Greater awareness is a prerequisite for its effective implementation—across World Bank Group—because shared prosperity is everyone’s business.

Earlier this year, IEG published the findings of an evaluation that looked at the extent to which the World Bank Group has been able to operationalize its goal of boosting shared prosperity.  This goal is one of the Bank Group’s twin goals as outlined in its 2013 strategy – the other being to reduce global poverty to 3 percent by 2030.

IEG’s evaluation concluded that the World Bank Group had made significant efforts towards boosting shared prosperity but more needs to be done to translate those efforts into tangible development results.

To make further progress, the IEG evaluation recommended that the World Bank Group takes steps to ensure that its strategy and, specifically the goal of boosting shared prosperity is well understood by its employees – after all, they are the ones that have to implement the goal through the projects they design and implement.

The recommendation is particularly pertinent, given the results of a staff survey conducted by IEG to canvass staff understanding and attitudes towards the twin goals. IEG found that 36 percent of World Bank Group staff were unfamiliar with the World Bank Group’s definition of the shared prosperity goal. We discuss the findings and their implications in our working paper, An Evaluative Look Behind the Curtain: World Bank Group Staff's Early Experience with the Shared Prosperity Goal.

In the paper, we highlight three important findings on staff familiarity with the shared prosperity goal, staff attitudes towards the goal, and thirdly, the main channels of influence on shared prosperity that staff encounter in their daily work.

Staff Familiarity with the Goal Needs Improvement

In the survey, we asked staff whether they knew how the World Bank Group’s second corporate goal of ‘boosting shared prosperity’ is officially defined?

“What kind of question is that,” you might think. And, if you are as self-assured as 94.3 percent of the staff surveyed, you would say—yes, of course.

But when we asked the staff who said they knew the answer to select the official WBG definition of shared prosperity from the list below, 36 percent of the staff grade F and above were unable to pick the correct official definition of shared prosperity. In case you are wondering, the correct answer was (c).

Table 1: Definition of Shared Prosperity

Question: Please select the official World Bank Group definition of shared prosperity from the list below.

a.      Promoting greater income equality

b.     Reducing wealth inequality by 1% by the year 2030 in a sustainable way

c.      Fostering the income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population in a sustainable way

d.     Promoting greater equality of opportunity in a sustainable way

e.      Enhancing universal access to education

f.      Reducing the Gini coefficient in each country below 0.33


Figure 1 shows that the lack of knowledge concerning the shared prosperity goal is especially apparent in IFC, where only 41.8 percent of staff graded F and above is aware how the second twin goal is defined. For IBRD, this percentage increases to 71.1 while MIGA ends up at 58.2 percent.

Figure 1: Familiarity with the official definition, by agency (proportion of staff respondents)

Note: Number of observations used in calculating proportions reported above the bars.

The survey design also allowed to estimate the familiarity of the definition across global practices—which varies widely (Figure 2).  Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Poverty Global Practice comes out on top with 97 percent of staff knowing how the goal is defined. For 5 Global Practices – Finance and Markets, Environment, Energy, Agriculture, and Transport, less than half of the staff know about the official definition.

Figure 2: Familiarity with the official definition, by Global Practices (proportion of respondents)

Note: Statistics calculated employing adjusted sample weights. Number of observations
used in calculating proportions reported above the bars.

A regional analysis shows less variation. Staff mapped to the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region are least familiar with the goal. Only 56.4 percent of LAC staff know the official definition. Results for other regions are: 60.2 percent for Africa, 64 percent for MENA, 70 percent for East Asia and the Pacific and 73 percent for both South Asia and ECA.

Interestingly, managers (81.3 percent) show greater familiarity with the goal then their task team leaders (about two thirds) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Familiarity with the definition, by staff function

Note: Statistics calculated applying adjusted sample weights. Proportions shown in the center
of the bar charts. Number of observations used in calculating proportions reported below the bar charts.

Greater awareness is a prerequisite for its effective implementation—across World Bank Group-- because shared prosperity is everyone’s business. To ensure success in implementation, Management at all levels should step up internal communication and staff training, especially in IFC and within the Global Practices showing limited awareness. Moreover, the survey indicates that better distributional data and tools are needed for successful implementation of the goal.

Staff Attitudes: Bring In the Inequality Dimension

Staff attitudes towards the goal also vary. The good news is that most of the staff have positive attitude towards the goal as only 6 percent of the surveyed population is dissatisfied with the goal. On the other hand, only 22 percent of staff said they were satisfied with how shared prosperity is currently conceptualized. 

What the staff seem to be saying here is that the shared prosperity as a goal is fine, but its basic metric—growth of income of the bottom 40 percent—could be usefully supplemented with appropriate measures of inequality. 71.3 percent of all staff members graded F and above believe that the WBG should focus more on improving opportunities rather than outcomes and 68.3 percent of staff thinks the WBG should focus more explicitly on inequality with its shared prosperity goal.

How Can We Influence Shared Prosperity?

When asked what are the main channels by which staff implement the shared prosperity goal in their daily work, staff ranked asset accumulation, infrastructure, knowledge, resilience to shocks, and jobs as the main channels. Notably, only a few staff identified tax policy as an instrument or channel. (Table 1).

Table 1: Staff Reporting on Implementation of the Shared Prosperity goal, channels


Number of staff indicating that channel

Improve the assets of the B40


Improve infrastructure relevant to the B40


Improve knowledge on the B40


Improve the resilience to shocks


Improve labor demand relevant to the B40


Improve macro-economic and price stability


Improve taxation policies benefiting the B40




* Other include improving governance, access to information, access to the political system, raising donor awareness.


This is a bit of a puzzle because fiscal, including taxation policy can be a powerful policy instrument of not only macroeconomic stability but also efficiency—as well as equity.

Read our working paper on the survey, and share your thoughts in the comments below.


Image Source: World Bank blog Twin Goals


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