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Month: June 2018

June 22, 2018 (links edition #62)

A rich set of humanitarian resources is out. The Global Humanitarian Assistance report shows that, in 2017, assistance reached a record $27.3 billion: out of these, only 2.5% were channelled through host governments (in the case of CERF funding, such share was 5.9%, see figure 4.5); aid mainly goes to long term crises: 17 out of the 20 largest recipients of assistance were either long-term or medium-term recipients; finally, cash transfers in humanitarian settings are estimated at $2.8 billion, a 40% increase from 2015. According to an evaluation by Metcalfe-Hough and Poole, cash transfers is indeed ones of the areas where humanitarian community has achieved most progress. In its annual Global Trends Report, UNHCR estimated that 68.5 million people were displaced as of the end of 2017 (h/t Xavier Devictor). Most of them are internally displaced populations, which accounted for 40 million (same level as the 40.3 million IDPs in 2016). Refugees accounted for 25.4 million, or 2.9 million more than in 2016. Asylum-seekers, who were still awaiting the outcome of their claims to refugee status as of December 2017, meanwhile rose by around 300,000 to 3.1 million.

Zooming into refugee issues, Huang and Graham argue that many refugees (between 0.9 and 2.1 million) are located near urban job opportunities, but most are not allowed to work (see also blog here). A report by Laida and Vassas lays out options to serve undocumented refugees. Produced as part of the Cox Bazar cash working groups, it illustrates approaches adopted in contexts like Jordan, India and Germany. Speaking of displacement, Bosetti et al blog about their recent NBER paper, which I shared some months ago (here), examining the climate, conflict and migration nexus. They find that emigration reduces the negative effect of climate change on conflicts in origin countries. This supports the idea of migration as a mechanism of adaptation and conflict mitigation. The result is particularly critical for low-income countries, where warming is associated with a higher risk of civil conflict. At the same time, they find no statistically significant effect of climate migrants on conflicts in countries of destination.

From displacement to migration (h/t Jonathan Murdoch). The newly published AER paper by Clemens et al study the effect of the ‘bracero’ policy which led to 0.5 million Mexican farm workers leaving the country US, without any detectable benefits for native workers (employers simply invested in labor-replacing technology it appears). If interested in the big picture on global migration, the 2018 OECD International Migration Outlook is out. Bonus: Ambler et al look at how migration benefits food security.

From migration to deportation… and how that affects safety nets. In a new NBER paper, Alsan and Yang show that, though not at personal risk of deportation, Hispanic citizens in the US may fear their participation to safety net programs could expose non-citizens in their network to immigration authorities. They find significant declines in SNAP enrollment, particularly among mixed-citizenship status households and in areas where deportation fear is highest.

From the US to Africa. In a thought-provoking DPR article, Awortwi argues that highly localized, community-based models of social protection in Africa may not be perfect, but are probably the best fit for context: “… the challenge for policy will be to harness this potential—not by trying to turn grassroots organizations into something they are not, but by supporting what they already are”. BTW, datasets of Lesotho’s Child Grant Programme’s impact evaluation (2011-2013) are now publicly available on the Transfer Project platform, see here (h/t Alejandro Grinspun).

From Africa to Asia: in an MCN article, Menon et al. used mapping and descriptive analyses to understand district-level spatial differences in distribution of stunting prevalence in India (ranging from 12.4% to 65.1%). Their decomposition models explained 71% of the observed difference in stunting rates, which are strongly connected to a multitude of economic, health, hygiene, and demographic factors.

Some materials on SDGs and global poverty goals. The UN’s new monitoring report on the SDGs mentions that “… based on 2016 estimates, only 45 per cent of the world’s population were effectively covered by at least one social protection cash benefit”. The hunger goal is particularly off track, with 815 million people being undernourished, up from 777 million. The challenge of attaining the poverty SDG is also a central tenet of Kharas et al’s new piece – e.g., they estimate that, according to their projections, Nigeria has now overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extreme poor in early 2018. Finally, McArthur and Zhang find that, in advanced economy media markets, coverage of SDGs jumps in UN summit years, but clearly fades in off-summit years.

More on the UN and social protection: yesterday, the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, presented to the UN Human Rights Council a report on the IMF’s work on social protection. The conclusion is quite harsh, arguing that the organization has “… a large brain, an unhealthy ego and a tiny conscience. If it takes social protection on board seriously, rather than making a tokenistic commitment to minimal safety nets, it can show that it has actually learned from its past mistakes”.

A quick look at informal provisions. In many contexts, relatives provide the backbone of informal care provision for elderly and disabled people. In England and Wales, about 5.8 million people are estimated to provide some level of unpaid care. How much would the “shadow price” of informal care giving be? In a new IZA paper, McDonald and Powdthavee estimate that, in the UK, about 100,000 GBP per year would be needed to compensate for welfare losses by informal care providers.

Final selection: some 80 new papers are available in advance of the Development Studies Association conference in end June (one panel will be on cash transfers and intergenerational mobility). Apparently Uganda decided to tax mobile money (and social media), a move that may affect the poor significantly.