Report Series: Directions in Development

This series was discontinued in 2019. This series of well-developed essays and studies highlights current development issues, based on research output related to Bank operations. In recent years these have been subdivided into subseries covering the operational sectors: Agriculture and Rural Development; Energy and Mining; Environment and Sustainable Development; Finance; Human Development; Information and Communication Technologies; Infrastructure; Poverty; Private Sector Development; Public Sector Governance; Science, Technology, and Innovation; and Trade. The Countries and Regions subseries encompasses those books in the series that cover several sectors. The titles in this series are peer-reviewed and produced by units of The World Bank.

Published titles

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 415
  • Publication
    Getting to Work: Unlocking Women's Potential in Sri Lanka's Labor Force
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-03-02) Sethi, Jayati; Solotaroff, Jennifer L.; Joseph, George; Kuriakose, Anne
    Sri Lanka has shown remarkable persistence in low female labor force participation rates—at 36 percent in the past two years, compared with 75 percent for same-aged men—despite overall economic growth and poverty reduction over the past decade. The trend stands in contrast to the country’s achievements in human capital development that favor women, such as high levels of female education and low total fertility rates, as well as its status as a lower-middle-income country. This study intends to better understand the puzzle of women’s poor labor market outcomes in Sri Lanka. Using nationally representative secondary survey data—as well as primary qualitative and quantitative research—it tests three hypotheses that would explain gender gaps in labor market outcomes: (1) household roles and responsibilities, which fall disproportionately on women, and the associated sociophysical constraints on women’s mobility; (2) a human capital mismatch, whereby women are not acquiring the proper skills demanded by job markets; and (3) gender discrimination in job search, hiring, and promotion processes. Further, the analysis provides a comparison of women’s experience of the labor market between the years leading up to the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war (2006–09) and the years following the civil war (2010–15). The study recommends priority areas for addressing the multiple supply- and demand-side factors to improve women’s labor force participation rates and reduce other gender gaps in labor market outcomes. It also offers specific recommendations for improving women’s participation in the five private sector industries covered by the primary research: commercial agriculture, garments, tourism, information and communications technology, and tea estate work. The findings are intended to influence policy makers, educators, and employment program practitioners with a stake in helping Sri Lanka achieve its vision of inclusive and sustainable job creation and economic growth. The study also aims to contribute to the work of research institutions and civil society in identifying the most effective means of engaging more women—and their untapped potential for labor, innovation, and productivity—in Sri Lanka’s future.
  • Publication
    Paths between Peace and Public Service: A Comparative Analysis of Public Service Reform Trajectories in Postconflict Countries
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019) Blum, Jürgen René; Ferreiro-Rodriguez, Marcos; Srivastava, Vivek
    Building a capable public service is fundamental to postconflict state building. Yet in postconflict settings, short-term pressures often conflict with this longer-term objective. To ensure peace and stabilize fragile coalitions, the imperative for political elites to hand out public jobs and better pay to constituents dominates merit. Donor-financed projects that rely on technical assistants and parallel structures, rather than on government systems, are often the primary vehicle for meeting pressing service delivery needs. What, then, is a workable approach to rebuilding public services postconflict? Paths between Peace and Public Service seeks to answer this question by comparing public service reform trajectories in five countries—Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste—in the aftermath of conflict. The study seeks to explain these countries’ different trajectories through process tracing and structured, focused methods of comparative analysis. To reconstruct reform trajectories, the report draws on more than 200 interviews conducted with government officials and other stakeholders, as well as administrative data. The study analyzes how reform trajectories are influenced by elite bargains and highlights their path dependency, shaped by preconflict legacies and the specifics of the conflict period. As the first systematic study on postconflict public service reforms, it identifies lessons for the future engagement of development partners in building public services.
  • Publication
    Options for Aged Care in China: Building An Efficient and Sustainable Aged Care System
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-11-20) Glinskaya, Elena; Feng, Zhanlian; Glinskaya, Elena; Feng, Zhanlian
    China is aging at an unprecedented rate. Improvements in life expectancy and the consequences of the decades-old family planning policy have led to a rapid increase in the elderly population. According to the United Nations World Population Prospects, the proportion of older people age 65 and over will increase by about one-fourth by 2030, and the elderly will account for about one quarter of the total population by 2050. Population aging will not only pose challenges for elder care but also have an impact on the economy and all aspects of society (World Bank, 2016a). The government is aware of the need to develop an efficient and sustainable approach to aged care. To this end, the General Office of the State Council issued the 12th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Aged Care Services in China and the Development Plan for a System of Social Services for the Aged (2011-2015). It is now in the process of formulating the 13th Five-Year National Plan on Aging, which will further elaborate and finalize the reform roadmap for 2016 to 2020. The Plan is expected to be finalized and launched by June 2016. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) helped draft these plans and is now leading the development of policy measures for the provision of social services for the elderly. This volume has been prepared to support the translation of the broad ideas on aged care provision expressed in the 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans and other government plans into reality and to help the government tackle the challenges described above. It strives to identify a policy framework that fits the Chinese context and can be put in place gradually. Specifically, it aims to provide an up-to-date understanding of the evolving aged care landscape in China; review international experiences in long-term care provision, financing, and quality assurance and assess their relevance to China’s current situation; discuss implications of current developments and trends for the future of aged care in China; and propose policy options based on available evidence and best practices.
  • Publication
    Toward Great Dhaka: A New Urban Development Paradigm Eastward
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-07-03) Bird, Julia; Li, Yue; Rahman, Hossain Zillur; Rama, Martin; Venables, Anthony J.
    A unique strategic opportunity beckons Bangladesh. Dhaka, the economic powerhouse of the country, stands on the cusp of a dramatic transformation that could make it much more prosperous and livable. Today, Dhaka is prone to flooding, congestion, and messiness, to a point that is clogging its growth. But toward its east, where two major highway corridors will one day intersect, is a vast expanse of largely rural land. And much of it is within 6 kilometers of the most valuable parts of the city. The time to make the most of this eastward opportunity is now. Many parts of East Dhaka are already being developed in a haphazard way at an alarmingly rapid pace. Private developers are buying land and filling it with sand so they can build and sell new houses and apartments. Canals and ponds are disappearing, and the few narrow roads crossing the area are being encroached by construction. This spontaneous development could soon make East Dhaka look like the messy western part of the city, and retrofitting it later will be more difficult and costlier than properly planning and developing it now. Toward Great Dhaka: A New Urban Development Paradigm Eastward seeks to analyze how the opportunity of East Dhaka could be realized. Using state-of-the-art modeling techniques, the study simulates population, housing, economic activity, and commuting times across the 266 unions that constitute Greater Dhaka. It does so under various scenarios for the development of East Dhaka, but always assessing the implications for the entire city. The simulations suggest that pursuing a strategic approach to the development of East Dhaka would make Greater Dhaka a much more productive and livable city than continuing with business as usual. Based on current trends, Greater Dhaka would have a population of 25 million in 2035 and an income per capita of US$8,000 at 2015 prices. However, embracing a strategic approach would add 5 million people to the city. And, it would be a more productive city, with nearly 1.8 million more jobs and an income per capita of more than US$9,200 at 2015 prices, enough to put Dhaka on the map of global cities.
  • Publication
    Reforming Non-Tariff Measures: From Evidence to Policy Advice
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-06-13) Cadot, Olivier; Ferrantino, Michael J.; Gourdon, Julien; Reyes, José-Daniel
    High levels of trade costs persist in the world trading system, despite recent progress in tariff reduction, trade facilitation, and logistics. At least some of these costs can be attributed to non-tariff measures (NTMs), policies imposed by governments other than ordinary customs duties which have an impact on the price at which exports and imports are traded, the quantities traded, or both. Such costs are particularly worrisome if they have a discriminatory or protectionist effect, or violate countries’ international commitments. However, even NTMs designed to carry out domestic regulatory objectives – for example, protection of human, animal or plant health, consumer or workplace safety, or the environment – can have substantial effects on international trade, which should be considered when such policies are developed. This book discusses some of the analytical methods that can be used to accompany the process of policy development for NTMs. It discusses the broad economic rationale for improving the design of NTMs;, illustrates the main forms of quantification of NTMs and their effects, including inventory approaches, price-based approaches, and quantity-based approaches; proposes a new analytical and measurable concept of “regulatory distance” to help guide deep integration efforts at the regional level; provides a discussion of the effects of NTMs on household expenditures, poverty, and firm competitiveness; and shows how empirical analysis of NTMs can be used to inform policy advice. As such, it should provide a valuable addition to the arsenal of tools available for applied analysis of international trade policy.
  • Publication
    The Jobs of Tomorrow: Technology, Productivity, and Prosperity in Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-04-10) Dutz, Mark A.; Almeida, Rita K.
    While adoption of new technologies is understood to enhance long-term growth and average per-capita incomes, its impact on lower-skilled workers is more complex and merits clarification. Concerns abound that advanced technologies developed in high-income countries would inexorably lead to job losses of lower-skilled, less well-off workers and exacerbate inequality. Conversely, there are countervailing concerns that policies intended to protect jobs from technology advancement would themselves stultify progress and depress productivity. This book squarely addresses both sets of concerns with new research showing that adoption of digital technologies offers a pathway to more inclusive growth by increasing adopting firms’ outputs, with the jobs-enhancing impact of technology adoption assisted by growth-enhancing policies that foster sizable output expansion. The research reported here demonstrates with economic theory and data from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico that lower-skilled workers can benefit from adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies biased towards skilled workers, and often do. The inclusive jobs outcomes arise when the effects of increased productivity and expanding output overcome the substitution of workers for technology. While the substitution effect replaces some lower-skilled workers with new technology and more highly-skilled labor, the output effect can lead to an increase in the total number of jobs for less-skilled workers. Critically, output can increase sufficiently to increase jobs across all tasks and skill types within adopting firms, including jobs for lower-skilled workers, as long as lower-skilled task content remains complementary to new technologies and related occupations are not completely automated and replaced by machines. It is this channel for inclusive growth that underlies the power of pro-competitive enabling policies and institutions—such as regulations encouraging firms to compete and policies supporting the development of skills that technology augments rather than replaces—to ensure that the positive impact of technology adoption on productivity and lower-skilled workers is realized.
  • Publication
    The Challenge of Agricultural Pollution: Evidence from China, Vietnam, and the Philippines
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-03-22) Cassou, Emilie; Jaffee, Steven M.; Ru, Jiang
    In emerging East Asia, agricultural output has expanded dramatically over recent decades, primarily as a result of successful efforts to stimulate yield growth. This achievement has increased the availability of food and raw materials in the region, drastically diminished hunger, and more generally provided solid ground for economic development. The intensification of agriculture that has made this possible, however, has also led to serious pollution problems that have adversely affected human and ecosystem health, as well as the productivity of agriculture itself. In the region that currently owes the largest proportion of deaths to the environment, agriculture is often portrayed as a victim of industrial and urban pollution, and this is indeed the case. Yet agriculture is taking a growing toll on economic resources and sometimes becoming a victim of its own success. In parts of China, Vietnam, and the Philippines—the countries studied in The Challenge of Agricultural Pollution—this pattern of highly productive yet highly polluting agriculture has been unfolding with consequences that remain poorly understood. With large numbers of pollutants and sources, agricultural pollution is often undetected and unmeasured. When assessments do occur, they tend to take place within technical silos, and so the different ecological and socioeconomic risks are seldom considered as a whole, while some escape study entirely. However, when agricultural pollution is considered in its entirety, both the significance of its impacts and the relative neglect of them become clear. Meanwhile, growing recognition that a “pollute now, treat later” approach is unsustainable—from both a human health and an agroindustry perspective—has led public and private sector actors to seek solutions to this problem. Yet public intervention has tended to be more reactive than preventive and often inadequate in scale. In some instances, the implementation of sound pollution control programs has also been confronted with incentive structures that do not rank environmental outcomes prominently. Significant potential does exist, however, to reduce the footprint of farms through existing technical solutions, and with adequate and well-crafted government support, its realization is well within reach.
  • Publication
    Transforming Karachi into a Livable and Competitive Megacity: A City Diagnostic and Transformation Strategy
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018-02-27) World Bank
    With a population of 16 million, Karachi is the largest megacity in Pakistan. Despite being a large city that is home to many, it has seen a substantial decline in quality of life and economic competitiveness in recent decades. Basic service delivery is very poor, with very low indicators for water supply, sanitation, public transport and public spaces. Pollution levels are high, and the city is vulnerable to disasters and climate change. A highly complex political economy, institutional fragmentation, land contestation, crime and security issues and social exclusion exacerbate these issues and make city management challenging. The Karachi City Diagnostic and Transformation Strategy attempts to present detailed data on the economy, livability and key urban services of the city, by identifying and quantifying the requirements to bridge the services gap in the city. It also proposes pathways towards the transformation of Karachi into a more livable, inclusive and economically competitive city by outlining policy actions that the city can undertake. The first part of the report provides an in-depth review of Karachi and is organized into three themes focused on key aspects of city management: (i) city growth and prosperity – discussing city economy, competitiveness, business environment and poverty; (ii) city livability – discussing urban and spatial planning, urban governance and municipal service delivery (water and sanitation, public transport and solid waste); and (iii) sustainability and inclusiveness – discussing the city’s long term resilience based on fiscal management, disaster resilience and climate change, and social inclusion. In each section, a diagnostic is provided on the issues, along with possible prioritized actions to resolve them. The second part of the report concludes by identifying four pillars for city transformation. These include: (i) building inclusive, coordinated and accountable institutions; (ii) greening Karachi for sustainability and resilience; (iii) leveraging on the city's economic, social and environmental assets; and (iv) creating a smart city through smart policies and technology.
  • Publication
    Open and Nimble: Finding Stable Growth in Small Economies
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018) Lederman, Daniel
    Does economic size matter for economic development outcomes? If so are current policies adequately addressing the role of size in the development process? Using working age population as a proxy for country size, Open and Nimble, systematically analyzes what makes small economies unique. Small economies are not necessarily prone to underdevelopment and in fact can achieve very high income levels. Small economies, however, do tend to be highly open to both international trade and foreign direct investment, have highly specialized export structures, and have large government expenditures relative to their Gross Domestic Product. The export structures of small economies are concentrated in a few products or services and in a small number of export destinations. In turn, this export concentration is associated with terms of trade volatility, which combined with high exposure to international trade, implies that small economies tend to face more volatility on average as external volatility permeates national economic life. Yet small economies tend to compensate for their export concentration by being nimble in the sense of being able to change their production and export structure relatively quickly over time. Moreover, limited territory plays a role in shaping how economies are affected by natural disasters, even when the probability of facing such disasters is not necessarily higher among small than among large economies. The combination of large governments with macroeconomic volatility seems to be associated with low national savings rates in small economies. This combination could be a challenge for long-term growth if productivity growth and foreign investment do not compensate for low domestic savings. The book finishes with some thoughts on how policy makers can respond to these issues through coordinated investments and regional integration efforts, as well as fiscal policy reforms aimed at both increasing public savings and conducting countercyclical fiscal policies.
  • Publication
    Agriculture in Africa: Telling Myths from Facts
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018) Christiaensen, Luc; Demery, Lionel; Christiaensen, Luc; Demery, Lionel; Adjognon, Guigonan Serge; Barrett, Chris; Binswanger-Mkhize, Hans P.; Carletto, Calogero; Corral, Paul; Davis, Benjamin; Deininger, Klaus; Di Giuseppe, Stefania; Dillon, Brian; Gilbert, Christopher; Guelfi, Anita; Hill, Ruth; Kaminski, Jonathan; Kilic, Talip; Le Cotty, Tristan; Liverpool-Tasie, Saweda; Maître d’Hôtel, Elodie; McCullough, Ellen; Miller, Daniel C.; Munoz, Juan Carlos; Naudé, Wim; Nagler, Paula; Ndiaye, Moctar; Nikoloski, Zlatko; Ogunleye, Wale; Omonona, B.T.; Palacios-López, Amparo; Reardon, Tom; Sanou, Awa; Savastano, Sara; Sheahan, Megan; Xia, Fang
    Stylized facts set agendas and shape debates. In rapidly changing and data scarce environments, they also risk being ill-informed, outdated and misleading. So, following higher food prices since the 2008 world food crisis, robust economic growth and rapid urbanization, and climatic change, is conventional wisdom about African agriculture and rural livelihoods still accurate? Or is it more akin to myth than fact? The essays in “Agriculture in Africa – Telling Myths from Facts” aim to set the record straight. They exploit newly gathered, nationally representative, geo-referenced information at the household and plot level, from six African countries. In these new Living Standard Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture, every aspect of farming and non-farming life is queried—from the plots farmers cultivate, the crops they grow, the harvest that is achieved, and the inputs they use, to all the other sources of income they rely on and the risks they face. Together the surveys cover more than 40 percent of the Sub-Saharan African population. In all, sixteen conventional wisdoms are examined, relating to four themes: the extent of farmer’s engagement in input, factor and product markets; the role of off-farm activities; the technology and farming systems used; and the risk environment farmers face. Some striking surprises, in true myth-busting fashion, emerge. And a number of new issues are also thrown up. The studies bring a more refined, empirically grounded understanding of the complex reality of African agriculture. They also confirm that investing in regular, nationally representative data collection yields high social returns.