World Development Report

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The World Bank’s World Development Report, published annually since 1978, is an invaluable guide to the economic, social, and environmental state of the world today. Each report provides in-depth analysis and policy recommendations on a specific and important aspect of development—from agriculture, the role of the state, transition economies, and labor to infrastructure, health, the environment, and poverty. Through the quality and timeliness of the information it provides, the report has become a highly influential publication that is used by many multilateral and bilateral international organizations, national governments, scholars, civil society networks and groups, and other global thought leaders to support their decision-making processes. This corporate flagship undergoes extensive internal and external review and is one of the key outputs of the World Bank's Development Economics unit.

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  • Publication
    World Development Report 2022: Finance for an Equitable Recovery
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-02-15) World Bank
    World Development Report 2022: Finance for an Equitable Recovery examines the central role of finance in the economic recovery from COVID-19. Based on an in-depth look at the consequences of the crisis most likely to affect low- and middle-income economies, it advocates a set of policies and measures to mitigate the interconnected economic risks stemming from the pandemic—risks that may become more acute as stimulus measures are withdrawn at both the domestic and global levels. Those policies include the efficient and transparent management of nonperforming loans to mitigate threats to financial stability, insolvency reforms to allow for the orderly reduction of unsustainable debts, innovations in risk management and lending models to ensure continued access to credit for households and businesses, and improvements in sovereign debt management to preserve the ability of governments to support an equitable recovery.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development
    (World Bank, 2011) World Bank
    The 2011 World development report looks across disciplines and experiences drawn from around the world to offer some ideas and practical recommendations on how to move beyond conflict and fragility and secure development. The key messages are important for all countries-low, middle, and high income-as well as for regional and global institutions: first, institutional legitimacy is the key to stability. When state institutions do not adequately protect citizens, guard against corruption, or provide access to justice; when markets do not provide job opportunities; or when communities have lost social cohesion-the likelihood of violent conflict increases. Second, investing in citizen security, justice, and jobs is essential to reducing violence. But there are major structural gaps in our collective capabilities to support these areas. Third, confronting this challenge effectively means that institutions need to change. International agencies and partners from other countries must adapt procedures so they can respond with agility and speed, a longer-term perspective, and greater staying power. Fourth, need to adopt a layered approach. Some problems can be addressed at the country level, but others need to be addressed at a regional level, such as developing markets that integrate insecure areas and pooling resources for building capacity Fifth, in adopting these approaches, need to be aware that the global landscape is changing. Regional institutions and middle income countries are playing a larger role. This means should pay more attention to south-south and south-north exchanges, and to the recent transition experiences of middle income countries.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change
    (Washington, DC, 2010) World Bank
    Thirty years ago, half the developing world lived in extreme poverty today, a quarter. Now, a much smaller share of children are malnourished and at risk of early death. And access to modern infrastructure is much more widespread. Critical to the progress: rapid economic growth driven by technological innovation and institutional reform, particularly in today's middle- income countries, where per capita incomes have doubled. Yet the needs remain enormous, with the number of hungry people having passed the billion marks this year for the first time in history. With so many still in poverty and hunger, growth and poverty alleviation remain the overarching priority for developing countries. Climate change only makes the challenge more complicated. First, the impacts of a changing climate are already being felt, with more droughts, more floods, more strong storms, and more heat waves-taxing individuals, firms, and governments, drawing resources away from development. Second, continuing climate change, at current rates, will pose increasingly severe challenges to development. By century's end, it could lead to warming of 5°C or more compared with preindustrial times and to a vastly different world from today, with more extreme weather events, most ecosystems stressed and changing, many species doomed to extinction, and whole island nations threatened by inundation. Even our best efforts are unlikely to stabilize temperatures at anything less than 2°C above preindustrial temperatures, warming that will require substantial adaptation. High income countries can and must reduce their carbon footprints. They cannot continue to fill up an unfair and unsustainable share of the atmospheric commons. But developing countries whose average per capita emissions are a third those of high income countries need massive expansions in energy, transport, urban systems, and agricultural production. If pursued using traditional technologies and carbon intensities, these much-needed expansions will produce more greenhouse gases and, hence, more climate change. The question, then, is not just how to make development more resilient to climate change. It is how to pursue growth and prosperity without causing "dangerous" climate change.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography
    (World Bank, 2009) World Bank
    Places do well when they promote transformations along the dimensions of economic geography: higher densities as cities grow; shorter distances as workers and businesses migrate closer to density; and fewer divisions as nations lower their economic borders and enter world markets to take advantage of scale and trade in specialized products. World Development Report 2009 concludes that the transformations along these three dimensions density, distance, and division are essential for development and should be encouraged. The conclusion is controversial. Slum-dwellers now number a billion, but the rush to cities continues. A billion people live in lagging areas of developing nations, remote from globalizations many benefits. And poverty and high mortality persist among the world’s bottom billion, trapped without access to global markets, even as others grow more prosperous and live ever longer lives. Concern for these three intersecting billions often comes with the prescription that growth must be spatially balanced. This report has a different message: economic growth will be unbalanced. To try to spread it out is to discourage it to fight prosperity, not poverty. But development can still be inclusive, even for people who start their lives distant from dense economic activity. For growth to be rapid and shared, governments must promote economic integration, the pivotal concept, as this report argues, in the policy debates on urbanization, territorial development, and regional integration. Instead, all three debates overemphasize place-based interventions. Reshaping Economic Geography reframes these debates to include all the instruments of integration spatially blind institutions, spatially connective infrastructure, and spatially targeted interventions. By calibrating the blend of these instruments, today’s developers can reshape their economic geography. If they do this well, their growth will still be unbalanced, but their development will be inclusive.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development
    (Washington, DC, 2007) World Bank
    The world's demand for food is expected to double within the next 50 years, while the natural resources that sustain agriculture will become increasingly scarce, degraded, and vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In many poor countries, agriculture accounts for at least 40 percent of GDP and 80 percent of employment. At the same time, about 70 percent of the world's poor live in rural areas and most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. World Development Report 2008 seeks to assess where, when, and how agriculture can be an effective instrument for economic development, especially development that favors the poor. It examines several broad questions: How has agriculture changed in developing countries in the past 20 years? What are the important new challenges and opportunities for agriculture? Which new sources of agricultural growth can be captured cost effectively in particular in poor countries with large agricultural sectors as in Africa? How can agricultural growth be made more effective for poverty reduction? How can governments facilitate the transition of large populations out of agriculture, without simply transferring the burden of rural poverty to urban areas? How can the natural resource endowment for agriculture be protected? How can agriculture's negative environmental effects be contained? This year's report marks the 30th year the World Bank has been publishing the World Development Report.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 2006: Equity and Development
    (Washington, DC, 2005) World Bank
    This year’s Word Development Report (WDR), the twenty-eighth, looks at the role of equity in the development process. It defines equity in terms of two basic principles. The first is equal opportunities: that a person’s chances in life should be determined by his or her talents and efforts, rather than by pre-determined circumstances such as race, gender, social or family background. The second principle is the avoidance of extreme deprivation in outcomes, particularly in health, education and consumption levels. This principle thus includes the objective of poverty reduction. The report’s main message is that, in the long run, the pursuit of equity and the pursuit of economic prosperity are complementary. In addition to detailed chapters exploring these and related issues, the Report contains selected data from the World Development Indicators 2005‹an appendix of economic and social data for over 200 countries. This Report offers practical insights for policymakers, executives, scholars, and all those with an interest in economic development.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 2005: A Better Investment Climate for Everyone
    (World Bank, 2004) World Bank
    Firms and entrepreneurs of all types from microenterprises to multinationals play a central role in growth and poverty reduction. Their investment decisions drive job creation, the availability and affordability of goods and services for consumers, and the tax revenues governments can draw on to fund health, education, and other services. Their contribution depends largely on the way governments shape the investment climate in each location through the protection of property rights, regulation and taxation, strategies for providing infrastructure, interventions in finance and labor markets, and broader governance features such as corruption. The World Development Report 2005 argues that improving the investment climates of their societies should be a top priority for governments. Drawing on surveys of nearly 30,000 firms in 53 developing countries, country case studies, and other new research, the Report explores questions such as: What are the key features of a good investment climate, and how do they influence growth and poverty? What can governments do to improve their investment climates, and how can they go about tackling such a broad agenda? What has been learned about good practice in each of the main areas of the investment climate? What role might selective interventions and international arrangements play in improving the investment climate? What can the international community do to help developing countries improve the investment climates of their societies? In addition to detailed chapters exploring these and related issues, the Report contains selected data from the World Bank's new program of Investment Climate Surveys, the Bank's Doing Business Project, and World Development Indicators 2004‹an appendix of economic and social data for over 200 countries. This Report offers practical insights for policymakers, executives, scholars, and all those with an interest in economic development.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 2002: Building Institutions for Markets
    (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) World Bank
    Markets should give incentives to engage in wider trade, forge the ability to use resources, and skills fully, and provide the opportunity to increase incomes, and accumulate assets. Despite underlying problems, many people in both developed, and developing countries do engage in productive, and rewarding market activity, for income from market participation is the key to economic growth for nations, and to reducing poverty for individuals. This report is about enhancing opportunities for poor people in markets, and empower them, provided regulatory frameworks, law enforcement, and organizational promotion accompany market transactions. Hence, building institutions that support the development of markets is the primary focus of this report, analyzing what institutions do to promote growth, and facilitate access, and suggesting how to build effective institutions. In understanding what drives institutional change, the report emphasizes the importance of history, highlighting the need to ensure effective institutions through: a design that complements existing institutions, human capabilities, and available technologies; innovations to identify both institutions that work, and those that do not; communities of market players connected through open information, and trade; and, the promotion of competition among jurisdictions, firms, and individuals. This overview is a presage to the World Development Report 2002, which shows that institutional strength ensures stable, and inclusive growth.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 1998/1999: Knowledge for Development
    (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) World Bank
    This is the twenty-first in the annual series assessing major development issues. This report acknowledges that knowledge, not capital, is the key to sustained economic growth and improvements in human well-being. It distinguishes between two sorts of knowledge: knowledge about technology, called technical knowledge or simply know-how, and knowledge about attributes, that is, knowledge about products, processes, or institutions. The report focuses on the relationship between the unequal distribution in know-how (knowledge gaps) across and within countries and the difficulties posed by having incomplete knowledge of attributes (information problems). In the first of three parts, the report discusses the importance of knowledge to development, and the risks and opportunities that the information revolution poses for developing countries. It then examines three critical steps that developing countries must take to narrow knowledge gaps: acquiring knowledge, absorbing knowledge, and communicating knowledge. Part 2 discusses the nature and extent of information problems, specific information problems, and three areas where information problems are most severe, namely in financial information, in environmental research, and in listening to the poor. Part 3 summarizes what knowledge and information requirements mean for developing government and international institution policies.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 1997: The State in a Changing World
    (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997) World Bank
    This is the twentieth in the annual series assessing major development issues. The report is devoted to the role and effectiveness of the state: what it should do, how it should do it, and how it can improve in a rapidly changing world. Governments with both centrally-planned and mixed economies are shrinking their market role because of failed state interventions. This report takes an opposite stance: that state's role in the institutional environment underlying the economy, that is, its ability to enforce a rule of law to underpin transactions, is vital to making government contribute more effectively to development. It argues against reducing government to a minimalist state, explaining that development requires an effective state that plays a facilitator role in encouraging and complementing the activities of private businesses and individuals. The report presents a state reform framework strategy: First, focus the state's activities to match its capabilities; and second, look for ways to improve the state's capability by re-invigorating public institutions. Successful and unsuccessful examples of states and state reform provide illustrations.