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  • Publication
    The Business of the State
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-11-28) World Bank
    The state, as an owner of businesses, competes and collaborates with the private sector at the firm level, market level, and economywide, and this involvement has profound implications for investment and growth. Governments actively participate in commercial markets in different forms, from controlling the production of goods and services to investing in firms as a minority shareholder. The impact of state participation on an economy’s growth depends on the type of public-private ownership, the types of markets, and the importance of those markets in the economy. The impact also depends on how policies and institutions regulate both the businesses with state ownership and the markets in which they are active. The Business of the State uses new evidence covering 91 countries from the World Bank’s Global Businesses of the State database to highlight the distinction between businesses of the state and traditionally understood state-owned enterprises. The report analyzes how different ownership arrangements across sectors and institutional settings affect private investment, productivity, technology adoption, and job creation. It also analyzes how these government arrangements influence the ability of economies to respond to shocks, from pandemics to climate change. The report proposes a clear analytical framework for understanding the consequences of relying on businesses of the state to attain specific development goals.
  • Publication
    Four Decades of Poverty Reduction in China: Drivers, Insights for the World, and the Way Ahead
    (Washington, DC : World Bank, 2022) World Bank; Development Research Center of the State Council, the People’s Republic of China
    Regardless of the poverty line used, the speed and scale of China’s poverty reduction are historically unprecedented. Over the past 40 years, the number of people in China with incomes below US$1.90 per day—the international poverty line as defined by the World Bank to track global extreme poverty—has fallen by close to 800 million, accounting for almost three-quarters of the global reduction in extreme poverty. In 2021, China declared that it had eradicated extreme poverty according to its national poverty threshold, and that it had built a “moderately prosperous society in all respects.” However, a significant number of people remain vulnerable, with incomes below a threshold more typically used to define poverty in upper-middle-income countries. China has set a new goal of approaching common prosperity by 2035, which can help keep the policy focus on the vulnerable population. Four Decades of Poverty Reduction in China: Drivers, Insights for the World, and the Way Ahead explores the key drivers of China’s poverty alleviation achievements and considers the lessons of China’s experience for other developing countries. The report also makes suggestions for China’s future policies. China’s approach to poverty reduction was based on two pillars. The first aimed for broad-based economic transformation to open new economic opportunities and raise average incomes. The second was the recognition that targeted support was needed to alleviate persistent poverty; this support was initially provided to disadvantaged areas and later to individual households. The success of China’s economic development and the associated reduction of poverty also benefited from effective governance, which helped coordinate multiple government agencies and induce cooperation from nongovernment stakeholders. To illustrate the role of broad-based economic transformation for poverty alleviation, separate sections of the report analyze growing agricultural productivity, incremental industrialization, managed urbanization and rural-to-urban migration, and the role of infrastructure.
  • Publication
    The Human Capital Index 2020 Update: Human Capital in the Time of COVID-19
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-09-16) World Bank
    Human capital—the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate over their lives—is a central driver of sustainable growth and poverty reduction. More human capital is associated with higher earnings for people, higher income for countries, and stronger cohesion in societies. Much of the hard-won human capital gains in many economies over the past decade is at risk of being eroded by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Urgent action is needed to protect these advances, particularly among the poor and vulnerable. Designing the needed interventions, targeting them to achieve the highest effectiveness, and navigating difficult trade-offs make investing in better measurement of human capital now more important than ever. The Human Capital Index (HCI) is an international metric that benchmarks the key components of human capital across economies. It was launched in 2018 as part of the Human Capital Project, a global effort to accelerate progress toward a world where all children can achieve their full potential. Measuring the human capital that children born today can expect to attain by their 18th birthdays, the HCI highlights how current health and education outcomes shape the productivity of the next generation of workers and underscores the importance of government and societal investments in human capital. The Human Capital Index 2020 Update: Human Capital in the Time of COVID-19 presents the first update of the HCI, using health and education data available as of March 2020. It documents new evidence on trends, examples of successes, and analytical work on the utilization of human capital. The new data—collected before the global onset of COVID-19—can act as a baseline to track its effects on health and education outcomes. The report highlights how better measurement is essential for policy makers to design effective interventions and target support. In the immediate term, investments in better measurement and data use can inform pandemic containment strategies and support for those who are most affected. In the medium term, better curation and use of administrative, survey, and identification data can guide policy choices in an environment of limited fiscal space and competing priorities. In the longer term, the hope is that economies will be able to do more than simply recover ground lost during the current crisis. Ambitious, evidencedriven policy measures in health, education, and social protection can pave the way for today’s children to surpass the human capital achievements and quality of life of the generations that preceded them.
  • Publication
    The Fallout of War: The Regional Consequences of the Conflict in Syria
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-09-14) World Bank
    The people of the Mashreq have seen more than their share of deaths, economic losses, and instability over the past decade. As the decade-long conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic created new challenges and worsened the existing ones, economic activity declined, labor markets deteriorated, and poverty increased. These trends would overwhelm even the most advanced economies in the world. The Fallout of War: The Regional Consequences of the Conflict in Syria identifies the impact of the Syrian conflict on economic and social outcomes in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. It combines a large number of data sources, statistical approaches, and a suite of economic models to isolate the specific impact of the Syrian conflict from that of global and regional factors, and it explicitly analyzes the mechanisms through which such an impact is manifested. The analysis suggests that a persistent short-termism in policy making has so far propagated the shock emanating from the Syrian conflict, which led to costly and ineffective service provision, lost economic opportunities, and underfunded programs. The report advocates for a fundamental shift from the short-term mitigation policies to a medium-term regional strategy to address pertinent structural problems. Moreover, as the countries in the Mashreq look toward recovery, a policy approach that takes into account the region’s interconnectedness and seeks to build on it provides better prospects for the people. Such a regional approach that addresses cross-boundary issues—including migration, trade, and infrastructure—will require local, regional, and international commitments.
  • Publication
    Women and Trade: The Role of Trade in Promoting Gender Equality
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-07-30) World Bank; World Trade Organization
    Trade can dramatically improve women’s lives, creating new jobs, enhancing consumer choices, and increasing women’s bargaining power in society. It can also lead to job losses and a concentration of work in low-skilled employment. Given the complexity and specificity of the relationship between trade and gender, it is essential to assess the potential impact of trade policy on both women and men and to develop appropriate, evidence-based policies to ensure that trade helps to enhance opportunities for all. Research on gender equality and trade has been constrained by limited data and a lack of understanding of the connections among the economic roles that women play as workers, consumers, and decision makers. Building on new analyses and new sex-disaggregated data, Women and Trade: The Role of Trade in Promoting Gender Equality aims to advance the understanding of the relationship between trade and gender equality and to identify a series of opportunities through which trade can improve the lives of women.
  • Publication
    The African Continental Free Trade Area: Economic and Distributional Effects
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-07-27) World Bank; Maliszewska, Maryla; Ruta, Michele
    The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world, measured by the number of countries participating. The pact will connect 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined GDP valued at $3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035. But achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures. The scope of the agreement is considerable. It will reduce tariffs among member countries and cover policy areas, such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures, such as sanitary standards and technical barriers to trade. It will complement existing subregional economic communities and trade agreements by offering a continent-wide regulatory framework and by regulating policy areas—such as investment and intellectual property rights protection—that have not been covered in most subregional agreements. The African Continental Free Trade Area: Economic and Distributional Effects quantifies the long-term implications of the agreement for growth, trade, poverty reduction, and employment. Its analysis goes beyond that in previous studies that have largely focused on tariff and nontariff barriers in goods—by including the effects of services and trade facilitation measures, as well as the distributional impacts on poverty, employment, and wages of female and male workers. It is designed to guide policy makers as they develop and implement the extensive range of reforms needed to realize the substantial rewards that the agreement offers. The analysis shows that full implementation of AfCFTA could boost income by 7 percent, or nearly $450 billion, in 2014 prices and market exchange rates. The agreement would also significantly expand African trade—particularly intraregional trade in manufacturing. In addition, it would increase employment opportunities and wages for unskilled workers and help close the wage gap between men and women.
  • Publication
    The Mobility of Displaced Syrians: An Economic and Social Analysis
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020) World Bank
    The war in Syria, now in its eighth year, continues to take its toll on the Syrian people. More than half of the population of Syria remains displaced; 5.6 million persons are registered as refugees outside of the country and another 6.2 million are displaced within Syria’s borders. The internally displaced persons include 2 million school-age children; of these, less than half attend school. Another 739,000 Syrian children are out of school in the five neighborhood countries that host Syria’s refugees. The loss of human capital is staggering, and it will create permanent hardships for generations of Syrians going forward. Despite the tragic prospects for renewed fighting in certain parts of the country, an overall reduction in armed conflict is possible going forward. However, international experience shows that the absence of fighting is rarely a singular trigger for the return of displaced people. Numerous other factors—including improved security and socioeconomic conditions in origin states, access to property and assets, the availability of key services, and restitution in home areas—play important roles in shaping the scale and composition of the returns. Overall, refugees have their own calculus of return that considers all of these factors and assesses available options. The Mobility of Displaced Syrians: An Economic and Social Analysis sheds light on the “mobility calculus” of Syrian refugees. While dismissing any policies that imply wrongful practices involving forced repatriation, the study analyzes factors that may be considered by refugees in their own decisions to relocate. It provides a conceptual framework, supported by data and analysis, to facilitate an impartial conversation about refugees and their mobility choices. It also explores the diversified policy toolkit that the international community has available—and the most effective ways in which the toolkit can be adapted—to maximize the well-being of refugees, host countries, and the people in Syria.
  • Publication
    Belt and Road Economics: Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-06-18) World Bank
    China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 to improve connectivity and cooperation on a transcontinental scale. This study, by a team of World Bank Group economists led by Michele Ruta, analyzes the economics of the initiative. It assesses the connectivity gaps between economies along the initiative’s corridors, examines the costs and economic effects of the infrastructure improvements proposed under the initiative, and identifies complementary policy reforms and institutions that will support welfare maximization and mitigation of risks for participating economies.
  • Publication
    Healthy China: Deepening Health Reform in China
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-03-28) World Bank; World Health Organization
    The report recommends that China maintain the goal and direction of its healthcare reform, and continue the shift from its current hospital-centric model that rewards volume and sales, to one that is centered on primary care, focused on improving the quality of basic health services, and delivers high-quality, cost-effective health services. With 20 commissioned background studies, more than 30 case studies, visits to 21 provinces in China, the report proposes practical, concrete steps toward a value-based integrated service model of healthcare financing and delivery, including: 1) Creating a new model of people-centered quality integrated health care that strengthens primary care as the core of the health system. This new care model is organized around the health needs of individuals and families and is integrated with higher level care and social services. 2) Continuously improve health care quality, establish an effective coordination mechanism, and actively engage all stakeholders and professional bodies to oversee improvements in quality and performance. 3) Empowering patients with knowledge and understanding of health services, so that there is more trust in the system and patients are actively engaged in their healthcare decisions. 4) Reforming public hospitals, so that they focus on complicated cases and delegate routine care to primary-care providers. 5) Changing incentives for providers, so they are rewarded for good patient health outcomes instead of the number of medical procedures used or drugs sold. 6) Boosting the status of the health workforce, especially primary-care providers, so they are better paid and supported to ensure a competent health workforce aligned with the new delivery system. 7) Allowing qualified private health providers to deliver cost-effective services and compete on a level playing field with the public sector, with the right regulatory oversight, and 8) Prioritizing public investments according to the burden of disease, where people live, and the kind of care people need on a daily basis.
  • Publication
    The State of Social Safety Nets 2018
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-03-14) World Bank
    The State of Social Safety Nets 2018 Report examines global trends in the social safety net/social assistance coverage, spending, and program performance based on the World Bank Atlas of Social Protection Indicators of Resilience and Equity (ASPIRE) updated database. The report documents the main social safety net programs that exist globally and their use to alleviate poverty and to build shared prosperity. The 2018 report expands on the 2015 edition, both in administrative and household survey data coverage. A distinct mark of this report is that, for the first time, it tells the story of what happens with SSN/SA programs spending and coverage over time, when the data allow us to do so. This 2018 edition also features two special themes: Social Assistance and Ageing, focusing on the role of old-age social pensions, and Adaptive Social Protection, focusing on what makes SSN systems/programs adaptive to various shocks.