Working Papers

Displaying 1 - 12 of 178
Economic Analysis and Policy

This paper proposes the use of synthetic training data generated by large language models
to improve machine learning SDG classifiers. It shows that supplementing existing training data with
synthetic data produced by the ChatGPT tool improves the performance of the SDGClassy classifier.
This addition of synthetic data is especially useful in building SDG classifiers given the limited availability
of properly labeled data and the complex, interconnected nature of the SDGs. Synthetic data thus enables
more effective machine-learning applications in this context.

Financing for Development

Lack of fiscal space and the risk of sovereign debt distress remain key stumbling blocks to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries. Because the allocation of concessional funds and debt relief is essentially reserved to Low Income countries (LICs), official financing strategies and mechanisms to support developing countries provide insufficient support to non-LICs that may need and deserve special consideration concerning official financing. This paper discusses how official financial support allocation could consider countries’ vulnerabilities in critical dimensions, with special reference to Small Island Developing States (SIDS). It explores how a…

Economic Analysis and Policy, Financing for Development, Social Development

The pandemic has progressed differently across the world. Using monthly data on COVID-19 cases and fatalities, we evaluate whether income inequality is an important factor in explaining cross-country differences in the spread and mortality of the virus. The results show that income inequality is positively correlated with the number of COVID-19 cases. Higher income inequality is associated with a more rapid spread of the virus and an increase in the number of cases, indirectly increasing mortality rates as well. Also, higher levels of inequality are associated with reduced effectiveness of social distancing measures in containing new infections. Thus, elevated inequalities place…

Sustainable Development

As developing countries pursue infrastructure projects, they should aim to address a combination of the pandemic, climate, inequality, and other crises with the right mix of economic and social infrastructure. To do this, governments must invest in a national infrastructure planning process, align planning with the SDGs, and prioritize sustainable infrastructure over infrastructure that does not put people and the planet first. There is no silver bullet for all the challenges; however, incremental changes based on innovative precedents can potentially make a difference on the ground. This paper proposes an analytical framework to consider these challenges and concludes with possible…

Economic Analysis and Policy, Sustainable Development

Does digitalization reduce corruption? What are the benefits of data-driven digital government innovations to strengthen public integrity and advance the Sustainable Development Goals? While the correlation between digitalization and corruption is well established, there is less actionable evidence on the effects of specific digitalization reforms on different types of corruption and the policy channels through which they operate. This paper unbundles the integrity dividends of digital reforms that the pandemic has accelerated. It analyses the rise of integrity-tech and integrity analytics in the anticorruption space, deployed by data-savvy integrity institutions. It also assesses the…

Financing for Development

The pandemic-induced global economic crisis has contributed to the re-emergence of sovereign default risk, especially for emerging and developing economies, and has directed attention to the impact of the institutions that are tasked with attempting to predict defaults: the international credit rating agencies. This paper describes four main challenges posed by credit rating agencies, especially from a developing and emerging economies perspective: potential bias in ratings, pro-cyclicality of ratings, governance issues and conflicts of interest, and incorporation of climate risk. It concludes with potential policy solutions addressed at ratings agencies, regulators, and policy makers.…

Economic Analysis and Policy

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the most universal health and socio-economic crisis in recent history. However, the magnitude of the economic damage has differed widely; some countries were hit particularly hard, while others have managed to weather the storm much better. In this paper, we use cross-country regression analysis to identify factors that help explain the differences in the growth impact of the COVID-19 shock. Our findings underscore the critical role of balancing health and economic concerns in managing the pandemic as both a country’s exposure to the coronavirus and the stringency of containment measures are strongly correlated with its growth performance. In addition,…

Social Development, Economic Analysis and Policy

In Article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations recognized in 1948 the basic human right to “security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond ... control.” This paper examines how economic insecurity is related to, yet different from, poverty and inequality, why it matters for human well-being and how it has been changing in different countries around the world in recent years. The paper concludes with discussion of how economic insecurity has been and will be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic/recession.

Economic Analysis and Policy

This paper examines the experience of a set of countries that performed relatively well in coping with the COVID-19 crisis. The goal is to garner insights and lessons that can help countries that may experience initial or second-round outbreaks of the pandemic in the future. The paper finds healthcare, social protection, and overall governance systems as the three main determinants of COVID-19 strategies and their success. Though unique country-specific factors played an important role in confronting the pandemic in some countries, their role was generally mediated through one or the other of the above three main determinants. The findings of the paper suggest that establishing universal…

Sustainable Development

How has the focus of the UN General Assembly changed over time and how well is the global agenda expressed in these documents? This paper presents a proof-of-concept classifier to examine the evolution of the global agenda expressed and observed in words of the UN General Assembly resolutions. Using natural language processing to identify four categories of resolutions — Sustainable Development, Justice and Law, Human Rights, and Peace and Security — the analysis of 3,765 UN GA resolutions from 2007 to 2019 reveals the changing areas of focus of the Member States and, as a result, of the UN Secretariat. Sustainable Development is slowly gaining importance in the language in UN…

Economic Analysis and Policy

The COVID-19 pandemic is entailing huge costs worldwide. To help developing countries formulate policy responses to minimize negative impacts of the COVID-19, possible size and duration of the shocks on most vulnerable countries, i.e., least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and their resilience to overcome the shocks need to be assessed. This paper quantitatively examines possible paths of LDCs and SIDS recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, using an autoregressive model of income growth and a panel regression model of external demand for LDCs and SIDS. Evidence from the experience of the 2007-08 global financial crisis suggests that the…

Sustainable Development
Research suggests that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can open up market opportunities worth USD 12 trillion in the four largest sectors that represent 60 per cent of real economy – food and agriculture; cities; energy and materials; and health and well-being. While the concept of the SDGs creating a win-win situation for all is growing increasingly trendy, further evidence needs to be accumulated to better chart the important discourse on the private sector’s engagement with the SDGs. To this end, this paper aims to shed light on three questions: (i) How is the private sector currently engaging with the SGDs in these sectors?; (ii) What are the key areas of…