Shanta Devarajan will be a visiting expert in the Development Research Group from July 8-19, 2013. He is the Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa Region. Since joining the World Bank in 1991, he has been a Principal Economist and Research Manager for Public Economics in the Development Research Group, and the Chief Economist of the Human Development Network, of the South Asia Region, and of the Africa Region. He was the director of the World Development Report 2004, Making Services Work for Poor People. Before 1991, he was on the faculty of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The author or co-author of over 100 publications, Mr. Devarajan's research covers public economics, trade policy, natural resources and the environment, and general equilibrium modeling of developing countries. Born in Sri Lanka, Mr. Devarajan received his B.A. in mathematics from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
During his visit his three top priorities are to:
Consolidate extensive research (much of it drawn from Development Research Group(DECRG) on Africa's recent growth and poverty-reducing experience into a synthesis piece. In collaboration with Wolfgang Fengler, I have prepared a survey paper for a general audience ("Is Africa's Recent Growth Sustainable?" Foreign Affairs, forthcoming); I would like to spend time in the research department testing and corroborating some of the hypotheses in that paper, fleshing out the precise links with research findings, and developing a more rigorous piece.
Share with staff and managers in DECRG the experience of using research to inform policy in Africa, a theme of the above-mentioned paper, as well as of my tenure as Africa chief economist.
Tap into the expertise in the research department to help our clients in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region better manage the historical transition to political competition, more accountable governments, and more competition in the economy. While the transitions are taking place to different degrees in different countries (and not happening at all in some countries), various aspects of DECRG's research program could be brought to bear on the policy and institutional issues facing the region. The work on export competitiveness, jobs, urbanization, service delivery, political economy, and local governance, to name a few, will have a bearing on how to best respond to the sweeping changes taking place in the region. While some DECRG staff are already providing cross-support to the region, I would use my time in DECRG to develop a more systematic program of collaboration, with a mix of research and operational support, that would maximize the synergies between DECRG and MENA.