Commission on Growth and Development

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The Growth Commission’s reports identify the ingredients that, if used in the right country-specific recipe, can deliver growth and help lift populations out of poverty. The Commission, consisting of 19 experienced leaders and 2 Nobel prize-winning economists, has released several commission reports, thematic volumes, and background working papers. The spring 2010 volume is the final book from the Commission. The Commission is succeeded by The Growth Dialogue.

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  • Publication
    Equity and Growth in a Globalizing World : Commission on Growth and Development
    (World Bank, 2010) Kanbur, Ravi; Spence, Michael
    The commission on growth and development was established in April 2006 in response to two insights: people do not talk about growth enough, and when they do, they speak with unearned conviction. The workshops turned out to be intense, lively affairs, lasting up to three days. It became clear that experts do not always agree, even on issues that are central to growth. But the Commission had no wish to disguise or gloss over these uncertainties and differences. And it did not want to present a false confidence in its conclusions beyond that justified by the evidence. While researchers will continue to improve people's understanding of the world, policy makers cannot wait for scholars to satisfy all of their doubts or resolve their differences. Decisions must be made with only partial knowledge of the world. One consequence is that most policy decisions, however well informed, take on the character of experiments, which yield useful information about the way the world works, even if they do not always turn out the way policy makers had hoped. It is good to recognize this fact, if only so that policy makers can be quick to spot failures and learn from mistakes. In principle, a commission on growth could have confined its attention to income per person, setting aside the question of how income is distributed. But this commission chose otherwise. It recognized that growth is not synonymous with development. To contribute significantly to social progress, growth must lift everyone's sights and improve the living standards of a broad swath of society. The Commission has no truck with the view that growth only enriches the few, leaving poverty undisturbed and social ills untouched.
  • Publication
    Leadership and Growth : Commission on Growth and Development
    (World Bank, 2010) Brady, David; Spence, Michael
    In May 2008, the commission on growth and development (the growth commission) issued its report entitled 'the growth report'. In it the commission attempted to distill what had been learned in the past two decades, from experience and academic and policy research, about strategies and policies that produced sustained high growth in developing countries. It became clear in the course of the work that politics, leadership, and political economy (the interaction of economic and political forces and choices) were centrally important ingredients in the story. Dealing with the politics and the interaction of political and economic forces is a work in progress in research, an important one. Given this breadth, one of the editors' roles is to focus the reader's attention on what they take to be common issues across these chapters. These common problems are fourfold: (1) promoting national unity; (2) building good, solid institutions; (3) choosing innovative and localized policies; and (4) creating political consensus for long-run policy implementation. This report represent an excellent first step toward understanding the role of leadership in generating economic growth, and the author hope that they generate ideas and lead to new research on the problem of leadership in economic growth.
  • Publication
    Globalization and Growth - Implications for a Post-Crisis World : Commission on Growth and Development
    (World Bank, 2010) Spence, Michael; Leipziger, Danny
    The commission on growth and development was established in April 2006 as a response to two observations. While the author felt that the benefits of growth were not fully appreciated, the author recognized that the causes of growth were not fully understood. Growth is often overlooked and underrated as an instrument for tackling the world's most pressing problems, such as poverty, illiteracy, income inequality, unemployment, and pollution. At the same time, understanding of economic growth is less definitive than commonly thought, even though advice sometimes has been given to developing countries with greater confidence than perhaps the state of our knowledge will justify. Consequently, the commission's mandate was to 'take stock of the state of theoretical and empirical knowledge on economic growth with a view to drawing implications for policy for the current and next generation of policy makers.' This mandate has even more significance in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis of 2008. As developing countries seek to repair the damage to their economies and to re-launch themselves on a sustained high-growth path, there has never been a greater need for fresh new ideas and approaches to achieving sustained high growth. There has been no dearth of commentary about what the crisis may mean, but in reality, until the bottom has been reached and the path to recovery is clear, it will be difficult to draw general lessons for the future. This collection of essays encompasses a variety of viewpoints and covers both medium- and long-term policy issues. It is said that more textbooks have become obsolete in 2009 than in any year since the great depression. As a corollary, much has been written that is worth reviewing in a volume on globalization. The papers look at the issue of globalization from diverse points of view and add insights and perspective to the recommendations of the growth report.
  • Publication
    Climate Change, Mitigation, and Developing Country Growth
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009) Spence, Michael
    This paper deals with global mitigation strategy. More specifically the main purpose is to address the question of whether growth in the developing world is consistent with long?run climate change objectives. The first part of this paper lays out time paths for emissions for countries in various categories. These paths are consistent with countries' growth objectives, incomes, and capacity to absorb mitigation costs. The intent is to show that while global emissions are likely to remain flat or even to rise as a result of the combined effect of mitigation undertaken by advanced countries and growth in the developing world, eventually reasonably safe global per capita levels can be reached on a 50?year time horizon. The second part of this paper discusses countries' roles in relation to different categories and mechanisms that will support the achievement of safe emissions paths. These mechanisms create incentives and deal with the absorption of costs. In particular, the paper argues that a carbon credit trading system in the advanced countries, combined with an effective cross?border mechanism and a 'graduation' criterion for developing countries to join the advanced group, will create strong incentives, achieve a fair pattern of cost absorption, and support the dynamics described in part one. One point emerges clearly: the cross?border mechanism (or international offsets) is essential in dealing with both the efficiency and the cost absorption and equity challenges of a global mitigation strategy.
  • Publication
    Growth Strategies and Dynamics: Insights from Country Experiences
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008) El-Erian, Mohamed A.; Spence, Michael
    The paper examines the challenges that developing countries face in accelerating and sustaining growth. The cases of China and India are examined to illustrate a more general phenomenon which might be called model uncertainty. As a developing economy grows, its market and regulatory institutions change and their capabilities increase. As a result, growth strategies and policies and the role of government shift. Further, as the models of economies in these transitional states are incomplete and because models used to predict policy impacts in advanced economies may not provided accurate predictions in the developing economy case, growth strategies and policies need to be responsive and to evolve as the economy matures. This has lead governments in countries that have sustained high growth to be somewhat pragmatic, to treat the policy directions that emerge from the advanced economy model with circumspection, to be somewhat experimental in seeking to accelerate export diversification, to be sensitive to risks, and as a result to proceed gradually in areas such as the timing and sequencing of opening up on the current and capital accounts. The last is an area in which existing theory provides relatively little specific guidance, but in which there are relatively high risks that decline over time as the market matures.