World Bank Country Studies

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Country Studies are published with approval of the subject government to communicate the results of the Bank's work on the economic and related conditions of member countries to governments and to the development community. This series as been superseded by the World Bank Studies series.

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  • Publication
    The Invisible Poor : A Portrait of Rural Poverty in Argentina
    (World Bank, 2010-02-01) World Bank
    Many of the poorest Argentines are invisible in official statistics. Four million rural residents and another 12 million in small urban areas lie outside the reach of the Permanent Household Survey (EPH), which is the basis for poverty figures and most data on social conditions in the country. According to the best estimate, roughly a third of rural residents, more than a million people, live in poverty. The urban bias common too many countries have been accentuated by the lack of data on the rural poor. With little information on their condition, it is exceedingly difficult for policy makers to design policies and programs to help move people out of poverty. The report is organized as follows: chapter one profiles rural poverty base on the limited existing data, including the first in-depth analysis of rural poverty ever conducted with the 2001 population census. Chapter two presents findings from the new qualitative study of the rural poor conducted in the first half of 2007. Finally, chapter three concludes with a discussion of methodology for rural poverty analysis, focusing on the issues related to expanding the EPH to full national coverage.
  • Publication
    Gender in Bolivian Production : Reducing Differences in Formality and Productivity of Firms
    (World Bank, 2009-07-01) World Bank
    A main goal of this study is to determine the variables responsible for the lower formality of women-owned businesses. The companion study (the World Bank 2007a) shows that Bolivia's informal sector is the largest in Latin America by many definitions and measures. It also provides a rationale for promoting formality given the many negative effects of a high rate of informality. These negative effects include a lower growth potential as informal firms tend to be less productive owing to limited access to physical, financial, and human capital, and a smaller scale of operations; negative fiscal impacts as informal firms "free ride" on services provided with fiscal resources; and negative social externalities, including weaker rule of law and public institutions, increased corruption, and weakened ability to enforce contracts. A second goal of this study is to identify gender-based productivity constraints that hinder the growth of female-owned businesses. First, author's analysis of the impact of formality on profitability shows that the gains of formalization for most female-owned businesses increase as the firms grow. Second, author's find that the smaller scale of operation of female-owned firms is one of the main causes of gender-based differences in productivity and profitability. However, most of the differences between male and female-owned firms diminish or disappear as firms grow.
  • Publication
    Increasing Formality and Productivity of Bolivian Firms
    (World Bank, 2009-06-01) World Bank
    Bolivia's informal sector is the largest in Latin America, by many definitions and measures. Bolivia's high informality rate has been blamed on many factors including the burden of regulation, the weakness of public institutions, and the lack of perceived benefits to being formal. The high level of informality has a number of negative implications related to for low productivity, low growth, and low quality of jobs. This study presents fresh qualitative and quantitative analyses to better understand the reasons why firms are informal and the impact of formalization on their profitability, in order to inform policy actions appropriate to the reality of Bolivia. The crucial finding of the analysis is that the impact of tax registration on profitability depends on firm size and the ability to issue tax receipts. The smallest and the largest firms in the sample have lower profits as a result of tax registration because their cost of formalizing exceeds benefits. Firms in the middle range (two to five employees) benefit from tax registration in large part due to increasing the customer base by issuing tax receipts. The study presents a set of prioritized policy implications for policy makers. In the short term, the first priority should be to increase the benefits of formalization through training, access to credit and markets, and business support. The second priority is to increase information on how to formalize and its benefits. In the medium term, the priority is to simplify formalization, regulatory, and taxation procedures and to reduce their costs. Increasing even-handed enforcement of taxation and regulation is also important but not a priority for micro and small firms. Measures to boost the productivity of micro and small firms in general will help overall economic growth, employment, and formalization.
  • Publication
    Strengthening Bolivian Competitiveness : Export Diversification and Inclusive Growth
    (World Bank, 2009-06-01) World Bank
    Bolivia's trade liberalization, launched in the mid-1980s, has resulted in a relatively open trade regime; but the results have been mixed. Bolivia's export to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio and export entrepreneurship index rating are among the highest in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region and the country has achieved great success in making soya the major export crop in less than 10 years. At the same time, the country's share in world trade has stagnated and exports are increasingly dominated by gas and minerals. Reinvigorating the nontraditional export sector is important for the government of Bolivia as it implements its national development plan. As a resource-rich country, the Bolivian government's emphasis on export diversification is well-placed but the optimal nontraditional export strategy should build on successes in the traditional sector. This study investigates: (a) the role trade should play in Bolivia's development strategy considering the country's natural resource endowment; (b) the lessons of Bolivia's integration to the world economy; (c) the linkages between Bolivia's past trade and economy and a forward-looking analysis of the impact of different scenarios on growth, employment, trade flows, and poverty; (d) constraints to higher export competitiveness and weaknesses related to transport and logistics; and (e) the characteristics of exporting firms and the constraints affecting them. The main findings of the analysis are that preferential access to world markets is necessary but not sufficient for success in nontraditional exports; rather, success depends largely on increasing the competitiveness of exporting firms. Second, a neutral incentive regime is essential to the growth of nontraditional exports. Third, efficient backbone services are vital for reducing exporters' costs. Finally, the government should be proactive in addressing institutional impediments to cross-border trade. The study presents prioritized policy implications of the analysis related to: (i) trade policy and preferential access to markets; (ii) the incentives regime; (iii) backbone services; (iv) increasing the effectiveness of institutions to promote cross-border trade; and (v) setting the foundations for exports diversification.
  • Publication
    Decentralization, Democracy, and Development : Recent Experience from Sierra Leone
    (World Bank, 2009-06-01) Zhou, Yongmei; Zhou, Yongmei
    In 2004, the government of Sierra Leone opted for a rethink of its national governance arrangement by embarking on the resuscitation of democratically elected local government after 32 years experimenting with central government appointed district and municipal governments. The decision by the government and the people of Sierra Leone was driven by a primary consideration to address the country's seeming nonperformance in the areas of citizens' participation in governance and responding to the needs of citizens as it relates to attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as ensuring poverty reduction in the country. This book is a retrospective of the decentralization reform process in Sierra Leone from 2003-07. During this period, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) reestablished elected district and urban councils across the country, transferred certain responsibilities for primary services and local investment and some financial resources to the new councils, and invested heavily in building the administrative infrastructure and capacity of the local councils. The author is partners who were intimately involved in the reform. Through recording various aspects of the process and reflecting on the observations and learning during that time, the author hope to contribute to the debates on the merits and risks of decentralization in general and its desirability and viability in post-conflict countries.
  • Publication
    Accelerating Trade and Integration in the Caribbean : Policy Options for Sustained Growth, Job Creation, and Poverty Reduction
    (World Bank, 2009-06-01) Hamilton, Pamela Coke; Tsikata, Yvonne; Moreira, Emmanuel Pinto
    This volume builds on the foundation laid by the 2005 report by focusing on the factors affecting the region's competitiveness and the critical role that the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) has to play as a driver of integration and economic development. In addition it highlights the potential of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), if properly implemented, to significantly increase the region's competitiveness and to help it attain long-term sustained development. This potential, however, will only be realized if precise trade and competitiveness strategies are crafted to focus primarily on removing the constraints to competitiveness endemic in the region. In addition, and this is a critical element of any newly-devised strategy, is the necessity to revise regional institutional mechanisms and mandates to promote implementation and to take advantage of the market access opportunities presented by successive trade agreements such as the EPA. This report, while highlighting the need for immediate and concrete actions on the part of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states, also recognizes the responsibility of the donor community in helping to play a catalytic role in supporting trade reform and macroeconomic stability. The aid for trade agenda must seek to address the weaknesses inherent in the formulation and application of international aid policies and implement new frameworks aimed at enhancing the ability of these small nation states to meet and overcome the challenges of global competitiveness.
  • Publication
    Argentine Youth : An Untapped Potential
    (World Bank, 2009-03-01) World Bank
    Argentina's youth, 6.7 million between the ages of 15 and 24, are an important, but to a certain extent untapped, resource for development. Over 2 million (31 percent) have already engaged in risky behaviors, and another 1 million (15 percent) are exposed to risk factors that are correlated with eventual risky behaviors. This totals 46 percent of youth at some form of risk. Today's youth cohort is the country's largest ever and it's largest for the foreseeable future. If policymakers do not invest in youth now, especially in youth at risk, they will miss a unique opportunity to equip the next generation with the abilities to become the drivers of growth, breaking the intergenerational spiral of poverty and inequality and moving Argentina back into the group of high-income countries. If youth are educated and skilled, they can be a tremendous asset for development. If not, they can burden society and public finances. Overall, Argentina is blessed with high enrollment rates in school, low levels of crime and violence, and moderate to low drug use by youth. However, youth employment, smoking and binge drinking (including its effect on traffic accidents), teen pregnancies, and HIV pose challenges for youth policy. While most youth in Argentina are educated, skilled, and healthy, a large group is potentially at risk of engaging in myopic behaviors, including school absenteeism and leaving, substance use and abuse, delinquency, crime, and risky sexual behavior. The consequences of these risky behaviors, unemployment, adolescent pregnancy, sexually-transmitted diseases, addiction, incarceration, violence, and social exclusion, make it difficult for youth to successfully transition to adulthood, imposing large costs on individuals and society. Applying the framework of the world development report 2007, this report examines the five life-changing transitions that all youth confront: leaving school and continuing to learn, starting to work, developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, forming a family, and exercising citizenship.
  • Publication
    Tunisia's Global Integration : A Second Generation of Reforms to Boost Growth and Employment
    (Washington, DC : World Bank, 2009) World Bank
    This study on a world integration for Tunisia attempts to contribute to the achievement of the growth of the 11th development plan. It first takes stock of past integration policies, outlining policies implemented and assessing their impact on foreign direct investments (FDI), exports and employment. Then, it examines the current challenges of integration of Tunisia, which is both global and multisectoral pursuant to the actual creation of a free trade area with Europe for industrial products in January 2008. In the light of challenges expected, another generation of integration reform is identified to further improve the positioning of a competitive Tunisia and realize the potential growth in services. The report contains four chapters. Chapter one analyzes integration policies implemented since the early 70s and evaluates the impact thereof on the FDI, exports and employment. Chapter two examines the current challenges and major reforms necessary to correct the side-effects of past integration policies. Chapter three attempts to identify the reforms necessary to improve quality and lower prices of services. Finally, chapter four examines the prospects for export of professional services (accounting, auditing, legal services) and health by Tunisia, which showed a real capacity to compete in these areas in recent years.
  • Publication
    Argentina : Income Support Policies toward the Bicentennial
    (Washington, DC, 2009) World Bank
    Argentina approaches its bicentennial as an independent republic; it has a window of opportunity in social protection policy. Following the most serious economic crisis in its history during 2001-02, the country mobilized an unprecedented effort to provide income support to the population in need. Now, as growth has returned and social indicators have recovered to pre-crisis levels, there is an opening to move from emergency income support programs to a more comprehensive, long-term, and sustainable strategy for social protection. The emergency response was effective, as it helped the country to overcome the worst of the crisis. The centerpiece of the strategy, plan Jefes y Jefas, provided benefits to nearly two million households during a period when poverty affected more than half the population and unemployment reached record levels. The number of beneficiaries slowly declined beginning in 2003, and was at nearly one-third of its maximum value by early 2008. This reduction was achieved by the reentry of beneficiaries into the formal labor market, the loss of eligibility, and the shift of beneficiaries to familias and seguro de capacitacion y empleo (Seguro), the successor programs to Jefes. Now that the crisis has passed, the policy debate has shifted toward the future of social protection over the longer term. The improvement in overall economic conditions since 2003 has resulted in a decline in unemployment, poverty, and inequality, and a recovery of formal employment and real salaries to pre-crisis levels. These positive trends have generated opportunities to consider longer-term and structural issues, including a debate over the future of whether this new type of noncontributory social policies, based on income transfers to households and individuals, should continue.
  • Publication
    Zambia Health Sector Public : Accounting for Resources to Improve Effective Service Coverage
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009) Picazo, Oscar F.; Zhao, Feng
    Over the past few years, three nagging problems have bedeviled Zambia's health sector: the country is falling off-track from reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is facing severe financing constraints on the government front, and the health and HIV/AIDS sector is increasingly being fragmented by the reemergence of global disease initiatives. This health sector pubic expenditure review (PER) seeks to assist the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) and its development partners take stock of the resources in the health sector and how these resources can be better used to produce better health services. The results of the PER are expected to be the used for a variety of purposes, including the preparation of the health sector strategic plan, and succeeding rounds of the global fund request for proposals. Policy dialogue between the Bank and GRZ, both at the macro and sector levels, can also be enriched by the PER. The PER also provides critical inputs into the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) process, and in the assessment of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Likewise, the PER can provide inputs to fine-tune the process of the pooled basket funding mechanism under the sector-wide approach (SWAp).