The World Development Report (WDR) has been produced on an annual basis since 1978 and is the World Bank’s major analytical publication. The topic of each report is selected by the World Bank’s President three years in advance of the book’s publication. As soon as the topic is announced, four major steps occur:
FORTHCOMING: World Development Report 2015: The Behavioral and Social Foundations of Economic Development
Analysts often presume that development is driven entirely by good economic policies. However, a growing body of research has demonstrated that there is more to economic policy than economics. Social norms and psychology can play a vital role in making development possible. Further, norms and human cognition are malleable and can be influenced by policy and education. The research on this is relatively new and scattered in diverse places, since it is situated in the relatively uninhabited terrain between economics and its neighbors in the social sciences and humanities.
World Development Report 2015 examines the behavioral and social foundations of development. The history of economics is littered with examples of well-intentioned policy pronouncements that failed to deliver. Behavioral economics and the study of social norms shed light on why this happened. At the heart of this new work is the idea of a human being quite different from the traditional economist’s homo economicus, to wit, someone who has bounded rationality, limited willpower, and a concern for fairness and who is prone to operating by the force of habit and learned emotional responses created out of his or her encounters with the world. This richer view of human beings affords policy makers new tools to reform institutions, improve governance, lower social constraints to school enrollment, and educational performance, and make poor households more capable of making sustained improvements in their lives. In designing policies for delivering benefits to the poor, which is central to the project of development, this new literature offers novel methods and techniques. By drawing on the diverse findings in one place, the World Development Report 2015 aims to be both an important intellectual statement and a user’s manual.
The report is scheduled to be published in October/November 2014.
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