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.
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.
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.