From the Editor’s Desk (January 2015)

We are now into 2015, and the year is already gathering speed. 2015 is of course the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, and a major year in global development with the conclusion of the MDG process, and the start of a new chapter with the SDGs. For UNU-WIDER it is the year of our 30th anniversary. Amid all the celebration though, we have the continuing Ebola crisis in West Africa, the upcoming Paris climate conference (2014 being the world’s hottest year on record), and conflict taking new and deadly forms in Iraq, Nigeria, and Syria.

In Angle land we start the year with a piece by UNU-WIDER director Finn Tarp and myself on UNU-WIDER’s 30 years. Many Angle readers will know our story well, having been to our conferences or perhaps having visited the Institute in Helsinki through our PhD internship and Visiting Scholar programmes. But many readers might never have visited us, and know us only through our publications, our website, and (increasingly) our presence on sites such as YouTube.

Poverty and its reduction has always been a central concern for UNU-WIDER. In this Angle Jukka Pirttilä discusses some recent research on poverty using behavioural economics. On this topic, our special issue of the Review of Income and Wealth edited by Markus Jäntti, Ravi Kanbur, and Jukka Pirttilä can be found here. As with almost all UNU-WIDER’s recent journal articles, it is open access.

The conclusions of our project on the political economy of food price policy are now out as a book edited by Per Pinstrup-Andersen of Cornell University, part of UNU-WIDER’s Oxford University Press series. The book will be launched in Delhi and Washington DC soon—you can find more details of these events here. In ResearchAngle we present the Bangladesh study from this project. Bangladesh has done well, but many people are still vulnerable to food price shocks. 

RESEARCHAngle also reports on recent UNU-WIDER research on aid and the empowerment of women. The Aid and Gender Position Paper produced under our ReCom project is to be recommended and there are many interesting videos on the topic here, including an interview with Amartya Sen.

Last year’s activities created a firm base for our tasks ahead in 2015. We rounded off 2014 with the 18th UNU-WIDER lecture by Peter Timmer, which took place at the UN in New York in November. Peter’s topic was one that is central to the transformation debate: agriculture. We won’t see better livelihoods for the poor until we see more action around this vital sector. Roger Williamson interviews Peter Timmer in this month’s VIDEOAngle

Inequality was one of the big themes of January as billionaires and others took time out at Davos to lament its rise. We lesser mortals, including those who do the hard work on data, can see all the sessions from last year’s UNU-WIDER inequality conference here. It’s a hot topic in Latin America too, and you can follow the debate at the Geneva launch of Andrea Cornea’s new UNU-WIDER book on Latin American inequality here. And for those who want to look at the inequality numbers for themselves, go to the World Income Inequality Database (WIID). With inequality of income (and wealth) so much in the news these days, that we also dug up a pertinent pearl from the UN-WIDER archive: Tony Atkinson's 1999 WIDER annual lecture in Oslo on whether rising inequality is inevitable

We increasingly use Twitter to post links to the latest videos, publications and events, including our popular working paper series. January’s papers focus on topics such as chronic poverty, educational inequality, child rights, and debt work-outs (to give just a few examples). If you want up to the minute news of UNU-WIDER then follow us at @UNUWIDER on Twitter. And if you want more from me (and who wouldn’t?) then you can check out @TonysAngle.

We are back in February with the next issue of Angle. Usually we get a lot of snow in Helsinki in February, so I do look forward to that.