Publication: World Development Report 1998/1999: Knowledge for Development
Files in English
This is the twenty-first in the annual series assessing major development issues. This report acknowledges that knowledge, not capital, is the key to sustained economic growth and improvements in human well-being. It distinguishes between two sorts of knowledge: knowledge about technology, called technical knowledge or simply know-how, and knowledge about attributes, that is, knowledge about products, processes, or institutions. The report focuses on the relationship between the unequal distribution in know-how (knowledge gaps) across and within countries and the difficulties posed by having incomplete knowledge of attributes (information problems). In the first of three parts, the report discusses the importance of knowledge to development, and the risks and opportunities that the information revolution poses for developing countries. It then examines three critical steps that developing countries must take to narrow knowledge gaps: acquiring knowledge, absorbing knowledge, and communicating knowledge. Part 2 discusses the nature and extent of information problems, specific information problems, and three areas where information problems are most severe, namely in financial information, in environmental research, and in listening to the poor. Part 3 summarizes what knowledge and information requirements mean for developing government and international institution policies.
“World Bank. 1998. World Development Report 1998/1999 : Knowledge for Development. © New York: Oxford University Press. http://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/5981 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
Other publications in this report series
PublicationWorld Development Report 2014: Risk and Opportunity—Managing Risk for Development(Washington, DC, 2013-10-06)The past 25 years have witnessed unprecedented changes around the world—many of them for the better. Across the continents, many countries have embarked on a path of international integration, economic reform, technological modernization, and democratic participation. As a result, economies that had been stagnant for decades are growing, people whose families had suffered deprivation for generations are escaping poverty, and hundreds of millions are enjoying the benefits of improved living standards and scientific and cultural sharing across nations. As the world changes, a host of opportunities arise constantly. With them, however, appear old and new risks, from the possibility of job loss and disease to the potential for social unrest and environmental damage. If ignored, these risks can turn into crises that reverse hard-won gains and endanger the social and economic reforms that produced these gains. The World Development Report 2014 (WDR 2014), Risk and Opportunity: Managing Risk for Development, contends that the solution is not to reject change in order to avoid risk but to prepare for the opportunities and risks that change entails. Managing risks responsibly and effectively has the potential to bring about security and a means of progress for people in developing countries and beyond. Although individuals’ own efforts, initiative, and responsibility are essential for managing risk, their success will be limited without a supportive social environment—especially when risks are large or systemic in nature. The WDR 2014 argues that people can successfully confront risks that are beyond their means by sharing their risk management with others. This can be done through naturally occurring social and economic systems that enable people to overcome the obstacles that individuals and groups face, including lack of resources and information, cognitive and behavioral failures, missing markets and public goods, and social externalities and exclusion. These systems—from the household and the community to the state and the international community—have the potential to support people’s risk management in different yet complementary ways. The Report focuses on some of the most pressing questions policy makers are asking. What role should the state take in helping people manage risks? When should this role consist of direct interventions, and when should it consist of providing an enabling environment? How can governments improve their own risk management, and what happens when they fail or lack capacity, as in many fragile and conflict-affected states? Through what mechanisms can risk management be mainstreamed into the development agenda? And how can collective action failures to manage systemic risks be addressed, especially those with irreversible consequences? The WDR 2014 provides policy makers with insights and recommendations to address these difficult questions. It should serve to guide the dialogue, operations, and contributions from key development actors—from civil society and national governments to the donor community and international development organizations.
PublicationWorld Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015)Every policy relies on explicit or implicit assumptions about how people make choices. Those assumptions typically rest on an idealized model of how people think, rather than an understanding of how everyday thinking actually works. This year’s World Development Report argues that a more realistic account of decision-making and behavior will make development policy more effective. The Report emphasizes what it calls 'the three marks of everyday thinking.' In everyday thinking, people use intuition much more than careful analysis. They employ concepts and tools that prior experience in their cultural world has made familiar. And social emotions and social norms motivate much of what they do. These insights together explain the extraordinary persistence of some social practices, and rapid change in others. They also offer new targets for development policy. A richer understanding of why people save, use preventive health care, work hard, learn, and conserve energy provides a basis for innovative and inexpensive interventions. The insights reveal that poverty not only deprives people of resources but is an environment that shapes decision making, a fact that development projects across the board need to recognize. The insights show that the psychological foundations of decision making emerge at a young age and require social support. The Report applies insights from modern behavioral and social sciences to development policies for addressing poverty, finance, productivity, health, children, and climate change. It demonstrates that new policy ideas based on a richer view of decision-making can yield high economic returns. These new policy targets include: the choice architecture (for example, the default option); the scope for social rewards; frames that influence whether or not a norm is activated; information in the form of rules of thumb; opportunities for experiences that change mental models or social norms. Finally, the Report shows that small changes in context have large effects on behavior. As a result, discovering which interventions are most effective, and with which contexts and populations, inherently requires an experimental approach. Rigor is needed for testing the processes for delivering interventions, not just the products that are delivered.
PublicationWorld Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-01-13)The 2016 World Development Report shows that while the digital revolution has forged ahead, its “analog complements”—the regulations that promote entry and competition, the skills that enable workers to access and then leverage the new economy, and the institutions that are accountable to citizens—have not kept pace. And when these analog complements to digital investments are absent, the development impact can be disappointing.
PublicationDevelopment Economics through the Decades: A Critical Look at 30 Years of the World Development Report(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009)The World Development Report (WDR) has become such a fixture that it is easy to forget the circumstances under which it was born and the Bank's motivation for producing such a report at that time. In the first chapter of this essay, the authors provide a brief background on the circumstances of newly independent developing countries and summarize some of the main strands of the emerging field of development economics. This backdrop to the genesis of the WDR accounts for the orientation of the earlier reports. The thinking on development in the 1960s and 1970s also provides a baseline from which to view the evolution that has occurred since. From the coverage in the second chapter, the authors isolate a number of key issues common to several or all of the WDRs, and the author examine these issues individually at greater length in third chapter. The discussion in third chapter, which builds on the material in the WDRs, presents some views about how far development thinking and, relatedly, policy making have advanced relative to 30 years ago. It asks whether promoting growth, building institutions, tackling inequality and poverty, making aid effective, and defining the role of the state have been rendered more tractable policy wise by the knowledge encapsulated in the WDRs. Chapter four looks ahead and points to some of the big challenges that the Bank might explore through future WDRs and the value it can add through the knowledge acquired from its cross-country operations and research.
PublicationWorld Development Report 1991: The Challenge of Development(New York: Oxford University Press, 1991)This report is the fourteenth in an annual series assessing major development issues. This report synthesizes and interprets the lessons of more than forty years of development experience. Together with last year's report on poverty and next year's on the environment, it seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of the development agenda. The 1990s began with dramatic changes, as many countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere initiated ambitious reforms of their economic and political systems. Against the backdrop of these transitions, this report links the historical debates that counseled policymakers in their past decisions, the lessons of experience, and the evolving thought on how best to proceed. One of the most valuable lessons relates to the interaction between the state and the market in fostering development. It describes a market-friendly approach in which governments allow markets to function well, and in which governments concentrate their interventions on areas in which markets prove inadequate. The report looks at four main aspects of the relationship between governments and markets: (a) investing in people; (b) the climate for enterprises to flourish; (c) the integration of countries with the global economy; and (d) a stable macroeconomic foundation for sustained progress. The report stresses that, above all, the future of developing countries is in their own hands. Domestic policies and institutions hold the key to successful development.