WORKBENCH #02: WORLD DEVELOPMENT REPORTS 1978-2021

The World Development Report (WDR) is the annual flagship publication of the World Bank. The WDR was initiated by World Bank Group President Robert S. McNamara and launched in 1978. For McNamara development was 'complex and exacting' (McNamara, Robert S. (1977) 'Address to the Board of Governors' 26 September, Washington, DC.1977, p. 36) and he believed that a central challenge in achieving development was a lack of relevant knowledge. The WDR was conceived to fill this gap as "an ongoing assessment of development problems. The objective will be to improve the Bank's own understanding of the principal components of the development process and their complex interrelationships, and thus gradually develop a framework that can better assist our member countries to deal with that process more effectively" (ibid., p. 33). 

 

On this Workbench #2 we share descriptive statistics regarding the use of various linguistic signs in the WDRs 1978-2021. Our corpus contained the main text of the Reports, including 'text boxes', 'spotlights' and 'definitions', but excluding ToCs, acknowledgments, bibliographies, references, and appendices. The global corpus of the WDRs 1978-2021 contains ~4.4 million words. If not otherwise stated, we normalised word frequencies by 1,000,000 words.

This Workbench feeds into the ECOINT-project that studies the symbolic construction of 'economic problems' (led by Sabine Selchow). 

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The World Development Reports (1978-2021) 

Year
WB President
Team Leader/s
WDR Title
1979
Robert S. McNamara
Shankar Acharya
Structural Change and Development Policy
1980
Robert S. McNamara
Paul Isenman
Poverty and Human Development
1981
Robert S. McNamara
Robert Cassen
National and International Adjustment
1982
Alden W. Clausen
David Turnham
Agriculture and Economic Development
1983
AldenW. Clausen
Pierre Landell-Mills
Management in Development
1984
AldenW. Clausen
Nancy Birdsall
Population Change and Development
1985
AldenW. Clausen
Francis X. Colaço
International Capital and Economic Development
1986
AldenW. Clausen
Anandarup Ray
Trade and Pricing Policies in World Agriculture
1987
Barber B. Conable
Sarath Rajapatirana
Industrialization and Foreign Trade
1988
Barber B. Conable
Johannes F. Linn
Public Finance and Development
1989
Barber B. Conable
Millard F. Long
Financial Systems and Development
1990
Barber B. Conable
Lyn Squire
Poverty
1991
Barber B. Conable
Vinod Thoma
The Challenge of Development
1992
Lewis Preston
Andrew Steer
Development and the Environment
1993
Lewis Preston
Dean T. Jamison
Investing in Health
1994
Lewis Preston
Gregory Ingram
Infrastructure for Development
1995
James D. Wolfensohn
Michael Walton
Workers in an Integrating World
1996
James D. Wolfensohn
Alan H. Gelb
From Plan to Market
1997
James D. Wolfensohn
Ajay Chhibber
The State in a Changing World
1998
James D. Wolfensohn
Carl Dahlman
Knowledge for Development
1999
James D. Wolfensohn
Shahid Yusuf
Entering the 21st Century: The Changing Development Landscape
2000
James D. Wolfensohn
Ravi Kanbur and Nora Lustig
Attacking Poverty
2002
James D. Wolfensohn
Roumenn Islam
Building Institutions for Markets
2003
James D. Wolfensohn
Zmarak Shalizi
Sustainable Development in a Dynamic World: Transforming Institutions, Growth, and Quality of Life
2004
James D. Wolfensohn
Shantayanan Devarajan and Ritva Reinikka
Making Services workd for Poor People
2005
James D. Wolfensohn
Warrick Smith
A Better Investment Climate for Everyone
2006
Paul Wolfowitz
Francisco Ferreira and Michael Walton
Equity and Development
2007
Paul Wolfowitz
Emmanuel Y. Jimenez
Development and the Next Generation
2008
Robert B. Zoellick
Derek Byerlee and Alain de Janvry
Agriculture for Development
2009
Robert B. Zoellick
Indermit S. Gill
Reshaping Economic Geography
2010
Robert B. Zoellick
Rosina Bierbaum and Marianne Fay
Development and Climate Change
2011
Robert B. Zoellick
Sarah Cliffe and Nigel Roberts
Conflict, Security, and Development
2012
Robert B. Zoellick
Ana Revenga and Sudhir Shetty
Gender Equality and Development
2013
Jim Yong Kim
Martín Rama, together with Kathleen Beegle and Jesko Hentschel
Jobs
2014
Jim Yong Kim
Norman Loayza, together with Inci Ötker-Robe
Risk and Opportunity
2015
Jim Yong Kim
Karla Hoff and Varun Gauri
Mind, Society, and Behavior
2016
Jim Yong Kim
Deepak Mishra and Uwe Deichmann
Digital Dividends
2017
Jim Yong Kim
Luis Felipe López-Calva and Yongmei Zhou
Governance and the Law
2018
Jim Yong Kim
Deon Filmer and Halsey Rogers
Learning to Realize Education’s Promise
2019
Jim Yong Kim
n/a
The Changing Nature of Work
2020
David R. Malpass
Caroline Freund and Aaditya Mattoo and Pol Antràs (Harvard University)
Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains
2021
David R. Malpass
Robert Cull, Vivien Foster and Dean Jolliffe
Data for Better Lives
1978
Robert S. McNamara
D. C. Rao
Prospects for Growth and Alleviation of Poverty

Women listed in the table: 

  • Nancy Birdsall (1984)

  • Nora Lustig (2000)

  • Rosina Bierbaum (2010) 

  • Marianne Fay (2010)

  • Sarah Cliffe (2011)

  • Ana Revenga (2012)

  • Kathleen Beegle (2013)

  • Inci Ötker-Robe (2014)

  • Karla Hoff (2015)

  • Yongmei Zhou (2017)

  • Caroline Freund (2020) 

  • Vivien Foster (2021)

Selected terms in the WDRs 

Click on the tabs to see how often the respective term appears in each WDR.  If not otherwise stated, we normalised word frequencies by 1,000,000 words. The first tab shows the total number of words in each WDR. 

WDR_word_count.jpg

Please reference anything from this site as: Selchow, Sabine (2022) 'The Language of the World Development Reports 1978-2021: Descriptive statistics' ECOINT Workbench #02, available at: https://bit.ly/3KIggkb 

 

CONTACT

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ECOINT Senior Fellow

sabine.selchow AT eui.eu