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May 2012

Acting Now to Reform Labor Markets

José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs's picture

The World Bank and the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently released a major report that inventories how 77 developed and developing countries responded to the financial crisis—including a database for the public domain. We spoke with ILO Executive Director José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs about lessons that could be drawn. He stressed the need to reform labor markets before a crisis hits and the special challenges for people with disabilities.

Reviewing Jim Manzi’s Uncontrolled: A humble push for evaluation through experimentation, but also a missed opportunity

David McKenzie's picture

The new book Uncontrolled by Jim Manzi has attracted a lot of recent press (e.g. see Markus’ recent post for discussion of David Brooks’ take, or this piece in the Atlantic), and makes the argument that there should be a lot more randomized experiments of social programs. I was therefore very interested to order a copy and just finished reading it.

Want to sell your country to investors? Answer the phone!

When investors think about entering new locations their biggest need—and biggest challenge—is often how to access the information they need to help them make decisions. Reliable information—especially in emerging markets—helps to reduce investor perceptions of risk in an unknown location and reduces the transaction costs of establishing in a new market. 

Missed calls are missed opportunities for investment. (Credit: Johan Koolwaaij, Flickr Creative Commons)

Moreover, you would think government investment promotion intermediaries (IPIs) should be keener than ever to make as much effort as possible to attract new investors in light of the cut-throat competition for lower levels of FDI since the crisis. Wouldn’t you? Well, it would seem like they aren’t. The World Bank Group's Global Investment Promotion Best practices 2012 survey (GIPB 2012) found that, worldwide, the responsiveness of IPIs to investor inquiries is shockingly low-with 80% of IPIs not even responding to sector-specific investor inquiries.

Providing Clean Drinking Water for Cities in Turkey

Across the world, countries facing rapid, and often unplanned, urbanization deal with a number of challenges that affect their growing populations. The issues range from a lack of access to decent housing and basic services such as sanitation, water, healthcare, electricity and transport. This has adverse impacts on the quality of urban living. It also undermines the efforts of cities to achieve their full economic potential.

CheckMySchool.org, websites that call you, and other innovations connecting schools to communities

Michael Trucano's picture

The World Bank recently hosted two events showcasing innovative tools and practices that can be used to help build bridges between schools and their local communities, helping to promote and support greater transparency, good governance and citizen engagement along the way.

The CheckMySchool (CMS) initiative in the Philippines (“promoting social accountability one school at a time”) is one of those projects that people intuitively ‘get’. Why not use tools like the web, Facebook, and mobile phones to help inform communities about the types of resources that their schools are supposed to have – and offer a way for them to report back when something is not as it should be?

Latin America: Most still keep their money under the mattress

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt's picture

También disponible en español

money under the mattress

Handing out a debit card or a 10 dollar bill to the fast-food franchise attendant is probably as natural to most people as buying their lunch every day. Many don't see this as a separate process but as an intrinsic part of the whole "getting lunch" deal.

This, however, doesn't hold true for 250 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over 60 percent of Latin Americans adults are still unbanked and, as a consequence, unable to access plastic, checks, credit or other forms of banking tools that make life easy –and, in some cases, help achieve life goals such as buying a home or saving for retirement.

A U.S. Business Take on the Financial Crisis

Ronnie Goldberg's picture

The U.S. business community faced an unprecedented test as the financial crisis hit in 2008. We spoke with Ronnie Goldberg, Chief Policy Officer for the U.S. Council for International Business and the U.S. employer representative on the International Labor Organization's Governing Body. She stressed the almost existential nature of the crisis and highlighted businesses' top concerns: protectionism, small and medium enterprises, liquidity, a work-ready workforce, and social safety nets.

Early Start, Grow Smart

Sana Agha Al Nimer's picture
It is not often that we at the World Bank are approached by school children to address a specific development topic. But a recent experience at school in Beirut suggests that talking to the youngsters is an effective communications tool, which could and should be part of our work.   On a recent working visit to Lebanon, my colleague Mona el-Chami was asked by the Wellspring Learning Community if water experts from the Bank would make a presentation to students on water scarcity and management.

Do the economics of Corporate Social Responsibility matter for Private Sector Interventions?

Markus Kitzmuller's picture

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has attracted significant discussion and controversy since the times of Milton Friedman’s famous 1970 NYT article stating that the only social responsibility of firms is to maximize profits. However, the conclusion that CSR automatically is in conflict with profit maximization or strategic firm behavior and therefore should be reduced either to a market failure or some form of altruism turned out to be incorrect. Quite the opposite: my article in the Journal of Economic Literature jointly written with Jay Shimshack not only shows that CSR constitutes an economically important phenomenon that may well be strategic (i.e. profit maximizing), but also argues that, when concisely defined1, CSR can be efficient. In other words, it can be a viable private channel of public goods provision and a formidable complement or even alternative to classic government intervention.

Not just the domain of entrepreneurs or companies, Corporate Social Responsibility can also impact international development.Development institutions such as the World Bank Group stress that the private sector has an important role to play in the development of an economy, however, the supply of environmental, social or other goods (or the curtailment of bads) with public character is believed to be government and rule rather than market-driven. But what happens when governments and rules fail to provide these goods and services? While, it appears that markets and corporate behavior won’t be able to reach a social optimum e.g. when it comes to pollution or renewable energy levels, they often can do better than governments. In the short and middle term, CSR can be welfare optimal. Eventually improved public politics and CSR may even be mutually reinforcing elements in the longer run.


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