Policy Research Reports
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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.
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Moving for Prosperity: Global Migration and Labor Markets(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-06-14) World BankMigration presents a stark policy dilemma. Research repeatedly confirms that migrants, their families back home, and the countries that welcome them experience large economic and social gains. Easing immigration restrictions is one of the most effective tools for ending poverty and sharing prosperity across the globe. Yet, we see widespread opposition in destination countries, where migrants are depicted as the primary cause of many of their economic problems, from high unemployment to declining social services. Moving for Prosperity: Global Migration and Labor Markets addresses this dilemma. In addition to providing comprehensive data and empirical analysis of migration patterns and their impact, the report argues for a series of policies that work with, rather than against, labor market forces. Policy makers should aim to ease short-run dislocations and adjustment costs so that the substantial long-term benefits are shared more evenly. Only then can we avoid draconian migration restrictions that will hurt everybody. Moving for Prosperity aims to inform and stimulate policy debate, facilitate further research, and identify prominent knowledge gaps. It demonstrates why existing income gaps, demographic differences, and rapidly declining transportation costs mean that global mobility will continue to be a key feature of our lives for generations to come. Its audience includes anyone interested in one of the most controversial policy debates of our time.
Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009) Fiszbein, Ariel ; Schady, Norbert ; Ferreira, Francisco H.G. ; Grosh, Margaret ; Keleher, Niall ; Olinto, Pedro ; Skoufias, EmmanuelThe 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.
Finance for All? Policies and Pitfalls in Expanding Access(Washington, DC, 2008) World BankThis 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.
Globalization, Growth, and Poverty : Building an Inclusive World Economy(Washington, DC: World Bank and Oxford University Press, 2002) World BankSocieties and economies around the world are becoming more integrated. Integration is the result of reduced costs of transport, lower trade barriers, faster communication of ideas, rising capital flows, and intensifying pressures for mitigation. Integration--or "globalization"--has generated anxieties about rising ineuality, shifting power, and cultural uniformity. This report assesses its impact and examines these anxieties. Global integration is already a powerful force for poverty reduction, but it could be even more effective. Some, but not all of the anxieties are well-founded. Both global opportunities and global risks have outpaced global policy. The authors propose an agenda for action, both to enhance the potential of globalization to provide opportunities for poor people and to reduce and mitigate the risks it generates. This report presents three main findings that bear on current policy debates about globalization. First, poor countries with around 3 billion people have broken into the global market for manufactures and services; these "new globalizers" have experienced large-scale poverty reduction. The second finding concerns inclusion both across countries and within them; the authors highlight a range of measures that would help countries in danger of becoming marginalized become integrated with the world economy. A third issue concerns the anxiety that economic integration leads to cultural or institutional homogenization.