World Bank Book Launch "Some Small Countries Do It Better"


Some Small Countries Do It BetterAt the launch, Luis Benveniste, Sector Manager for Education in East Asia and Pacific at the World Bank will introduce the book, and Shahid Yusuf, Economic Adviser and Kaoru Nabeshima, Director of Technological Innovation and Economic Growth Studies Group, Institute of Developing Economies will present key findings from their book. Professor Tommy Koh Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Special Adviser of the Institute of Policy Studies and Chairman of the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore will moderate a pane; discussion with the following panelists:

  • Bert Hofman, Country Director and Chief Economist for the East Asia and Pacific Region, The World Bank
  • Yaw Ansu, Chief Economist, Africa Center for Economic Transformation
  • Yeoh Lam Keong, Vice President, Economic Society of Singapore
  • Vikram Khanna, Associate Editor, Business Times, Singapore

This comparative study of three small economies was prepared following the authors’ visit to Singapore in 2009 in the company of African policy makers who were interested in learning about the contribution of institutions and human capital to successful economic development. Although originally intended to draw lessons for late-starting African economies, the book addresses issues that turn out to be highly relevant in other settings as well.

Virtually every country in the world today is struggling to raise or maintain its GDP growth rate with even the high flyers of yesteryear worrying about middle income traps. In casting around for new ‘growth’ recipes that are validated by demonstrated results, one is drawn to the experience of economies that relied less on the sheer volume of capital spending (or an abundance of natural resources) and more on other drivers of growth: human capital and knowledge. Finland and Ireland are among the tiny band of nations that grew rapidly for well over a decade by adopting an approach that derived the maximum mileage from an adequate investment in physical assets and by harnessing the potential of human capital and technologies. Singapore adopted a hybrid approach that embraces the high investment, export-led East Asian model, but by quickly moving to build its human and knowledge assets, the country was able to upgrade and diversify much faster into higher technology manufactures and tradable services than some of the other East Asian economies. Such diversification has enabled Singapore to maintain higher growth rates over a longer period. The path followed by these three countries offers a different perspective on growth. Their approach may be of greater relevance than the well-worn East Asian model in the highly competitive global environment of the early 21st century because it does not necessarily assume heroic levels of investment. Moreover, it may be better tailored to the opportunities available to a heterogeneous group of middle- and lower-middle-income economies aiming for growth rates in the 6 percent range, as well as to late-starting, low-income countries that, because of their youthful, rapidly increasing populations, need to grow at high single-digit rates to create enough jobs and to double per capita income in 10 years.



Luis BENVENISTE is Sector Manager for Education in East Asia and Pacific at the World Bank. He is a co-author of the recently released World Development Report 2012–Gender Equality and Development;His research interests focus on teacher policies and student assessment practices. Some of his recent publications include Teaching in Cambodia (2008), with J. Marshall and M. Araujo, Teaching in Lao PDR (2008). He holds a Ph.D. in International Comparative Education from Stanford University and a B.A. in Psychology from Harvard University.

Tommy KOH is currently Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Special Adviser of the Institute of Policy Studies and Chairman of the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore. Prof Koh was Chairman of the Preparatory and Main Committees of the UN Conference on Environment and Development and President of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. He has served as Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador to the United States of America and to Mexico, and High Commissioner to Canada. He holds a degree in Law from the National University of Singapore, a Masters degree in Law from Harvard University, and a post-graduate Diploma in Criminology from Cambridge University.

Shahid YUSUF‘s tenure at the World Bank has spanned over 35 years. Dr. Yusuf was the team leader for the World Bank-Japan project on East Asia’s Future Economy from 2000-2009 and was the Director of the World Development Report 1999/2000, Entering the 21st Century. Prior to that, he was Economic Adviser to the Senior Vice President and Chief Economist (1997-98), Lead Economist for the East Africa Department (1995-97) and Lead Economist for the China and Mongolia Department (1989-1993). He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Economics from Cambridge University.

Kaoru Nabeshima is Director, Technological Innovation and Economic Growth Studies Group, Institute of Developing Economies–Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO). Prior to joining IDE-JETRO in 2010, he was a staff member and consultant to the World Bank. His recent publications include Two Dragonheads: Contrasting Development Paths for Beijing and Shanghai (co-authored with Shahid Yusuf, 2010); and Changing the Industrial Geography in Asia: The Impact of China and India (co-authored with Shahid Yusuf, 2010). He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California-Davis and a B.A. in economics from Ohio Wesleyan University.

Bert HOFMAN is the World Bank’s Chief Economist for the East Asia and Pacific Region and Director, Singapore Office. Mr. Hofman was Country Director for the Philippines from 2007 to 2011, and prior to that served as lead economist for China. He had also worked on Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Mongolia, Zambia, and Namibia with the Bank. Prior to joining the World Bank, Mr. Hofman was on the staff of the Kiel Institute of World Economics in Germany, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, and NMB Bank in the Netherlands (now ING).

Yaw ANSU is the Chief Economist at the Africa Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) based in Accra, Ghana. Prior to joining ACET, he spent over 26 years working at the World Bank in various capacities including Research Economist, Country Economist, Country Director, Director for Economic Policy and Head of the Economists Sector Board, and Regional Sector Director for Human Development for Africa. Yaw Ansu holds a B. A. in Economics from Cornell University, and a M.S. and a Ph.D. in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University.


Media Reports:


Thursday, 08 March 2012
9.00am to 10.45am

Grand Park City Hall Hotel, Singapore