Government is in the spotlight in this 20th annual edition of World Development Report. This year the World Bank's flagship publication is devoted to the role and effectiveness of the state, a topic that ranks high on the agenda in developing and industrial countries alike. The Report looks at what the state should do, how it should do it, and how it can do it better in a rapidly changing world.
For many, the lesson of recent years has been that the state could not deliver on its promises. Transition economies have had to make a wrenching shift from state-led central planning, and much of the developing world has had to cope with the failure of state-led development strategies. Many have felt that a minimalist state would be the optimal solution; such a state would be innocuous but, on the other hand, ineffective.
The Report explains why this extreme view is at odds with the evidence of the world's development success stories, be it the development of the industrial economies in the 19th century or the post-war growth 'miracles' of East Asia. These examples show that development requires an effective state , one that encourages and complements the activities of private businesses and individuals. An effective state is vital for the provision of the goods and services--and rules and institutions--that allow markets to flourish and people to lead healthier, happier lives. Without it, sustainable development, both economic and social, is impossible. Experience shows that the state is central to economic and social development, not as a direct provider of growth, but as its partner, catalyst, and facilitator.
As in the past, a set of Selected World Development Indicators will be provided as an appendix to the Report . The Indicators present selected social and economic statistics for more than 200 countries.
A copublication of the World Bank and Oxford University Press."
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