Click here for search results


Site Tools

Monthly Research Highlights

More recent highlights >>

Research Highlights on Governance: July 2016 (Download)

  • Making politics work for development: Harnessing transparency and citizen engagement
  • Reducing teacher absence more cost-effective than hiring more teachers in India
  • Politically connected firms in Egypt slow employment growth
  • Tariff evasion in Tunisia continues despite curtailed elite capture
  • Private sector doctors have more incentives to increase effort in India
  • Improving World Bank support for public sector governance reform
  • Why transplanting a “democratic deepening” success from one area of India to another failed
  • Public interest radio increases support for health and education candidates

Research Highlights on Conflict and Fragility: June 2016 (Download)

  • Smarter approaches to combating crime and violent extremism
  • Development institutions can take action now to boost peace in Syria
  • New model estimates the size of illicit activity and laundered assets in Colombia
  • Income disparities for marginalized groups fell during the post-apartheid period
  • The heavy psychological burden of reconciliation in Sierra Leone
  • Risk aversion increased sharply in the wake of 2008 post-election conflict in Kenya
  • Improving election quality in post-war Liberia 

Research Highlights: May 2016 (Download)

  • Exporter behavior changes as countries get larger or richer
  • New dataset of national poverty thresholds for setting international poverty lines
  • Measuring under-reporting of corruption in firm surveys
  • The psychological cost of reconciliation
  • Reduced reliance on single-donor trust funds can increase aid effectiveness
  • Testing incentives of programs to formalize firms
  • Land restrictions increase women’s participation in the labor force, but do not raise their wages
  • The food price spikes of 2007/08 reduced child growth in non-farming households in Indonesia

Research Highlights: April 2016 (Download)

  • Minimum wages in Indonesia reduced gender pay gaps but left vulnerable women behind
  • The Mexican wage subsidy program lessened unemployment after the economic crisis
  • Testing evaluations of programs to formalize firms 
  • Large farm investments in Mozambique provide modest benefits to neighboring smallholders 
  • Tailoring forest protection programs to suit communities will increase adoption
  • Facing up to the ethical problems of economic research in the field 
  • Unemployment had little impact on mortality during the Great Recession

Research Highlights: March 2016 (Download)

  • Reducing teacher absence is 10 times more cost-effective than hiring more teachers in India
  • The “white-man” effect on behavior in experiments
  • New model estimates the size of illicit activity and laundered assets in Colombia
  • Private banks lend to politically connected firms in Mexico in exchange for favors
  • How restrictions in land markets hinder movement of labor out of agriculture in Sri Lanka
  • Abolishing access to land based on family size reduces fertility in Ethiopia
  • Income disparities for marginalized groups fell during the post-apartheid period

Research Highlights: February 2016 (Download)

  • Exploring the second strand of behavioral economics
  • Access to long-term credit reduces economic volatility, even during a financial crisis
  • If you want to improve education quality, remove market constraints
  • The economic payoff of migrating from a poor to a richer country is large and immediate 
  • When land property rights institutions work properly they support productive urbanization
  • Encouraging evidence on support programs for small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Labor-intensive public works program not working in Malawi
  • Imported intermediate products associated with higher firm productivity in Peru

Research Highlights: January 2016 (Download)

  • A robust financial infrastructure helped buoy firms during the global financial crisis
  • Revisiting recent empirical evidence on the effects of inequality on growth
  • How bilateral donors benefit from non-specialized multilateral aid agencies
  • Construction boom drives wage growth for India’s unskilled rural workers
  • New tool assesses credit risk of SMEs based on repayment behavior
  • Improved cookstove use in Ethiopia could reduce forest degradation, cut global carbon emissions, and improve household health
  • Monetary rewards can have lasting effects on body weight in the obese
  • Regional trade agreements work best in areas not addressed in multilateral agreements

Research Highlights: December 2015 (Download)

  • The success of REDD programs will depend on how agreements with forest communities are structured
  • New index assesses countries’ progress towards Universal Health Coverage in one ranking
  • Comparing inequality across countries? Results may depend on the database you use
  • Government matching grants stimulate the private sector in Yemen
  • New child labor law in Brazil affects boys more than girls
  • Domestic value added in exports is rising in China
  • The effect of ICT on the labor income share is small

Research Highlights: November 2015 (Download)

  • Development can aid cultural change
  • Manufacturing job losses hurt local services during the Great Recession
  • The upside of greater mobility in China
  • Moral nudging increases debt repayment
  • More secure land rights = increase in long-term investments
  • Risk aversion increased in the wake of 2008 post-election conflict in Kenya
  • New estimates for trade costs for services suggest divergent globalization

Research Highlights: October 2015 (Download)

  • The new poverty line is still (basically) the old poverty line
  • Unqualified—but just as effective—private sector doctors in India have more incentives to improve
  • Benefits to the poor from power sector reforms remain to be seen
  • Financial education alone isn’t enough
  • Nigeria’s middle class is growing, but not fast enough
  • Three ways in which the vulnerable overcame social stigmas
  • A new model of international supply chains, and quantitative implications

Research Highlights: September 2015 (Download)

  • How firms grow in developing economies: a lot depends on initial conditions
  • Creating transport networks in developing countries: a primer
  • Growing businesses in Nigeria: Entrepreneurs just need a leg up
  • Removing barriers to democratic participation in fragile states
  • Integrated rural-urban land reform in China shows promise
  • Attending secondary school in Kenya is a good investment
  • How capital market financing and firm growth is connected
  • Achieving better agricultural policies through better statistics
  • Survey evidence on the cost of international freight delays in Serbia  

Research Highlights: August 2015 (Download)

  • Measuring quality of income growth is the next step in tracking changes in prosperity
  • Improving World Bank support for public sector governance reform
  • Making people work together better
  • Tapping the potential for cross-border electricity cooperation in South Asia
  • Narrowing the gender gap in agricultural productivity in Malawi
  • No systematic barriers to ICT technology adoption in low-income countries
  • The trade engine in Zimbabwe is firing on only one of four cylinders

Research Highlights: July 2015 (Download)

  • Poverty is falling faster in female-headed households in Africa
  • Aid boosts growth, sovereign borrowing does not  
  • Support for Hayek’s insight on governmental decentralization
  • Tariff evasion in Tunisia continues despite curtailed elite capture 
  • Electricity coordination across South Asia could reduce costs by $226b over the next 25 years
  • Increasing productivity on small farms in Uganda will not be quick or easy
  • Sprays vs nets? Complementary ways to prevent malaria 
  • Will gold-mining lead to self-sustaining towns in Ghana? 

Research Highlights: June 2015 (Download)

  • Upward mobility out of poverty is accelerating in India
  • Unsticking land rental markets
  • Pay for ability in mission-oriented organizations
  • Institutions play a strong role in development
  • The way information reaches parents affects their engagement in schools
  • Material scarcities may hamper global expansion of solar electricity 
  • Food consumption away from home affects poverty and inequality analysis
  • WTO dispute outcomes explained

Research Highlights: May 2015 (Download)

  • Estimates of global poverty using 2011 PPP data suggest ending poverty by 2030 remains ambitious
  • Macroeconomic factors have comparatively limited influence on development project outcomes
  • Lotteries as financial incentives are a promising HIV prevention strategy
  • Salty drinking water increases risk of infant mortality in coastal Bangladesh
  • Pension funds follow the herd too
  • Taking action on agriculture in Turkey
  • Good governance and impartiality most directly affect the time and cost of trading internationally
  • Questionnaire design decisions can affect proxy-based poverty assessments
  • Why measuring spillover effects from field experiments is important 

Research Highlights: April 2015 (Download)

  • Rapid financial inclusion could be sped up further by digitizing payments
  • Foreign monetary policy has real effects on emerging markets via the bank lending channel
  • Latin America and Caribbean countries are connecting financially with the rest of the world
  • Qualitative methods add value in the evaluation of investment climate reforms
  • Methodology matters when measuring poverty
  • Economic valuation of the Amazon rainforest is essential for global natural resource accounting
  • Report cards on performance improves learning and enrollment in public and private schools
  • Lack of demand for financial product that combines savings and insurance
  • Impact evaluation of customs reform is important and possible
  • An India-United States free trade agreement can be a step toward more liberal trade regimes

Research Highlights: March 2015 (Download)

  • What determines entrepreneurial outcomes in emerging markets?
  • Anti-poverty programs targeted to the extreme poor succeed when they bridge supply and demand
  • Equality-of-opportunity approaches may prove impractical in a policy context
  • Establishing protected areas slows tropical forest clearing
  • Young left-wing governments redistribute more!
  • Playing the lottery and gambling could be reduced through experiential learning
  • Increasing the quality of roads improves household welfare in rural Indonesia
  • The social value of second-generation biofuels depends critically on climate regulation
  • Scaling up hygiene and sanitation campaigns is a big jump
  • Trade preferences have ripple effects

Research Highlights: February 2015 (Download)

  • Climate change increases risk of extreme poverty in coastal Bangladesh
  • Rewarding safer sex a partial success in Tanzania
  • Overcoming spatial challenges to financial inclusion in Africa
  • Little evidence for a “middle-income trap”
  • More than half the population in Senegal moved in and out of poverty between 2005 and 2011
  • Marginal farmers in India hit hardest by increased costs of production on fragmented fields
  • Increasing agricultural efficiency can reduce poverty in rural Nigeria
  • Sluggish growth in trade is both structural and cyclical

Research Highlights: January 2015  (Download)

  • Poverty will only end by 2030 if growth is shared
  • Identifying geographical poverty traps in rural areas
  • Active land-rental markets and mechanization is transforming family-based agriculture in China
  • Land tenure insecurity affects migration decisions of rural residents in China
  • Collecting good quality milk data in household surveys
  • When microentrepreneurs take out macroinsurance they do not invest more in growth
  • Impact evaluation is associated with timelier delivery of projects
  • Providing better projections of World Bank project outcomes
  • Incorporating labor mobility into trade liberalization theory 

Research Highlights: December 2014 (Download)

  • When countries exceed the income threshold for IDA eligibility other donors reduce aid
  • Inheritance reform in India has empowered females in a sustainable way
  • Disappointing results from India’s borrower bailout
  • Testing and treatment for malaria increases earnings for both sick and healthy workers
  • On-farm activities continue to dominate in rural Africa, but income diversification is on the rise
  • Asia’s financial systems remain less developed than aggregate indicators suggest
  • Evaluation of climate change risks and policies requires multiple information sources
  • Improving migration data quality and collection methods to better inform policies

Research Highlights: November 2014 (Download)

  • Shareholder-friendly corporate governance is positively associated with bank insolvency risk
  • A simple framework for measuring poverty
  • Empirical evidence for poverty traps is scarce
  • When agricultural productivity goes up poverty goes down in Bangladesh
  • How energy prices can play a role in both lowering energy demand and improving energy efficiency
  • Mechanisms to share credit information improve access to finance for firms
  • Intermittent screening and treatment for malaria not enough to protect school children
  • Mass deworming programs bring long-term cognitive benefits
  • Weak job growth in Tunisia due to insufficient firm dynamism

Research Highlights: October 2014 (Download)

  • Little evidence that financial institutions matter for firm lifecycle in India
  • Internal migrants are influenced by access to public infrastructure and availability of electricity
  • When farmers make more money their diet shifts in composition but not in diversity
  • Uptake on rainfall insurance lags in India
  • Water allocation mechanisms that are both flexible and specific support cooperation
  • Government health expenditure tends to favor the better off, not the poor
  • Smaller and younger firms in Sub-Saharan Africa face financing constraints
  • Foreign direct investments benefit domestic firms through common local input suppliers
  • Regional electricity trade depends on having the right institutions for cross-jurisdictional cooperation
  • The mechanism by which infrastructure positively affects economic development remains elusive

Research Highlights: September 2014 (Download)

  • High overall inequality hurts the income growth of the poor, but not the rich
  • Higher food prices may lower global poverty in the long run
  • Training a few “seed” adopters may not be enough to boost adoption of new farming techniques
  • Fossil fuel taxation is a better policy option for increasing renewable energy supply in Morocco
  • A tax regime aimed at micro businesses increased formal business registration only in the first year
  • An informed and engaged community improves public sector outcomes in health
  • Inflation disproportionately reduces investment by small firms
  • Deepening intraregional air transport agreements in the Middle East would increase passenger traffic

Research Highlights: August 2014 (Download)

  • Vulnerability lines can be calculated in most settings with few data requirements
  • Subsidized voluntary health insurance unlikely to be the answer to universal health coverage
  • Small price incentives in land titling encourages the inclusion of women
  • Energy efficiency strategy not straightforward in Ukraine: analyzing the energy efficiency gap
  • How benchmark indexes affect asset allocations and capital flows across countries
  • The role of capital in system-wide bank fragility
  • Peer-based underperformance penalty generates herding behavior among pension fund managers
  • Exporting to high-income nations leads to quality upgrading

Research Highlights: July 2014 (Download)

  • Who will feed China in the 21st Century?
  • Strong link between climate and urbanization in Africa
  • Is inequality of opportunity bad for growth? The cross-country evidence is inconclusive
  • Tracking deposit insurance through the financial crisis
  • Transparency policies may be ineffective if they undermine the commercial interest of financial institutions
  • The rapid growth of institutional investors has not lead to long-term financial markets
  • Patchy progress on the health-related Millennium Developments goals among the poorest 40 percent
  • Restrictions on liner shipping raise transport costs and hurt trade

Research Highlights: June 2014 (Download)

  • Foreign aid increases economic growth in poor countries where it is a large source of funding
  • Easing access to credit could increase income diversity and agricultural productivity in rural Rwanda
  • Several distinct dynamics are at work across the convergence process to the managerial frontier
  • Exploring self-enforcing contracts in the forest sector as a way to reduce carbon emissions
  • High inequality in childhood cognitive skills as a channel for intergenerational transmission of poverty
  • Detecting the effect of remittances on economic growth likely to remain elusive
  • Non-OECD destinations account for one-third of global high-skilled migration

Research Highlights: May 2014 (Download)

  • Growth in social welfare mostly reflects growth in average incomes rather than changes in inequality
  • Elaborate regulations can be indicative of capture by special interests
  • Wage growth shifts comparative advantage to larger farms in Indonesia
  • Financial literacy and education interventions increase certain skills but not others
  • Saltwater intrusion expected to worsen fresh water supply in Bangladesh
  • Optimizing community welfare works best when diverse groups participate in local governance

Research Highlight: April 2014 (Download)

  • Disappointing results for vocational training for the unemployed in Turkey
  • Microfinance expansion still good for poor households in Bangladesh
  • Son preference increases the mortality risk of women with first-born daughters in India
  • How “REDD” might contribute to forest management in Tanzania
  • Equal access to inputs may not be enough to close the gender gap in agricultural productivity in Nigeria
  • Missing complements reduce efficacy of R&D and catch-up gains for poor countries
  • The impact of exporting on firm performance differs by the income level of the destination

Research Highlights: March 2014 (Download)

  • Government investment crowds in private investment, but…
  • Using subjective welfare data to measure poverty rates
  • Efficient regulations boost pro-cyclical pattern in entrepreneurship
  • Labor market imperfections drive the inverse farm-size productivity relationship in Rwanda
  • Low-scoring university students do worse when housed together
  • Negative import demand shocks precedes petitions for import protection

Research Highlights: February 2014 (Download)

  • Why accurate measures of hunger remain elusive
  • Financial education during schooling years improves financial behavior later
  • Improving access to land and housing in West and Central African cities
  • Dealing with rising regional inequality in Bangladesh
  • Transactional and unprotected sex among unmarried and married women rises after shocks
  • Public sector pay affects the intrinsic motivation of government workers: evidence from Indonesia
  • No single approach is best when it comes to aid-for-trade

Research Highlights: January 2014 (Download)

  • The world’s poorest countries need more economists poking around
  • Changes in global income distribution and regional composition since 1988
  • Economic agglomeration encourages job growth
  • Vote-buying: Good and bad
  • Declining energy intensity in four Chinese industries
  • Affordable solar panels gaining traction in Bangladesh
  • Turkey’s new trade barriers

Research Highlights: December 2013 (Download)

  • Life-cycle of firms in developing countries
  • Two-way flows of people and globalization
  • Estimating foreign wage differentials and informal workers
  • Eastern European firms during the financial crisis
  • Lending behavior of foreign-owned banks during the financial crisis
  • Paying hospitals for insured patients
  • Decentralized farm input subsidies in Malawi
  • Assessing global benefit transfers

Research Highlights: November 2013 (Download)

  • Collective action is essential to development... but organization is key to collective action
  • Access to credit affects households’ decisions to save and consume
  • Workfare programs may be less cost effective than other income transfers to the poor
  • Understanding why the size of the informal sector can rise after trade liberalization
  • Why free universal schooling isn’t free for the poor
  • Alleviating indoor air pollution in Madagascar
  • Household high-value cash crop production during food price shocks and stunting among children

Research Highlights: October 2013 (Download)

  • Improved economic rights for women and development outcomes
  • Increased food safety standards and agricultural exports from poor countries
  • Bank reforms and risk-taking of shareholders
  • Consumption risk-sharing and financial openness
  • Microfinance competition in Bangladeshi villages
  • Awareness campaigns and supply-side changes
  • Distribution of economic impacts of rising oil prices
  • Land measurements and agricultural productivity relationships

Research Highlights: September 2013 (Download)

  • Growth still is good for the poor
  • Quality of governance ratings
  • Ethical research guidelines in economic field work
  • Performance of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in India
  • The rural economy and structural transformation
  • Rainfall insurance and production decisions
  • How workers adjust to trade shocks

Research Highlights: August 2013 (Download)

  • Transport costs affect urban economic activity in Sub-Saharan Africa by making access to critical core cities more expensive
  • Poverty- and merit-based incentives induced more schooling—but only merit-based scholarships induced more learning
  • The inequality extraction ratio can be used to explore civil conflict around the world
  • A mixture of carrots, sticks, and regulatory changes is needed to address firm informality
  • No evidence that aid flows lead to real exchange rate appreciation
  • Trade and innovation in the services sector may be a source of dynamism
  • Insulating trade practices to protect domestic food prices are ineffective in reducing poverty

Research Highlights: July 2013 (Download)

  • Rising food prices may benefit the rural poor in India
  • Efforts by China to reduce carbon dioxide emissions may hold lessons for other developing countries
  • Compliance with court orders increased after publicity about the monitoring program in Costa Rica
  • Turkey’s export boom in the 2000s was based on churning across firms, destinations, and products
  • When a registry for movable collateral is introduced, access to finance increases
  • Reticence-adjusted estimates of corruption can be twice as large as responses to standard questions
  • New method for estimating poverty when official estimates are outdated

Research Highlights: June 2013 (Download)

  • Cooperation on climate change: overcoming “narrative,” “adding-up,” and “new world” problems
  • Over 1 billion women worldwide remain outside the formal financial system
  • When it comes to global liquidity shortages financial integration may be welfare-reducing for emerging economies
  • Donors’ behavior is consistent with their commitments to use in- country aid management systems
  • It may be a mistake to dismiss trade insulation as a potential food stabilization policy
  • The effect of water hauling on girls schooling in Ghana
  • Microfinance institutions in Bangladesh are differentiating to meet the needs of clients in rural areas
  • New Book: A Unified Approach to Measuring Poverty and Inequality: Theory and Practice

Research Highlights: May 2013 (Download)

  • “Incentive audits” proposed as a tool to help prevent future financial crises
  • Understanding the forces that drive agricultural policy choices
  • Measuring the intangible wealth of nations—human and institutional capital
  • In Tanzania, internal migrants shoot ahead in life and are hardly taxed by home communities
  • Educational content weaved into entertainment media can shift individual behavior
  • Understanding how women's fertility decisions are affected by the presence of HIV
  • The role of capital markets in the economic expansion of China and India is smaller than expected
  • Export entrepreneurship in Latin America and the Caribbean compares favorably with other countries

Research Highlights: April 2013 (Download)

  • Why food price stabilization policies are here to stay
  • Input use and asset ownership underlie gender differences in agricultural productivity in Malawi
  • Local benefits from mining decrease with geographic distance in Peru
  • One-stop-shops did not increase business registration in less populous municipalities in Brazil
  • Ending fuel subsidies may be easier in some countries, and harder in others
  • Incentivizing health providers with pay for performance improves testing for HIV in Rwanda
  • So-called nondiscriminatory trade policies can end up being discriminatory
  • Governments respond to rainfall shortages by lowering tariffs on agricultural imports

Research Highlights: March 2013 (Download)

  • Sri Lanka needs improvements in productivity to sustain high rates of economic growth
  • Government connections affect access to credit in Chinese firms
  • Better access to microfinance needed for rural, nonfarm microenterprises in Bangladesh
  • Conditional transfers benefit children less likely to receive educational investments by parents
  • Household consumption errors have a negative correlation with the true value of consumption
  • The share of global trade by developing countries has increased
  • Bonds can tell us much about what role domestic and international markets play under financial globalization

Research Highlights: February 2013 (Download)

  • Two scenarios for lifting one billion people out of poverty
  • Area estimation techniques identify populations for targeted poverty alleviation in Vietnam
  • Difficulties evaluating matching-grant programs provide lessons
  • Job satisfaction overlaps in the formal and informal sectors
  • Where vote buying is prevalent, governments invest less in pro-poor services
  • Overlapping property rights reduce the effectiveness of land reforms in West Bengal
  • Women’s rural entrepreneurship is both less prevalent and less productive than men’s
  • Some of China’s biofuel targets are on track, others will need additional fiscal incentives
  • Trade policies in emerging economies have become more responsive to economic shocks

Research Highlights: January 2013 (Download)

  • Conflict is higher in places where the ability of citizens to act collectively is limited by leaders
  • Coastal wetlands most at risk from rising sea level are concentrated in a handful of countries
  • Agricultural trade and price policy reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa contributed to economic growth
  • International comparisons of inequality of opportunity are now possible—but different indices tell very different stories
  • Understanding the barriers to ownership and use of formal financial accounts
  • The jury is out on the virtues of export promotion programs


Last updated: 2017-03-22

Permanent URL for this page:

© 2016 The World Bank Group, All Rights Reserved. Legal