Human Development

February 15, 2023

Human development is at the core of the World Bank’s strategy to improve people’s lives and support sustainable development. The Human Development research program spans the study of early childhood development, education/skills, health, and labor, among other areas.

  • Twitter postcard for Pensions and Informality Policy Research Talk

    Pensions and Informality

    Policy Research Talk, October 20, 2022
    The combined forces of increased longevity, lower fertility, and weakening risk-sharing networks make financing the future consumption and wellbeing of the elderly population a major concern globally. In this Policy Research Talk, World Bank Research Economist Clément Joubert discussed how his and others' research informs pension policy design in high-informality settings. The presentation will focus on three questions: (i) What disincentives for formal work are embedded in pension programs? (ii) Where do gender disparities in pension benefits originate and how can they be reduced? (iii) Can workers in the informal economy afford to participate in voluntary pension schemes?
  • Cover of the Improving Effective Coverage in Health: Do Financial Incentives Work? report

    Improving Effective Coverage in Health: Do Financial Incentives Work?

    Policy Research Report Launch, May 11, 2022
    Financial incentives and performance pay to frontline health facilities and workers have gained popularity as an innovative approach to confront the challenge of poor health outcomes in low-income countries. In this talk, report lead authors Damien de Walque and Eeshani Kandpal review evidence on the impacts of PBF on health service delivery spanning fifteen years and nearly forty countries with a particular emphasis on the quality of service delivery.
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    Delving Into Women’s Social Isolation

    Feature Story, March 21, 2022
    S Anukriti is an Economist in the Development Research Group (Human Development Team) of the World Bank. In this Feature Story, S Anukriti answers questions about her research, interests, and more.
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    The Promise and Limitations of Technology for Tax Mobilization

    Policy Research Talk, November 16, 2021
    At a recent Policy Research Talk, World Bank economist Oyebola Okunogbe shared findings from two studies on the potential of technology to transform three core tax administration functions: identifying the tax base, reducing compliance costs, and monitoring compliance.
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    Better Together: Empowering Women through Stronger Social Networks in India

    Policy Research Talk, September 28, 2021
    In a recent Policy Research Talk, World Bank economist S Anukriti summarized research that casts new light on the social lives of Indian women. She shared findings from a recent study of 671 married women in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, who were interviewed to learn about their social networks and the impact of these networks on their lives. While the context of this study was a single district in India, the potential implications are much broader.


Rebel Governance and Development: The Persistent Effects of Guerrillas in El Salvador
Antonella Agostina Bandiera, Lelys Ileana Dinarte Diaz, Juan Miguel Jimenez, Sandra Viviana Rozo Villarraga, Maria Micaela Sviatschi
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 10222, November 2022

Early Education, Preferences, and Decision-Making Abilities
Joana Azevedo E Castro De Cardim, Pedro Manuel Amaro Da Costa Luz Carneiro, Leandro S. Carvalho, Damien B. C. M. De Walque
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 10187, September 2022

Increasing Tax Collection in African Countries: The Role of Information Technology
Oyebola Motunrayo Okunogbe, Fabrizio Santoro
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 10182, September 2022

Multiple Price Lists for Willingness to Pay Elicitation
B. Kelsey Jack, Kathryn McDermott, Anja Sautmann
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 10173, September 2022

More Working Papers


The Intergenerational Mortality Tradeoff of COVID-19 Lockdown Policies
Lin Ma, Gil Shapira, Damien de Walque, Quy-Toan Do, Jed Friedman, Andrei Levchenko
International Economic Review vol. 63, issue 3, August 2022

Conditional cash transfers to improve health-focused outcomes: a global scoping review
Shawheen J. Rezaei, Damien de Walque, Farrah J. Mateen
Global Public Health, June 2022

HIV, Risk and Time Preferences: Evidence from a general population sample in Lesotho
Martina Björkman Nyqvist, Lucia Corno, Damien de Walque, Jakob Svensson
Health Economics vol. 31, issue 5, May 2022 

Convincing the Mummy-ji: Improving Mother-in-Law Approval of Family Planning in India
S. Anukriti, Catalina Herrera-Almanza, Mahesh Karra, Rocio Valdebenito
AEA Papers and Proceedings vol. 112, May 2022


  • Cover of the Improving Effective Coverage in Health: Do Financial Incentives Work? report

    Improving Effective Coverage in Health: Do Financial Incentives Work?

    Damien de Walque, Eeshani Kandpal, Adam Wagstaff, May 2022
    Improving Effective Coverage in Health: Do Financial Incentives Work? examines one specific policy approach to improving effective coverage: financial incentives in the form of performance-based financing (PBF), a package reform that typically includes performance pay to frontline health workers as well as facility autonomy, transparency, and community engagement.
  • Handbook on Using Administrative Data for Research and Evidence based Policy

    Handbook on Using Administrative Data for Research and Evidence-based Policy

    Edited by Shawn Cole, Iqbal Dhaliwal, Anja Sautmann, Lars Vilhuber, 2021
    The Handbook serves as a go-to reference for researchers seeking to use administrative data and for data providers looking to make their data accessible for research. It provides information, best practices, and case studies on how to create privacy-protected access to, handle, and analyze administrative data, with the aim of pushing the research frontier as well as informing evidence-based policy innovations.
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    Overconfident : How Economic and Health Fault Lines Left the Middle East and North Africa Ill-Prepared to Face COVID-19

    Roberta V. Gatti, Daniel Lederman, Yuting Fan, Arian Hatefi, Ha Nguyen, Anja Sautmann, Joseph Martin Sax, Christina A. Wood, October 2021
    This report examines the region’s economic prospects in 2021, forecasting that the recovery will be both tenuous and uneven as per capita GDP level stays below pre-pandemic levels. It points out that the region’s health systems were ill-prepared for the pandemic, and suffered from over-confidence, as authorities painted an overly optimistic picture in self-assessments of health system preparedness. Going forward, governments must improve data transparency and undertake reforms to remedy historical underinvestment in public health systems.
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    The Fast Track to New Skills: Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean

    María Marta Ferreyra, Lelys Dinarte Díaz, Sergio Urzúa, Marina Bassi, January 2021
    The economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated underlying trends, such as automation, the use of electronic platforms, and the need for lifelong learning. Addressing these demands requires the urgent upskilling and reskilling of the population. The report explores the labor market outcomes and returns of Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs, examines their providers, and identifies the practices adopted by the best programs.
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    World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise

    January 2018
    The World Development Report 2018 is the first ever devoted entirely to education. And the timing is excellent: education has long been critical to human welfare, but it is even more so in a time of rapid economic and social change.


Kathleen Beegle

Research Manager and Lead Economist, Human Development
Research Staff »