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February 2017

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.

Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy
Freedom House
In 2016, populist and nationalist political forces made astonishing gains in democratic states, while authoritarian powers engaged in brazen acts of aggression, and grave atrocities went unanswered in war zones across two continents. All of these developments point to a growing danger that the international order of the past quarter-century— rooted in the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law—will give way to a world in which individual leaders and nations pursue their own narrow interests without meaningful constraints, and without regard for the shared benefits of global peace, freedom, and prosperity. The troubling impression created by the year’s headline events is supported by the latest findings of Freedom in the World. A total of 67 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2016, compared with 36 that registered gains. This marked the 11th consecutive year in which declines outnumbered improvements.

Financial Flows and Tax Havens: Combining to Limit the Lives of Billions of People
Global Financial Integrity
Global Financial Integrity (GFI), the Norwegian School of Economics and a team of global experts released a study showing that since 1980 developing countries lost US$16.3 trillion dollars through broad leakages in the balance of payments, trade mis-invoicing, and recorded financial transfers. These resources represent immense social costs that have been borne by the citizens of developing countries around the globe. Funding for the report was provided by the Research Council of Norway and research assistance was provided by economists in Brazil, India, and Nigeria. Titled “Financial Flows and Tax Havens: Combining to Limit the Lives of Billions of People,” the report demonstrates that developing countries have effectively served as net-creditors to the rest of the world with tax havens playing a major role in the flight of unrecorded capital. For example, in 2011 tax haven holdings of total developing country wealth were valued at US$4.4 trillion, which exacerbated inequality and undermined good governance and economic growth.

What’s behind poor education outcomes in Côte d’Ivoire?

Jacques Morisset's picture
Today, young Ivorian students spend on average only eight years in the classroom while pupils in emerging countries spend almost the double (14 years). As if this wasn’t worrisome enough, studies show that this gap has widened over time and that the quality of education has deteriorated. At the end of the primary school cycle, less than half of Ivorian students have the required reading or mathematics skills, as evidenced in the graph below. These statistics illustrate the extent of the effort needed to make up for lost time, a challenge that the Ivorian authorities are set on tackling as the country embarks on the path of emergence.
 
And for good reason. Countries such as South Korea and Malaysia have succeeded in transitioning to emerging market status thanks to their investments in building some of the best education systems in the world. For the Nobel Prize winner in economics, Robert Lucas Jr. and the  World Bank’s chief economist, Paul Romer, economic development depends above all on a country's ability to value its human capital. This not only allows the country to increase its current added value but also to create tomorrow’s technological innovations.
 
 Employment Benchmark, 2016.)
This graph presents a regional comparison of the acquisition of mathematics and French skills at the end of the primary school cycle.
(Source: World Bank, Côte d'Ivoire: Employment Benchmark, 2016.)

In Côte d’Ivoire, every story counts

Taleb Ould Sid’Ahmed's picture
 Taleb Ould Sid'ahmed/World Bank Côte d'Ivoire

I met Prince Brokou four years ago in 2013, when he joined a road maintenance group as part of the Youth Employment and Skills Development Project (PEJEDEC) funded by the World Bank. At the time, he was still living with his parents in Yopougon, a sprawling suburb of Abidjan.

Brokou performed labor-intensive public works such as clearing out detritus from clogged road gutters that result in flooding during Côte d’Ivoire’s rainy season. This short-term activity allowed him to earn a monthly salary of CFAF 60,000 (about $124) for six months, and receive training on how to set up a small business to ensure his transition to future employment. He was also able to benefit from classes on civics, community development, public health, HIV/AIDS, and the environment.

Testing, testing: How Kosovo fared in its first international assessment of students

Flora Kelmendi's picture
Results of PISA 2015 reveal a wide performance gap between Kosovar students and their peers in the region.
Photo: Jutta Benzenberg / World Bank



A few weeks ago, education policy makers and data analysts around the world were glued to their laptops when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published the results of PISA 2015. More than half a million students – from 72 countries and economies representing 28 million 15 year-olds – had taken the test. PISA, an international assessment administered every three years, measures the skills of students in applying their knowledge of science, reading, and mathematics to real life problems.  PISA is one of the most influential international student assessments, which provides a rich set of information on the systems strengths and weaknesses, supports development of effective policies – and at the same time, benchmarks country's achievements vis a vis other participating countries.

Five Film4Climate films to inspire you in 2017

Lucia Grenna's picture



It’s just one month into 2017, and for many,  that means they have just launched their New Year’s resolutions. The gym is still crowded, your refrigerator is still full of healthy food, but that initial motivation may not be as high as it was on, say, January 2. So, it’s time to find new sources of motivation and even inspiration for keeping that New Year’s resolution. One place to find that inspiration is the Film4Climate competition. If you’re trying to find a reason to persevere through whatever new challenges you are finding, look no further than the winners of this competition. All these films put things in a unique perspective.

The five winners in the short film category really can be your springboard for an inspiring 2017.

10 reasons to apply for World Bank-Annenberg Summer Institute

Roxanne Bauer's picture


How can professionals looking to lead reform initiatives find the best way forward?

They can start at the World Bank-Annenberg 
Summer Institute in Reform Communication: Leadership, Strategy and Stakeholder Alignment, held at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, from June 5 - June 16, 2017.

The course is designed for leaders, strategists and advisors who want to strengthen the critical competencies necessary to support change agents and reform initiatives in developing countries.  

If this sounds like you, but you need a little nudge, check out these 10 reasons why attending the Summer Institute is a good decision.

1. Strengthen the critical competencies necessary to support change agents and reform leaders in developing countries: The program was developed on the premise that successful implementation of policy reforms depends significantly on non-technical, real-world issues that relate to people and politics. 

2. Develop the skills necessary to bring about real change: Finding a way to push a reform forward can sometimes be elusive. Political or sectoral change is usually needed.  The course will develop your skills to analyze policy options and effectively mobilize support.

Inspecting Poland's inspections

Maciej Drozd's picture


According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report, Poland ranked 74th globally in the ease of doing business in 2006. It took 10 procedures to incorporate a business in Warsaw, more than 40 steps to pay taxes, close to 200 days to register property, and almost 1,000 days to enforce a contract. A decade later, Poland ranked 24th, higher than the EU average – progress unmatched by any high-income country in terms of ease of doing business.

Poland has been one of the most active and steady reformers of its business environment in the world, but firms are yet to benefit from reforming the country’s burdensome business inspections.

Can providing information to parents improve student outcomes? 4 recent papers show it can (Chile, Malawi, and US x2)

David Evans's picture
My oldest child started middle school this year, and I suddenly started receiving emails every other week with updates on his grades. I’d never received anything like this before and was overwhelmed (and a little annoyed) by the amount of information. Someone told me that I could go to some website to opt out, but that seemed like too much work. So I continue getting the emails. And sure enough, now I follow up: “Hey, are you going to speak to your teacher about making up that assignment?

Toward next-generation performance budgeting

Donald Moynihan's picture
 Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank


Performance budgeting (PB) has a deep and enduring appeal. What government would not want to allocate resources in a way that fosters efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, and accountability? However, such aspirations have proven poor predictors of how performance data are actually used.

The potential benefits of identifying and tracking the goals of public spending are undeniable, but have often justified a default adoption of overly complex systems of questionable use. Faith in PB is sustained by a willingness to forget past negative experiences and assume that this time it will be different. Without a significant re-evaluation, PB’s history of disappointment seems likely also to be its future.

Non-tradable sector wages track high-skilled tradable sector wages

Oscar Calvo-González's picture

Recent data on hourly wages in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) reveal that Latin Americans working in the non-tradable sector (as in construction, transportation, hotels, or education) earn much more than workers in low-skill tradable sectors such as agriculture or low-tech manufacturing, and closer to high-skill workers in the tradable sector such as high-tech manufacturing or finance. Despite slight variations across countries, in 11 out of 17 countries studied, the difference between wages in low-skill tradable and non-tradable sectors has grown over the last ten years.[1] In most of these countries, hourly wages display a distinct trend: positive growth for high-skill tradable and non-tradable wages, and stagnating, or even declining for low-skill tradable wages.
 

Graph showing trends in non-tradable wages in Latin America

Source: World Bank's LAC Equity Lab
 


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