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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    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.
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    At Your Service?: The Promise of Services-Led Development
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-09-15) Nayyar, Gaurav ; Hallward-Driemeier, Mary ; Davies, Elwyn
    Throughout history, industrialization has been synonymous with development. However, the trend of premature deindustrialization and the spread of automation technologies associated with Industry 4.0 has raised concerns that the development model based on export-led manufacturing seen in East Asia will be harder for hitherto less industrialized countries to replicate in the future. Can services-led development be an alternative? Contrary to conventional wisdom, the features of manufacturing that were considered uniquely conducive for productivity growth - such as international trade, scale economies, inter-sectoral linkages, and innovation - are increasingly shared by the services sector. But services are not monolithic. The twin gains of productivity growth and large-scale job creation for relatively low-skilled workers are less likely to come together in any given services subsector. The promise of services-led development in the future will be strengthened to the extent that technological change reduces the trade-off between productivity and jobs, and growth opportunities in services with potential for high productivity do not depend on a manufacturing base. Considering technological change and linkages between sectors while differentiating across types of services, this book assesses the scope of a services-driven development model and policy directions that maximize its potential.
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    Productivity Revisited: Shifting Paradigms in Analysis and Policy
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-10-25) Cusolito, Ana Paula ; Maloney, William F.
    The stagnation of productivity in the developing world, and indeed, across the globe, over the last two decades dictates a rethinking of productivity measurement, analysis, and policy. This volume presents a 'second wave' of thinking in three key areas of productivity analysis and its implications for productivity policies. It calls into question the measurement and relevance of distortions as the primary barrier to productivity growth; urges a broader concept of firm performance that goes beyond efficiency to quality upgrading and demand expansion; and explores what it takes to generate an experimental and innovative society where entrepreneurs have the personal characteristics to identify new technologies and manage risk within an entrepreneurial ecosystem that facilitates them doing so. It also reviews arguments surrounding industrial policies. The authors argue for an integrated approach to productivity analysis that incorporates both the need to reduce economic distortions and generate the human capital capable of identifying the opportunities offered to follower countries and upgrade firm capabilities. Finally, it offers guidance on prioritizing policies when there is uncertainty around diagnostics and limited government capability.