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.
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.
Too often, services fail poor people in access, in quality, and in affordability. But the fact that there are striking examples where basic services such as water, sanitation, health, education, and electricity do work for poor people means that governments and citizens can do a better job of providing them. Learning from success and understanding the sources of failure, this year’s World Development Report, argues that services can be improved by putting poor people at the center of service provision. How? By enabling the poor to monitor and discipline service providers, by amplifying their voice in policymaking, and by strengthening the incentives for providers to serve the poor.
Freedom from illness and freedom from illiteracy are two of the most important ways poor people can escape from poverty. To achieve these goals, economic growth and financial resources are of course necessary, but they are not enough. The World Development Report provides a practical framework for making the services that contribute to human development work for poor people. With this framework, citizens, governments, and donors can take action and accelerate progress toward the common objective of poverty reduction, as specified in the Millennium Development Goals.