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East Asia and Pacific

U.S. market access generated jobs in manufacturing and services and reduced income inequality in Vietnam

Ha Minh Nguyen's picture

Amid the recent rise of populism and protectionism, the labor market implications of trade have increasingly moved to the center of political and economic debates. Autor et al (2013), in an influential paper, find that U.S. regions that are more exposed to import-competing manufacturing industries witnessed larger declines in manufacturing employment and wages. 

An annual summit brings together pieces of the infrastructure puzzle

Jyoti Shukla's picture

On Thursday, April 5, the World Bank-Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit will take place – the eighth time that the World Bank, the Government of Singapore, and the Financial Times are partnering to hold this annual event.
 
The Summit has gone from strength to strength each year, and helped pave the way for the many infrastructure-themed events across the reigon. This year, as Singapore’s chairing of ASEAN brings its ministerial meetings to the city-state, finance ministers from across Southeast Asia will join the Summit, and their presence underscores the importance they attach to sustainable infrastructure development.

Five lessons in infrastructure pricing from East Asia and Pacific

Melania Lotti's picture
Photo: © Dini Sari Djalal/World Bank

In the infrastructure domain, “price” is a prism with many façades.
 
An infrastructure economist sees price in graphic terms: the coordinates of a point where demand and supply curves intersect.
 
For governments, price relates to budget lines, as part of public spending to develop infrastructure networks.
 
Utility managers view price as a decision: the amount to charge for each unit of service in order to recover the costs of production and (possibly) earn a profit.
 
But for most people, price comes with simple question: how much is the tariff I have to pay for the service, and can I afford it?

The World Bank as hummingbird: Leveraging knowledge for development finance

Otaviano Canuto's picture



My admiration for hummingbirds began in my native Brazil.   The hummingbird’s flight patterns may seem a mystery as they shift from one flower to the next.  But hummingbirds are immensely purposeful, agile, and proficient pollinators – among the most hard-working members of many thriving ecosystems.  And they can be found from Alaska to the southernmost regions of South America.  
 
The Bank’s efforts to transfer knowledge, germinate ideas, and catalyze change sometimes put me in mind of the hard-working hummingbird.  My visit to the World Bank’s Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia last year is a case in point.  As I learned about the Bank’s partnership with Malaysia and the origins of the Hub, I was struck by the broader relevance for our work with upper middle-income countries, and our efforts to share global lessons and leverage knowledge to maximize financing for development.  The visit sparked three main observations.  

One small step for me, one giant leap for girls in Papua New Guinea

Ruth Moiam's picture



In most rural communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a daily routine for women and girls involves collecting clean drinking water for their families. Whether it means a strenuous walk down a steep hill in the highlands or walking for hours during the dry season to the nearest water source, this daily task is familiar to a lot of us.

A few months ago, I travelled to Bialla, a small district town in West New Britain Province, in the north-eastern end of PNG after the launch of the new Water & Sanitation Development Project.

Driving into the township, it’s obvious why access to clean tapped water is so important: the main road was filled with women, and children of school age, carrying huge water containers heading to the nearest river.
I met 13-year-old Rendela, who told me about Tiraua river that it was about an hour out of town. Like most young girls in Bialla, Rendela is responsible for collecting water for her family.

Let’s work together to prevent violence and protect the vulnerable against fragility

Franck Bousquet's picture
Participants from 90 countries and 400 organizations joined the 2018 Fragility Forum to explore development, humanitarian and security approaches to fostering global peace and stability. © World Bank
Participants from 90 countries and 400 organizations joined the 2018 Fragility Forum to explore development, humanitarian and security approaches to fostering global peace and stability. © World Bank


Last week, in a gathering of governments and organizations at the World Bank-hosted 2018 Fragility Forum, the international community took an important step forward in fighting fragility by sharpening our understanding of it, hearing directly from those affected by it and thinking collectively through what we must do to overcome it.

We all agreed, acting on a renewed understanding of fragility and what it means to vulnerable communities represents an urgent and collective responsibility. We’ve all seen the suffering. In places like Syria, Myanmar, Yemen and South Sudan, the loss of life, dignity and economic prosperity is rife. With more than half of the world’s poor expected to live in fragile settings by 2030, we can’t end poverty unless we promote stability, prosperity, and peace in these places ravaged by conflict and crisis.

To unlock student potential in East Asia Pacific, be demanding and supportive of teachers

Michael Crawford's picture

Among the 29 countries and economies of the East Asia and Pacific region, one finds some of the world’s most successful education systems. Seven out of the top 10 highest average scorers on internationally comparable tests such as PISA and TIMSS are from the region, with Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong (China) consistently among the best. 

But, more significantly, one also finds that great performance is not limited to school systems in the region’s high-income countries. School systems in middle-income Vietnam and China (specifically the provinces of Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong) score better than the average OECD country, despite having much lower GDP per capita. What is more, scores from both China and Vietnam show that poor students are not being left behind. Students from the second-lowest income quintile score better than the average OECD student, and even the very poorest test takers outscore students from some wealthy countries. As the graph below shows, however, other countries in the region have yet to achieve similar results.

It takes a village to tackle Indonesia’s early childhood development challenges

Thomas Brown's picture



“Indonesia’s future is at stake”, states Camilla Holmemo in her opening address at the Early Childhood Development Policy Conference, held in July 2017 in Jakarta. The program leader for human development, poverty and social development of the World Bank in Indonesia rallies the audience by highlighting the lack of access to early childhood education and development (ECED) services and the high incidence of child stunting in Indonesia.
 
Despite the country’s middle-income status, one in three children under five are stunted, the fifth highest rate in the world. For these children, the likelihood of becoming productive citizens is significantly hampered  – unless we do something about it now. 

Sustainable mobility and citizen engagement: Korea shows the way

Julie Babinard's picture
Suwon's EcoMobility Festival. Photo: Carlos Felipe Pardo
The discussion on climate change often tends to ignore one critical factor: people’s own habits and preferences. In urban transport, the issue of behavior change is particularly important, as the transition to low-carbon mobility relies in large part on commuters’ willingness to leave their cars at home and turn to greener modes such as public transit, cycling, or walking.
 
Getting people to make the switch is easier said than done: decades of car-centric development, combined with the persistence of the private car as a status symbol, have made it hard for policymakers to take residents out of their vehicles.
 
Against this backdrop, I was inspired to learn about the example of Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, a city of 1.2 million some 45km south of Seoul I visited on my last trip to the Republic of Korea.
 
Officials in Suwon have realized that, although awareness of climate change is becoming widespread, behavioral engagement hasn’t quite caught up. To overcome this challenge, the city decided to make sure residents could be directly involved in the design and implementation of its urban transport strategy.

Artificial intelligence for smart cities: insights from Ho Chi Minh City’s spatial development

Ran Goldblatt's picture
Zoning by Land Parcel (Source: https://thongtinquyhoach.hochiminhcity.gov.vn)

It’s amazing to see what technology can do these days! Satellites provide daily images of almost every location on earth, and computers can be trained to process massive amounts of data generated from them to produce insightful analysis/information. This is just one of the demonstrations of artificial intelligence (AI). AI can go beyond just reading images captured from space, it can help improve lives overall.

For urban governance, machine learning and AI are increasingly used to provide near real-time analysis of how cities change in practice – for example, through the conversion of green areas into built-up structures. By teaching computers what to look for in satellite images, rapidly expanding sources of satellite data (public and commercial), together with machine learning algorithms, can be leveraged to quickly reveal how actual city development aligns with planning and zoning or which communities are most prone to flooding. This provides insights beyond the basic satellite snapshots and time-lapse visualizations that can now be readily generated for any areas of interest.

But the barriers to applying these technologies can still seem daunting for many cities around the world. It’s not always clear how exactly to analyze this massive amount of satellite data, nor how to get access to it.


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