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 This series as been superseded by the World Bank Studies series.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
    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
    Health Sector Reform in Bolivia : A Decentralization Case Study
    (Washington, DC, 2004) World Bank
    Bolivia made progress in health status and equity in the last decade, thanks to the implementation of a series of health policies directed primarily at reducing maternal and infant mortality and controlling communicable diseases. These policies include the introduction of a focus on health outcomes in the context of decentralization, the implementation of a public health insurance, the strengthening of vertically-financed public health programs and to a lesser extent, an increase in the size of the sector's workforce and greater participation of indigenous peoples for health. This report analyzes these policies, draws lessons from their implementation, discusses remaining challenges, and provides recommendations in the context of the country's latest policy developments. Findings show that while coverage has increased in almost all municipalities, significant equity gaps remain between the rich and the poor, the urban and rural, and the indigenous and non-indigenous. The analysis suggests that the Ministry of Health should concentrate on three key issues: first, maintaining the focus on national priorities in the context of the new, expanded maternal and child insurance; second, strengthening efforts to extend care to poor rural areas; and third, improving the effectiveness of the system in the context of the new management model.
  • Publication
    Poverty and Nutrition in Bolivia
    (Washington, DC, 2002-12) World Bank
    Malnutrition is crippling Bolivia, and the country must now face the political, and bureaucratic failure in addressing malnutrition. This study defines the nature, and extent of the malnutrition problem in the country, identifies the underlying reasons for the failed response, and outlines actions for both immediate, and more long-term results. The study further estimates that less than ten percent of government, and non-government expenditures, with an explicit nutrition, or food security component, is devoted to effective programs serving the neediest - poor pregnant women, and malnourished children under two. Public and private expenditures on nutrition are often misdirected, for although Bolivia did achieve successes in the advancement of nutrition over the past twenty years, the problem of malnutrition still requires action on several fronts. Primarily, nutrition needs a national strategy, and functional leadership, able to provide the population with accurate, and practical nutritional knowledge, prioritizing effective interventions for the most vulnerable. The study suggests improvements in program design, by targeting assistance, and exploiting the opportunities to improve nutrition through water and sanitation, rural development, roads, and education projects, which can have a profound effect on nutrition. Recommendations include the development of nutrition education focused on high-priority population, towards creating a private commission to demand continuity of Government attention to nutrition, as well as community participation in nutrition programming.