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December 2016

What if Africa calls upon its diaspora to boost economic transformation?

Nadege Desiree Yameogo's picture
In observance of the International Migrants Day, Dec 18

The stock of African migrants in 2015 was estimated at about 23.2 million (Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016: and the top emigration countries are mostly fragile and poor (see Table 1). About 31.1% of Sub-Saharan Africans migrate to high-income countries compared to 90% in North Africa. The leading destination of these migrants include France, Saudi Arabia, USA, UK, Spain, and Italy. The second generation of African diaspora in the Western hemisphere was estimated at 1.1 million in 2012, and most of them live in Australia, Europe, and the USA.

Putting the spot-light on worker-paid recruitment cost

Ganesh Seshan's picture
In observance of the International Migrants Day, Dec 18

The United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, in particular Goal 10.7, calls for a facilitating safe, orderly and responsible migration through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.

Weekly Links December 16: The best economics books of 2016, early marriage, girl survival, call for papers on African agriculture, health care in India, and more

David Evans's picture


Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Commodity crash has dragged back world’s poorest countries, finds UN
Public Finance International
In a report on the progress of the world’s least developed countries (LDCs), published yesterday, the United Nations warned that a drop in international support also means these countries are likely to remain locked in poverty. It predicted the world will miss its target to halve the size of the LDC group by the end of the decade. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which were agreed by world leaders last year and include targets on ending extreme poverty, are also at risk. “These are the countries where the global battle for poverty eradication will be won or lost,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, which produced the report. “A year ago, the global community pledged to ‘leave no one behind’, but that is exactly what is happening to the LDCs.” Global poverty is increasingly concentrated in the 48 LDCs, which comprises mostly of African and Asian nations alongside some Pacific island states and Haiti.

OECD Recommendation of the Council for Development Cooperation Actors on Managing Risks of Corruption
There is strong awareness among the global community that corruption poses serious threats to development goals and that international development agencies have a common interest in managing and reducing, to the extent possible, the internal and external risks to which aid activities are exposed, in order to obtain effective use of aid resources.  This Recommendation of the Council for Development Co-operation Actors on Managing the Risk of Corruption (Recommendation) promotes a broad vision of how international development agencies can work to address corruption, including the bribery of foreign public officials, and to support these agencies in meeting their international and regional commitments in the area of anti-corruption.

2016: A unique opportunity to get it right on forests and climate change

Ellysar Baroudy's picture
Moniz Phu Khao Khouay, Vientiane Province
Forest monitoring efforts in Phu Khao Khouay, Vientiane Province, Laos PDR. Photo credit: Hannah McDonald

If ever there was a year to make significant progress on forest conservation and climate change, it was 2016. Coming on the heels of the historic COP21 Paris Agreement, 2016 was a year to demonstrate the commitment the World Bank Group has to support countries as they take forward their nationally determined contributions to address our global climate change challenge. It’s gratifying to look back on 2016 and feel that we contributed to harnessing this momentum and sense of urgency; especially in showing how sustainable land use, including sustainable forest management, is critical to achieving the ambitious targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

To measure the real impact of transport services, affordability needs to be part of the equation

Tatiana Peralta Quiros's picture

Differentiating between effective and nominal access

A couple of months ago, one of our urban development colleagues wrote about the gap between effective and nominal access to water infrastructure services. She explained that while many of the households in the study area were equipped with the infrastructure to supply clean water, a large number of them do not use it because of its price. She highlighted a “simple fact: it is not sufficient to have a service in your house, your yard, or your street. The service needs to work and you should be able to use it. If you can’t afford it or if features—such as design, location, or quality—prevent its use, you are not benefiting from that service.” To address this concern, the water practice has been developing ways to differentiate between “effective access” and “nominal access”—between having access to an infrastructure or service and being able to use it.

In transport, too, we have been exploring similar issues. In a series of blog posts on accessibility, we have looked at the way accessibility tools—the ability to quantify the opportunities that are accessible using a transit system—are reframing how we understand, evaluate, and plan transport systems. We have used this method that allows us to assess the effectiveness of public transport in connecting people to employment opportunities within a 60-minute commute.

Incorporating considerations of cost

Yet, time is not the only constraint that people face when using public transport systems. In Bogota, for example, the average percentage of monthly income that an individual spends on transport exceeds 20% for those in the lowest income group. In some parts of the city, this reaches up to 28%—well above the internationally acceptable level of affordability of 15%.

PPPs and government balance sheets: clarifying EU rules

Julia Kennedy's picture

Photo Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões via Flickr Creative Commons 

Should PPPs in the European Union be included in government deficit and debt figures? A new publication provides guidance for PPP practitioners.

A public-private partnership (PPP) is usually viewed in the context of a single infrastructure or public service project. But PPPs are also part of a bigger economic picture, one that includes governments’ finances.

In the European Union (EU), member states are bound by rules that determine whether or not PPP investments may be excluded from government deficit and debt figures. The EU’s statistical office, Eurostat, applies and enforces these rules. In certain cases, the deficit and debt impact of applying the Eurostat rules has been a factor influencing EU governments’ decisions to procure projects as PPPs.

Learning more with every year? Estimating the productivity of schooling in developing countries: Guest post by Abhijeet Singh

This is the fourteenth in our series of job market posts this year. 

Despite massive increases in school enrolment in developing countries, learning levels have lagged behind. But the range in average student achievement is large: In the 2012 PISA assessment (of 15-year-olds), Vietnamese students got higher scores than those in the US and the UK, but Peru ranked last (OECD 2012). The magnitude of the gap between these two developing countries was 1.4 standard deviations (SD); for comparison the difference between the US and Finland was 0.38SD.
My job market paper answers the question of how much of this gap reflects differences in the productivity of the schooling systems, as opposed to other factors such as nutrition, early childhood shocks, or endowments – a critical policy question relevant to the substantial education spending around the world.

How can Hong Kong stay smart and competitive? By driving change through a 'Public-Private-People Partnership' approach

Dr. Winnie Tang's picture

According to the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017,” Hong Kong dropped two notches to rank as No. 9 in its Global Competitiveness Index. The decline occurred mainly because the city faces challenges to “evolve from one of the world’s foremost financial hubs to become an innovative powerhouse.”

One might argue this is an unfounded worry: After all, as a developed economy with a GDP per capita of US $42,000, Hong Kong has recorded an impressive GDP growth rate, over the last five years, of about 3 percent annually. This growth rate is higher than many developed economy.

However, if we look at the economic figures more closely, some worrisome early warning signs are already emerging – especially in terms of the factors that will drive Hong Kong’s future economic growth.

Apart from finance and insurance, the majority of Hong Kong’s GDP growth nowadays is contributed by “non-tradable” sectors that have less knowledge and innovation content, such as the construction and public-administration sectors.

According to the World Bank’s latest research on “Competitive Cities for Jobs and Growth,” long-term economic success and job growth in cities are usually driven by “tradable” sectors – economic sectors whose output could be traded and competed internationally. Firms in tradable sectors are exposed to fierce competition which, in turn, exerts pressure on them to invest in research and knowledge-intensive sectors so that they become more productive and innovative in order to remain competitive internationally. Hong Kong is now lagging behind its Asian and world peers in the critical features of knowledge and innovation.

Although the urgency to act to increase the knowledge-driven content of the economy is obvious, there seems to be a limited number of actions taking place here on the ground in Hong Kong.  How can Hong Kong forge ahead and start making changes?

Staying competitive in today’s global economy is like sailing against the current: Either you keep forging ahead, or you will fall behind.

The World Bank’s Smart Cities Conference – held in Yokohama, Japan last month – presented some good examples from around the world on how to use a bottom-up approach with active citizen engagement to increase the chance of success in implementing changes. The audience was interested in learning about the successful transformation of Yokohama through the cities many initiatives, such as the development of the Minato Mirai 21 central business district.

The 2017 edition of International Debt Statistics is out

World Bank Data Team's picture

The 2017 edition of International Debt Statistics has just been published.

IDS 2017 presents statistics and analysis on the external debt and financial flows (debt and equity) for the world’s economies for 2015. This publication provides more than 200 time series indicators from 1970 to 2015 for most reporting countries. To access the report and related products you can:

This year’s edition of International Debt Statistics been reconfigured to offer a more con­densed presentation of the principal indicators, along with additional tables showcasing quar­terly external debt statistics and public sector debt to respond to user demand for timely, comprehensive data on trends in external debt in low middle and high income coun­tries.

By providing comprehensive and timely data that reflects the latest additions and revisions, and by expanding the scope of the data available online, we aim to serve the needs of our users and to reach a wider audience.