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Strengthening Engagement with Middle-Income Countries

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At a Glance

  • Middle-income countries (MICs) are a diverse group by size, population, and income level, defined as having a per capita gross national income of US$1,026 to $12,475 (2011).
  • MICs are home to five of the world’s seven billion people and 73 percent of the world’s poor people.
  • MICs also represent about one third of global GDP and are major engines of global growth.
  • The World Bank Group continues to evolve its partnership with MICs, working with them simultaneously as clients, shareholders, and global actors. The Bank Group provides increasingly tailored services—financial products (loans, guarantees, risk management products) and knowledge and advisory services, (including on a reimbursable basis)—to support MICs in their global roles, to address their second-generation reform challenges, and to facilitate knowledge exchange and South-South cooperation.

Partnering with Middle-Income Countries as Global Actors


Middle-income countries are critical drivers of the world economy, with knowledge and resources to share. The World Bank is working with middle-income countries in their roles as global actors, supporting their leadership roles in international fora, such as the G20 and APEC; as development partners; and as key shareholders of the Bank. Inclusive and sustainable growth and development in middle-income countries provides positive spillovers to the rest of the world in terms of poverty reduction, international financial stability, and cross-border issues, such as climate change, energy, food and water security, and international trade. The Bank is deepening its efforts to partner with middle-income countries at the country, regional, and global levels.


Working with Middle-Income Countries to Meet Second-Generation Development Challenges 


At the same time, middle-income countries have unfinished development agendas and risk being “trapped” in middle-income status if they do not further their own economic, social, and structural transformation. As countries reach middle income status, they encounter ‘second generation’ or ‘frontier’ reform challenges that reflect the more advanced stage of their development. Challenges such as aging populations, pension reform, tertiary education, social inequality, competitiveness, trade and tax policy, financial literacy, green growth, and urbanization are typical. The World Bank brings experience and lessons learned from across the globe, and the ability to tailor and package convening, knowledge, and financial services and products to help countries address their reform challenges. Many of these challenges cut across disciplines or sectors, requiring an integrated, holistic approach.


Strengthening the Knowledge Partnership and Facilitating Cross-Country Learning

Middle income countries draw on the World Bank’s knowledge and advisory services and also contribute to the Bank’s knowledge base. The World Bank produces just-in-time notes, pieces of analysis, and flagship reports—such as China 2030 and Golden Growth - in partnership with and in response to middle income countries’ requests.  In addition, some 40 countries to date have reimbursed (in part or in full) the World Bank for knowledge and advisory services in a range of sectors and issues. The steady increase in the provision of reimbursable advisory services by the World Bank is indicative of many middle income countries’ appreciation for the breadth and depth of international experience that the World Bank is able to bring. Over time, clients have expanded from central government institutions to sub-national government entities, state-owned enterprises, and other non-sovereign entities. The World Bank has also been partnering with middle income countries to broker South-South knowledge exchanges, including between middle income countries and middle and lower-income countries, expanding the World Bank’s ability to share such experiences across the globe. This includes through the World Bank Institute’s South-South Facility, global programs and partnerships, lending operations, and other mechanisms. Many middle income countries are also looking to the World Bank for support as they establish knowledge hubs to more strategically and systematically undertake cross-country learning and knowledge sharing on their own.

Providing a Range of Financial Services

The World Bank Group is bringing together the best

 of its public and private sector arms (IBRD, IFC, and MIGA) to partner with middle-income countries by drawing on an array of financial products. IBRD’s financial products are evolving to increasingly support middle-income countries in areas such as financial risk, exposure to natural disasters, and asset management, as well as to support at the sub-national level.

The World Bank is also adapting its business model to be more responsive, flexible, and innovative, for example streamlining investment lending processes and exploring how best to increase the use of countries’ financial management, procurement, and social and environmental systems. The World Bank is developing new instruments, such as the Program for Results, and is revising its guarantees policy to encourage additional private sector investment in middle-income countries.


Bank Experts: Barbara Lee, Gloria Grandolini, Stefan Koeberle, Martin Raiser


Contact: Melissa Fossberg,, 1-202-458-4145

Updated March 2013

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