DESA News Vol. 12, No. 03 March 2008

Publications and websites

Technical reports

Global E-Government Survey 2008: From E-Government to Connected Governance Global E-Government Survey 2008: From E-Government to Connected Governance

The Global E-Government Survey 2008: From E-Government to Connected Governance is now available online. The report, prepared by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management, assesses the e-government readiness of the 192 countries based on a review of websites, telecommunication infrastructure, and human capacity.

The survey also sheds light on gains in operational efficiency through integration of back-office functions. Such initiatives, if successful, can improve the effectiveness of government agencies. The report finds that complexity, expressed in terms of the number of functions within the scope of an integration project and number of agencies involved, is the primary determinant of outcomes. More ambitious projects tend not to live up to promises, with the ability to change public service cultures, address trade union concerns, and provide skilled management and leadership among the chief factors of success.

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Statistical compilations

Population and Vital Statistics Report, July 2007Population and Vital Statistics Report, July 2007

This semi-annual journal provides estimates of world and regional populations as well as estimates for 218 countries. Information is derived from each country's latest population, national census and from nationally representative statistics on birth and mortality.

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Monthly Bulletin of Statistics and MBS OnlineMonthly Bulletin of Statistics and MBS Online

MBS provides current economic and social statistics for more than 200 countries and territories of the world. It contains over 50 tables of monthly and/or annual and quarterly data on a variety of subjects illustrating important economic trends and developments, including population, prices, employment and earnings, energy, manufacturing, transport, construction, international merchandise trade and finance.

Vol. LXI, no. 12, December 2007

In this issue: Retail price indices relating to living expenditures of United Nations officials; fuel imports, developed economies; indicators on fuel imports, developed economies; registration of new motor vehicles; external trade conversion factors; manufactured good exports; selected series of world statistics. Publication symbol ST/ESA/STAT/SER.Q/420.

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Meeting records

Strengthening Efforts to Eradicate Poverty and Hunger: Dialogues at the Economic and Social CouncilStrengthening Efforts to Eradicate Poverty and Hunger: Dialogues at the Economic and Social Council

This book presents an overview of the key debates that took place during the Economic and Social Council meetings at the 2007 high-level segment, at which the Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum – two new functions mandated by world leaders at the 2005 World Summit – were launched. The discussions revolved around strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger. This publication also includes the Secretary-General's report as well as the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the end of the ECOSOC high-level segment.

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Working papers

New Thinking on Poverty: Implications for Globalization and Poverty Reduction Strategies

Three main changes in thinking about poverty have gained increasing currency over the past decade. First, the concept of poverty has broadened, with increasing attention to issues of vulnerability, inequality and human rights. Second, the causal structure has broadened to include causal variables, such as social, political, cultural, coercive and environmental capital. Third, the causal structure has deepened to focus on flows of individuals into and out of poverty, rather than on changes in the stock of poverty, and on strategies of social protection versus poverty reduction. The paper reviews these changes and their implications for globalization and policy.

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Excess Liquidity, Oligopolistic Loan Markets and Monetary Policy in LDCs

Evidence about commercial banks’ liquidity preference says the following about the loan market in LDCs: (i) the loan interest rate is a minimum mark-up rate; (ii) the loan market is characterized by oligopoly power; and (iii) indirect monetary policy, a cornerstone of financial liberalization, can only be effective at very high interest rates that are likely to be deflationary. The minimum rate is a mark-up over an exogenous foreign interest rate, marginal transaction costs and a risk premium. The paper utilizes and extends the oligopoly model of the banking firm. A calibration exercise tends to replicate the observed stylized facts.

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Outreach material

Concerted International Policy Action Needed to Tackle Worsening Global Outlook

The global economic outlook has turned gloomy, very much along the lines of the pessimistic scenario in the most recent World Economic Situation and Prospects 2008. If the US economy moves into recession this year, world economic growth could slow to just 1.6 percent in 2008, debunking the myth of its “decoupling” from the US. This policy brief by DESA’s Development Policy and Analysis Division highlights some of the more pertinent issues.

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UNdata: A World of InformationUNdata: A World of Information

The DESA Statistics Division has just launched a new internet-based data service for the global user community. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point. Users can search and down load a variety of statistical resources of the UN system.

“The UN-system has accumulated over the past 60 years an impressive amount of information. UNdata, developed by the Statistics Division of DESA, is a new powerful tool, which will bring this unique and authoritative set of data not only to the desks of decision makers and analysts, but also to journalists, to students and to all citizens of the world, ” says Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

Since its foundation, the United Nations system has been collecting statistical information from member states on a variety of topics. The information thus collected constitutes a considerable information asset of the organization. However, these statistical data are often stored in proprietary databases, each with unique dissemination and access policies.  As a result, users are often unaware of the full array of statistical information that the UN system has in its data libraries. The current arrangement also means that users are required to move from one database to another to access different types of information. 

UNdata addresses this problem by pooling major UN databases and those of several international into one single internet environment. The innovative design allows a user to access a large number of UN databases either by browsing the data series or through a keyword search.

The project has been developed in partnership with Statistics Sweden, the Gapminder Foundation and with partial financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

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ECOSOC National Voluntary PresentationsECOSOC National Voluntary Presentations

The Division for Economic and Council Support and Coordination has set up a website on national voluntary presentations in preparation for the 2008 Annual Ministerial Review. ECOSOC’s national voluntary presentations provide an opportunity for countries to describe progress they have made on achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. Eight countries will be making presentations this year – Belgium, Chile, Finland, Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Lao PDR, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom.

For more information: http://www/ecosoc/newfunct/amrnational.shtml