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Establishing a Direct Link between Knowledge and Policy Responses


Knowledge, innovation, and learning shape financing and policy advice and are central to scaling up impact. The World Bank Group offers a variety of knowledge products under one roof, and the KCP aims at facilitating knowledge flows between foundational analysis and frontline policy advice. The KCP’s research, data, and analytical outputs inform and influence the design, implementation, and monitoring of the World Bank Group’s financing packages, technical assistance, and direct country engagements. And at the same time, research ideas are constantly surfaced through close interactions with colleagues in the Global Practices and Regions who bring out real-time challenges faced by policy makers and governments. The foundational analytical work and direct, country-facing engagements complement one another and are mutually reinforcing.

Many KCP research, data, and analytical activities are embedded in or directly support World Bank Group operations, be it financing packages, technical assistance, or advisory services. For example, a KCP financed research project on human resources management in customs administration provided the analytical backbone for an International Development Association (IDA)–supported lending operation on Public Sector Performance in Madagascar to enhance customs performance and service delivery. During implementation, the research unveiled widespread collusion between inspectors and brokers. A new algorithm to detect such collusion was developed, and its application led to four customs inspectors resigning or being suspended. The research also enabled better identification of risky import transactions by constructing refined measures of tariff evasion and developing statistical tools to monitor the performance of customs inspectors. The research and reform efforts jointly improved Madagascar’s revenue mobilization, which has grown by 93 percent since 2015.

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, DEC’s researchers were quickly mobilized to study the impacts and implications of the public health crisis and supply useful frameworks, models, and data to inform the policy debate, particularly around the trade-off between policy choices in the economic and social domains. The research activities were approached from various dimensions, highlighting the importance of governance and institutions, evaluating the social value of health insurance, conducting rapid response phone surveys to understand how students and families are adapting to distance learning in Ecuador, exploring ways to finance firms during a downturn, and examining the distributional impacts of the pandemic on different income groups. A KCP-supported project – Labor Market Policies on Unemployment Protection & Employment Services – collected data on the state of unemployment protection schemes and public employment services in 190 economies. The project is especially timely as governments worldwide have been rushing to implement policies to protect workers and firms from the devastating impact of the crisis. In this context, more evidence-based policies and practices and innovative data collection and analysis methods are urgently needed, to help ensure that reforms are bolstered with strong scientific evidence.