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Turning Romania’s secondary cities into engines of growth

Marius Cristea's picture
Also available in: Română

On March 10, a World Bank team of urban specialists will visit Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iasi to engage academics, students, local authorities and stakeholders in discussing the role of secondary cities in supporting sustainable growth and improved economic opportunities in Romania.
Strengthening Romania’s secondary cities is vital to supporting the country’s efforts in converging faster with the EU and generating sustainable, long-term growth. In turn, rapid growth comes with a set of challenges that cannot be tackled by local authorities alone.

Women count: Turning demographic challenge into opportunity in Armenia

Laura Bailey's picture
Also available in: Հայերեն

“You can’t hold back time,” goes the saying (and the song). Indeed, the Laws of Nature dictate that people and societies get older and older, whether we like it or not.

But let me pose a question: are aging societies doomed to experience stagnation or a decline in living standards? Some might believe so, but I would argue that it is possible to address the realities of changing demographics that come from aging – through bold adaptive action!

Beyond celebrating – Removing barriers for women in the South Caucasus

Mercy Tembon's picture
Georgia kindergarten

After seventeen months in the South Caucasus, I have learnt a lot from colleagues in the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia about this day, March 8th. It is considered one of the most grandiose days of the calendar – when women and girls of all ages are acknowledged and showered with flowers and gifts of various kinds. Gifts range from a handmade card or a trinket to a bunch of violets or mimosa flowers. Older women might receive a bottle of French perfume, cosmetics, cutlery, crockery or other household items.

On March 8th, it is a common occurrence to see street vendors selling flowers in abundance, and shops are mainly full of male customers. The most important gift is that, on this day, men are also supposed to do all the house chores, so that on this day at least, women can forget about dishes, cooking and childcare, and enjoy some well-deserved time off! In a nutshell, it is a day of paying tribute to women everywhere – in homes, classrooms, and workplaces.

In defense of the besieged economist (part II): The global middle class

Maurizio Bussolo's picture

In my previous blog, I came to the defense of my fellow economists – who repeatedly take flak for not anticipating the global financial meltdown in 2008 or missing key signposts pointing toward the current rise of anti-globalization around the world.

I used that opportunity to explore the notion that, while there is certainly room for criticism, it is unfair to brand many economic polices economists have supported as ‘bad deals’ (a chief example being trade liberalization) by simply focusing on their negative elements, lest we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Here I will bolster this defense by calling our attention to a global perspective on the middle class. Often, in the current debate about the uncertain situation of the middle class, or the stagnation of income for the median earner, one overlooks the geographic focus of the debate. This debate is ongoing, with few exceptions, in high income countries. However, from a global perspective, the middle class is in very good health.

Romania should continue to reform its state-owned enterprises to enhance growth

Elisabetta Capannelli's picture
Also available in: Română

As the new government in Bucharest starts implementing its program - looking for strong, sustainable and equitable drivers of economic growth - I would argue that one of the first areas where the authorities should focus is a continuation of the reform and modernization of Romania's large, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that was initiated several years ago.

Accelerating the process of convergence with the European Union requires renewed attention to the structural reform agenda, including in the SOE sector. An improved SOE performance will increase Romania’s long-term economic growth potential, create better jobs, and have positive spillover effects on local and regional development - in addition to higher budget revenues.

Is there something wrong with us economists?

Maurizio Bussolo's picture

We economists did not see the 2008 global financial crisis coming.

Nor did we anticipate, predict or, at least, warn people about the current wave of anti-trade, anti-immigration, and populism!?

To be fair, some economists were sounding alarms in the lead-up to the financial crisis. And even with the current backlash, although we may have missed the chance to predict it, many had warned that we were understating the impacts of global trade and that distributional tensions - the result of an unequal impact of globalization, technological change, and aging on certain groups - were mounting.

It seems very important – especially when considering the ongoing fierce rhetoric with which some policy proposals and decisions are described – to remain cool-headed, carefully analyze data, stay engaged and support reforms that are backed by solid evidence.

Getting further down the road – Improving the quality of education in Georgia

Nino Kutateladze's picture
Young student in Georgia

Educational change is a complex endeavor for any country – especially in the context of social, economic and political transition, not to mention globalization. And Georgia is no exception.
The country’s path toward systematic education reform began in the 1990s and has been long and significant – indeed, it has undergone a paradigm shift since the days of the Soviet system. Today, Georgia’s education curriculum and standards are far more advanced, the allocation of educational resources is more efficient and transparent, and major improvements have been implemented with regard to regulation and management of the education sector overall.
Education reforms have had an especially noticeable impact on the financing and governance of Georgia’s educational institutions. The words “corruption” and “nepotism” are no longer used when describing the education sector – a far cry from the early 1990s when they were considered the most pressing issues facing the sector.
Today, Georgia’s education sector faces different challenges, however – which have largely to do with the quality of education. Important questions revolve around the relevance of the skills, knowledge and attitudes learned at school: are they fully compatible with the needs of the country’s growing economy and with the competitive global economy of the 21st century? And if not, why not?

Don’t sweat the small stuff – lessons from European courts

Georgia Harley's picture

Last year, we posted a blog – Resolving Minor Disputes Matters Big Time for the Poor – which highlighted how courts can fast-track minor disputes to deliver faster, cheaper and more appropriate justice and how – for the poor and for micro and small businesses – this may be their only path to justice. 

Increasingly, citizens and businesses demand fast-tracking services for small cases and, according to Doing Business data, 138 economies have a small claims procedure of some kind. So courts across the world are eager to learn how to roll out such reforms – either to introduce a fast track procedure or to improve on an existing one.

Modernizing property registration: Four lessons we can learn from Russia

Wael Zakout's picture
Also available in: Русский
 Wael Zakout

I just came back from a trip to Russia. Back in 2006 and 2007, I had traveled to Russia frequently as the lead for the Cadastre Development Project. This time - as a Global Lead for Land and Geospatial at the World Bank - I saw something I did not expect to see.

Privatization of real-estate properties and protecting property rights became two important pillars of transformation following the end of the Soviet era. But, while they were important policy goals in the 1990s, the system did not really function properly: rights were not fully protected and people waited for many months to register property transactions.

Who's heard of "Garbology"?

Meriem Gray's picture
Also available in: Русский

It's as tall as some of Baku’s fanciest buildings, but the only residents here are crows and seagulls. Welcome to the Central Balakhani Sanitary Landfill, the largest rubbish dump in the Greater Baku area. But this is a dump with a difference: it is meticulously organized, as far as garbage disposal sites go.

Recently, the site was nothing but a big, open pile of burning garbage that has been rising from the ground since it was a designated dumping site in 1963. Now, six days a week, an army of trucks delivers 350 tons of municipal solid waste from the homes and offices of Baku’s millions of inhabitants.