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Many governments responded to the economic shock of the pandemic with an unprecedented expansion of welfare policies. What’s more, with inequalities on the rise, the need for redistributive measures is set to increase. Yet high inequality and growing beliefs that inequality is a product of differences in talent and effort seem to be resulting in

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Microfinance can be a way to broaden access to formal financial opportunities, and in some settings, it seems to have the potential to reduce poverty and promote stronger economic empowerment of women. This column reports evidence from a microfinance company in Ghana showing relatively higher women’s empowerment and lower poverty among clients with loans, relative

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While there are many measures of the extent of global poverty, assessments of the prevalence of social exclusion – a related but distinct concept – are not widely available. This column presents the first global estimates of people at risk of being excluded because of identity, circumstances, or socio-economic background. Nearly a third of the

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Past progress in human development in South Asia looks insufficient to produce success during the era of the Sustainable Development Goals. This column argues that if government spending on education and health were to be raised to levels comparable to those in other developing regions, alongside improvements in state effectiveness in delivering public goods, much more could

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As the COVID-19 crisis eases, reductions in poverty and inequality through improved employment opportunities are at the center of many national strategies for economic recovery. However, as this column warns, inequality may rise as countries double down on global value chains and openness to trade without upskilling the broader workforce. The sudden economic slowdown resulting

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How do poverty rates differ by gender and age within families? This column reports research that uses new analytical techniques and data from a range of low, lower-middle, and upper-middle income countries – Albania, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, and Malawi – to measure intra-household inequality in resource allocation and poverty. The evidence indicates that in all four


How can policy-makers best identify the poorest households to participate in targeted social transfer programs with limited budgets? This column explores a way of harnessing community knowledge to capture an idea of well-being that goes beyond total consumption, while allowing the community to have agency in the local implementation of development policy. A constant debate

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Many poor people in developing countries are facing food shortages as a result of the pandemic and the policy response. This column outlines what can be done to tackle this global challenge, focusing on the specific case of Bangladesh. While lockdowns have been seen as vital for containing the Covid-19 pandemic, they have also contributed


Progress on the United Nations goals is often assessed using the widely known ‘headcount ratio’. This column argues that such an intuitive and popular measure is insufficient since different regions might face different realities in terms of deprivations within each indicator. This is demonstrated, for example, in the case of sanitation deprivation by the contrasting


Microfinance is often heralded as a panacea for poverty in developing countries, but in order to design more effective and more equitable products, it is essential to understand what demand they are actually satisfying. This column reports evidence that the distinction between microlending and microsaving is largely illusory: a natural experiment with poor households in