World Bank to Dismantle Itself?

From the official World Bank twitter feed this morning, we have this eye popping revelation:

Screenshot 2016-01-20 08.18.31

They even have a logo for the dismantlement!

Oh wait…if you click on the link, the first line reads “Fighting poverty in all of its dimensions lies at the core of the World Bank’s work.”  So the key to ending poverty is not in the hands of citizens?  But make sure to RT if you agree.  That’s important–I’m sure that will really bring down global poverty rates.

Administrative Data Rulz, Survey Data Droolz!

People, did you know that the US uses the Current Population Survey (CPS) as the source for our official poverty and inequality statistics?

I did not.

And that was only one of many things I learned from the abstract of this fascinating new NBER working paper ,”Using Linked Survey and Administrative Data to Better Measure Income: Implications for Poverty, Program Effectiveness and Holes in the Safety Net”

I can’t find an ungated version of the piece, the gated one is here, and here is the abstract:

“We examine the consequences of underreporting of transfer programs for prototypical analyses of low-income populations using the Current Population Survey (CPS), the source of official poverty and inequality statistics. We link administrative data for food stamps, TANF, General Assistance, and subsidized housing from New York State to the CPS at the individual level. Program receipt in the CPS is missed for over one-third of housing assistance recipients, 40 percent of food stamp recipients and 60 percent of TANF and General Assistance recipients. Dollars of benefits are also undercounted for reporting recipients, particularly for TANF, General Assistance and housing assistance. We find that the survey data sharply understate the income of poor households. Underreporting in the survey data also greatly understates the effects of anti-poverty programs and changes our understanding of program targeting. Using the combined data rather than survey data alone, the poverty reducing effect of all programs together is nearly doubled while the effect of housing assistance is tripled. We also re-examine the coverage of the safety net, specifically the share of people without work or program receipt. Using the administrative measures of program receipt rather than the survey ones often reduces the share of single mothers falling through the safety net by one-half or more.”

A shorter version could be Administrative Data Rulz, Survey Data Droolz!

If these findings hold up under the peer review process, it’s a really big deal. Assistance is under-reported, poverty is over-reported and the safety net catches a lot more people that the official statistics report.

Hat tip to Scott Winship.

Markets in everything, cringeworthy development edition

I saw an ad on my FB feed yesterday for a “Compassion Experience” in OKC.  A local church has set up a bunch of trailers to “look like” poor areas of the world, namely Uganda, India and Bolivia. Visitors walk through the exhibit while listening to the voices of real poor people who narrate their lives and explain how Jesus saved them from their grinding poverty.  I kid you not–I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I tried.

Here is the official description of the event:

Through over 3,000 square feet of interactive exhibit space, visitors will step inside daily life in a developing country — visiting homes, markets and schools — without getting on a plane. Through the use of an iPod and headset, each tour is guided by a child whose story starts in poverty but ends in hope. The event is an excellent opportunity to experience another culture and better understand the realities of global poverty. Don’t miss this life-changing event brought to you by Compassion International and Church of the Servant.

and here is the awesomely cringe-worth video.  I think the sentiment behind this is perhaps a good one, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.  Now you can participate in poverty porn without ever leaving your doublewide in OKC.

20 years after the EZLN manifesto, Chiapas not in much better shape

Here is a heartbreaking piece (in Spanish) from Viridiana Ríos

Poverty rates are higher, primary school completion is lower than in 1994.

Chiapas continues to be the Mexican state with the most inequality (Highest Gini) and most illiteracy.

The only good news to be found (according to the article), fewer people live in housing with dirt floors and Chiapas has passed Guerrero and it no longer is the most marginalized state in the country (“El Chiapas de hoy ya no es el estado más marginado del país, es el segundo”).

I guess Subcommandante Marcos hung up his boots and balaclava too soon.

“Poverty starts bad and stays bad”

I just came across an interesting new working paper called “Adaptation to Poverty in Long-Run Panel Data” by Andrew Clark, Conchita D’ambrosio, and Simone Ghislandi.

Here is the abstract:

We consider the link between poverty and subjective well-being, and focus in particular on potential adaptation to poverty. We use panel data on almost 45,800 individuals living in Germany from 1992 to 2011 to show first that life satisfaction falls with both the incidence and intensity of contemporaneous poverty. We then reveal that there is little evidence of adaptation within a poverty spell: poverty starts bad and stays bad in terms of subjective well-being. We cannot identify any causes of poverty entry which are unambiguously associated with adaptation to poverty.

So apparently being poor doesn’t get any less sucky over time.