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December 2017

How did starting a business become easier than ever?

Frederic Meunier's picture

With more jobs and competitiveness in mind, many economies worldwide have simplified their business start-up rules and regulations over recent years. Since the first Doing Business report was launched 15 years ago in 2003, a total of 626 national reforms that reduced the time and the costs of starting a business were recorded globally.

Making a VR film in Fiji: Q&A with the team behind 'Our Home, Our People'

Tom Perry's picture

In November 2017 at the COP23 climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, the World Bank – in partnership with the Fijian Government – launched its biggest foray yet into the world of 360-degree Virtual Reality (VR).

Our Home, Our People is a storytelling project that takes viewers to the heart of climate change in Fiji.

Within six weeks of going live, film has been viewed by more than 3,500 people at the COP23 event, more than 200,000 people on YouTube, 170,000 people via VeerVR, and has garnered significant global interest.

Here, the team behind the film provides an insight into how the project came about, some of the challenges of making the film in VR, and what the project meant to those involved.


10 Gov4Dev blog posts from 2017 you don't want to miss!

Ravi Kumar's picture
It’s that time of the year when we look at the blogs we have published over the last 12 months and curate some of the most insightful pieces for you to read.

We also want to thank you for reading, contributing and engaging on what it will take to help governments build capable, efficient, open, inclusive and accountable institutions.

Enhancing the quality of justice: the role of user feedback

Georgia Harley's picture


Courts around the world are increasingly adopting a more citizen-focused, user-friendly approach to justice.  They recognize that user satisfaction is a key dimension of the quality of justice.  And they know that when the courts are attuned to the needs of their users, trust and confidence in the entire justice system grows – bringing with it a range of positive spillover effects for the economy and the society.

But how to improve court user satisfaction? 

First, it requires a detailed understanding of the experience of the court user. 

Farewell 2017; Hello to More and Better Infrastructure in 2018

Jordan Z. Schwartz's picture


Photo: auphoto / Shutterstock.com

As Washington, D.C.’s infrastructure braces for its first winter freeze and 2017 draws to a close, this feels like the right moment for a recap on what the year has brought us in terms of closing the infrastructure gap across emerging markets and developing economies; policy directions within and outside of the World Bank Group; new instruments, tools, and resources; and—the proof in the pudding—actual investment levels.

There may not be one blog that can capture all of those themes in detail, but here is a brief overview of what 2017 has meant and what is on the docket for 2018 and beyond.

How do household contributions to public goods respond to cash transfers? Guest post by Michael Walker

This is the eighteenth and final entry in this year's job market series. You can read them all here
 

A central question in development economics is how to fund public goods. Informal taxation, whereby households make direct contributions to local public goods (such as water resources, roads and schools) outside of the formal tax system, is an important source of funding for public goods in many low-income countries, especially Kenya (Olken and Singhal 2011, Ngau 1987, Barkan and Holmquist 1986). Informal taxes are coordinated and collected by local leaders and enforced via social sanctions rather than the state. In a formal tax system, legal statutes dictate how taxes change with household income. But how does informal taxation respond to changes in household income?  

My job market paper first quantifies informal taxation in Kenya. Using household panel data, I estimate informal tax schedules over the income distribution and test whether informal taxes respond to changes in earned income. Second, I estimate how informal taxation and public goods respond to a large, one-time increase in income from a randomized unconditional cash transfer program targeting poor households.   

Good fences make good neighbors

Hasita Bhammar's picture
© Center for Conservation and Research, Sri Lanka
© Center for Conservation and Research, Sri Lanka

The members of the community in the Bulugolla village in Sri Lanka breathed a sigh of relief. It was the month of October and the rice harvest had gone well. The rains had been plentiful and their meddlesome neighbors (seen in picture above) were abiding by their boundaries. This has not always been the case.

As the head of the village explained, “We depend upon a rice harvest to earn our livelihood. While we culturally and traditionally have lived in harmony with elephants, we cannot survive without our paddy farms and so we have to keep the elephants out”.

Human wildlife conflict is currently one of the greatest conservation challenges. As human populations grow, wildlife habitat shrink and humans and wildlife come in contact with each other as they compete for resources. In addition, wildlife such as elephants cannot be limited to the boundaries of protected areas as many protected areas can only support a certain number of elephants. In Sri Lanka, most elephant live outside protected areas amidst paddy fields, community villages, highway railways and other development infrastructure that is intended to support the growing human population. Conflict is inevitable but failure to reduce it will result in extinction of wildlife species.   

Protecting forests in India from disastrous fires

Siddhanta Das's picture

India’s commitment to sustainable development is clearly demonstrated through its innovative and progressive forest policies. The Government’s policy of incentivising state governments to improve their forest cover is evident in the 14th Finance Commission’s allocation of 7.5% of total revenues on the basis of the state’s forest cover. This makes India the implementer of the world’s largest Payment for Environmental Services scheme.

Over the last few years, the forest and tree cover in the country has been steadily increasing, and at present, it stands at 24.16% of the total geographic area. This affirms that sustainable forest management and long-term thinking about natural assets are foundations for strong and sustained growth. This is not to say that there are no challenges. Forest fires are a leading cause of forest degradation in India, and the current pattern of widespread and frequent fires could make it more difficult for India to meet its long-term goal of bringing 33% of its geographical area under forest & tree cover and to achieve its international commitment to create additional carbon sinks of 2.5 billion to 3 billion tons worth of CO2 equivalent by 2030.

Recognizing the challenge of forest fires in India, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the World Bank co-organized an international workshop on Forest Fire Prevention and Management from November 1 to 3, 2017. The discussion benefitted from the perspectives of government officials from India, researchers, experts and representatives from Australia, Belarus, Canada, Mexico, Nepal, the United States of America, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This workshop served as an opportunity for knowledge exchange to help India devise a robust strategy to tackle the challenge of forest fires. It was also an opportunity for Indian states to share good practices with each other, and with countries from around the world, and to learn from other countries.

Tackling job creation in North Lebanon through investment in value chains

Thomas Farole's picture
Thomas Farole, one of the authors of the report, explains three ways of understanding North Lebanon's jobs challenges and opportunities. (Photo: Sonia Madhvani and Timothy Clay / World Bank)


North Lebanon’s beauty has been tarnished for several decades by an environment of conflict and violence, which has contributed to high levels of poverty and marginalization. More recently, the region’s challenges have been aggravated by a large influx of Syrian refugees —around 1.5 million refugees with a population of just 4.5 million people—, fleeing war in their country and seeking livelihoods in a place where good jobs are scarce for its own citizens.

Creating more and better job opportunities in such contexts could seem complex. But even in its fragility, Lebanon still has a chance to spur job creation and put the region back on the path to prosperity.

Here are three ways to understanding North Lebanon’s jobs challenges and opportunities, based on our recent World Bank report ‘Jobs for North Lebanon: Value Chains, Labor Markets, Skills and Investment Climate in Tripoli and the North of Lebanon’.
 

Why gender parity is a low standard for success in education

Stephanie Psaki's picture
Gender parity in educational attainment may mask other important inequalities. (Photo: Vuong Hai Hoang / World Bank)


In many ways, girls’ education is a success story in global development. Relatively simple changes in national policies – like making primary schooling free and compulsory – have led to dramatic increases in school enrollment around the world. In Uganda, for example, enrollment increased by over 60 percent following the elimination of primary school fees.  

As more young people have enrolled in school, gaps in educational attainment between boys and girls have closed. According to UNESCO, by 2014, “gender parity (meaning an equal amount of men and women) was achieved globally, on average, in primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary education.”

Yet, more than 250 million children are not in school. Many more drop out before completing primary school. And many young people who attend school do not gain basic literacy skills. These challenges remain particularly acute for poor girls.

In a new paper, published in Population and Development Review, we explore recent progress in girls’ education in 43 low- and middle-income countries. To do so, we use Demographic and Health Survey data collected at two time points, the first between 1997 and 2007 (time 1), and the second between 2008 and 2016 (time 2).


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