Ebola’s Other Impact

Global Development

Author: Kenny Wu

By now, most of us who stay current with the news have heard of the outbreak of an alarming and deadly disease–

Ebola.

While getting infected with Ebola is a frightening prospect, those of us fortunate enough to live in the developed world have, in reality, an infinitesimal chance of catching the virus. In the United States, only 2 out of the nation’s 318,946,000 people have contracted Ebola. The story in West Africa (more specifically, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) is drastically different. Ebola is not only a very real threat to the lives of West Africans, but the international perception of Ebola poses a serious menace to their livelihoods, especially since worldwide reaction to Ebola has been vastly disproportionate to the risk of contagion.

Compared with measles, where one infected person transmits the disease to an average of 18 other people, Ebola only transmits to 2 other people. Combined with Ebola’s inability to spread until symptoms show, the disease is, in fact, quite manageable for many developed countries. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, has said that an outbreak of Ebola is highly unlikely in the U.S. Yet, transportation channels to West Africa have been shut down, West African exports have been greatly reduced, and farming and mining in affected nations slowed down.

While medical treatment and prevention of Ebola may be a burden on West African wallets, what economists call “aversion behavior” to Ebola stands to impact more West Africans economically than the disease itself. In the past 12 months, this fear-driven behavior has already cut deeply into the national growth rates of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and devastated a multitude of industries ranging from agriculture to tourism. As outsiders stop traveling to West Africa and importing West African goods, fear of Ebola may further damage an already economically fragile weak region.

If Ebola is curbed soon, West Africa can rebound from a modest $3.8 billion hit to its economy. If Ebola rages on unchecked throughout the region, West Africa stands to lose $32.6 billion by the end of 2015, a much more substantial hit that can take decades to recover from. Bearing the brunt of this hit are the poor, who will likely be more affected, both in numbers and magnitude, by poverty-related diseases such as TB, malaria, and dysentery.

impact_of_ebola

Sadly, many Western media sources have been harnessing fear of Ebola to fuel their stories. We can rise above the fear-mongering by staying informed about the disease. Those of us served by powerful and capable governments, can also put pressure on our politicians and lawmakers to take action in the fight against Ebola, protecting not only ourselves, but the welfare and livelihoods of our West African neighbors as well.

Sources: 

1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2014/09/05/the-economic-effects-of-ebola-on-west-africa-its-because-of-the-way-the-economies-are-structured/

2] http://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/ebola-s-economic-damage-africa-how-much-how-long

3] http://www.worldbank.org/en/region/afr/publication/ebola-economic-analysis-ebola-long-term-economic-impact-could-be-devastating

 

Information about the Author: Kenny is a graduate from UCLA with a degree in Economics and Global Studies. He has spent the last few years traveling the world and documenting stories of people living in the developing world. He is currently the Director of Marketing for Coffee 4 Kids Honduras, a nonprofit that sells high-quality Honduran coffee to help provide medical treatment and nourishment to Honduran children.

Revised Commonwealth Games Medal Tally

Global Development

This is the final re-post of the mini-series on the most popular posts on Poverty Analysis

PovertyAnalysis

As the 2014 Commonwealth Games come to end have you ever wondered how fair the playing field is?

Most members of the Commonwealth are developing countries and many are small islands. Only a few countries, like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, are rich enough and have sufficiently large populations to have well nourished populations that have time to hone their skills in competitive sports. This significantly reduces the competition at the top of the medal tally. For example, to illustrate the inequality between Commonwealth countries compare the richest and poorest countries. The richest country, Australia, has over 125 times more income per person than the poorest country, Uganda.

Countries rankings would change dramatically if the medal tally were revised to adjust for differences in income per person and population size, as has been done for the table below. This removes disparities in wealth and population and allows for a…

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The World Cup is an Uneven Playing Field

Global Development

Another one of the most popular blogs on Poverty Analysis

PovertyAnalysis

A country’s chance of winning the World Cup is strongly related to the size of its population and how rich the population is. Countries with bigger populations have a larger pool from which talented players can be sourced and richer countries are better able to nurture their players. All, except two (Uruguay and Colombia), of the top 15 ranked World Cup teams are from countries that have populations over 8 million people and income per person over US$12,000 a year. These countries have among the highest incomes and largest populations in the world and appear in the top right of the chart below.

Final World Cup Graph

Between the World Cup countries, an uneven playing field still exists. The richest qualifying country, Switzerland, has around 80 times more income per person, than the poorest qualifying country, Cameroon. While the largest country in terms of population, the United States, has almost 100 times more people…

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How Rich am I?

Global Development

One of the most popular posts on Poverty Analysis

PovertyAnalysis

Have you ever wondered how rich you are relative to the rest of the world?

The organisation Giving What We Can has put together a calculator where you can find out your rank in the World Income Distribution. The calculator is available here: http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/why-give/how-rich-am-i?

Take a look for yourself and share with your networks. The result might surprise you. As can be seen in the chart below the world is very unequal…

world-income-distribution

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Millennium Development Goals Scorecard

Global Development

This month world leaders are set to discuss the next Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but it is also important to reflect on progress towards the current goals. The MDGs expire in less than 500 days and it is likely that more than half of the goals will not be met. The table below provides a simplified ‘traffic light’ breakdown of how the world has performed (green meaning the goal has been met, orange meaning some sub-goals have been met and red highlighting significant progress is still required).

MDG Scorecard Table

While there is much to celebrate in terms of the progress that has been made towards the MDGs, it is important not to lose track of just how much still needs to be done. For example, there has been limited progress towards Goal 5: Improving Maternal Health. The chance of a women dying during childbirth has fallen from 430 per 100,000 live births in 1990, to 230 per 100,000 live births in 2013. However, this is still far from the goal to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015 (down to 108 per 100,000 live births). World leaders must not ignore the MDGs that are still to be met, such as improving maternal health, when planning for the future.

To find out more about progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, check out the 2014 Report, available here.

Lets be clear on what the “middle class” is

Global Development

Key Points

  • A number of world leaders, including the Australian Prime Minister, have claimed that millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty and are now living in the “middle class”.
  • However, there is no universally accepted definition of “middle class” and the use of this term is often very misleading. The “middle class” in developed countries, such as Australia, have substantially higher living standards than the vast majority of people in developing countries.
  • While there have been large reductions in extreme poverty over the last twenty years, 93% of people in the developing world still live below the United States’ national poverty line of less than US$13 a day.

Background

Earlier this year, the Australian Prime Minister claimed that hundreds of millions of people have been lifted from extreme poverty to “middle class” and there are now almost two billion people in the global “middle class”. Statements such as this do not represent how the notion of “middle class” is typically understood in the developed world.

The lowest possible standard of middle class in a developed country is living above the United States’ national poverty line (defined as $13 a day (2005 US PPP)). According to the latest World Bank data, 93% of the developing world’s population live below this line. As the chart below shows the huge decline in people living in extreme poverty has not been matched by a decline in the share of people living below the United States’ national poverty line.

From Poverty to Middle Class

The incredible reduction in the population living below the extreme poverty line (shown in the chart above) should be celebrated. However this should not be misrepresented to suggest most of these people live in “middle class” by any developed country standard.

Sources:

World Bank 2014 <http://iresearch.worldbank.org/povcalnet/index.htm>

Australian Government 2014 <https://www.pm.gov.au/media/2014-01-23/address-world-economic-forum-davos-switzerland-0>

Child Labour: The Facts

Global Development

Author: Rachel Hoy

If you asked a stranger on the street how they felt about child labour, it’s safe to say most people would not offer support for it. Yet evidence about the widespread damaging effects of child labour is overwhelming and we need to do more than hold a moral card against it, especially when we often support the demand for child labour unknowingly through our purchases.

There are 168 million child labourers around the world today. Around half are estimated to be in a hazardous form of labour.

Over 10% of the world’s children over 5 years old are child labourers. That means that one child in every ten is currently working under conditions detrimental to their physical and mental health.

Image 1

This is the same percentage of people who travel to work via public transport in Australia.

More than 2 out of 5 child labourers are aged between 5 and 11 years old. That means nearly half of child labourers are younger than Australian high school age.

Image 2

This is more than the percentage of people in Australia who own one car.

More than 1 in 5 children in Sub-Saharan Africa are engaged in some form of child labour. That means in a group of five friends, one is unable to attend school due to being forced into child labour.

Image 3

This is around the same percentage of people in Melbourne who live in a two-bedroom household.

These are just some of the facts surrounding the pervasiveness of child labour. Child labour is declining due to collective efforts but it is clear there is a long way to go. While these statistics are alarming, behind each statistic lies a personal story – both heartbreaking and mostly preventable.

A good start to preventing demand for child labour is to know the standards of the product that you buy. Try downloading the shopethical! app for your next trip to the supermarket or asking your local café about their coffee and tea suppliers.

Source:

World Vision Australia 2014 <http://www.worldvision.com.au/Libraries/Child_Labour_Myths_report/Child_Labour_Myths_Media_Report_12Jun14.pdf>

Information about the Author: Rachel Hoy is a VGen Youth Campaigner for World Vision Australia who works on the #FreeTo campaign. She just completed a Master of development studies at the University of Sydney.

40 Hour Famine

Global Development

This weekend, hundreds of thousands of Australians gave up something they live with everyday (food, furniture, technology etc) to fundraise as part of World Vision’s 40 Hour Famine. This year the focus is on alleviating poverty in Rwanda, particularly reducing hunger in children under five-years old.

The table below provides a snapshot into just how different life is like in Rwanda compared to Australia. For example, for every 1 maternal death in Australia, there are 143 in Rwanda. While for every $1 spent per child on primary education in Rwanda, over $300 is spent per child in Australia.

AUSTRALIA

Aus flag

For Every RWANDA 

Rwanda flag

1

Maternal death

143

1

Child that dies before five-years old

11

1

Preventable death

14

1

Undernourished child

30

1

Person per square kilometre

157

303 Dollar spent per child on Primary Education

1

93

Dollar spent on Health

1

2

Child completing Primary Education

1

10 Internet user

1

8 Child in pre-school education

1

According to World Vision, just $1 fundraised as part of the 40 Hour Famine is enough to feed 1 person for up to 5 days. If you are interested in finding out more and/or donating check out: http://www.40hourfamine.com.au

Sources:

World Bank 2014 <http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators>

The Beginning of the End of Extreme Poverty

Global Development

Key Points

  • In 1820, almost everyone in the world lived in extreme poverty. Since this time, incomes in the developed world have increased more than 12 fold, eradicating extreme poverty in these countries. In the UK, income per person was equivalent to Africa today in 1820 and to Latin America today in 1950. While in China income per person was equivalent to Africa today twenty-five years ago and is now similar to Latin America.
  • Income per person only tells part of the story of how living standards have changed over time. For example, due to improvements in medicine, child mortality in Africa is around one quarter of the rate of the UK in the early 1800s, even though they had similar income per person.
  • The eradication of extreme poverty in less than two centuries in some countries provides hope that extreme poverty can be eliminated from all countries.

Background

For most of human history, extreme poverty was the norm. This only began to change in the last couple of centuries as some countries (largely in Western Europe and North America) experienced prolonged periods of economic growth.

The chart below shows the steady increase in income per person over the last two hundred years in the UK. In 1820, income per person was equivalent to Africa today, while by 1950 incomes were similar to Latin America today.

Income per person overtime

Rapid economic growth in China led to the same increase in income per person, which took the UK 130 years, in just 25 years. This has led to hundreds of millions of people escaping from extreme poverty.

To get a more holistic understanding of how living standards have changed over time, it is important to go beyond the income per person measure. Advances in medicine have allowed for higher levels of development for a given income level than what today’s developed countries experienced in the 1800s. For example, in the UK in the early 1800s, every second child died before the age of five. While around one in seven children die before five in Africa today.

Next month, World Leaders will discuss the next Millennium Development Goals and whether to include a timeframe to end extreme poverty by 2030. This is a truly historic moment in human history as it was really only a couple of centuries ago that extreme poverty began to be permanently reduced.

Sources:

World Economics 2014 <http://www.worldeconomics.com/Data/MadisonHistoricalGDP/Madison%20Historical%20GDP%20Data.efp>

Copenhagan Consesus Center 2011 <http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/health.pdf>

 

Revised Commonwealth Games Medal Tally

Global Development

As the 2014 Commonwealth Games come to end have you ever wondered how fair the playing field is?

Most members of the Commonwealth are developing countries and many are small islands. Only a few countries, like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, are rich enough and have sufficiently large populations to have well nourished populations that have time to hone their skills in competitive sports. This significantly reduces the competition at the top of the medal tally. For example, to illustrate the inequality between Commonwealth countries compare the richest and poorest countries. The richest country, Australia, has over 125 times more income per person than the poorest country, Uganda.

Countries rankings would change dramatically if the medal tally were revised to adjust for differences in income per person and population size, as has been done for the table below. This removes disparities in wealth and population and allows for a fairer comparison of how countries have performed.

 

Rank Country Revised Medal Tally Change in Ranks
1 Nauru 1482 24
2 Samoa 459 15
3 Kiribati 373 23
4 Grenada 253 16
5 Jamaica 148 4
6 Saint Lucia 77 21
7 Kenya 61 1
8 Bahamas 39 10
9 Trinidad and Tobago 38 4
10 New Zealand 27 -5
11 Cyprus 27 1
12 Uganda 26 3
13 Fiji 26 15
14 Cameroon 25 0
15 Isle of Man 24 14
16 Barbados 23 14
17 Namibia 22 2
18 Papua New Guinea 14 3
19 Mozambique 13 3
20 United Kingdom 11 -19
21 South Africa 10 -15
22 Zambia 9 1
23 Australia 9 -21
24 Mauritius 8 7
25 Nigeria 8 -18
26 Botswana 6 6
27 Malaysia 6 -17
28 Singapore 5 -17
29 Canada 4 -26
30 Ghana 4 -6
31 India 3 -27
32 Pakistan 2 -16
33 Sri Lanka 2 0
34 Bangladesh 1 0

Small islands countries and some African countries perform substantially better when the medal tally is revised to take into account income per person and population size. Nauru, Samoa and Kiribati take the top three places because they are middle-income countries with tiny populations and still managed to get five medals between them (including a gold and three silver). While Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada fall to the bottom third of the rankings.

Sources

Commonwealth Games 2014 <http://results.glasgow2014.com/medals.html>

World Bank 2014 <http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators>