Every year now for more than three decades, the World Bank has published the “World Development Report,” a survey and synthesis of current thinking on a major theme or debate in development economics.

These reports, which are produced by the bank’s Research wing, are collaborative ventures integrating the work of many hands; they are rarely very striking in their style or bold in their judgments. Although their aim is to set the agenda for development economics, they generally are not very efficacious in establishing new concepts or paradigms (one exception was the “dollar a day” baseline for poverty proposed by the Australian economist Martin Ravallion in the 1990 report).

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