Policy Research Notes

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Policy Research Notes (PRNs) are prepared under the direction of the World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Development Economics. PRNs combine and distill existing and new research to inform discussion on topical policy issues. They are aimed at a broad audience interested in economic policy.

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  • Publication
    Slowdown in Emerging Markets: Rough Patch or Prolonged Weakness?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-12) Didier, Tatiana; Kose, M. Ayhan; Ohnsorge, Franziska
    A synchronous growth slowdown has been underway in emerging markets (EM) since 2010. Growth in these countries is now markedly slower than, not just the pre‐crisis average, but also the long‐term average. As a group, EM growth eased from 7.6 percent in 2010 to 4.5 percent in 2014, and is projected to slow further to below 4 percent in 2015. This moderation has affected all regions (except South Asia) and is the most severe in Latin America and the Caribbean. The deceleration is highly synchronous across countries, especially among large EM. By 2015, China, Russia, and South Africa had all experienced three consecutive years of slower growth. The EM‐AE growth differential has narrowed to two percentage points in 2015, well below the 2003‐08 average of 4.8 percentage points and near the long‐term average differential of 1990‐2008. The recent slowdown in EM has been a source of a lively debate, as evident from the quotations at the beginning of this note. Some economists paint a bleak picture for the future of EM and argue that the impressive growth performance of EM prior to the crisis was driven by temporary commodity booms and rapid debt accumulation, and will not be sustained. Others emphasize that a wide range of cyclical and structural factors are driving the slowdown: weakening macroeconomic fundamentals after the crisis; prospective tightening in financial conditions; resurfacing of deep‐rooted governance problems in EM; and difficulty adjusting to disruptive technological changes. Still others highlight differences across EM and claim that some of them are in a better position to weather the slowdown and will likely register strong growth in the future. This policy research note seeks to help move the debate forward by examining the main features, drivers, and implications of the recent EM slowdown and provides a comprehensive analysis of available policy options to counteract it.
  • Publication
    Ending Extreme Poverty and Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-10) Cruz, Marcio; Quillin, Bryce; Schellekens, Philip
    With 2015 marking the transition from the Millennium to the Sustainable Development Goals, the international community can celebrate many development successes since 2000. Three key challenges stand out: the depth of remaining poverty, the unevenness in shared prosperity, and the persistent disparities in non-income dimensions of development. First, the policy discourse needs to focus more directly on the poorest among the poor. While pockets of ultra-poverty exist around the world, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to most of the deeply poor. To make depth a more central element in policy formulation, easy-to-communicate measures are needed, and this note attempts a step in this direction with person-equivalent measures of poverty. Second, the eradication of poverty in all of its forms requires steady growth of the incomes of the bottom 40 percent. Yet, economic growth, a key driver of shared prosperity, may not be as buoyant as before the global financial crisis. Third, unequal progress in non-income dimensions of development requires addressing widespread inequality of opportunity, which transmits poverty across generations and erodes the pace and sustainability of progress for the bottom 40. To meet these challenges, three ingredients are core to the policy agenda: sustaining broad-based growth, investing in human development, and insuring the poor and vulnerable against emerging risks.