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192 posts categorized "Economic Development"
Last week, Rhode Island joined a small, but growing, group of states that have made paid parental leave a right for working parents. New Jersey and California are currently the only other states that have implemented laws mandating paid family leave. Washington is set to enact paid-leave legislation next year, and both New York and Massachusetts have bills pending. Several other states—including Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado, and Oregon—are also investigating similar measures. More state-level action on paid leave demonstrates waning patience with Congress’ prolonged inaction on the issue.
The United States remains the only advanced economy in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave (see infographic below). What is now a societal given for families in other developed nations is still a luxury in the United States—mostly available to the wealthiest Americans. In fact, about 40 percent of U.S. workers are not even guaranteed job-protected family leave that is unpaid.
We know that creating abundant, better-paying jobs is the first step to ending hunger in America. But wage rates are just one component of the economy that is out of balance. The changes in society over the past half-century—most prominently, the new norm that most women are in the paid workforce—have not been accompanied by policies that adequately reflect these realities and ensure that workers have the support they need to meet their responsibilities.
Too many jobs do not pay enough, do not enable parents to balance work and family responsibilities, and do not provide workers with any bargaining power to negotiate higher pay or more flexible schedules. Government policies currently in place do not go far enough in addressing these problems. In the United States, where the expectation is that parents work outside the home, government has a role in protecting the welfare of children, elderly people, and people with disabilities by setting standards to ensure that all workers can fulfill their job and family commitments.
The absence of a federal provision for paid parental leave is an anachronism, but it’s sadly not the only one. “In virtually every area of work-family policy, provisions in the United States tend to be less well-developed and less equitably distributed than those in most peer countries,” write Jane Waldfogel and Sarah McLanahan in the journal The Future of Children,published by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution. More than four in 10 private sector workers—and more than 80 percent of low-wage workers—do not have paid sick days. In other high-income countries, the law specifically permits workers to request flexible scheduling, while in the United States, many workers worry that even giving the impression of any sort of work-family conflict could get them fired.
The stark economic conditions (especially high unemployment rates) facing many families today are aggravated by the inadequate response of policymakers. States like Rhode Island, New Jersey, and California have set a good example by choosing fair national labor standards that foster supportive work environments and a more stable economy—which will result in lower rates of hunger and poverty.
Read more about the role of work-family policy in ending hunger in chapter two of the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America.
Minimum wage increases are coming to 14 states in the New Year. Together they are expected to improve the livelihoods of more than 4.5 million people, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute. Last year, legislators in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and California, and voters in New Jersey, all acted to raise their respective state minimum wage rates to between $8.00 and $9.00 per hour, to take effect in 2014. In addition, minimum wages in nine other states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington – increased automatically because they are indexed to inflation rates, a policy that ensures that the minimum wage keeps pace with the rising cost of living.
The current minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, is far from enough to ensure food security for a family of four. As the infographic below illustrates, wage rates since the 1970s have not kept up with growing productivity in the U.S. economy:
Despite wage improvements in 14 states this year, the minimum wage in every state remains insufficient to keep a family out of poverty. A family of four with a full-time minimum-wage worker who is eligible for both the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit still has 13 percent less than a poverty-level income. The 2014 Hunger Report proposes raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour because it is the minimum hourly wage at which a single breadwinner in a family of four, working full-time, year-round, can pull her or his family just over the federal poverty line. Currently, about a third of all workers earn less than $12 per hour.
There is no schedule for indexing the federal minimum wage to inflation as it is in the nine states mentioned above; it is subject to the whims of the president and Congress. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would be $10.60 instead of $7.25. Had it kept pace with productivity growth, the minimum wage today would be $18.67. That sounds incredibly high, but the reason it sounds so extravagant is simply that wages have not kept pace with productivity for all these years. Poverty-level wages have become the new normal in America.
Like the 14 states that took action last year, Congress should raise the minimum wage so that a full-time, year-round worker in every state can support a family of four above the poverty line.
Last month, Hunger Report Senior Editor Todd Post responded point by point to the most commonly-heard arguments against raising the minimum wage. For more information on the minimum wage and its impact on people facing hunger, read his post and chapter one of the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America.
At a climate change rally in Mexico - one of the important middle-income countries bringing new outlooks, priorities, and needs to the process of setting post-2915 global development goals. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World.
At Bread for the World Institute, a major focus of our work on global hunger and poverty is development assistance - making the case for it, developing recommendations on how it can be more effective, supporting country-led initiatives such as the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) movement. This makes sense, of course, because development assistance is one of the main tools available to the United States to help fight global hunger.
But many millions of hungry and poor people live in one of the world's 86 middle-income countries. Here, development assistance is a far less important factor. It makes up just 0.3 percent of this group's gross domestic product, compared to almost 10 percent for low-income countries.
Middle-income countries vary from each other in almost every way - political, social, cultural, geographical, and so on. Even the income range that defines membership in the group is a wide one: the richest countries have per-capita incomes about 10 times as much as the poorest countries. But all of them have more resources than low-income countries, and all still face significant development challenges. Among these is poverty. About one-third of people who live on less than $2 a day live in middle-income countries.
The blog Poverty Matters, published in the leading U.K. paper The Guardian, is a recommended source of information and ideas for Institute Notes readers. Recently, a post in Poverty Matters pointed out the importance of middle-income countries to the process of framing global development goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, saying that middle-income countries, "a group that includes not just the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, but also players like Indonesia, Turkey, and a range of highly influential Latin American countries, including Mexico and Colombia," could have "the casting vote" on how the new global development goals are framed - and, in turn, on whether the world heads toward ending hunger and poverty by 2030.
In 2014, we will have more to say about middle-income countries as the process of setting global development goals and building political commitment to them picks up speed. Happy New Year!
A fresh Hunger Report always comes with a new weekly blog series to break it down -- a space to examine the recommendations more closely and consider their ramifications in the context of recent events. This is that space. Welcome to week one.
To start the 2014 Hunger Report Monday series, we're recapping -- through visuals -- the report's central recommendation: to put an end to hunger in the United States by 2030. Our research confirms that: 1) hunger is a significant, long-ignored problem in America; 2) the U.S. government and population are fully capable of solving the problem; and 3), ending hunger will take decisive leadership, firm political will, and a clear national plan. This infographic sums up our vision of what that plan should look like in four steps:
We will not achieve a lasting end to hunger without a commitment to all four parts of this plan. Because problems like hunger are multifaceted, their solutions must be as well. Policies tend to address social problems in isolation from each other. Instead we should be thinking holistically, which makes it possible to see the relationships between various causes of the problem.
Right now, Bread for the World members around the country are urging the president and Congress to recognize the reality of America's broken social contract and set a clear course for solutions by adopting a plan to end hunger. President Obama took a promising first step last week with his speech on the problem of widening income and wealth inequality in the United States, with mentions of such contributing factors as the stagnant minimum wage, which continues to hold low-wage workers and their families below the poverty line. Inequality and the policies that perpetuate it are top concerns of this year’s Hunger Report.
You can sift through the specifics of the four-step plan to end hunger by starting with the 2014 Hunger Report Executive Summary, available for download in PDF or ebook formats in both English and Spanish. Next week, we'll continue our visual survey of the report's top messages with other new infographics.
The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, was launched just before Thanksgiving. For the past month, Institute Notes has featured a series of posts offering previews of the report. We pointed out that widespread hunger now threatens to become a scandalous “new normal” situation in the United States – it’s risen by nearly 40 percent since 2000.We made the case that not only is it an achievable goal to undo the damage the Great Recession did to U.S. food security, but it is also feasible to eradicate hunger entirely by 2030. We presented a carefully researched four-step plan that leaders at all levels, in partnership with local communities, can use to end hunger in our country. Our most recent post, coinciding with the report launch on November 25, offers a brief recap of these four steps.
In just the few days since the launch, we’ve received a lot of feedback -- on the launch presentation, the report, and the exciting new ways we’re presenting its messages on hungerreport.org. Here’s a quick round-up of what our partners and friends have been talking about:
1. An Expert Panel of Perspectives
No one has more authority to speak on hunger in America than those who have experienced it. At the Hunger Report launch, panelists Barbie Izquierdo, Dominic Duren, and Sharon Thornberry helped humanize the effects of even a seemingly small change in policy or funding.
2. No Paper Needed
The executive summary is available for iPad and eReader download, and the entire report can now be read in page-flipping book format at hungerreport.org/downloads.
3. Interactive Stories
The policies examined in the 2014 Hunger Report have very real impact for millions of Americans. At hungerreport.org/profiles we present four stories that combine multimedia and interactive data to make that clearer than ever.
4. Infographics to Share
Hunger’s causes and solutions are complex. That’s why we need the full report to give them the space they deserve. But a good place to start is with the 2014 Hunger Report infographics -- to get the top messages of the report in bite-size form, and pass them on through social media.
The panel of speakers at the launch agreed that it doesn’t have to be this way. Ending hunger is not an impossible dream. With strong commitment and the right tools, we really can end it.
Check out HungerReport.org to explore all of the tools available to Hunger Report readers, and if you missed them, be sure to read blog posts one, two, three, four, and five of the 2014 Hunger Report series.
Posted by Bread on December 02, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
What are the top reasons for global hunger? Gender inequality might not be your first answer, but it’s correct. In fact, it's one of the two principal factors behind food insecurity in Africa, according to the 2012 African Human Development Report. (The other is bias against rural areas).
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that it's harder to build a strong economy and provide for all your people if half your workers have one hand tied behind their backs. It was not until recently, however, that there was solid evidence of just how much harder it is.
Analysts at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) looked back at the years 1970-1995, a period of significant decline in child malnutrition. What made this progress possible? A larger supply of available food per person seems like an obvious answer, and this was, in fact, something that helped. But it was responsible for only about 26 percent of the improvement. Gains in women’s education explained 43 percent of it.
The implications are startling. Women's education contributed significantly more to progress against childhood malnutrition than having more food available.
Bread for the World Institute has long emphasized the importance of investing in smallholder farmers. This has not changed. But producing more food to feed a growing population, while critically important, is only one benefit of such agricultural development.
Another is getting resources -- tools, land rights, access to markets -- into the hands of women. Why? Evidence amassed from research in dozens of countries is conclusive: women are more likely than men to spend additional income to improve household nutrition, health care, sanitation, etc.
The Institute's latest essay in the Development Works series, Development Needs All Hands on Deck, offers a closer look at how to boost women's economic empowerment and ensure that they can participate fully in their local and national economies. What are some of the obstacles and how have people been able to succeed despite them? Read our short essay to learn more about this essential component of ending world hunger.
Photo: A key to ending global hunger is enabling women to get jobs that can support their children. Photo by Jim Stipe.
In a survey of over 800,000 people globally, access to nutritous food ranked among the most frequently mentioned development challenges. (Source: World We Want, A Million Voices report)
Since last year, leadership at the United Nations has been working very hard to find out what development issues matter most to ordinary people around the world. The process of developing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 has been criticized as not inclusive; the U.N. wants things to be different as the world sets successor development goals for the period after December 2015, the deadline for the MDGs.
So they’ve set out to poll everyday people the world over about their priority issues -- and last week they were proud to report that they’ve heard one million voices. And it turns out people had a lot to say.
The MDGs were created to drive improvement in the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people -- and they have. More progress was made against hunger and poverty in the 2000s than during any other decade in history. But the exclusive group of officials from donor countries and international organizations that came up with the MDGs largely overlooked a valuable resource -- arguably the most authoritative source -- on how to overcome poverty: poor people themselves. You can read more about the MDG process and its implications in the 2013 Hunger Report.
The World We Want 2015 effort reached its one million voices through a combination of 88 open national consultations, 11 thematic dialogues, and an online global survey amplified by social media. The essential question put to global citizens: “What issues matter most to you?” Here’s a brief look at some of the main ideas expressed:
- Top issues: Education, health care, government accountability, better job opportunities;
- Top values: Universal human rights, equality, justice, and security (underpinned by more accountable governments);
- The urgency of improving people’s lives today;
- Concern about growing inequalities (e.g., income, wealth, access to education);
- The interconnectedness of issues and the need for a holistic, sustainable set of solutions;
- The need for data collection methods that measure progress more accurately.
Although The World We Want is particularly focused on hearing from people in developing nations, who are most urgently affected by development problems, it is intended to collect opinions globally and to include a wide spectrum of views. Americans are not yet well represented in the results – only 26,000 of the first million respondents are from the United States. But people here have more reason than ever to be concerned about “the world we want” – and the country we want. During the Great Recession, hunger in the United States grew by almost 40 percent, and it has barely budged since the recession’s official end nearly four years ago. Today, one in six Americans struggles to put food on the table.
The World We Want reminds us that most people around the world want the same things: quality education, jobs, health care, and yes, food. And we’ve learned from the MDG experience that when we set goals whose progress can be measured, we can accomplish more in less time. That’s why more Americans need to speak up about the issues we care about and press our elected leaders to adopt and carry out realistic plans to solve our most critical problems.
The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, will be released in less than three weeks here in Washington, DC. Using lessons from the world’s experiences with the MDGs, it lays out a feasible plan for the United States to confront our high levels of inequality, unemployment, and poverty directly and to end hunger in this country by 2030.
If you haven’t yet, take the time to tell the U.N. about the world you want. We’ll keep you posted on the 2014 Hunger Report release here on Institute Notes.
Posted by Bread on November 06, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Amid the debate over potentially the biggest reform of immigration law in 50 years, American communities struggling with decades of population loss and economic decline are being revitalized by newcomers. The economic contribution of immigrants in high-skilled fields is relatively well known, but less acknowledged are the contributions that blue-collar immigrants play in revitalizing depressed communities and economies, both as manual laborers and small-business entrepreneurs.
In Rust Belt communities such as Baltimore, Detroit, and rural southeastern Iowa, immigration has slowed—and in some cases reversed—decades of population loss. In July 2012, after 60 years of population decline, Baltimore’s population actually increased, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase was attributed in part to growing international migration. Detroit is infamous for its steep population decline since 1950.
But the drop would be even more significant if it were not for an influx of immigrants from Latin America. Between 2000 and 2010, Detroit lost 237,000 residents— 25 percent of the total population in just 10 years. But the city’s southwest immigrant neighborhoods, an area known as “Mexicantown,” actually increased in population.
Immigration isn’t revitalizing only cities; newcomers also inject life into rural American communities that might otherwise be vanishing. Rural Iowa has lost population every decade since 1920 – in fact, there are fewer people in rural Iowa now than there were a century ago. But immigrants have sustained some towns. Between 2000 and 2010, Iowa’s Latino population increased by 84 percent, while the total state population increased only 4 percent over the same decade. As other cities in southeastern Iowa have declined, towns such as West Liberty (population 3,742) have a stable population and economy because of immigrants.
In addition to supporting communities that are experiencing overall population loss, immigrants are making disproportionate contributions to Rust Belt economies, particularly to Rust Belt cities such as Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.
As they have throughout much of U.S. history, immigrants make up a disproportionate share of our country’s entrepreneurs. Their business initiative is evident in some Rust Belt commercial corridors, where immigrant entrepreneurs large and small contribute dynamism and innovation to the economy. While immigrants are 13 percent of the national population and 16 percent of the labor force, they comprise 18 percent of small business owners. Nationally, immigrant-owned small businesses employ 4.7 million people and generate $776 billion in income. Immigrants’ propensity for business ownership is even more pronounced in the Rust Belt than in the country as a whole.
In order to realize their full potential economic impact on the Rust Belt, unauthorized immigrants need legalization and a path to citizenship. Without this, they live in a climate of fear even as they help struggling U.S. cities and towns survive. It is up to national policymakers to reform our immigration system so that newcomers can support their families and make a fuller economic contribution to the nation – particularly to the cities and towns that need it most.
Last week in Des Moines, Iowa, the 2013 World Food Prize Symposium brought together more than 1,000 international scientific, business, and policy experts from more than 65 countries. The weeklong dialogue on ending hunger has been called the “premier conference in the world on global agriculture." This year's World Food Prize Laureates are pioneers in biotechnology: Dr. Marc Van Montagu of Belgium and Dr. Mary Dell-Chilton and Dr. Robert Fraley of the United States.
Among the many key issues discussed was the need to build resilience: in families, in communities, in nations, and in the world. Bread for the World Institute's recent Briefing Paper, A Global Development Agenda: Toward 2015 and Beyond, emphasizes that responding effectively to climate change means building resilience in communities where people have always struggled to produce enough food. This task demands strong and organized political leadership, infrastructure, and resources at all levels — local, regional, national, and international. At the same time, understanding the interactions between agriculture and climate well enough to know how to respond effectively will require new investments. We need to improve data collection and analysis so that we can create and implement evidence-based adaptation measures that work.
Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, and Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Holy See, The Vatican, at the World Food Prize Symposium. Photo Credit: John Coonrod
- Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson has served as the president of the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in The Vatican since 2009. His remarks focused on the importance of addressing long-term food security issues while respecting both the land and rural populations, and of promoting sustainable agricultural development in poorer countries.
- Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, is currently Patron of the Africa Governance Initiative. Mr. Blair spoke on a panel entitled 40 Chances in a reference to the number of growing seasons an average farmer has during his or her lifetime. With the theme of “Redefining the Fight Against Hunger, Poverty, and Suffering,” this discussion focused on the drivers of food security, which include aid effectiveness, trade, private sector investment, and technological innovation. Mr. Blair also announced new joint programs designed to foster market-based solutions to global challenges in the areas of hunger, poverty, and conflict.
- President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland stressed that the need to respond to the problems caused by increasing climate volatility is one of the most pressing current issues worldwide.
Also last week, the 2013 Global Hunger Index report was launched at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. The report, The Challenge of Hunger: Building Resilience to Achieve Food and Nutrition Security, calls for breaking down the silos between the emergency relief and development communities and for focusing on approaches that enable people and systems to better resist, absorb, and transform in response to shocks such as droughts, floods, and food price volatility.
Click here to watch video footage of 2013 World Food Prize sessions (Note - Footage is grouped by day and time.)
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on October 22, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The World Bank released its 2014 World Development Report (WDR) last week. Previously, “risk management” was not a commonly-heard phrase in global development, but the WDR makes a good case for why it should be. As the world — developing regions especially — anticipates economic crises and more frequent natural disasters in the context of a rapidly rising population, the World Bank argues that people now more than ever need to be better prepared to cope with whatever the future may bring.
Over the past 25 years, there has been unprecedented progress in improving livelihoods in developing countries. Driven by global efforts such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), national and international leaders have joined with partners across civil society, the private sector, and local communities to identify and carry out effective strategies. The world has met the MDG target of cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half. Other measurements of the eight MDGs also reveal considerable progress. But the World Bank warns that these advancements could easily be lost if national governments do not take decisive steps to identify and prepare to mitigate both existing and emerging risks. New risks are, however, accompanied by a host of new opportunities. Inaction may be the riskiest option of all.
Even after the unprecedented efforts of the past few years, more than half of the population of the developing world lives on less than $2.50 a day. And as we mentioned in Institute Notes last week, there are still 842 million people who are chronically hungry. All are vulnerable to falling deeper into poverty, hunger, and poor health when confronted with economic and environmental shocks or armed conflict.
The focus of this year’s WDR is on reliable information and sound planning. In its own words:
The WDR 2014’s value added resides in its emphasis on managing risks in a proactive, systemic, and integrated way. These characteristics underscore the importance of forward-looking planning and preparation in a context of uncertainty.
Other major players in global development concur with the WDR assessment. For example, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has just released its Global Hunger Index, which argues that greater resilience in international agricultural and economic systems is critical to boosting food and nutrition security.In her recently launched briefing paper, Bread for the World Institute’s Faustine Wabwire also stresses the importance of resilience in whatever post-2015 plan emergesto replace the MDGs. Preparing more effectively for the future – whether in the United States or in developing countries – is (not coincidentally) a major emphasis of our 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, to be released on November 25. Keep a lookout for upcoming Institute Notes posts with more details on this exciting new report as that date approaches!
Posted by Bread on October 15, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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