Archive for October, 2007

eBay moves into microfinance

31 October, 2007

Last week eBay launched a web-site ( to allow small investors (from $100) to put money into micro-finance. Other micro-finance sites exist (such as but this is the first one that is aimed at ordinary investors. More can be read here.

The investments apparently mature in around 2 to 4 years and pay a return of 1.5 – 3%. The interest rates charged on microfinance loans are, of course, quite high, often around 40% but sometimes significantly higher. An explanation for the high interest rates associated with microfinance loans can be found from the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, here.


Why are children concentrated in households in poverty?

26 October, 2007

As a follow-up to Michael’s post this morning about Macclesfield, I have a question which I hope people might comment on. As Michael said, 30% of children living in south Macc are classified as being in poverty (using the government’s poverty line of being below 60% of median income). This is bang on the national average (see The Poverty Site which is, incidentally, an awesome site for statistics on poverty in the UK).

As The Poverty Site says, children are ‘much more likely to live in low income households than the population as a whole: 30% compared to 22%’. So my question is, why? Why are children concentrated in households that are in poverty? I can think of three explanations, none of which are very satisfying. (i) People in poverty have more children; (ii) Households that are just above the poverty line before having children get pushed below it because they do less paid work due to childcare needs; or (iii) Immigrants have significantly higher fertility rates and they are more likely to be in poverty.

Jill Kirby of the (Tory-leaning) Centre for Policy Studies seems to claim that it is the former. She says that women in the middle income bracket are ‘priced out of having children by a rise in house prices, a lack of tax incentives and spiralling living costs.‘ In fact, I can’t find any decent data on fertility rates disaggregated by socio-economic group (the only ones I’ve found are under FM1 No. 34 here). Birth registrations take data on the employment area of the father, from which loose socio-economic groupings can be approximated, but these can’t be used to make a comprehensive picture since birth registrations that are made without registering a father won’t appear in the data.

On the other two ideas, both presumably have an element of truth to them but it doesn’t seem likely to me that they would be sufficiently large effects to account for children being 36% more likely to be in poverty than adults. In particular, immigrants are a very small percentage of the population.

Given the amount of analysis that is done on poverty and its distribution, and the focus the government has placed on child poverty in particular, it seems odd to me that more analysis hasn’t been done and thereby better explanations put forward to account for why children are concentrated among the poor. Or I just haven’t found it. Any comments?

Poverty in the UK’s northwest

26 October, 2007

Lest we forget that poverty is also an issue in rich countries, this article notes that 30% of children living in southern parts of the English town of Macclesfield (itself an otherwise quite prosperous town) are living in poverty, with their situation only likely to become “worse” in the coming years.

Read the article here.

“The Other Half” of Global Hunger and Poverty

24 October, 2007

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) with the support of IDRC and other collaborators, brought together stakeholders from around the world to Beijing from October 17–19 for the conference “Taking Action for the World’s Poor and Hungry People.”

The three-day discussion focused on whether the people who are poorest and most afflicted by hunger today face different social and economic challenges than those who have emerged from poverty in recent decades.

Critical questions included:

What are the key pathways out of extreme poverty and hunger?
Which strategies, policies, and interventions have been successful in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger?
How can existing actions to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger be accelerated or scaled up, and how can innovative solutions be designed and implemented for and with the poorest and hungry?

See more here

Mobile phones changing lives

24 October, 2007

This id21 article provides some fascinating studies on how mobile phone use can impact on communities in developing countries and presents some interesting facts: “There are more than twice as many mobile owners in developing countries as in industrialised countries. Subscriber growth rates in developing countries are 25 percent per year – and double that in Africa….”

Read the article here

News – John Bird to launch a political movement on poverty

19 October, 2007

I just noticed this in the news:

John Bird, the founder of Big Issue, has announced that he won’t be standing for Mayor of London but intends instead to set up a political movement concerned with poverty and social justice. The BBC article can be read here.

BWPI Poverty Blog – Welcome!

8 October, 2007

Welcome to the Brooks World Poverty Institute blog!

This is a new project that will be providing news, comment and research on all things related to poverty. It provides a forum in which to disseminate research produced at the BWPI, the University of Manchester and elsewhere, and to comment on events related to poverty as they happen. You are invited to send your comments and to contribute new postings on any topic related to poverty in the UK, developing world or indeed anywhere in the world.

Why Manchester?

Manchester has traditionally been a centre for the creation of ideas and knowledge that have profoundly influenced global patterns of poverty and well-being. As the world’s first industrial city, Manchester contributed to processes that have ultimately led to greatly improved levels of human well-being, although in their early period these processes were associated with horrific deprivation and exploitation – as evidenced by Engels’ path-breaking studies of poverty in working-class Manchester.

In the post-war period, the University gained a global reputation for research on social and economic change in developing countries, crowned by Sir Arthur Lewis’s Nobel Prize for research on development economics, and by the work of scholars such as Peter Worsley, Max Gluckmann and Teodor Shanin.

In more recent times the University has extended its reputation for policy relevant research through the work of its Chronic Poverty Research Centre, Global Poverty Research Group , the Brooks World Poverty Institute itself and research by academics in the School of Environment and Development and the School of Social Sciences. The University thus has a strong existing base to build on – with additional resources, new staff and cutting edge ideas it is now in a position to become a global centre creating ‘useful knowledge’ to accelerate the elimination of poverty.

Please use this blog as an arena in which to find out about and engage in discussion on recent research and events. We want your comments!

Canadian generic AIDS drugs to be exported to Rwanda, but TRIPs remains inequitable and inappropriate

8 October, 2007

On the 4th of October, the WTO released a statement announcing that Canada has become the first country to notify the WTO that is had authorised a company to produce a generic version of a patented medicine for export. This makes available the AIDS drug TriAvir to Rwanda, which lacks the domestic capacity to produce it. While this is to be welcomed in that it will provide relief to some of Rwanda’s AIDS sufferers, it should not be taken to indicate that the problems with the WTO’s Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement have been dealt with.


This is the first time the Decision on TRIPs and Public Health reached at the WTO ministerial meeting held in Cancun in August 2003 has been made operational. The Decision built on the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights signed as part of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. TRIPs stipulated minimum standards of copyright and intellectual property protection that WTO member states had to apply. (more…)