World Bank launches development report at Sydney Law School

19 August 2009

Professor Lee Burns provided the introduction to the launch of The World Bank Development Report: Reshaping Economic Geography, held as part of the World Bank - University of Sydney Discussion Series last week.

History shows that severe crises can cause countries to become inward-looking, sometimes with negative consequences. The World Bank Development Report: Reshaping Economic Geography held its Sydney launch as part of the World Bank -University of Sydney Discussion Series last week. The report argues that the most effective policies for promoting long-term growth are those that facilitate geographic concentration and economic integration, both within and across countries.

Truman Packard, World Bank Senior Economist and one of the co-authors of the World Development Report 2009, told the full house audience of academics and students that this report challenges the assumption that economic activities must be spread evenly across countries and regions to benefit the world's most poor and vulnerable.

"Trying to spread out economic activity can hinder growth and does little to fight poverty. For rapid growth, and inclusive development, governments must promote economic integration which, at its core, is about the mobility of people, products, and ideas," says Truman Packard.

"The concentration of economic activity is in many ways inevitable and even desirable from the perspective of poorer countries."

"What is neither desirable nor inevitable is to let this concentration be accompanied by a similar concentration of social services that improve peoples' well-being. The report shows how the right policies can help a country capture the benefits of concentrated economic growth in order to improve the welfare of all people, no matter where they are living - integration is the key," said Truman.

The launch event was hosted by the Office of the Deputy-Vice Chancellor (International) and introduced by Pro-Dean of the Faculty of Law, Professor Lee Burns and Professor of Human Geography, Philip Hirsch.

In his introduction to the discussion session, Professor Hirsch said that the report had received an interested but mixed response from economic geographers.

In his response, Truman Packard said that, whereas geographers tend to emphasis context over generalized explanation of spatial trends, economists tend toward abstraction.

"Perhaps the most interesting continuing point of discussion from the report, which will continue to occupy the policy agenda, is whether poverty is best dealt with where the poor live, or whether - as the report suggests - development is made more equitable by investing in linkages between more and less prosperous places," said Professor Hirsch.

Contact: Michelle Wood

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