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Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

World Water Day: Nudges for Safe Water

What if a simple ‘nudge’ could massively increase the use of safe water in poor countries?
Today is World Water Day, a day to raise awareness for something we take for granted in America: clean water. Normally I yawn at Hallmark-meets-poverty-program type publicity stunts. Reminds me of many a microcredit “awareness” campaign that paraded superstar microentrepreneurs on a stage, ignoring the need for rigorous evidence to find out if microcredit actually works.

Attitudes Towards Poverty

At a seminar in Germany last week, a statistical difference illustrated a crucial E.U.-U.S. difference in politico-economic attitudes. In the U.S., we define the poverty line as absolute: three times the income needed for a minimally nutritious food budget. In Europe, the poverty line is based on relative income, typically 50 percent of the median income.

Is Poverty Awareness at Its Peak?

Martin Ravallion of the World Bank traces poverty awareness over the last three centuries and finds we may be at a historical peak.

Is Picking Kiwi Fruit the Answer?

What’s a more effective development intervention when it comes to raising income: Microfinance? Deworming? Conditional cash transfer programs? None of them work as well as New Zealand’s new seasonal worker program, which John Gibson and David McKenzie evaluate in a new paper.

A More Optimistic View on African Welfare

Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin comment on African poverty, disputing the popular view that African growth is driven only by oil and natural resources.

Why Isn't Mexico Rich?

That’s the question asked by U.C.-San Diego economist Gordon H. Hanson in a new working paper.

How Much Do Rich Countries Help Poor Ones?

The Center for Global Development has just released its 2010 Commitment to Development Index: “Rich and poor nations are linked in many ways-by foreign aid, commerce, the environment, and more. Each year, the CDI rates rich-country governments on how much they are helping poor countries via seven key linkages: aid, trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology.”

Renting Wombs in India

Slate takes a look at India’s half-billion-dollar-a-year reproductive-tourism industry. “The primary appeal of India is that it is cheap, hardly regulated, and relatively safe,” writes Amana Fontanella-Khan. “Surrogacy can cost up to $100,000 in the United States, while many Indian clinics charge $22,000 or less. Very few questions are asked. Same-sex couples, single parents and even busy women who just don’t have time to give birth are welcomed by doctors.”

Is There an Upside to Poverty?

Director Renzo Martens’s fascinating and controversial documentary Enjoy Poverty “investigates the emotional and economic value of Africa’s fastest-growing and most lucrative export-product.” That is: poverty. As he travels throughout the Congo, Martens instructs wedding photographers to try earning more money by photographing malnourished children; he posts a large neon sign reading “Enjoy Poverty” in various villages; and encourages locals to capitalize on their poverty.

Fixing Poverty

Daron Acemoglu describes what makes a nation rich in a new article for Esquire. According to Acemoglu, experts who believe geography or the weather or technology are to blame for persistent poverty are missing a much simpler economic explanation: people respond to incentives.

Home Is …

Photojournalist Jonas Bendiksen spent six weeks living in and photographing the slums of Nairobi, Caracas, Mumbai, and Jakarta. Bendiksen’s photos of family homes portray a reality that clashes with popular perception.

FREAK Shots: How Effective Is Your Cardboard Sign?

When people use cardboard signs to ask for money, their success depends on a number of factors, including the sign’s explicit message, the target of its solicitation, and even whether a passing historian happens to find it worth buying. Consider the following approaches, turned up in a scan of Flickr photos.

Food-Chain Reaction

Slums are larger and more dense than two centuries ago — and they’re creating “causal chains that weren’t there before,” says urban historian Mike Davis.

Feeding the Local Shark

I wrote a book on the underground economy a few years ago. For about a decade, I observed activity in Chicago’s South Side — our current president’s backyard. I was surprised to learn about the importance of “creditors” — otherwise affectionately known as “loansharks” — who operated an informal lending network in the area. (These people are known for charging . . .

Dubai's Rebuttal

Recently, we highlighted a British journalist’s story about the underside of Dubai’s startling ascent. Some in Dubai called foul, including one writer who wants to remind Britons that their own country has a dark side. After all, what to think of a country in which one fifth of the population lives in poverty? [%comments]

Stress-Induced Poverty

| A new study by Gary Evans and Michelle Schamberg of Cornell University argues that the stress associated with living in poverty reduces the memory capacity of poor children, making it harder for them to learn and escape poverty. Makes you wonder how poverty might be fought in the future. Perhaps more focus on mental-health services, or even church attendance? . . .

Dubai's Dark Side

| You may have read about the glut of cars abandoned at Dubai’s airport as expats fled the country in the wake of the global financial crisis. Journalist Johann Hari digs deeper and tells the story of a Canadian woman who moved to Dubai with her husband. He got into debt trouble in the emirate and was sent to prison . . .

Being Poor Is Getting Harder

| Eight states are proposing that people get tested for drugs before receiving government assistance. Proponents say it’s a health issue but, as demand for these programs surges, it surely sends a different kind of message. Meanwhile, a bill in the Tennessee Legislature would cap lottery winnings at $600 for people on public assistance. Considering that poor people play lotteries . . .

What Do Our Indian Readers Think of Slumdog Millionaire?

I rarely have occasion these days to see new movies in theaters, but I had the good fortune recently to see two of the Oscar-nominated best films, Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire, within 24 hours. It was a strange coincidence that both of them were time-jumping stories built around TV shows.

Would a Market for Organs Punish the Poor More Than They Are Already Punished?

Below is a fascinating statement issued by Physicians for a National Health Program, “a membership organization of over 15,000 physicians [which] supports a single-payer national health insurance program.” You should read the whole thing but, in a nutshell: The people who receive donated organs in the U.S. nearly always have health insurance, while a significant fraction of the people who . . .

Poor People With Checks

What kind of people use check-cashing places? How do they work? Do such places contribute to inequality? And most important — why are people paying for their own money? In their video “Checkmate,” the Internets Celebrities, a.k.a. Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam, explore these questions and eventually, in their words, “make it rain.”

Can Religion Offset the Effects of Child Poverty?

Dubner and Levitt have written quite a bit about parenting, both in Freakonomics and on this blog. In particular, they’ve focused on what parents can do to help produce “successful” offspring. The key, they’ve found, is this: be well-educated and successful yourself, and your children are more likely to follow suit. But what about children from impoverished backgrounds? What steps . . .

Abortion and Anti-Poverty in Mexico

We have blogged in the past about an anti-poverty program in Chicago that gave cash and prizes to poor families who paid their rent on time, got their kids to school, and looked for work. But Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, has gone even further than Chicago to suss out an anti-poverty program that he may adapt for . . .

DisLocation: A new film by Sudhir Venkatesh

Sudhir Venkatesh, the amazing sociologist who was my co-author on the gangs research that we write about in Freakonomics, has a great new documentary. It will be showing on WTTW, Chicago’s PBS affiliate at Thursday, Nov. 17th, 9pm Friday, Nov. 18th, 10pm. If you don’t live in Chicago, you are out of luck, at least for now. I have seen . . .