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How should the world's largest and most influential development institution address the challenges of the 21st Century? Ten distinguished speakers gathered on the eve of the World Bank/IMF 2005 Annual Meetings to offer fresh ideas concerning such topics as differentiated services for the poorest countries and the big middle-income and emerging market borrowers; global public goods; evaluation; and governance of the Bank itself. World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz spoke briefly with participants before the start of the meeting. He thanked CGD President Nancy Birdsall for the Center's report, The Hardest Job in the World: Five Crucial Tasks for the New President of the World Bank . "This is a valuable piece of work that has been done," he said. "I like the emphasis on results." Wolfowitz added that he would have liked to spend the day at the Symposium but since that was not possible he would have to settle for receiving an account of the discussions after the event.
Transcripts of the proceedings and speaker biographies are available below.*Papers based on the presentations will be published as a conference volume.
CGD President Nancy Birdsall and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz kick off CGD's World Bank Symposium.
Description While broad support exists for an expanded Bank role in low-income countries, serious concerns persist about the effectiveness of past efforts. In the future, how should the Bank adjust its role in these countries to address such issues as country governance, grant financing and working with the IMF to protect against external shocks?
Description Thorough and credible evaluation of development projects and programs is necessary to ensure transparency and effectiveness. How can the Bank lead efforts to improve the quality and influence of independent evaluation of its operations? On a related note, how can the Bank promote the latest thinking on impact evaluation amongst other development actors?
Description The Bank’s governance arrangements, by which voting rules favor contributing members over borrowing members, are an area of continued controversy. Do current voting shares and board representation require change in order to make the Bank more representative and legitimate? And by what process should the next President of the World Bank be chosen?
Description Borrowing by middle-income countries from the Bank has declined dramatically. This trend comes with serious implications, including risks to the Bank’s global expertise, its ability to leverage equitable and sustainable policies, and its net income over the long run. Should the Bank attempt to remain relevant for these countries; and if so, how should it respond now?
Description The Bank, like most development agencies, is structured to make loans to individual nations. But some of the key challenges in development, from the development of a malaria vaccine to the creation of an African road network, will require investments that no single nation may be prepared to take on its own. Can the bank play a role in these areas? If special procedures are to be put in place for global public goods, how should those goods be defined?
In a recent paper, Kate Ambler and coauthors studied the impact of one-season cash transfers for agricultural investment in Senegal and Malawi, using data from a randomized control trial (RCT) in each country. They found evidence that transfers reduced both the number of decision makers and female decision making in Senegal in the short-run, particularly for measures directly related to agriculture. However, the effects disappeared two years after the transfers. Conversely, the authors find transfers in the Malawi program led to robust transitory increases in these measures, seeing a greater impact related to the number of decision makers in the household persisting after two year period. Join us for the latest CGD Invited Research Forum to discuss these opposing findings on the effects of cash transfers on household decision making.
Indian agriculture remains vulnerable to the vagaries of weather, and the looming threat of climate change may expose this vulnerability further. Using district-level data on temperature, rainfall and crop production, Siddharth Hari’s paper first documents a long-term trend of rising temperatures, declining average precipitation and increase in extreme precipitation events. One key finding is that the impact of temperature and rainfall are felt only in the extreme: when temperatures are much higher, rainfall is significantly lower, and the number of “dry days” greater is than normal. He also finds that these impacts are significantly more adverse in unirrigated areas (and hence rainfed crops) compared to irrigated areas. Can policy makers react to the challenges of climate change and find ways to get “more crop for every drop?"
Estimating intergenerational mobility in developing countries is difficult because matched parent-child income records are rarely available and education is measured very coarsely. In particular, there are no established methods for comparing educational mobility for subsamples of the population when the education distribution is changing over time.
In their recent paper, Sam Asher and coauthors present new methods and new administrative data to overcome this gap, and study intergenerational mobility across groups and across space in India. They find that the intergenerational mobility for the population as a whole has remained constant since liberalization, but cross-group changes have been substantial. Rising mobility among historically marginalized "Scheduled Castes" is almost exactly offset by declining intergenerational mobility among Muslims, a comparably sized group that has few constitutional protections. These findings contest the conventional wisdom that marginalized groups in India have been catching up on average. The paper also explores heterogeneity across space, generating the first high-resolution geographic measures of intergenerational mobility across India, with results across 5600 rural subdistricts and 2300 cities and towns.