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A young girl reads the day's lessons at a school near Xia Xia, Mozambique on April 26, 2005. Children are taught from an early age on the dangers and how to prevent HIV/AIDS. Some 470,00 AIDS orphans live in Mozambique. This photo is part of an exhibition to be opened in Ottawa, Canada on December 1, 2005 as part of World Aids Day. The photos are the work of Photosensitive, a group of Canadian photographers who donate their time to photograph social issues, and in conjunction with the Canadian Coalition on HIV/AIDS. Picture taken April 26, 2005.  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY  REUTERS/Photosensitive/Andy Clark - RP2DSFHDXNAB
Future Development

Future Development Reads: Surprises, support, and surveys on economics and poverty

This week, I have been examining a wide variety of literature that offers both support and surprising contradictions to many of the assumptions we take for granted in development economics. Here’s a selection of a few of my favorites.

Do you think undernourished Africans are only in poor households? A new paper by Martin Ravallion, Cait Brown, and Dominique van de Walle debunk this idea, finding that “roughly three-quarters of underweight women and undernourished children are not found in the poorest 20 percent of households, and around half are not found in the poorest 40.”  

Many experts posit that higher inequality increases demand for income redistribution, relying on the assumption that ordinary people know the level of inequality in their area. But, a new paper by Vladimir Gimpelson and Daniel Treisman shows that demand for redistribution and conflict is due to perceived, not actual, inequality.

One prominent theory about the reason for low student learning in Africa is poor teacher preparation and knowledge, as has been observed in developed countries. New research published in an article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives supports this idea in developing countries using rigorous empirical evidence gained from direct observations, unannounced visits, and tests from primary schools.

If you thought that safety was an obstacle to girls’ attending school, here’s compelling evidence: Research by Girija Borker shows that girls choose worse schools and pay an average of two years’ tuition in transport costs to be safe.

Allison Demeritt and Karla Hoff produced a masterful survey on behavioral development economics, presenting implications on how historical events can have persistent effects on individuals and people, how short-run interventions can have long-run effects, and how to better diagnose and address development challenges.

Finally, Timothy Taylor published a blog post on an equally masterful survey on asset prices and the global economy. He writes, “When I think about dangers faced by the U.S. economy, I find that I no longer worry much about a rise in inflation, which would have been one of my main 20th century concerns, and now I worry instead about whether a potential crisis is lurking in the nooks and crannies of the financial system.”

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Now hosted by the Center for Sustainable Development, this blog was originally launched in September 2013 by the World Bank and the Brookings Institution in an effort to hold governments more accountable to poor people and offer solutions to the most prominent development challenges. Continuing this goal, Future Development was re-launched in January 2015 at In the ensuing years, the blog’s scope evolved in parallel with ongoing international policy debates and was formally updated in November 2022 to focus on broader challenges of sustainable development around the world.

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