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The World Region

A game changer for climate action: Finance ministers step up

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu's picture

It was an inspiring moment, to see history being made by Finance Ministers who are clear not only about the costs of climate change – running into the hundreds of billions annually – but also the opportunities of being bold on climate action.

GovTech: Putting people first with simple, efficient and transparent government

Nicholas Nam's picture
Graphic by Nicholas Nam

Rapid technological change and growing expectations of citizens are elevating the importance of digital innovation for governments around the world. The World Bank Group, working together with other stakeholders, has a role to play in ensuring client countries have access to knowledge, the solutions, and the expertise required to bring about digital transformation of government services.

How digital remittances can help drive sustainable development

Marco Nicoli's picture
 Sarah Farhat/The World Bank
The Plateau area, business and administrative center of Dakar.
Photo: Sarah Farhat/The World Bank

More people in the world have access to financial accounts and tools than ever before. With this access, new products and services are being developed to facilitate convenient usage of these accounts. Taking this a step further, healthy financial inclusion incorporates customers’ ability to balance income and expenses, build and maintain reserves, and to manage and recover from financial shocks using a range of financial tools. The most useful financial services are those that provide customers with convenience, and support resilience through enhanced ability to weather shocks and pursue financial goals; effectively supporting the financial health of the user.

Remittances are an essential source of income for millions of families, many of whom are low income. Global migration is increasing - over 258 million people currently live outside their country of birth, up from 173 million in the year 2000 – and is trailed by a steady stream of transactions. . As the first financial product used by many lower income people, remittances often act as a stepping stone to accessing a menu of financial services; as such, they are a cornerstone of financial health.

5 facts about jobs and economic transformation in IDA countries

Dino Leonardo Merotto's picture
Economies grow when more people find work, when they get better at what they do, and when they move from low-productivity work to better, more productive jobs. Photo: World Bank

What are the pathways people follow to better jobs? Economies grow when more people find work, when they get better at what they do, and when they move from low-productivity work to better, higher-productivity jobs. Our newest report `’ takes a closer look at how people benefit through jobs in the process of development. It identifies how the available jobs change with economic transformation and shows how the structure of labor markets differs between low, lower-middle, and middle-income countries. It points to key challenges in ensuring that workers can transition between sectors, between locations, and between self- and waged employment.

The study uncovers many findings, some familiar, some new. These will be featured in more detail in future blogs. Meanwhile, here are five important facts drawn from this extensive research, which combines data from over 16,000 episodes of real GDP growth, labor supply information for over 140 countries, and firm-level analysis from Jobs Diagnostics.

What happens when someone is unable to access health or education? These artworks confront these very questions

Juliana J Biondo's picture
Human Capital exhibition at the World Bank Group Visitor Center in Washington, DC. © Bassam Sebti/World Bank
Human Capital exhibition at the World Bank Group Visitor Center in Washington, DC. © Bassam Sebti/World Bank

What exactly is ? The phrase itself is only two words: “Capital” refers to an asset that improves one’s ability to be economically productive while “Human” refers to the individual as the very unit in which the asset comes. Taken together however, the phrase transforms to be about that which an individual human can harness within themselves to realize their full potential, and be the best contributor to society they can be.

What can each individual harness to make the most for, and of themselves? This is the question that the contemporary visual art exhibition on view in the Gallery in the seeks to understand.

But, how can we ensure that every human being has access to those three things? What happens when someone is unable to access health, knowledge, skills - some, or all three? The artworks on view confront these very questions. 

Alternative methods to produce poverty estimates when household consumption data are not available (Part I)

Hai-Anh H. Dang's picture

Poverty reduction consistently ranks among the most prioritized tasks of developing countries as well as the international community. Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly call for eliminating poverty by 2030 in its very first goal. A good understanding about poverty trends and dynamics could result in more efficient policies and better use of resources. For example, social protection programs may be most suitable to prevent vulnerable households from falling into poverty, but are not the best options to fight a situation of entrenched chronic poverty.

Several questions typically come up in the context of poverty measurement. One set of questions concerns, unsurprisingly, how best to track the trends of poverty over time? Put differently, how do we know which trajectory country A’s poverty is on: is it upward, downward, or does it remain flat over time? The other set of questions are related to the composition of poverty transitions over time. In particular, what is the proportion of the poor in one period that remain poor (i.e., chronic poverty) or escape poverty (i.e., upward mobility) in the next period? Or what is the proportion of the non-poor that fall into poverty (i.e., downward mobility) in the next period?

Yet, finding the answers to these questions are challenging tasks, simply because comparable household consumption data for a specific country from multiple time periods are often unavailable, particularly for low-income countries. As an example, using the World Bank’s database, we plot in Figure 1 the number of data points of poverty estimates for a country against its consumption level. For better presentation, we also graph the fitted line for the regression of the former outcome on the latter outcome.

The estimated slope of this regression line is positive and strongly statistically significant, suggesting that a 10 percent increase in a country’s household consumption is associated with almost one-third (i.e., 0.3) more surveys. Figure 1 thus helps highlight the—perhaps paradoxical—fact that poorer countries with a stronger need for poverty reduction also face a more demanding challenge of poverty measurement given their smaller numbers of surveys. This is unsurprisingly consistent with a prevailing among some development practitioners that collecting survey data may not be the top priority for many developing countries.

Figure 1: Number of Household Surveys vs. Countries’ Income Level, 1981- 2014

Source: Dang, Jolliffe, and Carletto (in press).

Remittances on track to become the largest source of external financing in developing countries

Dilip Ratha's picture
Officially recorded annual remittances to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) reached a record high of $529 billion in 2018, according to the . This represents a 9.6 percent growth over the previous record high in 2017.
Regionally, growth in remittance inflows ranged from almost 7 percent in East Asia and the Pacific to 12 percent in South Asia. The overall increase was driven by a stronger economy and employment situation in the United States and a rebound in outward flows from some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Russian Federation.
With foreign direct investment (FDI) on a downward trend in recent years, remittances reached close to the level of FDI flows in 2018. Excluding China, remittances to LMICs ($462 billion) were significantly larger than FDI flows in 2018 ($344 billion). This makes remittances the largest source of foreign exchange earnings in the LMICs, excluding China.
Bearing in mind that the Brief uses officially recorded remittances data, if we were to include remittances through informal channels, its true size and social impact is much larger.
In 2019, remittance flows to LMICs are likely to reach $550 billion, to become their largest source of external financing—larger than FDI, including flows to China. Remittances are already more than three times the size of official development assistance.

We have been here before: Development agencies and disruptive technologies

Michael M. Lokshin's picture

 2000: “Genome science will … revolutionize the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the most, if not all, human diseases.”

2003: “The convergence of nanotechnology with information technology, biology and social sciences will reinvigorate discoveries and innovation in many areas of the economy.”

2013: “3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”

Do you feel different going to a doctor now compared to 2000? Do you know of any new discoveries resulting from the convergence of nanotechnology and the social sciences? Have you used anything produced by 3D printers? We answer “no” to these questions; most readers of this blog probably would as well.

Energy prices rose in March—Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture
Energy commodity prices rebounded in more than 3 percent in March, led by oil (+4 percent), the World Bank Pink Sheet reported. Coal and natural gas prices (Europe) declined 4 and 14 percent, respectively.

Non-energy prices declined marginally, with losses in beverages and food balanced by gains in raw material and metals.

Agricultural prices declined nearly one percent, with drops in beverages (-2.5 percent) and food (-1.5 percent) partly balanced by increases in raw materials (+1.4 percent).

Fertilizer prices declined almost one percent, reflecting losses in TSP and DAP (-6.7 and -6.2 percent, respectively) and gains in potassium (+14 percent).

Metals prices gained 1.2 percent, led by increases in zinc (+5.3 percent) and copper (+2.2 percent).

Precious metals prices declined nearly 2 percent in response to declines in silver (-3.3 percent) and gold (-1.5 percent).

The is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.
Nominal price indexes, percent changes, March over February


Everyone is a Potential Influencer: Effective PPP stakeholder engagement

Jeffrey Ghannam's picture

Many of us recognize that well-designed PPPs can help governments increase private-sector investment in public-sector infrastructure and allow government financing to be allocated to other priorities. With thoughtful stakeholder engagement strategies in place, PPPs have the potential to leverage the private sector’s expertise and innovation to ensure effective long-term management of public resources.


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