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Research Featured Articles


Expectations and Reality Collide in Active Labor Market Policies
March 2017: The World Bank and its partner countries have invested billions of dollars in active labor market policies. In this talk, David McKenzie discussed new studies that reveal what worked, what hasn’t, and how governments can improve their effectiveness.


The Way Forward for SME Growth and Job Creation
November 2016: In this Policy Research Talk, Miriam Bruhn, a Senior Economist at the World Bank, compared approaches to promote SMEs in three areas where research is providing new insight: regulatory reform, access to finance, and business practices.

Experts Propose Next Generation of Financial Sector Reforms
November 2016: Financial sector experts gathered this month to share new research and data on policies to make poverty-alleviating resources available to the bottom 40 percent.

Building Financial Sectors That Support Development
June 2015: From May 4th-8th, the Research Department and the Finance and Markets Global Practice hosted the 12th Overview Course of Financial Sector Issues 2015: Building Financial Sectors that Support Development. This week-long training event covers the fundamentals of the financial sector and identifies emerging issues relevant to policy makers. Officials from central banks, ministries of finance, and regulatory agencies as well as World Bank Group staff members were in attendance.

Global Findex 2014 Unveils World’s Most Comprehensive Set of Data on Financial Inclusion
April 21, 2015: The Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) database is a product of the Research Department, in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Gallup World Poll. First launched in 2011, the database provides comparable indicators showing how people around the world save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk.

Making Index Insurance Work for the Poor
April 2015: In this policy research talk Lead Economist Xavi Gine explains why early pilots of weather-based index insurance for farmers resulted in low take-up and how to better design them to increase coverage and impact.
Story | Video
Does Microfinance Still Hold Promise for Reaching the Poor?
March 2015: In this Policy Research Talk Lead Economist Robert Cull contrasted the early hopes for microfinance in reducing poverty with evidence from field experiments around the world, and also pointed to new directions microfinance institutions can take to help achieve universal financial inclusion. 
Story | Video
Legal Reform Improves Women’s Welfare
February 2014
Story | Video
New World Bank Group Report Charts Road Map for Financial Inclusion
November 2013
Featured Article
Economic Development = Equal Rights for Women?
September 2013

Featured Article
Rethinking Informality: What is Keeping Firms from Going Formal?
July 2013

Featured Article
New World Bank Study Finds Large Gender Gaps in Access to Formal Banking
April 2013
Feature Article
Financial Development: New Book Shows that Low-Income People Are “Bankable”
March 2013
Feature Article 

Banking the World: Empirical Foundations of Financial Inclusion 
March 2013: Edited by Robert Cull, Asli Demirgüç-Kunt and Jonathan Morduch
MIT Press, 2012

2013 Global Financial Development Report
September 2012: The global economic meltdown of the past few years has prompted many people to reassess state interventions in a number of areas of financial systems.
Report | Featured Article | Blog Post
Financial development and inclusion in Kenya 
July 2012: A new research project looks at how financial sector development in Kenya is spurring financial inclusion. A major component of the study focuses on how Equity Bank is bridging the financial inclusion gap in previously under-served areas.

Global Financial Inclusion Index 
April 2012: A ten-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is helping us build the first public database of demand-side indicators that consistently measures individuals’ usage of financial products across countries and over time.
Working Paper 6025 | Press Release | Featured Article | Web site 

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt on C-SPAN commenting at the Shadow Regulatory Commission Summit on the Future of Bank Regulation, which was held at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy and Research.
Oct.24, 2011 (Video, 2 hours)

Financial Structure and Economic Development 
July 2011: This conference, which took place on June 16, 2011, examined whether financial structures change as countries develop, and whether some structures are better suited to particular stages of development.

New Ideas in Business Growth: Financial Literacy, Firm Dynamics and Entrepreneurial Environment Conference 
March 2011: This conference, which took place on March 30, 2011, focused on three broad themes (a) business and financial literacy training, (b) the business environment, and (c) corporate governance and firm dynamics.
Taking Stock of Our Research in 2010: Relevance, Quality, and Impact 
March 2011: This has been another productive year for the Finance and Private Sector Development group, with 60 published and forthcoming journal articles, 20 chapters in books, and 35 working papers. We continued to generate data sets, organize seminars and training courses in 2010.

World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Launch a New Effort to Improve Financial Data Collection 
November 2010: An $11 million, 10-year grant to the World Bank’s Development Research Group will, for the first time, build a global database that allows researchers to measure and compare how the world’s poor save, borrow and make payments in 150 countries.

The Global Financial Crisis Led to a Drop in Business Creation
October 2010: A new report was released by InfoShop on November 19 using the recently updated World Bank Group Entrepreneurship Snapshots (WBGES) to show sharp drops in new business registrations over the past two years. Complete data are now available for 112 countries covering the six-year period 2004-09.

Financial Access and the Crisis
September 2010: A new report by Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP) and the World Bank Group that reviews over 140 countries shows that despite the crisis, people have been using basic deposit services more extensively.

IMF Unveils Online Database on Financial Access! 
July 2010: Building on our research, the IMF recently launched a new online database on financial access, which should start measuring access to and use of financial services systematically. The database measures the reach of financial services by bank branch network, availability of automated teller machines, and by four key financial instruments: deposits, loans, debt securities issued, and insurance. The website contains annual data from about 140 respondents for the six-year period, including data for all G-20 countries.

The Impact of Mobile Money in Kenya 
May 2010: M-PESA, a mobile phone-based system for person-to-person payments and money transfers, is revolutionizing the financial lives of ordinary Kenyans. Since its inception in 2007, the service has attracted over 9.5 million customers, or about 40% of the adult population. Read more about how it works, how customers are using it, and why it took off in Kenya.
Taking Stock of Our Research in 2009: Relevance, Quality, and Impact 
March 2010: Our group has been very productive this year, working on topics of policy interest, such as the causes and consequences of the recent financial crisis and how best to promote job creation. Read more to find out about our research and its impact.
Can Informal Finance Substitute for Formal Finance? 
January 2010: The fast growth of Chinese private sector firms is taken as evidence that it is alternative financing and governance mechanisms that support China’s growth. However, research results suggest that despite its weaknesses, financing from the formal financial system is associated with faster firm growth, whereas fund raising from alternative channels is not.
Conference on Entrepreneurship and Growth 
November 2009: The two-day conference, jointly organized by The World Bank and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship, was held at the World Bank Headquarters on November 19 and 20, 2009. It brought together academics, policymakers, and practitioners, who examined the constraints to entrepreneurship, the promotion of high-growth entrepreneurship, and the impact of institutional reforms on the nature of the new incumbent firms
The International Financial Crisis: Have the Rules of Finance Changed? 
September 2009: A two-day conference (September 24-25, 2009) co-organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the World Bank brought together a distinguished list of academics, policymakers and practitioners to discuss the causes and consequences of the financial crisis.

Impact Assessments in Finance and Private Sector Development: What have we learned and what should we learn? 
July 2009: There are almost no rigorous evidence about which finance and private sector development policies work and which don’t, despite the large number of projects implemented each year. New work demonstrates impact evaluations are feasible and useful, and sets out an agenda for evaluation.

 IMF–World Bank Conference on Managing Systemic Crises 
May 2009: Stijn Claessens (IMF) and Asli Demirguc-Kunt (World Bank) jointly organized a one-day conference on “Managing Systemic Crises and Redesigning Financial Systems,” featuring several experts in the field. Some of the issues were hotly debated, but several policy recommendations emerged from the discussion.
The Use of Bankruptcy in the Resolution of Corporate Distress
May 2009: Prospects of illiquidity and potential insolvency are becoming more likely around the world--and one of the important concerns for policymakers is the effectiveness of existing bankruptcy regimes. 
How to Bring Banks Back to Life: Q&A with Asli Demirguc-Kunt 
February 2009: The current distress of large international banks in the US and Europe is spurring a rethinking of banking system regulations both in rich countries and in emerging markets. Asli Demirguc-Kunt, Senior Research Manager for Finance and Private Sector Development in the World Bank’s Development Research Group, offers her thoughts on some of today’s most pressing questions

Our conference on Measurement, Promotion and Impact of Access to Financial Services took place March 12-13 2009. Summary

Are All the Sacred Cows Dead? Implications of the Financial Crisis for Macro and Financial Policies 
January 2009: Massive liquidity injections, blanket guarantees for deposits, large government ownership stakes in banks--has the recent crisis killed all the sacred cows of financial policy advice? We think not.

Financial Stability and Access: The Importance of Financial Literacy 
January 2009: We are just beginning to understand the linkages between financial literacy and financial sector development and stability. Read here to find out more about recent research, including efforts to establish a causal link between financial literacy training and financial sector outcomes.


The Ongoing Financial Crisis 
November 2008: Our recent conference on "Risk Analysis and Management" was the scene of a lively discussion on securitization, contagion, and implications for bank regulation, all framed within the context of the current financial crisis.

The Promise of Index Insurance 
September 2008: Is index-based insurance an effective tool to hedge production risk? A series of papers explore the introduction of index-based insurance and its widespread use among smallholder farmers in developing countries.

Microfinance Meets the Market 
July 2008: When Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, the world community celebrated the ways that expanding financial access can improve the lives of the poor. A new paper clarifies what's at stake when the worlds of non-profit microfinance and commercial banking intersect.
Small Business Finance – What Works, What Doesn't? 
May 2008: A conference held at the World Bank's headquarters on May 5 and 6 brought together academics, practitioners, and policy makers for an interesting discussion on small business finance. 

Using Surveys to Measure Households' Access to and Use of Financial Services 
March 2008: To get a picture of how households are dealing with their need for financial services, there is really no substitute for surveying household members directly, and so World Bank researchers are ramping up efforts in this area.

Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: New Experimental Evidence from Sri Lanka and Mexico 
January 2008: Do small informal firms hold the potential for income growth for their owners, or are they merely a source of subsistence income for low-productivity individuals unable to find alternative work? Firms were randomly chosen to receive additional capital ($100-$200) grants and the returns to those infusions were much higher than market interest rates. Since microenterprises could pay high interest rates, it appears that it is not the cost of capital, but limited access to it that is the issue.

Finance for All? Policies and Pitfalls in Expanding Access
November 2007: A new Policy Research Report by the Finance and Private Sector Development Unit, takes stock of our current knowledge in the area of access to financial services. It presents indicators to measure access to finance, analyzes its determinants, and evaluates its impact on growth, equity and poverty reduction, drawing on research utilizing data both at the firm and household level. It discusses the role of government in advancing financial inclusion and concludes with policy implications and a research agenda for future work.

Entrepreneurship and Firm Formation across Countries 
September 2007: How different is entrepreneurial activity and around the world? How important is it for development? New data and analysis start answering some of these questions. The 2007 World Bank Group Entrepreneurship Survey measures entrepreneurial activity in 84 developing and industrial countries around the world over the period 2003-2005. This study finds significant relationships between entrepreneurial activity and indicators of economic and financial development and growth, the quality of the legal and regulatory environment, and governance. More....

Access to Finance: The Unfinished Agenda 
March 2007: Without access to external finance, firms cannot realize their full growth potential. This can slow down economic growth for a country as a whole. There have been many recent advances in understanding how to measure access to financial services; what determines the level of access; and the impact of access to finance. But a substantial and exciting agenda remains to be explored in this key area of development, concluded experts at a recent conference in Washington, DC.
Conference website | Data on access to finance

Bank Regulation and Corporate Finance: Challenges for the Future
October 2006: A recent conference on bank regulation and corporate finance discussed Basel II—a new regulatory framework aimed at ensuring the solvency and viability of banks—and the roles of capital requirements, supervisory powers, and market discipline. This October 2006 event was hosted in Washington DC by the World Bank and the Journal of Financial Intermediation.
Conference papers and presentations

Strengthen Access to Finance for SMEs While Improving Business Environment for All Firms 
August 2006:
New research findings break away from the traditional view that subsidizing small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) fosters growth and poverty alleviation. Researchers Beck and Demirgüç-Kunt recommend that countries focus on improving the overall business climate for all firms, while also expanding access to finance for SMEs.

Good Governance and Institutions Improve Access to Finance in Emerging Countries 
May 2006: At a recent conference on the Financing of Corporations in Emerging Countries (organized by the World Bank, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and the Journal of Financial Economics), researchers highlighted the importance of growth-promoting financial policies, which are a critical part of the investment climate facing firms and households.

New Research Shows that Supervision that Relies on Market Monitoring and Transparency Lowers Corruption in Bank Lending 
March 2006: New World Bank research finds that firms in countries with powerful supervisory agencies—which directly monitor and supervise banks—face greater obstacles to obtaining bank loans because of corruption among bank officials.

Better Data Needed for Policy Research on Access to Financial Services 
February 2006: Although financial sector data is generally complete and readily available, serious gaps exist in financial access data. Recognizing the need for improved data in this important area, the World Bank is seeking to develop better indicators of access to financial services, particularly for small firms and poor households.

New Research shows Financial Development is not only Pro-Growth, but also Pro-Poor 
New World Bank research reveals that a high level of financial development (where private credit given by financial institutions to households and private firms accounts for a high percentage of GDP) is a powerful driver of poverty reduction.

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Last updated: 2017-06-28

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