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Research at Work 2015: Turning Insight into Impact

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt's picture

As the World Bank takes stock following its annual Spring Meetings, it’s clear that rigorous and policy-relevant research remains a critical element in achieving the goals of the institution. From informing the Bank’s Twin Goals in our latest Policy Research Report to creating the Findex database that underlies the institution’s commitment to achieving universal financial inclusion, research continues to shape the Bank’s agenda and provide the foundation of evidence-based policy advice sought by its clients. Without the independent scrutiny of research, the conceptual and empirical foundations for policymaking would be weak, “best practices” would be emulated without sufficient evidence, and new fads and fashions would get more attention and traction than they deserve.
 

Weekly links May 8: rainfall revisited, rethinking key results with long-term data, son preference, and more…

David McKenzie's picture

India, China and our growth forecasts

Kaushik Basu's picture

Last month, the World Bank and IMF both put out predictions that, this year, India would overtake China in terms of GDP growth rate. This caused a flutter and was widely reported around the world. How robust is this prediction and what does it really mean?

First, this is not as monumental a milestone as some commentators made it out to be. China has had one of the most remarkable growth runs witnessed in human history, having exceeded an annual growth of 9% from 1980 to now. Four decades ago its per capita income was close to India’s, but now it is four times as large as India’s. None of all this is going to change in a hurry.

With this caveat in mind, it is a year in which India deserves to feel good. It is expected to top the World Bank’s chart of growth rates in major nations of the world. This has never happened before. Before 1990, India did occasionally grow faster than China, mainly because China’s growth gyrated wildly during the pre-Deng Xiaoping period. It was, for instance, minus 27% in 1961, when Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward resulted in the world’s biggest famine, and it was 17% and 19% in 1969 and 1970, respectively--a relief in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. Fluctuations of this magnitude would be intolerable to India’s polity.

Could the UN’s new Progress of the World’s Women provide the foundations for feminist economic policy?

Duncan Green's picture

London launch of UN Women’s new flagship report,Progress of the World’s Women 2015-16Yesterday I went to the London launch of UN Women’s new flagship report, Progress of the World’s Women 2015-16, in the slightly incongruous setting of the Institution of Civil Engineers – walls adorned with portraits of bewigged old patriarchs from a (happily) bygone era (right).

The report is excellent. These big multilateral publications are usually a work of synthesis, bringing together existing research rather than breaking new ground. And that’s fine; it’s really important that a UN body has pulled such an excellent range of research together and made it accessible to policy makers. Gender and development debates suffer from a fair number of unsubstantiated claims and pretty dodgy stats (don’t get me started), and this report feels like something you can trust – I hope someone will go through it and pull out every major stat and graphic.

But the overall approach is both new and exciting, in that it applies an explicitly human rights approach to economic policy. Laura Turquet, UN Women researcher and report manager, summarized this as ‘bringing together human rights and economic policy-making to ask ‘what is the economy for?’’

This is a big deal, because the normal approach to gender and economic policy is incredibly reductive and instrumental – educate girls and get women into the workforce because it boosts growth! It ignores whether that will improve the lives of the said women or just pile more burdens onto their pre-existing roles as carers (of children, old people, neighbours), home maintainers etc etc.
 

​Stories from the field: World Bank-IFC collaboration on new PPP legislation in Albania

Christina Paul's picture
There is a wide range of issues to address when initiating and implementing a country’s national program for public-private partnerships (PPPs). One of the first priorities is providing an adequate legal and institutional framework to help create and/or develop a market for PPPs. In the recent case of Albania, this involved an assessment of the country’s current PPP legislation, especially in terms of its ability to attract private sector investment and generally move its PPP agenda forward.
 
IFC advised on Albania's Ashta
hydropower plant. Photo: © Energji Ashta

Particularly over the last decade, Albania has seen a number of PPP projects being implemented, most of them in the energy sector; for example, the Ashta hydropower plant on whose development the International Finance Corporation (IFC) advised. Given, however, that the country’s overall capacity and readiness to carry out PPPs has been assessed as only slightly above average (Source: Infrascope for Central and Eastern Europe 2012, The Economist Intelligence Unit), there is an apparent need to further build up and strengthen its institutional and implementation ability vis-à-vis PPPs. To this end, the Government of Albania is now focused on the further streamlining of its legal and regulatory PPP framework as one area of reform.

In February, a joint team from the World Bank and the IFC therefore participated in a review of the country’s current PPP legislation as well as the changes proposed to it, and organized a workshop for the Government of Albania. The latter focused on the institutional and legal/regulatory context essential for carrying out PPPs. Two colleagues and I represented the World Bank’s PPP group during our visit.

Thinking globally: Local governments leading the way to a global climate solution

Thomas Kerr's picture
California wind power. Bryan Siders/Creative Commons


The Canadian Province of Ontario announced last month that it would join California and Quebec in linking their cap-and-trade programs to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The move was met with approval by carbon market watchers, as local governments showed how they could avoid the lengthy political battles sometimes faced by national governments preparing submissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At a time when governments are looking for ambition, could this sort of local government action be the start of something much bigger?

Last week, I attended the Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) event in Los Angeles to explore whether the momentum we are seeing to price carbon is evident on the ground. I found a lot of local government leadership on climate change.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.


The New Global Marketplace of Political Change
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Western democratic powers are no longer the dominant external shapers of political transitions around the world. A new global marketplace of political change now exists, in which varied arrays of states, including numerous nondemocracies and non-Western democracies, are influencing transitional trajectories. Western policymakers and aid practitioners have been slow to come to grips with the realities and implications of this new situation.

Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights
UN Women
Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights, UN Women’s flagship report, shows that, all too often, women’s economic and social rights are held back, because they are forced to fit into a 'man’s world'. But, it is possible to move beyond the status quo, to picture a world where economies are built with women’s rights at their heart. It is being published as the international community comes together to define a transformative post-2015 development agenda, and coincides with the 20th anniversary commemoration of the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China which set out a comprehensive agenda to advance gender equality. Since Beijing, significant progress has been made, particularly in advancing women’s legal rights. However, as Progress shows, in an era of unprecedented global wealth, millions of women are trapped in low paid, poor quality jobs, denied even basic levels of health care, and water and sanitation. Women still carry the burden of unpaid care work, which austerity policies and cut-backs have only intensified.
 

MDG 1: Uneven progress in reducing extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition

Juan Feng's picture

This is the first in a series of posts on data related the Millennium Development Goals based on the 2015 Edition of World Development Indicators.

Millennium Development Goal 1 is to "Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger" and is assosciated with three targets to: a) Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day; b) Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all; and to c) Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. 

The latest estimates show that the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 43.6 percent in 1990 to 17.0 percent in 2011. Forecasts based on country-specific growth rates in the past 10 years indicate that the extreme poverty rate will fall to 13.4 percent by 2015, a drop of more than two-thirds from the 1990 baseline.

The number of people worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day is also forecast to be halved by 2015 from its 1990 level. Between 1990 and 2011 the number of extremely poor people fell from 1.9 billion to 1 billion, and according to forecasts, another 175 million people will be lifted out of extreme poverty by 2015.

This means that based on current trends, nearly half of developing countries have already achieved the Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG1) target of halving the proportion of the population in extreme poverty five years ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Getting Beyond Intrinsic Motivation in Service Provision: Let’s Talk Incentives

The guest post is authored by Ken Leonard
 
Intrinsic motivation is regularly promoted both as nostrum and portent in conversations about workers in service industries like education and health care. On the one hand, why do we have to focus so much on incentives: aren’t people in the service industry intrinsically motivated to do their job? And on the other, if we focus so much on incentives, aren’t we going demotivate those who are intrinsically motivated?

However, economists and policy makers in the health and education fields are often relying on imperfect definitions of intrinsic motivation.


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