Visualization: The future of the World Bank

This visualization of the World Bank Borrowers today and in 2019 isn’t the most technologically sophisticated visualization we’ve ever posted but it is a stark illustration of what the future of the World Bank looks like.

As Tom Murphy writes over on Humanosphere:

The World Bank’s influence is waning. Some point to the emerging Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as evidence of the body’s declining power, but it is the World Bank’s own projections that illustrate the change. Thirty-six countries will graduate from World Bank loans over the next four years (see the above gif).

The images in Murphy’s gif come from a policy paper titled “The World Bank at 75” by Scott Morris and Madeleine Gleave at the Center for Global Development. The paper provides a thorough data-driven analysis of current World Bank lending models and systematic trends that will shape its future. From the paper:

The World Bank continues to operate according to the core model some 71 years after the founding of IBRD and 55 years after the founding of IDA: loans to sovereign governments with terms differentiated largely according to one particular measure (GNI per capita) of a country’s ability to pay. Together, concessional and non-concessional loans to countries still account for 67 percent of the institution’s portfolio.

So when the World Bank looks at the world today, it sees a large number of countries organized by IDA and IBRD status.

And what will the World Bank see in 2019, on the occasion of its 75th anniversary? On its current course and with rote application of existing rules, the picture could look very different, with far fewer of those so-called “IDA” and “IBRD” countries.

But does this picture accurately reflect the development needs that will be pressing in the years ahead? Or instead, does it simply reflect an institutional model that is declining in relevance?

It is remarkable how enduring the World Bank’s basic model has been. The two core features (lender to sovereign governments; terms differentiated by countries’ income category) have tremendous power within the institution, which has grown up around them. The differentiation in terms has generated two of the core silos within the institution: the IBRD and IDA. And lending to national governments (what we will call the “loans to countries” model) is so dominant that it has crowded out other types of engagement, even when there has been political will to do other things (notably, climate-related financing).

So while the model has been laudably durable in some respects, it is also increasingly seems to be stuck at a time when external dynamics call for change.

This paper examines ways in which seeming immoveable forces underlying the World Bank’s work might finally be ripe for change in the face of shifting development needs. Specifically, we offer examples of 1) how country eligibility standards might evolve; and 2) how the bank might move further away from the “loans to countries” model that has long defined it.

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America’s businesses are growing. The web is helping.

A common theme of this blog is the economic impact of the Internet, particularly how independent entrepreneurs flourish using online tools. Today, Google released its Economic Impact Report for 2012, and we are cross-posting the announcement from the Official Google Blog. While it’s not a typical Policy By the Numbers post, we do believe that information like this is relevant as we think about regulatory frameworks that may affect the web and, subsequently, the people who benefit from it.

Allan Thygesen is Vice President, Global SMB Sales, Google.

Michael Edlavitch was a middle school math teacher in Minnesota when he started a website with free math games to engage his students. With free online tools, a passion for math and an initial investment of just $10 to register his domain, was born. Eventually Michael’s website became popular with more than just his students. So Michael gave Google AdSense a try as a way to earn money by placing ads next to his content. As word spread and traffic grew, the revenue generated from his site allowed Michael to devote himself full time to Hooda Math. Today, has more than 350 educational games and has had more than 100 million unique visitors to the site. Beyond building a business for himself, Michael is helping students everywhere learn math while having fun.

Over in New York, Roberto Gil designs and builds children’s furniture—loft beds, bunk beds and entire custom rooms. Casa Kids’ furniture is custom designed for the family to grow along with the child. Roberto works out of his Brooklyn workshop and doesn’t sell to large furniture stores, which means the Casa Kids website is an essential tool for him to connect with potential customers.To grow even further, Roberto began using AdWords in 2010. In the first few months traffic to his site went up 30 percent. Today, two-thirds of his new customers come from Google. Meet Roberto and learn more about how he is making the web work for Casa Kids:

These are just two examples of how the web is working for American businesses. According to a McKinsey study, small businesses that make use of the web are growing twice as fast as those that are not on the web. That’s because the web is where we go for information and inspiration—from math games to practice over the summer to someone to design and build that perfect bunk bed for your kids. Ninety-seven percent of American Internet users look online for local products and services. Whether we’re on our smartphones, tablets or computers, the web helps us find what we are looking for.

Here at Google, we see firsthand how the web is helping American businesses grow and thrive. Through our search and advertising programs, businesses like Casa Kids find customers, publishers like Hooda Math earn money from their content, and nonprofits solicit donations and volunteers. These tools are how we make money, and they’re also how millions of other U.S. businesses do, too.

In 2012, Google’s search and advertising tools helped provide $94 billion of economic activity for more than 1.9 million American businesses—advertisers, publishers and nonprofits. This represents a 17 percent increase from 2011. Check out the impact made in each state, along with stories of local businesses using the web to grow.

Whether it’s building skills or building furniture, Google helps to build businesses. We’re thrilled to be part of such a vibrant industry and are committed to continuing to help make the web work for people and businesses everywhere.

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Visualization: The Atlantic’s Class-divided Cities Series

In January, Atlantic editor Richard Florida kicked off a series of posts called the “Class-divided Cities.” Each post includes an analysis and map visualizations of socio-economic polarization within different areas of US cities.

This divide is seen most clearly in where members of each class live. A recent report from the Pew Research Center found that residential segregation between upper- and lower- income households has risen in 27 of America’s 30 largest metros over the past several decades. Compounding this polarization between rich and poor neighborhoods, the share of middle-income neighborhoods has declined substantially.


To get a better sense of the scale of the divide in American cities, my research team at the Martin Prosperity Institute — relying on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey — plotted and mapped the residential locations of today’s three major classes: the shrinking middle of blue-collar workers in manufacturing, transportation, and maintenance; the rising numbers of highly paid knowledge, professional, and creative workers in the creative class; and the even larger and faster-growing ranks of lower-paid, lower-skill service workers. For the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring the various divides in some of America’s largest cities and metros.

The series began with New York, and yesterday, San Francisco became the 11th.

List of city analyses, in the order in which they were posted:

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