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Research That Makes A Difference

Research That Makes A Difference

World Bank Convenes Policymakers, Stakeholders to Discuss Poverty and Social Impact Studies

Some government policy works, some does not. Some policies broaden equality and opportunity, while others have just the opposite effect.

So what if we can make empirical studies before the fact to assess the potential outcome of different policy options – in particular when it comes to reducing poverty and socioeconomic disparity in a specific country?

For two days, government officials, donors, non-profit organizations, research organizations and World Bank staff gathered in Washington to discuss how to make policymakers pay closer attention to evidence when formulating policy. The Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA) event, held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2011, drew more than 100 people from across the world who shared experiences and ideas for how to use the PSIA approach to guide bank programs and inform national policies.

The event, organized by the World Bank’s Social Development and Poverty Reduction & Equity departments, offered practical guidance on how to systematically consider social impacts of policies the World Bank supports through its programs, and to encourage client countries to use such analysis as part of their domestic policy debate.

The PSIA days at the bank’s Washington headquarters also took stock of PSIA studies that aided specific national policies in recent years.

One study conducted by World Bank experts in collaboration with Pakistani government officials, for example, explored how citizens in Pakistan would be affected by an initiative to upgrade the country's transportation system and customs procedures. With poverty among the Pakistani urban poor projected to rise nearly 1 percent as a result of the reforms, targeted safety-net programs would be needed to assist displaced workers in the short-term, the study noted.

Another recent study looked at whether low-income people in Poland could access energy-efficiency programs in Poland, while others focused on how policies may affect children.

Aided by a $20-million, three-year program multi-donor trust fund with contributions from Norway, The Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, more than 70 grants have been awarded since mid-2010 to help steer the bank’s initiatives.

The breadth of the studies showcased during the PSIA days in Washington indicate that carefully analyzed, tailor-made and timely policy recommendations are gaining a strong foothold within the bank.

“It showed that PSIAs are increasingly used across sectors and regions to make policies more inclusive,” said Cyprian Fisiy, director of the World Bank’s Social Development department.

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The PSIA work program is jointly managed by the the Poverty Reduction and Equity Group in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network and the Social Analysis and Policy Team in the Social Development Department.

Last updated: 2012-03-02

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