The World Bank Productivity Project

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The World Bank Productivity Project seeks to bring frontier thinking on the measurement and determinants of productivity, grounded in the developing-country context, to global policy makers. Each volume in the series explores a different aspect of the topic through dialogue with academics and policy makers, and through sponsored empirical work in our client countries. The Productivity Project is an initiative of the Vice Presidency for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions.

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  • Publication
    Place, Productivity, and Prosperity: Revisiting Spatially Targeted Policies for Regional Development
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-01-21) Grover, Arti; Lall, Somik V.; Maloney, William F.
    Place matters for productivity and prosperity. Myriad factors support a successful place, including not only the hard infrastructure such as roads, but also the softer elements such as worker skills, entrepreneurial ability, and well-functioning institutions. History suggests that prosperous places tend to persist, while “left-behind” regions—or those hurt by climatic, technological, or commercial shocks—struggle to catch up. This division gives rise to demands to “do something” about the subsequent spatial inequality. Such pressures often result in costly spatially targeted policies with disappointing outcomes because of a lack of analysis of the underlying barriers to growth and structural transformation and a fair appraisal of the possibility of overcoming them. The latest volume of the World Bank Productivity Project series, Place, Productivity, and Prosperity: Revisiting Spatially Targeted Policies for Regional Development makes three broad contributions. First, it provides new analytical and empirical insights into the three drivers of economic geography—agglomeration economies, migration, and distance—and the way in which these drivers interact. Second, it argues that these forces are playing out differently in developing countries than they have in advanced economies: urbanization is not accompanied by structural transformation, leaving cities crowded and accruing all the negative aspects of urbanization without being concentrated productively. Long-term amelioration of poverty in lagging regions requires advancing the overall national agenda of structural change and productivity growth. Third, it provides a heuristic framework with which to inform policy makers’ assessments of place-based policy proposals, helping them identify the regions where policy is likely to have an impact and those that would remain nonviable. The framework enables governments to clarify the implications of various policy options; to think critically about design priorities, including necessary complementary policies; and to navigate the implementation challenges.
  • Publication
    Harvesting Prosperity: Technology and Productivity Growth in Agriculture
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020) Fuglie, Keith; Gautam, Madhur; Goyal, Aparajita; Maloney, William F.
    This book documents frontier knowledge on the drivers of agriculture productivity to derive pragmatic policy advice for governments and development partners on reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity. The analysis describes global trends and long-term sources of total factor productivity growth, along with broad trends in partial factor productivity for land and labor, revisiting the question of scale economies in farming. Technology is central to growth in agricultural productivity, yet across many parts of the developing world, readily available technology is never taken up. We investigate demand-side constraints of the technology equation to analyze factors that might influence producers, particularly poor producers, to adopt modern technology. Agriculture and food systems are rapidly transforming, characterized by shifting food preferences, the rise and growing sophistication of value chains, the increasing globalization of agriculture, and the expanding role of the public and private sectors in bringing about efficient and more rapid productivity growth. In light of this transformation, the analysis focuses on the supply side of the technology equation, exploring how the enabling environment and regulations related to trade and intellectual property rights stimulate Research and Development to raise productivity. The book also discusses emerging developments in modern value chains that contribute to rising productivity. This book is the fourth volume of the World Bank Productivity Project, which seeks to bring frontier thinking on the measurement and determinants of productivity to global policy makers.