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Research in Support of World Bank Operations

OPERATIONAL SUPPORT HIGHLIGHTS (Spring 2017)

Cities flagship report for the LCR Chief Economist Office
An ongoing background study for this report uses a spatial equilibrium model to investigate how the growth of cities determines aggregate growth in Brazil. Specifically, the paper examines: (1) the extent to which the contribution of a city to aggregate growth differed from what might naively be inferred from the growth of the city’s GDP; and (2) the extent to which relaxing constraints to housing supply in major Brazilian cities can improve the spatial allocation of labor, and thereby generate gains in aggregate output and welfare. This theme is particularly relevant in the Brazilian context, where increased labor flows towards large cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, along with the relative scarcity of adequate housing supply and transport infrastructure in these cities, appeared to have played an important role in shaping patterns of local and aggregate growth in the country.

Madagascar Public Sector Reform Project
for the Customs Authority of the Government of Madagascar and the Bank’s Governance Global Practice. Evaluation and assistance with implementation of performance contracts for customs inspectors in order to facilitate trade, improve revenues, and reduce fraud. Preliminary results suggest these contracts are highly effective, and have contributed to a 37% improvement in revenues between January 2016 and February 2017.

Economic Impacts of the Syrian Civil War
for Macroeconomic and Finance Management Global Practice and the Middle East and North Africa region. The plight of refugees and reconstruction of countries embroiled in civil wars are among the biggest challenges the world is facing. The project assesses the relative importance of channels through which the Syrian Civil War has had an impact: capital destruction, casualties and economic disorganization through the destruction of the production networks. The economic impact is mainly felt through through the collapse of networks as well as the migration of productive workers. The overall results confirm the importance of human capital, rather than physical capital.

Malaysian Labor Market and Foreign Labor
for the Government of Malaysia and the Social Protection and Labor Global Practice. Low-skilled foreign workers constitute over 15 percent of Malaysia’s labor force. The Government of Malaysia included foreign worker management as one of the key issues in its 11th Malaysia plan and asked the World Bank to analyze the impact of foreign labor on key economic outcomes and suggest specific policy reforms. The results were presented to the Prime Minister and other Ministers, and the Cabinet encouraged the World Bank team to work with various government agencies to operationalize the policy recommendations.

Afghanistan Trade Study
for the Government of Afghanistan, the World Bank’s South Asia Region and the Trade and Competitiveness Practice: As part of a broader effort to assess the potential role of trade in reviving Afghanistan’s sluggish growth, this report examined opportunities and challenges in selected services sectors. The constraints on service sector development due to Afghanistan’s small market and limited endowments of skills and capital could in principle be alleviated by greater regional and global integration. If the political and security situation improves, foreign participation in transport and communications infrastructure and services could enhance connectivity both domestically and internationally, and create the basis for Afghanistan to become an exporter of transit services to its neighboring countries. Facilitating consumption abroad of health and education services by Afghan citizens could boost their human capital and equip them to engage productively in both the domestic and global economy in the long run.

Impact on South Asian Countries of Trade Policy Changes in the Major Economies
for the South Asia Region Chief Economist Office: This report analyzes the potential impact on SAR countries of changes in foreign trade policy and a strengthening of the US dollar, relying on recent trade elasticity estimates. The report calculates the potential short run trade responses in specific destination country policy scenarios. These include increases in tariffs on imports from specific or all countries and an appreciation of the US dollar with respect to all South Asia/world currencies. In all cases, the report estimates the potential spillovers to the SAR countries based on their current export profiles. Results show that reversals of openness in destination markets may present hurdles or new market opportunities for SAR exports depending on the specific actions that are taken.

 

About the Trade and International Integration Team in the Development Research Group (DECTI)

The group focuses on the implications of international economic integration for developing countries and on how it can be managed to promote economic development.

Our work covers national policies and international agreements that affect international trade in goods and services, as well as foreign investment and migration.

We focus on producing applied research, data and tools to assist Bank operations and to help inform and shape trade policy. Our research has helped define the Bank’s new Trade Strategy and is strongly aligned with it.

In many cases, the specific policy research questions are defined by demand from Bank operations and client countries and addressed by collecting and rigorously analyzing new data, often in collaboration with researchers from developing countries and partner organizations.

The findings of this research are widely disseminated and translated into actionable policy recommendations that are implemented in cooperation with staff from Bank operations and client countries. All staff in DECTI spend one-third of their time providing direct support to Bank operations and client countries.

We can help analyze new areas and reassess conventional wisdom on three inter-related themes:

  • The implications of changing patterns of international integration for specific countries or regions
  • The priorities for policy reform in specific countries or regions
  • New strategies for international cooperation for development - bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally

 





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