Blog entries from: globaldevelopment

1 to 10 of 16

May 6 2014

From globaldevelopment Tue May 6 2014, 10:36:47

Proponents of the use of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in impact evaluation and development research often point out the close link between these trials and their clinical counterparts in the world of medical research. Yet, clinical trials often differ from development RCTs in a number of ways, ranging from their ability to ensure subjects actually take their medicine to their emphasis on blind or double-blind protocol, where subjects are unaware whether or not they have received the real treatment. By contrast, development RCTs exist in a far messier world in which, for example, farmers cannot be forced to use the fertilizer you just randomly allocated them and preventing your study subjects from knowing they have received  a bag of fertilizer is nigh impossible.

This has not ...

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May 2 2014

From globaldevelopment Fri May 2 2014, 12:05:11

One of the biggest hopes people expressed about Jim Kim's nomination to become president of the World Bank was that he would bring a fresh perspective, focused on achieving results, rather than reinforce the institution's bureaucratic machinery. Unfortunately, President Kim's recent remarks at the Center for Foreign Relations suggest that bureaucratic inertia is winning. His references to "following the money" and "zero tolerance for corruption" suggest that he is unaware of the direct and indirect costs of the Bank's intrusive and prescriptive money-tracking technology or is being erroneously advised that they are an unfortunate but unavoidable burden.

Kim's positive spin on the Bank's procedures sounded like this:

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From globaldevelopment Fri May 2 2014, 09:29:57

On Tuesday night, the International Comparison Project released the latest purchasing power parity numbers for the world's economies.  The vast majority of the planet slept right on as if nothing had happened.* And they were right.  But the new numbers still suggest the size and distribution of world income looks considerably different than we previously thought.  The World Bank will produce new official estimates in the coming days, but our preliminary estimates suggest the share of people in the developing world living below the absolute poverty line of $1.25 per day in 2010 "fell" by nearly half, from about 19.7 percent to 11.2 percent, thanks to the revisions. 

Poor countries are somewhat richer than we thought...

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April 28 2014

From globaldevelopment Mon Apr 28 2014, 16:44:41

With the Sustainable Development Goals Working Group busy in New York trying to whittle down its areas of interest into a plausible list of targets, two issues of 'goal ownership' have come to the fore. First, everyone seems very keen the goals should be universal but 'country-owned' - this is the excuse for all of the Xs in the High Level Panel Report ("Cover X% of people who are poor and vulnerable with social protection systems," for example). Such Xs should be decided at the country level, they suggest.

But second, there's a G-77 push for 'partnership targets' in each goal area - a stalking horse for 12 (or 14 - however many goals we end up with) costing and funding targets. Their statement to the SDG Working Group in New York argues "each SDG should be linked with the strengthened ...

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From globaldevelopment Mon Apr 28 2014, 16:06:18

Last Friday (hmmm...), the State Department announced that Secretary Kerry will travel to sub-Saharan Africa April 29-May 5, his first visit to the sub-continent as Secretary of State. First stop is Addis Ababa to meet with the African Union and the Ethiopian government "to discuss efforts to advance peace and democracy in the region". Next up is Kinshasa to "discuss how the DRC government's progress in neutralizing some of the dozens of dangerous armed groups that victimize the Congolese people can be consolidated and how to best advance the DRC's democratization and long-term stability." Last stop is Luanda to "commend President dos Santos for Angola's leadership of...the Great Lakes peace process."

I'll be very keen to see how the trip actually unfolds and reactions from African ...

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From globaldevelopment Mon Apr 28 2014, 13:30:40

We just ran 23 million queries of the World Bank's website. Technically, a piece of computer code did the work, occupying a PC in an empty cubicle in our office for about 9 weeks, gradually sweeping up nearly every bit of information available in the World Bank's global database on poverty and inequality, known as PovcalNet.

Why did we go through all this trouble?[1] The parochial answer is that we wanted to use the data for our own research and got frustrated with the World Bank website designed to dole out the data in bite-size chunks, rather than the large swaths researchers might want. After a somewhat, erm, delicate negotiation with colleagues at the World Bank, we've just posted the resulting paper, data set, and code online, so data-oriented readers can now download the full income ...

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April 24 2014

From globaldevelopment Thu Apr 24 2014, 09:57:42

The Center for Global Development is a great place to be during the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the IMF, when CGD plays host to a series of public and private meetings with senior leaders of multilateral development banks and aid agencies from around the world.

This year, a common theme of those discussions was financing for infrastructure investment in developing countries. I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that these conversations tend to focus exclusively on the need for new bricks-and-mortar infrastructure to meet needs for energy, water, or transport services, and seldom acknowledge the need to maintain the ecological infrastructure that already provides a large portion of those services for many of the world's poor.

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April 23 2014

From globaldevelopment Wed Apr 23 2014, 16:40:24

A set of more or less arbitrary lines continues to do very strange things to discussions about development. Most strange and arbitrary: country income classifications, with their division into low ($12,625). Almost as strange and still pretty arbitrary: $1.25 and $2 poverty lines. We worry about aid allocations, who should give aid and contribute to global public goods, and poverty and middle-income traps all based on measures that only matter because we say they do: they're the placebo poison of development. To focus on the country-income classifications, here are two reasons they really can't be justified:

1. There is no natural grouping of economies based on GNI per capita.

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April 22 2014

From globaldevelopment Tue Apr 22 2014, 16:30:50

When opportunities for corrupt earnings rise, is there more corruption? This fundamental question is the subject of new, frontier-pushing research by two young stars of development economics: CGD alumnus Sandip Sukhtankar and his co-author Paul Niehaus. I was delighted to learn this week that their work (ungated) just won this year's American Economic Association prize for best economic policy paper.

When officials can earn more from corrupt acts, you might expect there to be more corruption. But wait: Suppose that corrupt acts are risky and if you get caught you're out of the game. In that case, greater opportunities for corrupt acts might reduce corrupt behavior going forward. The bigger pie makes officials want to get their slice, but to do that they need to take fewer risks to stick ...

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From globaldevelopment Tue Apr 22 2014, 10:58:25

Professor Dani Rodrik will be at CGD on Thursday, giving the annual Sabot lecture. He will be speaking on African growth, and will likely discuss premature de-industrialization, a topic he first raised in this blog post and has written about subsequently.

In a forthcoming paper with Amrit Amirapu (on manufacturing in India), we illustrate this idea in a different way, depicted in the chart below.

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