Policy Research Reports

14 items available

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This series brings to a broad audience the results of World Bank research on development policy. The reports are designed to contribute to the debate on appropriate public policies for developing economies. Titles in this series undergo internal and external review under the management of the Research Group in the World Bank's Development Economics Vice Presidency.

Items in this collection

Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
  • Publication
    Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009) Fiszbein, Ariel; Ferreira, Francisco H.G.; Grosh, Margaret; Olinto, Pedro; Skoufias, Emmanuel
    The report shows that there is good evidence that conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have improved the lives of poor people. Transfers generally have been well targeted to poor households, have raised consumption levels, and have reduced poverty, by a substantial amount in some countries. Offsetting adjustments that could have blunted the impact of transfers, such as reductions in the labor market participation of beneficiaries, have been relatively modest. Moreover, CCT programs often have provided an entry point to reforming badly targeted subsidies and upgrading the quality of safety nets. The report thus argues that CCTs have been an effective way to redistribute income to the poor, while recognizing that even the best-designed and best-managed program cannot fulfill all of the needs of a comprehensive social protection system. CCTs therefore need to be complemented with other interventions, such as workfare or employment programs and social pensions. The report also considers the rationale for conditioning the transfers on the use of specific health and education services by program beneficiaries. Conditions can be justified if households are under investing in the human capital of their children, for example, if they hold incorrect beliefs about the returns to these investments; if there is "incomplete altruism" between parents and their children; or if there are large externalities to investments in health and education. Political economy considerations also may favor conditional over unconditional transfers: taxpayers may be more likely to support transfers to the poor if they are linked to efforts to overcome poverty in the long term, particularly when the efforts involve actions to improve the welfare of children.
  • Publication
    Finance for All? Policies and Pitfalls in Expanding Access
    (Washington, DC, 2008) World Bank
    This book, finance for all, presents first efforts at developing indicators illustrating that financial access is quite limited around the world and identifies barriers that may be preventing small firms and poor households from using financial services. Based on this research, the report derives principles for effective government policy on broadening access. The report's conclusions confirm some traditional views and challenge others. For example, recent research provides additional evidence to support the widely-held belief that financial development promotes growth and illustrates the role of access in this process. Improved access to finance creates an environment conducive to new firm entry, innovation, and growth. However, research also shows that small firms benefit the most from financial development and greater access-both in terms of entry and seeing their growth constraints relaxed. Hence, inclusive financial systems also have consequences for the composition and competition in the enterprise sector. This report reviews and synthesizes a large body of research, and provides the basis for sound policy advice in the area of financial access. The findings in this report also underline the importance of investing in data collection: continued work on measuring and evaluating the impact of access requires detailed micro data both at the household and enterprise level.
  • Publication
    Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction
    (Washington, DC: World Bank and Oxford University Press, 2003) Deininger, Klaus
    Land policies are of fundamental importance to sustainable growth, good governance, and the well-being of, and the economic opportunities open to, both rural and urban dwellers - particularly the poor. To this end, research on land policy, and analysis of interventions related to the subject, have long been of interest to the Bank's Research Department, and other academic, and civil society institutions. The report aims to strengthen the effectiveness of land policy in support of development, and poverty reduction, by setting out the results of recent research in a way that is accessible to a wide audience of policymakers, nongovernmental organizations, academics in the Bank's client countries, donor agency officials, and the broader development community. Its main message rests on three principles: 1) provision of secure tenure to land improves the welfare of the poor, particularly by enhancing the asset base of those whose land rights are often neglected, and, creates incentives needed for investment, paramount to sustainable economic growth; 2) facilitation of land exchange, and distribution, whether as an asset or for current services, at low cost, through markets, and non-market channels, will expedite land access by productive, but land-poor producers, so that once economic growth improves, financial markets would rely on the use of land as collateral; and, 3) governments' contribution to the promotion of socially desirable land allocation, and utilization. The report discusses mechanisms to promote tenure security, demonstrates the importance of rental market transactions, arguing the removal of impediments to these can generate equity advantages, and positive investments. It also illustrates mechanisms, ranging from taxation, to regulation and land use planning to address these issues.
  • Publication
    Breaking the Conflict Trap : Civil War and Development Policy
    (Washington, DC: World Bank and Oxford University Press, 2003) Collier, Paul; Elliott, V. L.; Hegre, Håvard; Hoeffler, Anke; Reynal-Querol, Marta; Sambanis, Nicholas
    Most wars are now civil wars. Even though international wars attract enormous global attention, they have become infrequent and brief. Civil wars usually attract less attention, but they have become increasingly common and typically go on for years. This report argues that civil war is now an important issue for development. War retards development, but conversely, development retards war. This double causation gives rise to virtuous and vicious circles. Where development succeeds, countries become progressively safer from violent conflict, making subsequent development easier. Where development fails, countries are at high risk of becoming caught in a conflict trap in which war wrecks the economy and increases the risk of further war. The global incidence of civil war is high because the international community has done little to avert it. Inertia is rooted in two beliefs: that we can safely 'let them fight it out among themselves' and that 'nothing can be done' because civil war is driven by ancestral ethnic and religious hatreds. The purpose of this report is to challenge these beliefs.
  • Publication
    Finance for Growth : Policy Choices in a Volatile World
    (Washington, DC: World Bank and Oxford University Press, 2001-04) World Bank
    The overall impact of financial globalization on the domestic financial sector is profound. Liberalization of capital flows has effectively made domestic financial repression obsolete. The consequences have not been uniformly favorable. Following liberalization, domestic interest rates in developing countries have moved to a premium over industrial country rates, and can surge at times of currency speculation. Heightened interest rate and exchange rate volatility pose practical risk management difficulties for financial intermediaries and reinforce the need for appropriate infrastructures and incentives for risk containment, as well as for good macropolicies. On the other hand, the cost of equity capital has been reduced by allowing foreign investor access to local equity markets and allowing local firms to list abroad. Increased international flows through the equity markets have not been the major contributor to increased international sources of volatility. In addition to opening access to foreign-sourced financial services, more and more countries have been permitting foreign-owned banks and other financial firms to operate locally. Although this can represent a threat to domestic owners of financial firms, the drawback is outweighed by improved service quality. On all three fronts--debt, equity, and services--the costs and risks as well as the benefits of increased financial globalization. knowledges