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Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics 2022: Recovery, Reform, and Business Environment

June 21-24, 2022

Washington, DC

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  • The Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE), organized by the World Bank’s Development Economics (DEC) Vice Presidency, is one of the world's best-known conferences for the presentation and discussion of new knowledge on social and economic development. The conference aims to promote the exchange of cutting-edge knowledge among researchers, policymakers, and development practitioners.

    The theme of ABCDE 2022 is "Recovery, Reform, and Business Environment", with a key focus on how enterprises are recovering from the pandemic crisis, how the business environment was affected by the pandemic, and reform prospects for the future. It will be held completely online, using a Zoom platform. It will take place over 5 days, June 21–24, from 9:00 am–12:00 pm (EST).


    The COVID-19 pandemic crisis produced an unprecedent shock to the global economy. Firms of all sizes and sectors were deeply impacted by the measures to reduce the likelihood of contagion (e.g., lockdowns and travel restrictions) and the consequent disruptions in both local and global value chains. Most governments worldwide acted by changing the regulatory environment aimed to enhance markets functioning, easing access to credit, and/or through targeted policies envisaged to attenuate the negative effects on firms’ performance and consequently on the labor market. The crisis also created new opportunities. The use of digital technologies and platforms, which the World Bank has been advocating for in the last few years, skyrocketed. Firms have been pressed to innovate and adapt their business models to expand markets or simply survive. The steadily increasing pace of digitization is expected to ease production of high-frequency data that can be used for faster and better-informed decision-making and to identify market frictions.


    Independently of the pandemic crisis, the regulatory environment and the provision of public services necessary for the functioning of markets continue to play an important role in the growth and development of businesses and the private sector in general. Reforms in the business environment are fundamental to achieve the larger goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity. They continue to be a challenge, especially for developing countries. Moreover, the issues raised by the pandemic crisis have accentuated the need for reforms.

    For both “recovery and reform” several questions are of keen interest for academics and policy makers. For instance, to what extent do regulatory reforms contribute to enhance the business environment and market functioning? What public services, policies and institutions are most conducive to spur private sector dynamism? Which specific policies targeting firms during the crisis (particularly the micro, small and medium-sized ones - MSMEs) actually had an impact on firm survival, businesses’ models, and performance outcomes? How deep has the effect of the pandemic been on businesses’ financial needs? How innovations in the credit market can impact access of underserved firms and what are their implications to businesses’ performance and productivity? How is the labor market responding to transformational changes produced by the pandemic crisis? What are the underlying political economy issues driving regulatory changes for crisis management and long-term development?

    The conference will feature an introduction by Carmen Reinhart (World Bank Group Senior Vice President and Chief Economist), and keynote addresses by Laura Alfaro (Harvard Business School), and Steven Davis (Chicago Booth). The ABCDE program committee members are Mohammad Amin, Caio Piza, Colin Xu, Mike Peng, and Daniela Scur. 

  • The ABCDE organizing committee is issuing a call for innovative research papers that examine business “recovery and reform,” including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis on firms, the impacts of interventions (either public or private) aimed to mitigate the effects of the pandemic shock on firms, and the long-run effects of regulatory reforms on market functioning, and firms’ decision-making and performance. Of interest are papers that explore these issues with respect to one or more of the following sub-themes:

    • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis on market concentration, private sector productivity, and welfare.
    • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis on firms’ decision-making, innovation, and performance.  
    • The long-run effects of regulatory reforms on markets’ functioning, firms’ decision-making, and firms’ performance.
    • The long-run impacts on the future of the nature and modalities of work.
    • The effects of public policies on firms and their consequences for the labor market.
    • The political economy of government reforms in response to both the pandemic and structural conditions.

    The call for paper is now closed. Authors of selected papers will be informed by May 16th.

    Papers that do not fit into these sub-themes but are related to the main topic of the conference are also welcome. All selected papers will be presented in the plenary sessions of the conference.  The conference will include two groups of papers: full presentation and discussion of about fifteen papers and twelve short (or poster) presentations. All presentation sessions will be followed by opportunities for further small group discussion in breakout rooms.

  • Laura Alfaro, the Warren Alpert Professor of Business Administration

    Laura Alfaro


    Laura Alfaro is the Warren Alpert Professor of Business Administration. At Harvard Business School since 1999, she is also a Faculty Research Associate in the NBER International Finance and Macroeconomics Program and the International Trade and Investment Program, CEPR IFM program, member of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Economic Advisory Board, the Latin-American Financial Regulatory Committee (CLAAF), Faculty Associate at Harvard's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and member of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies’ (DRCLAS) policy committee, among others. She served as Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy in Costa Rica from 2010-2012, taking a leave from HBS. In 2008, she was honored as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Professor Alfaro is the author of multiple articles published in leading academic journals such as the American Economic Review, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Political Economy, Journal of International Economics, and of Harvard Business School cases related to the field of international economics and in particular international capital flows, foreign direct investment, sovereign debt, trade, and emerging markets.

    Steven J. Davis, William H. Abbott Distinguished Service Professor of International Business and Economics

    Steven J. Davis

    William H. Abbott Distinguished Service Professor of International Business and Economics

    Steven J. Davis studies business dynamics, hiring practices, job loss, the effects of economic uncertainty and other topics. His research appears in the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics and other leading scholarly journals. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, senior academic fellow with the Asian Bureau of Finance and Economic Research, advisor to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, senior adviser to the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, and past editor of the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics. He is also an elected fellow of the Society of Labor Economists.

    • Paper submissions deadline: April 29, 2022
    • Notification email of selected papers: May 16, 2022
    • Conference dates: June 20–24, 2022