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Thematic Priorities: Jobs and Economic Transformation


The need for more and better jobs remains a top development priority – as a source of income, a means of raising productivity, and for meeting the aspirations of hundreds of millions of people. Economic transformation and inclusive, sustainable growth, achieved through deeper structural changes and market integration as well as effective measures to correct market failures, hold the key to delivering higher-paying jobs in developing countries. In the post-pandemic world, getting people back to their jobs or finding new jobs will be a crucial task for many governments. How to achieve economic transformation that balances competing economic, health, environmental, and social demands will be a critical policy choice for governments around the world.

Research and data collection and analysis under this theme would focus on understanding the dynamics of economic growth and job creation, through various interrelated approaches: (i) diagnosis and analysis devoted to better understanding and measuring the determinants of productivity and employment dynamics, their correlations with different internal and external factors within and across countries, and potential areas where policy efforts could be used; (ii) enabling conditions such as the regulatory environment and infrastructure conditions; (iii) urbanization, regional growth, and connectivity in the economy as key economywide growth drivers; (iv) catalytic research examining avenues through which government policy actions (for instance, in the area of business regulation) influence private sector development and the productivity and growth prospects of a country; and (v) investigation into the political economy of productivity policy, seeking to understand the conditions under which successful reform policies are undertaken.

The World Bank is one of the world’s leading sources of research and evidence on global poverty and the extent to which societies share in aggregate economic growth. This is to a large extent due to its hard-earned reputation for producing authoritative analysis of household survey data on well-being, at the country and global levels. In this context, it is important to recognize that data availability, analytical tools, and the very conception of poverty and prosperity have seen significant evolution in recent decades. Recent work on the measurement of multidimensional poverty, or on the combination of absolute and relative approaches to identifying the poor, suggests additional ways in which poverty can be measured and its evolution over time monitored. Some of the key new research questions in this area might include the following: (i) How do differences in the cost of living within countries affect the estimates of global poverty and inequality? (ii) What are the drivers of upward socioeconomic mobility in poor countries? (iii) How do inequalities in income and opportunity vary across countries? (iv) How does informality play a role in poverty, and what are the policy options for effectively managing the informal economic sector?

Working Papers

Inequality Is Bad for Growth of the Poor (But Not for That of the Rich) (2014)

High levels of inequality reduce the income growth of the poor and, if anything, help the growth of the rich. The paper uses micro-census data from U.S. states covering 1960 to 2010 to assess the impact of overall inequality, as well as inequality among the poor and among the rich, on the growth rates along various percentiles of the income distribution.

How Significant Is Africa's Demographic Dividend for Its Future Growth and Poverty Reduction? (2014)

Africa will be undergoing substantial demographic changes in the coming decades with the rising share of working-age people in its population. The opportunity for African countries to convert these changes into demographic dividends for growth and poverty reduction will depend on several factors.

Improving Management with Individual and Group-Based Consulting: Results from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia (2019)

Differences in management quality are an important contributor to productivity differences across countries. A key question is how best to improve poor management in developing countries. This paper tests two approaches to improving management in Colombian auto parts firms.

More Working Papers »