of the international economy. The risk of economic growth and human development achievements being undermined by such volatile international developments is fostering an overall re-think about the inner nature of crises, the growing vulnerability of developing countries and their capacity to be resilient in the face of these shocks. Read More »


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