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World Development Reports

World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security and Development

World Bank.

Conflict causes human misery, destroys communities and infrastructure, and can cripple economic prospects. The goal of this World Development Report is to contribute concrete, practical suggestions to the debate on how to address and overcome violent conflict and fragility.

World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change

World Bank.

Developing countries can shift to lower-carbon paths while promoting development and reducing poverty, but this depends on financial and technical assistance from high-income countries, says World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change. 

High-income countries also need to act quickly to reduce their carbon footprints and boost development of alternative energy sources to help tackle climate change. If they act now, a 'climate-smart' world is feasible, and the costs for getting there will be high but still manageable.

World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography

World Bank Group.

Economic growth will be unbalanced, but development still can be inclusive. That is the main message of this year's World Development Report. The report proposes that spatial transformations along the following three dimensions will be necessary:

Higher density as seen in the growth of cities. Tokyo, the world's largest city is home to 35 million--a quarter of Japan's population--but stands on just four percent of its land.

Shorter distances as firms and workers migrate closer to economic opportunities. Eight million Americans change states every year, migrating to reduce distance to economic opportunity.

Fewer divisions as countries thin their economic borders to enter world markets to take advantage of specialization and scale. Border restrictions to flows of goods, capital, ideas, and people continue to prevent progress in Africa, in contrast with Western Europe.

World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development

World Bank.

World Development Report 2008 calls for greater investment in agriculture in developing countries.The report warns that the sector must be placed at the center of the development agenda if the goals of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 are to be realized.

  • While 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries, a mere 4 percent of official development assistance goes to agriculture.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, a region heavily reliant on agriculture for overall growth, public spending for farming is also only 4 percent of total government spending and the sector is still taxed at relatively high levels.
  • For the poorest people, GDP growth originating in agriculture is about four times more effective in raising incomes of extremely poor people than GDP growth originating outside the sector

World Development Report 2007: Development for the Next Generation

World Bank.

Developing countries which invest in better education, healthcare, and job training for their record numbers of young people between the ages of 12 and 24 years of age, could produce surging economic growth and sharply reduced poverty, according to a new World Bank report launched at the Bank's Annual Meetings in Singapore.

With 1.3 billion young people now living in the developing world-the largest-ever youth group in history-the report says there has never been a better time to invest in youth because they are healthier and better educated than previous generations, and they will join the workforce with fewer dependents because of changing demographics.

However, failure to seize this opportunity to train them more effectively for the workplace, and to be active citizens, could lead to widespread disillusionment and social tensions.

World Development Report 2006: Equity and Development

World Bank.

Inequality of opportunity, both within and among nations, sustains extreme deprivation, results in wasted human potential and often weakens prospects for overall prosperity and economic growth, concludes the 2006 World Development Report, the World Bank’s major annual publication.

To correct this situation and reduce poverty more effectively, Equity and Development recommends ensuring more equitable access by the poor to health care, education, jobs, capital, and secure land rights, among others. It also calls for greater equality of access to political freedoms and political power, breaking down stereotyping and discrimination, and improving access by the poor to justice systems and infrastructure.


To level the playing field among countries, and thereby reduce global inequities that hurt the poor in developing countries, the report calls for removal of trade barriers in rich countries, flexibility to allow greater in-migration of lower-skilled people from developing countries, and increased—and more effective—development assistance.

World Develpment Report 2005: Better Investment Climate for Everyone

World Bank.

A Better Investment Climate for Everyone, the World Bank’s annual World Development Report for 2005, was launched on September 28, 2004. The Report focuses on what governments can do to improve the investment climates of their societies to increase growth and reduce poverty. 




draws on surveys of over 30,000 firms in 53 developing countries, the Bank's Doing Business database, country case studies, and other new research.

highlights opportunities for governments to improve their investment climates by expanding the opportunities and incentives for firms of all types to invest productively, create jobs, and expand


World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work for Poor People

World Bank.

Success in reaching the MDGs will depend not just on faster economic growth and the flow of sources, but on the ability to translate those resources into basic services, especially in health, education, water, and sanitation. Too often, the delivery of services falls far short of what could be achieved, especially for the poor.


The reasons include: weak incentives for performance, corruption, imperfect monitoring (if at all), and administrative logjams. Some countries have tried to address the problem, especially by involving poor people in service delivery. When this has happened, the results have been impressive. Giving parents voice over their children's education, patients a say over hospital management, making agency budgets transparent--all contribute to improving outcomes in human development.

Celebrating the successful innovations while taking a hard look at some of the failures, and learning from both, the Report attempts to guide policymakers, donors, and citizens on improving the delivery of basic services. In this way we can also deepen our understanding of empowering and investing in poor people.

World Development Reports 2003: Sustainable Development in a Dynamic World

World Bank.

The next 50 years could see a fourfold increase in the size of the global economy and significant reductions in poverty but only if governments act now to avert a growing risk of severe damage to the environment and profound social unrest. Without better policies and institutions, social and environmental strains may derail development progress, leading to higher poverty levels and a decline in the quality of life for everybody.

Misguided policies and weak governance in past decades have contributed to environmental disasters, income inequality, and social upheaval in some countries, often resulting in deep deprivation, riots, or refugees fleeing famine or civil wars.

Today, many poor people depend on fragile natural resources to survive. Similarly, trust between individuals, which can be eroded or destroyed by civic unrest, is a social asset with important economic benefits, since it enables people to make agreements and undertake transactions that would otherwise not be possible. Development polices need to be more sharply focused on protecting these natural and social assets.

These are among the key findings of the World Development Report 2003. The report suggests new alliances are needed at the local, national and global levels to better address these problems.

World Development Report 2002: Building Institutions for Markets

World Bank.

Weak institutions-tangled laws, corrupt courts, deeply biased credit systems, and elaborate business registration requirements-hurt poor people and hinder development. According to the World Development Report 2002: Building Institutions for Markets, countries that systematically deal with such problems and create new institutions suited to local needs can dramatically increase incomes and reduce poverty. These institutions range from unwritten customs and traditions to complex legal codes that regulate international commerce.

The report's recommendations to guide policymakers in building more effective institutions include the following:

Complement what exists: The design of any single institution should take into account the nature of the supporting institutions, skills, technology and corruption. Costs of building and maintaining the institution must be commensurate with per capita income levels to ensure access and use.

World Development Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty

World Bank.

At the start of a new century, poverty remains a global problem of huge proportions. World Development Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty argues that major reductions in all dimensions of poverty are possible--that the interaction of markets, state institutions, and civil societies can harness the forces of economic integration and technological change to serve the interests of poor people and increase their share of society's prosperity.

Simultaneous actions to expand opportunity, empowerment, and security can create a new dynamic for change that will make it possible to tackle human deprivation and create just societies that are also competitive and productive. If the developing world and the international community work together to combine this insight with real resources, both financial and those embodied in people and institutions—their experience, knowledge, and imagination—the 21st century will see rapid progress in the fight to end poverty.


World Development Report 1998/1999: Knowledge for Development

World Bank.

The information revolution makes understanding knowledge and development more urgent than before. New communication technologies and plummeting computing costs are transforming distance and eroding borders and time, but the fact remains that people still lack basic, life-saving knowledge because simple information does not flow as readily as one would hope.

This year's Report, the twenty-first in this annual series, examines the role of knowledge in advancing economic and social well being. It proposes that we step back from the familiar problems of development and consider them from a fresh, new perspective: the perspective of knowledge. In studying these issues, the Report considers two sorts of knowledge: how-to knowledge (farming, health or accounting) and knowledge about attributes (the quality of a product, credibility of a borrower, or the diligence of an employee). The Report suggests three lessons that are particularly important to the welfare of the billions of people living in developing countries. First, developing countries must institute policies that will enable them to narrow the knowledge gaps that separate poor countries from rich countries. Second, developing country governments, multilateral institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector must work together to strengthen the institutions needed to address information problems. Finally, no matter how effective these endeavors are, problems with knowledge will persist, but by recognizing that knowledge is at the core of all our development effort, unexpected solutions to seemingly intractable problems will be discovered.


Julia L. Eisenstein

Associate Librarian
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