Maps of living standards reveal uneven landscapes of prosperity and deprivation across countries and regions that reflect the concentration of economic activity and productivity. Only 1.5 percent of the world’s land is home to half of its production. In Japan and France, for example, Tokyo and Paris are home to over 40 and 30 percent of their nation’s economic activity—in less than 4 and 2 percent of the country’s land.
Attempts to redistribute the benefits from such concentration across space have had limited success. Estimates from more than 100 living-standard surveys indicate that households in the most prosperous areas of developing countries such as Brazil, Bulgaria, Ghana, Indonesia, Morocco, and Sri Lanka have an average consumption almost 75 percent higher than that of similar households in less prosperous areas. By comparison, this disparity is less than 25 percent in developed countries such as Canada, Japan, and the United States.
Faced with these large inequalities, countries are increasingly turning to the World Bank to support spatially targeted policies and investments to spur development in lagging areas. But, these policies are often unsuccessful and at times have proven costly failures. Therefore, it is time to take stock of what we know about the potential benefits and limitations of policies such as transport corridors, special economic zones and industrial parks, as well as initiatives directed toward lagging areas or cities.
This conference will discuss what we know and explore the unresolved questions surrounding these topics with the goal of setting the applied research agenda for the coming years and putting Bank spatial policies on sounder conceptual and empirical footing.
Organized by the Chief Economist’s Office for the World Bank’s Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions Vice Presidency, and the Global Solutions Group on Territorial and Spatial Development of the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice.
DAY 1 - September 28th, 2017
9:00-10:00 am Breakfast and registration
10:00-10:30 am Opening Remarks (Video):
10:30 am-12:30 pm Session I: Place shaping Policy – Analytic Policy Framework
Chair: William F. Maloney, Chief Economist, Equitable Growth, Finance
and Institutions (EFI)
We will present a new framework for thinking about place-based policies. In particular, the discussion will focus on the set of conditions that need to be met for policy interventions to be effective in spurring local activity that can contribute significantly to national growth. The framework is grounded in the context in which the World Bank operates, filled with market and coordination failures, and is tailored to address interventions as diverse as industrial zones, clusters, new urban development, housing interventions and inter-city and intra-urban connectivity investments.
12:30-2:00 pm Lunch session – Keynote address
Chair: Paul Romer, Chief Economist of the World Bank
Keynote speaker: Dave Donaldson, Professor of Economics, MIT, recipient
of the John Bates Clark medal, 2017
Dave Donaldson’s keynote address will paint the picture of the geographic distribution of wealth and productivity while focusing on the specific role that transportation improvements can play in enabling countries to move towards the production of internationally tradeable goods.
2:00-3:30 pm Session II: Corridors, Connectivity, and Regional Specialization
Chair: Asli Demirguc-Kunt, Director Development Economics Research
We will discuss the impacts of connectivity investments on the spatial distribution of economic activity and workers. Leveraging a large body of literature and new data we will investigate the conditions under which reductions in transportation costs can lead to welfare improving outcomes and regional specialization. While doing so, special attention will be devoted to the losers of the economic geography reshuffling.
3:30-4:00 pm Coffee Break
4:00-5:30 pm Session III: Agglomeration, Clusters, and Productivity
Chair: Marianne Fay, Chief Economist, Sustainable Development (SD)
We will discuss both the benefits of agglomeration and the channels through which they manifest themselves as well as the enabling conditions that allow specific locations to become productivity centers. Of particular interest are the benefits that result from firm clustering through vertical and horizontal exchanges as well as through knowledge spillovers.
DAY 2-September 29th, 2017
9:00-9:30 am Breakfast and informal discussion
9:30-11:00 am Session IV: Supporting Lagging regions – Managing Economic Efficiency / Spatial Equity tradeoffs
Chair: John Panzer, Director, Macro Economics and Fiscal Management
We will discuss how to best support lagging regions while avoiding a tradeoff between overall efficiency and local benefits. This approach requires understanding the specificities of geographical areas and tailoring policy interventions that can overcome local handicaps without resulting in suboptimal use of scarce fiscal revenues. This topic is increasingly relevant to World Bank operations that aim to address disparities in production and living standards across space.
11:00-11:30 am Coffee break & informal discussions
11:30 am-12:30 pm Session V: Mapping the way forward
Chair: William Maloney, Chief Economist, Equitable Growth, Finance and
Institutions, World Bank
12:30-13:30 pm Lunch and end of workshop
Last Updated: Sep 11, 2017