Items in this collection
PublicationWho Decides Social Policy?: Social Networks and the Political Economy of Social Policy in Latin America and the Caribbean(Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank, 2020-11-02) Bonvecchi, Alejandro; Scartascini, CarlosWho decides the formulation of social policy? What resources do actors bring to decision-making processes? How do those resources position them within decision making networks? This book addresses these questions by combining an institutional political economy approach to policy making with social network analysis of social policy formulation processes in Latin American and the Caribbean. Based on extensive field interviews with governmental and nongovernmental actors, the case studies of social policy formulation in Argentina, Bolivia, The Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago show that while in the South American cases societal actors—such as unions and business associations in Argentina, and grassroots organizations in Bolivia—are central actors in the networks, government officials are the main participants in the Caribbean countries. The comparative analysis of the networks of ideas, information, economic resources, and political powers across these cases indicates that differences in the types of bureaucratic systems and governance structures may explain the differences between who decides and what resources underpin their influence in social policy formulation in the region. PublicationFiscal Rules and Economic Size in Latin America and the Caribbean(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-09-23) Blanco, Fernando; Saavedra, Pablo; Koehler-Geib, Friederike; Skrok, EmiliaFollowing the collapse of commodity prices in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in 2014-15, many countries in the region were unable to cushion the impact of the shock in order to experience a more gradual adjustment, to a large extent because they had not built adequate fiscal buffers during the commodities’ windfall from 2010-14. Many LAC countries entered 2020 and the COVID-19 crisis in an even more difficult position, with rising debt and limited fiscal space to smooth the negative impacts of the pandemic and adequately support their economies. Fiscal policy in most LAC countries has been procyclical. Public expenditure and debt levels have expanded in good times and contracted in severe downswings due to insufficient fiscal buffers, making crises deeper. Fiscal rules represent a promising policy option for these and other economies. If well-designed and implemented, they can help build buffers during periods of strong economic performance that will be available during rainy days to smooth economic shocks. This book—which was prepared before the COVID-19 crisis—reviews the performance and implementation of different fiscal rules in the region and world. It provides analytical and practical criteria for policy makers for the design, establishment, and feasible implementation of fiscal rules based on each country's business cycle features, external characteristics, type of shocks faced, initial fiscal conditions, technical and institutional capacities, and political context. While establishing new fiscal rules would not help to attenuate the immediate effects of this pandemic crisis, higher debt levels in the aftermath of COVID-19 will demand rebuilding better and stronger institutional frameworks of fiscal policy in LAC and emerging economies globally. Having stronger fiscal mechanisms that include fiscal rules can help countries prepare for the next crisis and should be on the front burner for policy makers in coming years. The findings and lessons discussed apply to economies of different sizes, with some differences under certain scenarios in terms of the technical design and criteria needed for implementation. In this book, policy makers will find that fiscal rules, if tailored to country characteristics, can work and be an essential fiscal tool for larger and particularly smaller economies. PublicationWage Inequality in Latin America: Understanding the Past to Prepare for the Future(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018) Messina, Julian; Silva, JoanaWhat caused the decline in wage inequality of the 2000s in Latin America? Looking to the future, will the current economic slowdown be regressive? Wage Inequality in Latin America: Understanding the Past to Prepare for the Future addresses these two questions by reviewing relevant literature and providing new evidence on what we know from the conceptual, empirical, and policy perspectives. The answer to the first question can be broken down into several parts, although the bottom line is that the changes in wage inequality resulted from a combination of three forces: (a) education expansion and its effect on falling returns to skill (the supply-side story); (b) shifts in aggregate domestic demand; and (c) exchange rate appreciation from the commodity boom and the associated shift to the nontradable sector that changed interfirm wage differences. Other forces had a non-negligible but secondary role in some countries, while they were not present in others. These include the rapid increase of the minimum wage and a rapid trend toward formalization of employment, which played a supporting role but only during the boom. Understanding the forces behind recent trends also helps to shed light on the second question. The analysis in this volume suggests that the economic slowdown is putting the brakes on the reduction of inequality in Latin America and will likely continue to do so—but it might not actually reverse the region’s movement toward less wage inequality. PublicationInnovative Experiences in Access to Finance: Market-Friendly Roles for the Visible Hand?(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2017-07-05) de la Torre, Augusto; Schmukler, Sergio L.Interest in access to finance and awareness of its importance have increased significantly since the early 2000s. Growing evidence suggests that lack of access to credit prevents many households and firms from financing high-return investment projects, which has an adverse effect on growth and poverty alleviation. Despite the increasing awareness of the importance of access to finance among both researchers and policymakers, there are still some major gaps in our understanding of the main drivers of access, as well as about the impact of different policies in this area. This book aims to fill some of these gaps by discussing recent innovative experiences in broadening access to credit in Latin America. These experiences are consistent with an emerging new view that, while recognizing the central role of the public sector in improving the contractual and informational environment for financial markets, also contends that there might be room for well-designed, restricted interventions in collaboration with the private sector to foster the development of financial markets and broaden access to them. In particular, the book analyzes, among other things, some interesting experiences from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico that use different instruments to broaden access to credit in a sustainable way, such as structured finance, factoring, credit guarantees, and correspondent banking. Most of these experiences have led to financial innovation by developing new financial products and coordinating different players in the financial and real sectors to overcome barriers to access to credit. The book provides a first systematic analysis of these innovative experiences, including an analytical framework to understand problems of access to finance and a discussion of the effects and optimal design of public interventions. Finally, the book discusses some open policy questions about the role of the private and public sectors (including state‐owned banks) in broadening access to finance in a sustainable and market-friendly manner. PublicationBeyond Commodities: The Growth Challenge of Latin America and the Caribbean(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-11-02) Araujo, Jorge Thompson; Vostroknutova, Ekaterina; Brueckner, Markus; Clavijo, Mateo; Wacker, Konstantin M.Beyond Commodities shows that Latin America and the Caribbean’s growth performance over the last decade cannot be reduced to the commodity boom: growth-promoting reforms that strengthened financial development, increased trade openness and improved infrastructure development also played a significant role and can continue doing so. Based on the econometric analysis of panel data from the 1970-2010 period for 126 countries, the study shows that, while the commodity boom facilitated growth in most of the region, it did not determine it. Domestic pro-growth policies and the maintenance of a sound macro-fiscal framework played a central role in explaining the region’s good performance during last decade. It also shows that new growth “stars” such as Panama, Peru, Colombia and the Dominican Republic emerged during this period. In addition, a benchmarking exercise reveals which policy gaps will lead to the highest potential growth-payoffs for each country and helps identify potential trade-offs. Finally, with the worsening of external conditions, the authors conclude that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have no choice but to turn their attention to domestic drivers to keep growth going, as the structural reforms agenda remains unfinished. PublicationCashing in on Education: Women, Childcare, and Prosperity in Latin America and the Caribbean(Washington, DC: World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, 2016-09-29) Mateo Díaz, Mercedes; Rodriguez-Chamussy, LourdesInvestments in education across countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have transformed the lives of millions of girls and the prospects of their families and societies. Unleashing the full economic potential of women is nevertheless still a curtailed issue in the region: just about half of women are unable to participate in paid work. The majority of the population out of the labor market is women between the ages of 24 and 45. This is the largest share of the available pool of unused human capital countries have, and where mothers of young children are concentrated. This book argues that more and better childcare constitutes a fundamental policy option to improve female outcomes in the labor market, but countries need to pay particular attention to the design and features of such services. First-rate educational programs will be useless if children are not enrolled or do not attend formal education centers. A large program expansion will be wasted if parents cannot enroll their children because they are unable to reach the center, don’t trust its quality, if the program is too expensive, or if work and care schedules are not compatible. Through an integrated framework applied to each country and an overview of the existing evidence, this book addresses the why and what questions about policy relevant instruments to achieve female labor participation. Parts I and II of the book lay out the motivation for Latin-American and Caribbean countries to act depicting their current situation both in terms of women’s labor participation and the use and provision of childcare services. Moreover, this book tackles the how question contributing to the incipient evidence about factors affecting the take-up of programs and demand for childcare services and other informal care arrangements. Part III of the book explores how to improve services and implement more and better formal, center-based care arrangements for young children. It looks at international benchmarks, discusses different experiences and proposes specific actions to solve potential inequalities in access to childcare. PublicationLeft Behind: Chronic Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean(2016-07-20) Vakis, Renos; Rigolini, JameleOne out of every five Latin Americans—about 130 million people—have never known anything but poverty, subsisting on less than US$4 a day throughout their lives. These are the region's chronically poor, who have remained so despite unprecedented inroads against poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean since the turn of the century. This book takes a closer look at the region’s entrenched poor, who and where they are, and how existing policies need to change to effectively assist the poor. The book shows significant variations of rates of chronic poverty across and within countries. The book posits that refinements to the existing policy toolkit —as opposed to more programs—may come a long way in helping the remaining poor. These refinements include intensifying efforts to improve coordination between different social and economic programs, which can boost the income-generation process and deal with the intergenerational transmission of chronic poverty by investing in early childhood development. In addition, there is an urgent need to adapt programs to directly address the psychological toll of chronic poverty on people’s mindsets and aspirations, which currently undermines the effectiveness of existing policy efforts. PublicationWork and Family: Latin American and Caribbean Women in Search of a New Balance(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-05-19) Chioda, LauraOver recent decades, women in Latin America and the Caribbean have increased their labor force participation faster than in any other region of the world. This evolution occurred in the context of more general progress in women’s status. Female enrollment rates have increased at all levels of education, fertility rates have declined, and social norms have shifted toward gender equality. This report sheds light on the complex relationship between stages of economic development and female economic participation. It documents a shift in women’s perceptions whereby work has become a fundamental part of their identity, highlighting the distinction between jobs and careers. These dynamics are made more complex by the acknowledgment that individuals are part of larger economic units—families. As development progresses and the options available to women expand, the need to balance career and family takes greater importance. New tensions emerge, paradoxically made possible by decades of steady gains. Understanding the new challenges women face as they balance work and family is thus crucial for policy.