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infrastructureThe World Bank research program on infrastructure investigates environmentally and economically sustainable directions for energy, roads, information technology and interregional development.

Research topics
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Isolation and Economic Specialization and Well-being

This research project analyzes how access to markets and urban centers influences location of economic activities over geographical space, and well-being of people at different locations. Analyses based on household data from Nepal reveal existence of strong specialization pattern and agglomeration effects with respect to market size and access to markets. The second phase of the research, based on data from population census and household surveys from Nepal will examine how infrastructure and amenities available at different locations affect internal migration pattern. This research is expected to contribute to designing suitable placement strategies for infrastructure as well as urban and rural development projects. 

Rural Energy

Until recently, the potential for utilizing renewable energy in rural areas and the adverse health effects of indoor air pollution (IAP) on women and children have not received sufficient attention. Research on the structure and efficiency of rural energy markets has also been minor.

Against this backdrop, a major study has been undertaken to assist the government of Bangladesh in formulating a rural energy strategy to increase the access of the rural population to affordable modern energy. The study compiled rural energy use data to get benchmark information, conducted two surveys - one at household level and the other at rural micro-enterprise level, and assessed rural energy delivery mechanisms, demand for energy and benefits. Investigating the energy use patterns at domestic, farming and enterprise levels, the study finds that making modern energy services available in rural areas can promote decentralized development and growth and help rural residents become more productive, thereby mitigating urban-rural disparities and reducing rural-to-urban migration. As this study shows, electrification translates into substantial gains in household welfare and a higher quality of life. This study recommends effective institutional coordination, combined with market development, appropriate subsidy and pricing policies, and government and donor support, as the basis for sound rural energy policies.

Another study examines how improved access to energy helps reduce poverty through higher income and consumption. Based on cross-sectional data from a 2004 survey of some 2,300 households in rural Bangladesh, the study estimates the welfare impacts of household energy use, including the use of modern energy, and then calculates households' minimum energy requirements that could be used as a basis for an energy poverty line. The study finds that although the use of both traditional (biomass) and modern (electricity) sources improves households' consumption and income, return on modern sources is 20 to 25 times higher than that on traditional sources. In addition, a comparison of alternate measures of energy poverty line suggests that more than 50 percent of the rural households in Bangladesh are energy poor.

Rural Roads

Better rural roads enable households to exploit agricultural and non-agricultural opportunities more efficiently, justifying investment in road construction and improvements. But it's not clear how roads actually affect household outcomes.

Information Communication Technology and Development

Rapid growth of Internet use in high-income economies has raised the specter of a "digital divide" that will marginalize developing countries. Using new cross-country data sets, this research investigates two proximate determinants of the digital divide: internet intensity (internet subscriptions per telephone mainline) and access to telecom services. In Bangladesh, surveys are ongoing to analyze the importance of information as a determinant of rural development.

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 Policy Research Working Papers 

For more policy research working papers from the World Bank's institutional archives, search here using author’s last name, title or working paper number (“wpsxxxx”).

WPS6095Who benefits most from rural electrification ? evidence in IndiaKhandker, Shahidur R.; Samad, Hussain A.; Ali, Rubaba; Barnes, Douglas F.2012/06
WPS5867Estimating the long-term impacts of rural roads : a dynamic panel approachKhandker, Shahidur R.; Koolwal, Gayatri B.2011/10
WPS5463Energy poverty in rural and urban India : are the energy poor also income poor ?Khandker, Shahidur R.; Barnes, Douglas F.; Samad, Hussain A.2010/11
WPS5472Measures of fixed capital in agricultureButzer, Rita; Mundlak, Yair; Larson, Donald F.2010/11
WPS5332Energy access, efficiency, and poverty : how many households are energy poor in Bangladesh ?Barnes, Douglas F.; Khandker, Shahidur R.; Samad, Hussain A.2010/06
WPS4484On measuring the benefits of lower transport costsJacoby, Hanan G.; Minten, Bart2008/01
WPS4097Road network upgrading and overland trade expansion in Sub-Saharan AfricaBuys, Piet; Deichmann, Uwe; Wheeler, David2006/12
WPS3875The poverty impact of rural roads : evidence from BangladeshKhandker, Shahidur R.; Bakht, Zaid; Koolwal, Gayatri B.2006/04
WPS2845The spatial division of labor in NepalFafchamps, Marcel; Shilpi, Forhad2002/05
WPS2663Agglomeration economies and productivity in Indian industryLall, Somik; Shalizi, Zmarak; Deichmann, Uwe2001/08
WPS2567Policy reform, economic growth, and the digital divide - an econometric analysisDasgupta, Susmita; Lall, Somik; Wheeler, David2001/03
WPS2496Perspectives on the sources of heterogeneity in Indian industryLall,Somik V.; Rodrigo,Gerard Christopher2000/11
WPS2457Urban and regional dynamics in PolandDeichmann, Uwe; Henderson, Vernon2000/09
WPS2253Revenue recycling and the welfare effects of road pricingParry, Ian W.H.; Bento, Antonio Miguel R.1999/12

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