World Bank World Development Report 2019: Once again, the “cure” is worse than the disease

published 12 October 2018 updated 16 October 2018

The World Bank has just issued its World Development Report for 2019. Although slightly improved in some places from earlier drafts, it is still the same approach.

The International Trade Union Confederation has issued a response to the report that highlights the major areas where it fails to address the real problems and, instead, repeats discredited guidance for deregulation and destructive social policies.

Unlike the IMF and the OECD, the Bank refuses to understand that growing inequality has both negative economic and social consequences. Although it accepts the need for greater public finance, it recommends regressive tax measures. And, its vision of the future of work, a major theme of the report, is of a laissez-faire acceptance of the needs of giant ICT companies and the rest of the private sector. It displays not a fraction of the quality and seriousness of work being done in this area by the ILO and others.

Education International agrees with the ITUC reservations. On the 19th of September EI General Secretary David Edwards sent an open letter to the World Bank President Jim Kim. Unfortunately, none of the issues he raised have been addressed. Edwards agues:

“If one considers the Bank’s stated objectives of ending poverty and sharing prosperity, it is striking what is missing … For example, although there are many references to “human capital”, there is not a single mention of “human rights”. There are references to “social capital”, but not a single mention of “social justice”. There are many references to individual progress, but there is nothing about solidarity or collective progress. And, there is not a single allusion in the text to democracy Unfortunately, those concepts are also missing from how the Bank seems to see the world and from its prescriptions for the future.”

On education, students are still considered as if they were factors of production to be churned out of schools to serve the global economy.

Education International fully concurs with the conclusion of the ITUC/Global Unions Washington, DC office that the report, “makes a bungling attempt to deny that challenges such as growing inequality exist. It endorses a simplistic programme of easing taxation and regulation of business that in some cases contradicts the report’s own findings. It does not even acknowledge the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Together, this excludes the WDR 2019 as a serious contribution to discussions on the future of work.”