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  • Publication
    Latin America and the Caribbean Economic Review, April 2024 - Competition: The Missing Ingredient for Growth?
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-04-10) Maloney, William; Garriga, Pablo; Meléndez, Marcela; Morales, Raúl; Jooste, Charl; Sampi, James; Araujo, Jorge Thompson; Vostroknutova, Ekaterina
    Latin America and the Caribbean has made slow but consistent progress addressing the imbalances induced by the pandemic in an international environment that is just now showing signs of stabilizing. Despite favorable macroeconomic management, high interest rates and fiscal imbalances remain challenging while growth rates remain lackluster due to long-standing structural issues. Looking forward, an aging workforce and rising violence will increasingly complicate policy. This report focuses particularly on weak competitive forces as a source of low productivity, low growth, and low welfare in LAC. It emphasizes the need for effective competition institutions, pro-competition regulatory frameworks, complementary policies to improve the capabilities of workers and firms, and enhanced innovation systems, to prepare local industries to reach the technological frontier and face global competition. Furthermore, the report underscores the need for reforms to prevent large businesses from exerting undue political influence over policy decisions.
  • Publication
    ID4D Diagnostic in São Tomé e Principe
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-04-04) World Bank
    The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) Initiative harnesses global and cross sectoral knowledge, World Bank financing instruments, and partnerships to help countries realize the transformational potential of identification (ID) systems, including civil registration (CR). The aim is to enable all people to exercise their rights and access better services and economic opportunities in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. This is especially important as countries transition to digital economies, digital governments, and digital societies, where inclusive and trusted means of verifying identity are essential to ensure accessibility and data protection.
  • Publication
    Seizing Opportunities of a Lifetime: The Timor-Leste Human Capital Review
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-17) Andrews, Kathryn; Teixeira, Janssen; Meidina, Ilsa; Nagpal, Somil
    Timor-Leste is facing a human capital crisis. Children born in Timor-Leste today will be less than half as productive as adults as they could be if they enjoyed complete education and full health. Moreover, the Petroleum Fund, the main driver of the economy since the country’s independence in 2002, risks being depleted within a decade, threatening the sustainability of Timor-Leste’s economy, as well as health, education, and social protection systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified and accelerated these challenges and deepened socioeconomic and geographic inequalities across the country. To be ready for a future that will be primarily driven by the country’s human capital assets, the time available to Timor-Leste is limited and the task at hand an enormous one. Despite this daunting outlook, there are opportunities of a lifetime that need to be seized now to address this crisis. The country’s population is primarily young, and a rapidly closing window of opportunity exists to build high levels of human capital through quality education, health, nutrition, and social protection. By capitalizing on the youth bulge and translating it into a demographic dividend, the people of Timor-Leste can become the drivers of the country’s economic growth. Eight key messages can be distilled from the 2023 Timor-Leste Human Capital Review (HCR). These messages serve as a common reference point for the Government of Timor-Leste (GoTL) and other stakeholders active in human development to identify short- and medium-term priorities for investment in health, education, and social protection. Together, these can yield individual-level and macro-level economic benefits and improve development outcomes.
  • Publication
    The Brazil of the Future: Towards Productivity, Inclusion, and Sustainability
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-13) World Bank Group
    In 2022, Brazil celebrated its 200th anniversary. What will Brazil celebrate at its 220th anniversary, in 2042? Following the recent elections there is a window of opportunity for reforms that will shape Brazil’s development over the next decades. “The Brazil of the Future: Towards Productivity, Inclusion, and Sustainability” takes a long-term perspective on Brazil’s development, exploring how prudent actions today can generate opportunities for a more prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable society over the next 20 years. The report aims to stimulate public debate about a virtuous cycle for 2042, illustrated by four alternative future scenarios. With the right reforms Brazil can become an economic powerhouse that offers opportunities for all. A more inclusive social contract can facilitate critical reforms.
  • Publication
    Adaptation of the Calculator of Social and Environmental Impacts from Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Amazon: Application in Frontier Regions between Brazil, Colombia and Peru
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-09) World Bank
    Over the past decade, illegal gold extraction has increased significantly in the Amazon region, partly due to the high international prices of this mineral, the less stringent attitude of some countries in relation to the environment and the pursuit of immediate economic opportunities. Furthermore, this illicit activity is closely intertwined with other illegal practices, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, and the trafficking of endangered species. This has repercussions not just for the region's ecological wealth, but also for the physical well-being of those safeguarding their lands and the health of communities living in proximity to the extraction zones due to the contamination of their rivers and, consequently, their primary sources of food, such as fish. Despite the international effort to recognize the socio-environmental repercussions of this activity, there are still gaps on this issue, mainly due to the economic losses that this activity represents.
  • Publication
    Making Teacher Policy Work
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-08) World Bank
    This report zooms into what lies behind the success or failure of teacher policies: how teachers experience these policies, and how systems scale and sustain these policies. The report argues that for policies to be successful, they need to be designed and implemented with careful consideration of the barriers that could hinder teachers’ take-up of the policy (individual-level barriers), and the barriers that could hinder the implementation and sustainability of policies at scale (system-level barriers). Teacher polices too often fail to yield meaningful changes in teaching and learning because both their design and implementation overlook how teachers perceive, understand, and act in response to the policy and because they miss what is needed at a system level to achieve and sustain change. To avoid this, policymakers need to go beyond what works in teacher policy to how to support teachers in different contexts to adopt what works, while making sure it is implementable at scale and can be sustained over time. This requires unpacking teacher policies to consider the barriers that might hinder success at both the individual and system levels, and then putting in place strategies to overcome these barriers. The report proposes a practical framework to uncover the black box of effective teacher policy and discusses the factors that enable their scalability and sustainability. The framework distills insights from behavioral science to identify the barriers that stand in the way of the changes targeted by the policy and to develop strategies to overcome them. The framework is used to examine questions such as: What changes are required at an individual level to achieve the specific goals of a given teacher policy What barriers constrain the adoption of these changes How can the policy be better designed and implemented to tackle these barriers Moreover, the report draws on evidence from quantitative and qualitative studies on successful and failed teacher policies to examine the factors that make teacher policy operationally and politically feasible such that it can work at scale and be sustained over time.
  • Publication
    Distributional Impacts of Brazil’s Tax Reform: scenarios regarding Cesta Básica exemption
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-10-31) Vale, Ricardo; Lara Ibarra, Gabriel; Fleury, Eduardo; Trzcinski, Kajetan
    A consumption tax reform in Brazil has been recently approved by the House of Representatives, providing a full tax exemption for the yet undefined ‘National Basic Basket’ of goods (cesta basica nacional), alongside a cashback scheme that is yet to be determined. This note simulates the distributional impacts of different fiscally neutral scenarios of reduced rates and exemptions. The authors show that the exemption of taxes for food and personal care goods (such as those suggested by Law 10,925) would benefit the most vulnerable. Nonetheless, overall expenditures on certain items that are being considered for inclusion in the cesta are relatively concentrated on households in the top decile of the income distribution. Thus, a blanket exemption on Cesta Basica items may benefit the richest more in absolute terms. If the list of items in the exempted Cesta Basica is shortened and the equivalent resources of the potential forgone revenues are returned into a targeted cashback scheme, a far less regressive indirect tax system could be achieved.
  • Publication
    Mozambique Gender Assessment: Leveraging Women and Girls' Potential
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-10-13) World Bank
    This gender assessment has been prepared as an input for the preparation of the World Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy for Mozambique (2023–2027). However, this assessment is not limited to areas of the World Bank’s current country engagement; rather, it seeks to provide a general overview of the key challenges and opportunities facing Mozambican women and girls across different dimensions of their lives. The assessment adopts a life-cycle approach identifying key inflection points in the lives of women and girls that either limit or facilitate their empowerment.The assessment is based on a desk review of available studies, reports, and data from Mozambique, and draws on global evidence, largely from the Africa region.
  • Publication
    Brazil Systematic Country Diagnostic: Update
    (Washington, D.C., 2023-10-11) World Bank
    This Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) update argues that development challenges identified in SCD1 remain relevant. Moreover, there is a renewed urgency to build the capacity of individuals to generate income and a reinforced need for timely action in a transition to a greener economy. The update builds on the evidence collected in a long series of recently published analytical reports to review the challenges identified in SCD1 and inform the definition of the update’s challenges. The first constraint is complemented by the definition of another challenge so that not only the need to have productive jobs is highlighted, but also the poverty‐reduction prerequisite of building the income‐generating capacity of all individuals (through human, natural, and financial capital) is explicitly stated. The third constraint is also expanded to underscore Brazil’s need to address increased exposure to climate change risks in a timely manner. The update identified four development challenges that must be overcome, which are linked to three desired high‐level outcomes (HLOs). These outcomes, reflecting transformative changes that are critical to achieving the twin goals, are defined as long‐term sustained improvements in the well‐being of the poorest and most vulnerable. The HLOs are: (i) increased access to high quality job opportunities; (ii) improved households’ accumulation and use of productive assets; and (iii) reduced vulnerability to climate shocks.
  • Publication
    Latin America and the Caribbean Economic Review, October 2023 - Wired: Digital Connectivity for Inclusion and Growth
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-10-04) Zambrano Riveros, Jorge Andres; Beylis, Guillermo; Maloney, William; Vuletin, Guillermo
    Latin America and the Caribbean continues to face adverse global headwinds: high interest rates, modest G-7 growth, soft commodity prices and uncertain prospects in China will all depress growth. Well-grounded policy responses have led to largely recovering employment and income losses from the pandemic and falling rates of inflation. However, the region faces the mutually reinforcing triple challenges of low growth, limited fiscal space, and citizen dissatisfaction. Expanding digital connectivity offers a possibility to make progress on all three fronts. To maximize the social benefits of connectivity as well as to ensure that it does not exacerbate spatial, educational, gender or racial inequalities, three challenges are important to address: first, expanding coverage to the remaining unconnected areas as well as improving the quality of service; second, increasing the productive use of existing infrastructure, and; third, as with any other infrastructure "hardware," investments in "software" - such as digital and traditional skills, managerial capabilities, supportive regulatory frameworks, and deeper financial markets are critical.