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PublicationStructural Adjustment in the Transition : Case Studies from Albania, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Moldova(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2002-01) Siegelbaum, Paul J.; Sherif, Khaled; Borish, Michael; Clarke, GeorgeThe study reviews the performance of four transition countries - Albania, Azerbaijan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Moldova - in the areas of private, and financial sector development, identifying both their achievements, and challenges, to extract beneficial reform efforts, and alternative approaches, setting the pace for sustainable growth. These countries were selected because they are among the poorest in the region, whose problems are seemingly intractable, and have been largely detached from the international marketplace until the transition began. Thus, in terms of history, resource endowment, and proximity to markets they are viewed as "late reformers" in economic development, and competitiveness, despite policy reforms. Enterprise arrears, and soft budget constraints have been a significant problem in many transition economies, more often than not, manifested as some fiscal tightening occurred to offset budget constraints. Hence, a core challenge of the transition is to reduce the role of government from all encompassing presence, towards a professionally managed model, and one which provides high service delivery, strengthens civil institutions, and plays an effective regulatory role in a market economy. This requires improved financial discipline, reasonable fiscal policy, and structural adjustment, while privatization that promotes concentrated outsider ownership, and foreign participation, should be favored. PublicationPoverty in Albania : A Qualitative Assessment(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2002) De Soto, Hermine; Gordon, Peter; Gedeshi, Ilir; Sinoimeri, ZamiraThis qualitative assessment of poverty in Albania seeks to deepen the understanding of poverty in the country, first, by involving poor Albanians in a process of exploring the causes, nature, extent of poverty, and how it affects their livelihoods. Second, it is intended to support the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Third, it supports preparation of the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS), and the Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS) process. Fourth, it supports ongoing research on formal and informal institutions in the country that are relevant to poverty, and it identifies as well, emerging areas of concern. Findings suggest that poverty in the study sites, developed as a result of a weak economic base at the beginning of reform (as of 1990), worsened as the reforms continued and accelerated during the 1997 financial crisis. From household interviews, it is perceived that the causes of poverty are a result of unemployment, insufficient and low quality of land, absence of formal institutions, and marketing mechanisms to support industrial and agricultural development, and the government's inability to respond to infrastructure and basic needs. The study further examines the factors depressing and/or precluding (sector wide) the potential to compete, sustain livelihoods, attain employment, and receive economic and social assistance. PublicationFinancing Efficiency and Equity in Albanian Education(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001-06) Palomba, Geremia; Vodopivec, MilanThis report compiles a rich set of previously unavailable data to define where the education sector in Albania has evolved, what key challenges remain, and the priority areas for action by the Albanian government. The report finds that four broad tasks must be tackled to improve education. The country must: 1) increase enrollment rates with the goal of achieving truly universal education in primary and lower secondary schools, and reversing the actual trend of decreasing secondary enrollment; 2) improve the quality of education, which requires developing human resource policies--such as teacher development programs and improved salaries--that will attract good teachers and give them incentives to perform well in classrooms; and providing an adequate physical school environment, which means, among other things, renovating and adequately maintaining school buildings; 3) increase public spending on education, which requires developing clear priorities and reducing relative spending on tertiary education; providing constant and reliable funding to support the identified policy priorities; and increasing spending on non-wage expenditures and investments; and 4) make better use of teachers and schoolsby decentralizing decisionmaking and responsibilities that are more reasonably delegated to the local level. PublicationHousehold Welfare, the Labor Market, and Social Programs in Albania(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001-05) Rashid, Mansoora; Dorabawila, Vajeera; Adams, RichardThe paper provides an overview of household welfare, labor markets, and social programs in Albania, outside of its capital, in 1996. At the time, Albania was in a cross roads, from a period of phenomenal growth, to a series of economic crisis, though still ranking as the poorest country in the Central and Eastern Europe Region. The main findings suggest that the majority of the poor are rural, self-employed in agriculture, a result of Albania's large rural population that is mainly employed in subsistence agriculture. These households also have the highest poverty incidence, followed by out of labor force individuals, and the unemployed. Not surprising, the highest poverty incidence is in the rural north, requiring subsidized wheat, and cash transfers to survive difficult winters. Interestingly, migration is a major coping strategy in Albania: households with no migrants, were poorer than those where a family member was working abroad. The study raises concern about the education system, and safety nets, considering there are high drop out rates in basic, and secondary education among the poor, and, education spending is biased against the poor, except in basic education. Moreover, health outcomes are particularly worse among the poor. The study notes that outside of pensions, Albania's social protection system appears moderately well targeted to the poor, however, high tax rates, and limited wage base, makes a contribution based social protection system questionable.