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Europe and Central Asia

Do the right thing: Tax tobacco!

Alex Kremer's picture
Both my grandfathers smoked when they were young. My father’s father was a shopkeeper who smoked a pipe and my mother’s father was a smallholder who smoked cigarettes. Both died of heart failure and left my grandmothers as widows. My father grew up as a little boy in an atmosphere of pipe smoke and sometimes I wonder whether this contributed to his asthma and his own heart problems. My mother became a doctor, a cancer specialist, and she always used to tell my brother and me that we should never smoke, because she saw every day what smoking had done to her patients.

The latest PISA results: Seven key takeaways

Marguerite Clarke's picture
International assessments aren’t perfect but they offer useful insights into how countries can help all students learn to high levels. (Photo: Dominic Chavez / World Bank)


Results for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) exercise were released on December 6. The results are instructive, not only because of what they tell us about the science, mathematics, and reading knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds around the world, but also in terms of how they compare to the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) results, which were released a week ago (click here to read my blog on key takeaways from the TIMSS results).

It’s not just women that need to support gender equality in the workplace

Ismail Radwan's picture
I was recently awarded the honorary title of “Manbassador” by the Professional Women’s Network (PWN).  PWN is the leading Romanian organization promoting gender equality in the workplace.

In Romania, as in many high-income countries, women have for many years eclipsed men both in terms of numbers of graduates and educational attainment, and yet these advances in education are not matched in the workplace. I hope that all who read this blog will take a moment to think about how they can play a role in supporting women’s empowerment and ending discrimination in the workplace.

Higher revenue, easier filing for taxpayers in Armenia

Julia Oliver's picture


Photo credit: Dmitry Karyshev

Armenia was faced with a slowing economy, sinking remittances, and inefficient tax administration. At the same time, ordinary taxpayers had to navigate arduous processes when paying taxes. The Armenian government was eager to reform its tax administration. Below is a transcript of what we learned when we spoke to World Bank experts working with Armenian tax officials to make things better.
 
Julia: I’m Julia Oliver.
 
Maximilian: I’m Maximilian Mareis.
 
Julia: And we have been talking with tax experts around the World Bank to find out about what they do.
 
Maximilian: So, let’s start with this project in Armenia. Why did we get involved?

Julia: Well, the global financial crisis hit Armenia and its three million people pretty hard. In 2012, when the World Bank began working with policymakers to improve the country’s tax administration, the country faced a pretty bleak picture. Foreign remittances were low, and the domestic economy was slowing. In addition the country had high levels of informal employment.

Research rigor and risks: Investigating gender-based violence in the European refugee crisis

Throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, we celebrate the strides made since the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. Despite significant advances in programming and policy, gender-based violence remains pervasive, especially in crisis-affected populations. The ongoing conflict in Syria and the risks of gender-based violence for Syrian refugees challenge us as a global community to focus our attention and intensify our efforts and activism against gender-based violence.
 
Photo: Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International

The 16 Days of Activism campaign also allows us to reflect on the important role of research in activism. Without rigorous research, activism against gender-based violence may be misguided or misaligned with individual or community perceptions and needs.
 
What is meant by rigorous research?

Rigorous research has been defined as research that applies the appropriate research tools to investigate a set of stated objectives. While some researchers may argue that quantitative research methodologies generate more rigorous data, using this definition we can see that qualitative research methodologies can also generate rigorous data to inform programming, policy and activism.

Our project, funded by the World Bank Group and Sexual Violence Research Initiative Development Marketplace for Innovations to Prevent Gender-Based Violence, aims to do just that—generate rigorous data using qualitative research methodologies to better understand the gender, social, and cultural norms that contribute to intimate partner violence among Syrian refugees. Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International in collaboration with academic and organizational partners in Turkey and Greece will collect data using focus group discussions and participatory action learning activities in order to inform future interventions targeting intimate partner violence among displaced populations.

How to tackle a growing HIV epidemic with limited resources?

Clemens Benedikt's picture

An experience from Belarus on how allocative efficiency analysis changed HIV budgets

Belarus’ HIV response is faced with the need to provide treatment to a larger number of people living with HIV than ever before and to simultaneously continue scaling up prevention. How to do this in a context of limited resources, poses a major challenge for any planner. Most recent HIV estimates from Belarus illustrate the rapidly growing challenge. UNAIDS estimated that the number of PLHIV in Belarus increased from 5,600 in the year 2000 to 35,000 in 2015. New HIV infections increased from 1,700 per year in 2000 to 2,600 in 2010 and then doubled again to reach 5,300 in 2015.

Nine takeaways from the 2015 Trends in International Math and Science Study Results

Marguerite Clarke's picture
The highest performing countries are paying extra attention to the quality of their teachers. (Photo: Dominic Chavez / World Bank)

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) released the results of its latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) yesterday, November 29. TIMSS 2015 assessed more than 600,000 students in grades four, eight, and the final year of secondary school across 60 education systems.

The Russian economy inches forward

Apurva Sanghi's picture

During the four months that I have been based in Moscow, one truism about Russia has stood out for me: There is a hunger to know what “truly” goes on in the world’s largest country (by area) and its economy. So any report we publish on Russia gets a lot of attention, and our latest Russia Economic Report is no exception. While we analyzed and discussed many economic issues, here are three noteworthy ones.

Improving fairness, opportunity and empowerment: A view from the South Caucasus

Genevieve Boyreau's picture
I was quite intrigued by the findings of the latest Europe and Central Asia Economic Update, with its special focus on "Polarization and Populism". As Program Leader for the South Caucasus region, covering Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, I was particularly interested in the fact that these three countries report the highest levels of life and job dissatisfaction, despite declining disparities and overall income improvement in the region (in Georgia, for instance). Indeed, using the World Bank’s "twin goal” metrics, the South Caucasus region has been performing reasonably well.

Metropolitan development is central to Romania’s economic development

Marcel Ionescu-Heroiu's picture
Metropolitan development is important for Romania’s growth. An analysis prepared by the World Bank for the Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MRDPA) indicates that Romania’s eight largest metropolitan areas (Bucharest, Brașov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanța, Craiova, Iași, Ploiești and Timișoara) concentrate 50 percent of Romania’s population and generate 75 percent of firm revenues in the country.

Metropolitan areas are the economic engines of a country, and if these engines do not work well, neither does the economy as a whole. Unfortunately, in Romania, these engines do not function properly, highlights another World Bank analysis prepared for MRDPA. There are only a few cities that have a functional metropolitan public transport system (e.g. Alba Iulia, Cluj-Napoca), few cities that have prepared spatial plans for the metropolitan area (e.g. Brăila, Brașov, Craiova), and even fewer that have managed to implement projects at the metropolitan level (e.g. Constanța).

What are some of the challenges facing metropolitan areas in Romania?

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