In 1999, when a few enthusiasts agreed to meet annually in an effort to base interventions on land, on solid empirical evidence rather than ideology, few would have expected this effort to have such a lasting impact. Twenty years on, the small gathering has morphed into a conference, bringing together over 1,500 participants from governments, academics, civil society and the private sector to discuss the latest research and innovations in policies and good practice on land governance around the world.
We love local. Whether it’s buying vegetables directly from your local farmer, frequenting a neighborhood business, or working as a community activist, many of us believe that solutions to some of our most pressing problems lie at least in part in a small series of actions taken from the ground up. This may be especially true in countries with limited state capacity, where community-based organizations (CBOs) are often among the highest-functioning entities at the local level. In some settings, producer cooperatives or savings and credit groups, for example, have stronger financial management capacity than local governments. Parent-teacher organizations, women’s associations, hometown associations, or other membership-based groups can be highly effective community mobilizers.
After a brief hiatus, the office of the Chief Economist of the World Bank Group was reunited last week with DEC, the well-known Research Department of the World Bank. This led me to reflect on a question often posed to policy institutions as well as the private sector: Why do we need research departments outside academia?
Before attempting to answer this question, it is worth noting that research departments are common in top firms in the private sector. By research, I do not mean simple data gathering and processing, but rather the creation of original, innovative insights. AT&T famously had Bell Labs. Technology leaders from IBM to Microsoft to Amazon, Facebook, and Google have all funded basic research. Google has Google X, despite being located only a few miles from Stanford. A strong research lab is a sign of company health and power. Conversely, the shrinking of the research department often signals the demise of the company. And, of course, the phenomenon is not confined to tech.
The fact that these highly efficient companies choose to spend millions to support research departments reinforces the puzzle: Why not focus on engineering and application of knowledge and outsource the creation of fundamental knowledge, of primary research, to academia?
To a United States citizen, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) might seem like the La Llorona -the Spanish-speaker’s response to the Boogeyman -of public administration. They come after those of us dilly dallying with our accounts and are much better at seeking than we are at hiding. But should paying taxes really feel like La Llorona is coming after you? Evidence from three experimental tax trials in Kosovo would seem to suggest that behaviorally informed tools can increase voluntary tax compliance and especially improve the workings of a tax administration without resorting to fear. So how does behavioral science inform tax compliance?
Energy commodity prices increased nearly 5 percent in February, led by oil (+8 percent), the World Bank’s Pink Sheet reported.
Non-energy prices gained 2 percent, in response to large price increases in metals and minerals.
Agricultural prices changed little, as increases in food and raw material prices (+0.5 percent each) were balanced by declines in beverages (-1.3 percent).
Fertilizer prices declined more than 2 percent, led by an 8 percent slide in DAP.
Last month I announced that the 2020 World Development Report (WDR2020) will focus on global value chains (GVCs) and what they mean for development. Does participating in GVCs promote development? Why are some low-income developing countries reaping the benefits and others not? What can countries do to gain from trade and GVCs, particularly when new technologies are bringing change and the global status quo is in a state of flux? You can read my recent blog post for a summary of the Report’s objectives or read the Concept Note directly.
Poverty in Brazil is disproportionately concentrated in rural areas. Although rural households account for only 15% of the population, 45% of them fall within the nation’s poorest quartile. A large proportion of the rural population relies on small scale agriculture for their livelihoods, highlighting the importance of inclusive growth in the sector in contributing to poverty reduction. Accessing markets is one of the major development challenges faced by small producers (WB 2016). As a result of limited commercial activities and viable business plans, opportunities to access financial services to invest are limited. When rural organizations are asked what their main limitation is to the development of new projects or to diversification of the services offered, 56% of the organizations stated that a lack of resources - financial, physical, and human- was the main limitation.
The rising threat of digital taxes across the world, most recently in New Zealand, is raising the stakes to reform the international corporate tax system. In February 2019, the OECD outlined four proposals that will go through public consultations in the coming months. Of those, the “user participation” proposal has popular appeal, but seems least likely to succeed.
Over the last twenty years, impact evaluations have dramatically expanded the body of evidence about which types of development programs work, when, and why, but their application has been heavily concentrated in a few sectors. 83% of the trials in 3ie’s worldwide repository are focused on health, nutrition, and population programs.
As I wondered which of the many fascinating ideas from the World Bank’s inaugural annual Data Day to recap in a blog, it occurred to me that there was likely selection bias in those who chose to attend. Presumably, some skeptics of big data chose to skip the day entirely. So this blog is aimed first and foremost at the skeptical.