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Some Answers to the Perpetual Question: Does US Foreign Aid Work—and How Should the US Government Move Forward with What We Know?

4/25/17

Happily, in the last 25 years, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day has dropped by two-thirds. Most of this success is due to major global forces such as trade and cross-border labor mobility. And much of the credit goes to the governments and citizens of developing countries themselves for pursuing the policies that have enabled donor, private sector, and (increasingly) their own resources to translate into development outcomes. But development assistance—including US aid—has made important contributions.

A Note on the Informal Sector

4/25/17

This work analyzes fresh data made available by updated, more comprehensive Enterprise Surveys of formal firms of various sizes and, importantly, of informal firms. It concentrates on five countries (the DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Myanmar, and Rwanda) to provide more fine-grained insights into differences in characteristics and productivity levels between formal and informal firms or different sizes in different developing countries.

Making Global Trade More Gender-Inclusive

2/6/17

The benefits of global trade are numerous and well-documented, but trade channels can still be made more inclusive for women entrepreneurs and wage workers. Incorporating pre-ratification conditions into the trade agreement negotiation process to remove legal barriers against women’s equal participation in the economy (and therefore equal advantages from trade), as well as instituting follow-up enforcement mechanisms, can help to ensure trade benefits women and men more equally going forward.

Expanding Women’s Role in Developing Technology: Increasing Productivity, Improving Lives

1/19/17

Just as the evidence suggests that a more gender-inclusive political system may lead to better policies for women and girls and integrating women into corporate boards may mean reaching new consumers, there is a case to be made for increasing women’s presence in developing technology and innovation. Incorporating more women into technology sectors is likely to 1) increase productivity, 2) offers women a source of high-quality jobs, and 3) may have knock-on benefits for female consumers of technology, whose needs are more likely to be taken into account.

The Dangers of Deal Making for Development

1/17/17

Private sector development has long been viewed as essential for economic growth in developing countries, and the US role in promoting it has focused mostly on how developing country governments could best set a policy environment that made it possible. But let’s consider the risks of concentrating too heavily on the private sector. What could go wrong with an agenda that is centered on “deal making for development”?

Why Increasing Female Migration from Gender-Unequal Countries Is a Win for Everyone

12/20/16

Available evidence points to a superior payoff to female migration from gender-unequal countries to more gender-equal countries for the migrant, the sending country, and recipient country alike. This suggests that a policy by relatively gender-equal countries to provide entry preference to female economic migrants from gender-unequal countries would combine development impact and economic self-interest.

AidChoice: Give the People who Pay for Aid a Voice in Spending It

11/21/16

What if taxpayers could decide for themselves how some of the UK’s aid budget is spent? Allocating funding would let taxpayers engage meaningfully with development issues, potentially reinforcing support for tackling poverty and deprivation overseas. Competition for funding would give international development organisations an incentive to offer an explicit value proposition. This could catalyse a race to the top in becoming transparent, measuring impact, and delivering value-for-money. AidChoice, as set out below, would be revenue neutral, would not lower the UK’s overall spending on foreign aid (or the amount scored as ODA), and might generate modest but meaningful savings, all while increasing public support for development spending and improving accountability.

Using Financial Incentives to Increase the Number of Women in UN Peacekeeping

10/17/16

At present rates of progress, it will take more than three centuries for the UN to see the same number of women as men in peacekeeping operations, even though evidence suggests that increasing the proportion of women in operations will improve the success rate of peacekeeping missions and reduce levels of sexual misconduct. One method to speed up the march to equality could be financial incentives directed at troop contributing countries.  These could significantly increase the proportion of women peacekeepers, potentially for as little as $77 million per year.

CGD and International Rescue Committee Logos

Refugee Compacts: An Initial Framework

10/3/16

The global community is facing extraordinary shifts in forced displacement. Today, more people than ever before—65 million, including 21 million refugees—are displaced by conflict. Host countries are taking on great responsibility for these displaced populations, but with insufficient support. New partners and new models are required to meet the displacement challenge. This brief outlines a compact model with critical components, including shared outcomes for refugees, host country ownership and focus on longer-term transition, best practices for program design and management, and commitment to policy reforms.

Donors Funding Technology: 10 Recommendations

6/7/16

Funding the global public good of technology is a useful way for donors to leverage the impact of their aid. Different types of technologies appear to be important to development progress, and to spread, in different ways. ‘Lab coat technologies’ (inventions) spread easily and improve quality of life, ‘process technologies’ (institutions) spread with difficulty and are important to economic growth. For all donor interventions, however, it appears that context matters—the same technology or investment has varied impact in different environments. Donors should take the importance of context on board when designing their technology interventions.

Can Access to Contraception Deliver for Women’s Economic Empowerment? What We Know – and What We Must Learn

5/11/16

Theory and some empirical evidence suggest the two goals – reproductive rights for women and women’s economic empowerment – are connected: reproductive rights should strengthen women’s economic power. But our understanding of the magnitude of the possible connection and the nature of any causal link (vs. coevolution or reverse causation) in different times and places is limited. In this note we summarize what we know up to now and what more we could learn about that connection, and set out the data requirements and methodological challenges that face researchers and policymakers who want to better understand the relationship.

Using Identification for Development: Some Guiding Principles

2/22/16

There is growing recognition of the importance of identification for sustainable development. Its role is recognized formally in target 16.9 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which calls for providing “legal identity for all, including through birth registration” by 2030. Identification is also an enabler of many other development targets, from social protection (delivering support) to financial inclusion (opening bank or mobile accounts and establishing a credit record) to women's empowerment.Having a recognized identity is crucial for achieving several development outcomes.

Doing Business Differently with Subnationals: Recommendations for Global Health Donors in Highly Decentralized Countries

12/8/15

In the big decentralized countries where global disease burden is concentrated, such as India and Indonesia, most public money for health isn’t spent by the national ministry of health, the traditional counterpart for global health funders and technical agencies. Instead, most money is programmed and spent subnationally.

Greater subnational public spending reflects growing democratization, power-sharing, and local self-determination. It also responds to the conviction that local decision-makers understand local realities better than a bureaucrat sitting in the capital city. Yet evidence on the effectiveness of subnational spending on health care and outcomes is mixed at best, and incentives for greater spending and better performance can be weak.

Global Public Goods for Development: How Much and What For

Global Public Goods for Development: How Much and What For

5/18/15

Updated May 19, 2015

Global public goods (GPGs) provide benefits to people in both rich and poor countries. They play a crucial role in safeguarding the social, economic, and political progress of the past century. They are fundamental to managing global risks such as climate change, infectious diseases, and financial crises that can harm developing countries disproportionately; and in exploiting opportunities, such as new vaccines, that can benefit them especially. Yet very little is known about how much governments spend on GPGs that matter for developing countries. 

Assessing Performance-Based Payments for Forest Conservation: Six Successes, Four Worries, and Six Possibilities to Explore of the Guyana-Norway Agreement

4/7/14

In 2009, Guyana created a Low Carbon Development Strategy to develop economically while keeping its entire forest intact, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Norway to receive performance-based payments in the tens of millions of dollars annually contingent upon holding nationwide deforestation to a near-zero rate. In mid-February, 2014, we visited Guyana as part of a three-country study to attempt to gain insights of value to the future expansion of performance-based payments in other countries and other sectors. 

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