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.
(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009)
Yusuf, Shahid; Deaton, Angus; Dervis, Kemal; Easterly, William; Ito, Takatoshi; Stiglitz, Joseph E.
The World Development Report (WDR) has
become such a fixture that it is easy to forget the
circumstances under which it was born and the Bank's
motivation for producing such a report at that time. In the
first chapter of this essay, the authors provide a brief
background on the circumstances of newly independent
developing countries and summarize some of the main strands
of the emerging field of development economics. This
backdrop to the genesis of the WDR accounts for the
orientation of the earlier reports. The thinking on
development in the 1960s and 1970s also provides a baseline
from which to view the evolution that has occurred since.
From the coverage in the second chapter, the authors isolate
a number of key issues common to several or all of the WDRs,
and the author examine these issues individually at greater
length in third chapter. The discussion in third chapter,
which builds on the material in the WDRs, presents some
views about how far development thinking and, relatedly,
policy making have advanced relative to 30 years ago. It
asks whether promoting growth, building institutions,
tackling inequality and poverty, making aid effective, and
defining the role of the state have been rendered more
tractable policy wise by the knowledge encapsulated in the
WDRs. Chapter four looks ahead and points to some of the big
challenges that the Bank might explore through future WDRs
and the value it can add through the knowledge acquired from
its cross-country operations and research.