Authored by Monica Das Gupta, Helene Grandvoinnet, and Mattia Romani, this compelling 31-page report is part of the World Bank's Policy Research Working Paper Series. The report, released in January 2003, begins by asking the question that has perplexed many policymakers on the national and international level: How can poor developing countries make their institutional settings more conducive to growth and poverty reduction? As previous analyses of these issues have generally focused on the nature of formal and informal institutions, the authors here focus on "a subset of issues related to improving service delivery at community level, and more broadly to helping achieve a transition to better-functioning institutional settings." Drawing on case studies from Asia and Latin America, the work indicates how state efforts to bring about land reform, tenancy reform, and expanding non-crop sources of income can broaden the distribution of power in rural communities and that higher levels of governments can form effective alliances with communities. Ms. Gupta and her colleagues conclude by noting that the potential for powerful institutional changes do not necessarily take long to generate and that they can be achieved in a diversity of settings, ranging from democratic to authoritarian. This paper will be of great interest to those working in the field of international community development, as well as those broadly concerned with public policy studies.
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