Editor's Note: The following post was submitted jointly by Brendan Ahern (Bankable Frontier Associates) and Ignacio Mas (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).
The PSD Blog is going on an end-of-summer hiatus for the next two weeks. While we're away, check out our most popular posts from August if you missed them while at the beach:
2. The World Bank talks about failure (with a little help from a Google transplant)
3. Which country has the second highest number of gyms in the world (after the US)? (Hint: It belongs to the BRICs.)
Over the last decade or so, the World Bank has made considerable investments in carrying out firm-level surveys that can be compared across countries and over time. What have we learned from all of this? Most obviously, we confirmed our suspicions that reforming the business environment, e.g. by reducing the barriers to entry, can boost productivity.
Over on the All About Finance blog, Bilal Zia provides a comprehensive roundup of what we know about the impact of financial literacy programs. As Zia points out, there are a lot of reasons to believe that financial literacy is important, but evaluations of financial literacy programs have so far produced lackluster results.
In a previous post, I introduced the concept of development’s information shadow (mediated from Tim O’Reilly), arguing that the development world will gradually produce an increasing amount of digital data with a relationship to real world objects (think, for example, of a digital map of safe drinking water sources in a given location).
It is a matter of debate whether governments should play an active role in stimulating industrial upgrading. But it strikes me as highly unlikely that an activist role for government has much benefit for products low on the value chain. A new policy note from ODI on four product markets in five developing countries seems to bear this out.