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
    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
    Urbanization and Growth : Commission on Growth and Development
    (World Bank, 2009) Spence, Michael; Annez, Patricia Clarke; Buckley, Robert M.
    Structural change is a key driver of rapid growth: countries diversify into new industries, firms learn new things, people move to new locations. Anything that slows this structural change is also likely to slow growth. Because urbanization is one of the most important enabling parallel processes in rapid growth, making it work well is critical. Urbanization's contribution to growth comes from two sources: the difference between rural and urban productivity levels and more rapid productivity change in cities. In the early decades of development, when the majority of the population is still rural, the jump from rural to urban employment makes a big contribution to growth. As cities grow larger, the second effect faster gains in urban productivity - begins to dominate, as it operates on a larger base. Mortgages can improve households' ability to buy decent housing. But finance relaxes demand constraints only. Unless it is accompanied by measures to increase supply, better finance may result in overshooting prices. This volatility can jeopardize macroeconomic stability. In a typical pattern, strong income growth leads to a rapid increase in housing demand. An injection of liquidity from some source, often overseas, may help over stimulate the market, leading to over optimism and a dangerous concentration of wealth in real estate.
  • Publication
    Public Finance and Economic Development: Reflections Based on the Experience in China
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009) Gordon, Roger H.
    Low tax revenue and slow economic growth are two central concerns in developing countries. However, policies that raise tax revenue also harm economic growth. With tax revenue coming mainly from large capital-intensive firms, and with a large informal sector, policies that aid large firms and policies that discourage entry of new firms both help increase tax revenue. Entrepreneurial activity as a result is discouraged, lowering growth. There is a basic tension in policy design between current tax revenue and economic growth. In fact, a loss in tax revenue can itself reduce growth, due to less spending on education and infrastructure. It can also undermine political support for the reforms from the poor and from government bureaucrats, both of whom are key beneficiaries of government expenditures. What policies encourage growth without undue loss of current expenditures? One is debt finance, but this creates the risk of a financial crisis if tax revenue rises too slowly to repay this debt. A second is user fees, but such fees still undermine political support from the poor. A third is partial reform, maintaining both higher taxes on and some protection for easily taxed firms, even while barriers to entry are eased.