The World Bank Research Observer is intended for anyone who has a professional interest in development. Observer articles are written to be accessible to nonspecialist readers; contributors examine key issues in development economics, survey the literature and the latest World Bank research, and debate issues of development policy. Articles are reviewed by an editorial board drawn from across the Bank and the international community of economists. Inconsistency with Bank policy is not grounds for rejection. The journal welcomes editorial comments and responses, which will be considered for publication to the extent that space permits. On occasion the Observer considers unsolicited contributions.

Recent Submissions

  • Multidimensional Poverty Analysis : Looking for a Middle Ground 

    Ferreira, Francisco H.G.; Lugo, Maria Ana (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2013-08-01)
    Widespread agreement that poverty is a multifaceted phenomenon encompassing deprivations in multiple dimensions clashes with the vociferous disagreement about how best to measure these deprivations. Drawing on the recent ...
  • Global Imbalances : Origins and Prospects 

    Servén, Luis; Nguyen, Ha (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2013-08-01)
    This paper surveys the academic and policy debate on the origins of global imbalances, their prospects after the global crisis, and their policy implications. A conventional view of global imbalances considers them to ...
  • Comment on 'Counting the World's Poor' by Angus Deaton 

    Srinivasan, T.N. (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001-10)
    Deaton s analysis of the problems with poverty counts and suggestions for improvement, including issues needing further research, are based on two distinct stages in counting the poor. ...
  • School Feeding Programs and Development : Are We Framing the Question Correctly? 

    Alderman, Harold; Bundy, Donald (Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2012-08)
    School feeding programs are politically popular interventions. They are, nevertheless, difficult to assess in terms of effectiveness since their impact is partially on education and partially on school health. They are, ...
  • Democracy, Public Expenditures, and the Poor : Understanding Political Incentives for Providing Public Services 

    Keefer, Philip; Khemani, Stuti (Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2005-03-01)
    The incentives of politicians to provide broad public goods and reduce poverty vary across countries. Even in democracies, politicians often have incentives to divert resources to ...
  • Impact Analysis of Rural Electrification Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa 

    Bernard, Tanguy (Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2012-02-01)
    The author reviews trends in rural electrification over the past 30 years in Sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, it is shown that motivations for rural electrification programs have evolved significantly over the years, ...
  • Mashup Indices of Development 

    Ravallion, Martin (Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank, 2012-02-01)
    Countries are increasingly being ranked by some new “mashup index of development,” defined as a composite index for which existing theory and practice provides little or no guidance for its design. Thus the index has an ...
  • Rethinking Development Economics 

    Stiglitz, Joseph E. (World Bank, 2011-08-01)
    "Twelve years ago, when I was chief economist of the World Bank, I suggested that the major challenge to development economics was learning the lessons of the previous several decades: a small group of countries, mostly ...
  • Financial Transactions Tax : Panacea, Threat, or Damp Squib? 

    Honohan, Patrick; Yoder, Sean (World Bank, 2011-07-02)
    The authors argue that attempts to raise a significant percentage of gross domestic product in revenue from a broad-based financial transactions tax are likely to fail both by raising much less revenue than expected and ...
  • Corporate Governance and Performance around the World : What We Know and What We Don't 

    Love, Inessa (World Bank, 2011-07-02)
    The author surveys a vast body of literature devoted to evaluating the relationship between corporate governance and performance as measured by valuation, operating performance, or stock returns. Most of the evidence to ...
  • The Growing Phenomenon of Private Tutoring 

    Dang, Hai-Anh; Rogers, F. Halsey (World Bank, 2008-09-01)
    Does private tutoring increase parental choice and improve student achievement, or does it exacerbate social inequalities and impose heavy costs on households, possibly without improving student outcomes? Private tutoring ...
  • Industrial Location in Developing Countries 

    Deichmann, Uwe; Lall, Somik V.; Redding, Stephen J.; Venables, Anthony J. (World Bank, 2008-09-01)
    Despite a diminishing role in industrial countries, the manufacturing sector continues to be an engine of economic growth in most developing countries. This article surveys the evidence on the determinants of industry ...
  • Rural Poverty 

    Dercon, Stefan (World Bank, 2009-03-30)
    Poverty is still a predominantly rural phenomenon. However, the context of rural poverty has been changing across the world, with high growth in some economies and stagnation in others. Furthermore, increased openness in ...
  • Timing and Duration of Exposure in Evaluations of Social Programs 

    King, Elizabeth M.; Behrman, Jere (World Bank, 2009-03-30)
    Impact evaluations aim to measure the outcomes that can be attributed to a specific policy or intervention. While there have been excellent reviews of the different methods for estimating impact, insufficient attention has ...
  • How Relevant Is Targeting to the Success of an Antipoverty Program? 

    Ravallion, Martin (World Bank, 2009-09-30)
    Policy-oriented discussions often assume that "better targeting" implies larger impacts on poverty or more cost-effective interventions for fighting poverty. The literature on the economics of targeting warns against that ...
  • Why OECD Countries Should Reform Rules of Origin 

    Cadot, Olivier; de Melo, Jaime (World Bank, 2008-03-01)
    With preferential trade agreements on the rise worldwide rules of origin—which are necessary to prevent trade deflection—are attracting increasing attention. At the same time, preference erosion for Generalized System of ...
  • Inside Decentralization 

    Umansky, Ilana; Vegas, Emiliana (World Bank, 2007-09-30)
    Inside Decentralization: How Three Central American School-based Management Reforms Affect Student Learning Through Teacher Incentives Ilana Umansky Emiliana Vegas Despite decentralization reforms of education systems ...
  • Addressing Gender-Based Violence 

    Morrison, Andrew; Ellsberg, Mary; Bott, Sarah (World Bank, 2007-03-01)
    This article highlights the progress in building a knowledge base on effective ways to increase access to justice for women who have experienced gender-based violence, offer quality services to survivors, and reduce levels ...