Blog entries from: globaldevelopment


1 to 10 of 76

September 24 2013

From globaldevelopment Tue Sep 24 2013, 15:32:49

Next week comes the UN's most important meeting on migration and development in seven years. It's a perfect time for fresh thinking, particularly about the role of high-skill migration in development.

As part of the lead-up to the UN meeting, I wrote a new brief for the Migration Policy Institute challenging some traditional ideas about skilled migration. I discuss some of the research on the development benefits of skill mobility, and some of the indirect consequences of efforts to suppress mobility. From that brief: What fraction of Africa's shortfall of physicians would be remedied if, through some draconian policy, half of all African physicians living in the richest countries were suddenly obliged to return home? The answer: just 6%.

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September 23 2013

From globaldevelopment Mon Sep 23 2013, 09:10:38

This week (September 25th), the UN General Assembly will hold a Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Alongside exhortations regarding the last two years of the current set of goals, the draft outcome document of the event calls for "a single framework and set of Goals" for the post-2015 development agenda. The document suggests the new goals should cover both poverty eradication and sustainable development and should be "universal in nature and applicable in all countries, while taking account of differing national circumstances." I hope that language stays in the final draft (see here for why). But if we're going to have a single set of sustainable development goals applicable in all countries, it seems like a great time to be thinking about Millennium Development ...

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September 18 2013

From globaldevelopment Wed Sep 18 2013, 17:36:04

It is a lesson that (development) economists need to relearn every generation: stuff is complicated and "best practices" don't always work. Keynes said it in 1951 in his Essays in Biography: "we are faced at every turn with the problems of organic unity, of discreteness, of discontinuity-the whole is not equal to the sum of the parts, comparisons of quantity fail us, small changes produce large effects, and the assumptions of a uniform and homogeneous continuum are not satisfied." And long-forgotten development economist Albert Lauterbach emphasized a related point more than half a century ago: "the necessity of applying Western experiences and 'rational' methods only with great caution and with a real effort to understand the culture, value system and social structure of each population ...

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September 16 2013

From globaldevelopment Mon Sep 16 2013, 17:28:31

The Atlantic Council's recent event on US foreign assistance to Pakistan kicked off a new round of discussion about US-Pakistan relations, which should gain momentum as we approach the Strategic Dialogue expected later this year.  Anchored in the context of the country's recent elections and prospects for regional stability, the discussion included remarks by senior officials in the State Department, USAID, and the National Security Council as well as experts from think tanks and civil society organizations.

As CGD President Nancy Birdsall commented after speaking on the panel, the discussion "illustrated the calm that has set in after many stormy years" in US-Pakistan relations.  She stated that some credit was due to the recent historic democratic transition in Pakistan, which ...

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From globaldevelopment Mon Sep 16 2013, 13:00:12

Visitans Perito works at the World Bank as an education specialist, and has just set off on a two week mission to the country of Peripheria, a poor, land-locked former Soviet Republic in Central Asia, about which he knows very little, except that everyone seems to agree it has a totally dysfunctional public school system.

Perito's assignment is to help the Peripherian Ministry of Education design its new Five Year Plan to Achieve High Quality Universal Primary Education, 2014-2018. The key moment of his trip is a face-to-face meeting with the Minister, who pitches him on a new vision for the Five Year Plan that she would like the World Bank to help fund.

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September 11 2013

From globaldevelopment Wed Sep 11 2013, 11:38:36

With Nancy Birdsall and Rita Perakis

When we make presentations on COD Aid at development agencies, we are frequently told: "Oh, we're already doing that." The more we investigate, however, the fewer cases we find where agencies are really disbursing funds against independently verified outcomes in a hands-off fashion. We're tempted to say "close but no cigar." We recognize that agencies have been working hard for years to link disbursements to performance, but these operations tend to pay for activities and outputs rather than outcomes and are most commonly used for projects with well-known technologies and production functions.

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September 10 2013

From globaldevelopment Tue Sep 10 2013, 10:06:37

How can we know when an aid project 'works'?

Today Nina Munk released a new book on the Millennium Villages Project, an intensive experimental "solution to extreme poverty" underway across rural Africa. Munk wrote her book, The Idealist, after observing the Project firsthand for six years, and her account is sympathetic to its founder while deeply critical of the Project itself. For Joe Nocera of the New York Times, the book makes it "tough to believe" the project is succeeding; for James Traub in the Wall Street Journal, the book shows how the Project was "beset by immemorial forms of misfortune that Mr. Sachs's team in New York hadn't counted on."

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September 9 2013

From globaldevelopment Mon Sep 9 2013, 18:21:50

Tomorrow (September 10th), my colleague Nancy Birdsall and I will attend an event about "Pakistan Elections and Regional Stability: How Foreign Assistance Can Help". There are two keynote speakers and Nancy will be speaking on the panel, which should generate a great discussion about Pakistan's recent civilian election, US interests in the country, and the significant flows of foreign assistance the US government has authorized for economic and military assistance. We hope it sparks renewed interest in formalizing a strategic dialogue on development, a focused discussion about how the United States and Pakistan can best work together to address Pakistan's daunting development challenges.

CGD staff have written a lot about these topics over the years as part of CGD's initiative on the US ...

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From globaldevelopment Mon Sep 9 2013, 17:41:01

A friend who works inside government was making fun of me over the weekend for getting a tad too excited about the administration's Power Africa initiative. It's true that I've been pushing for energy poverty to get more attention and was pretty heartened by the White House effort which aims to increase electricity generation by 10,000 MW in six target countries.

I was thinking about her jibes when buying a new refrigerator, especially when I noticed the yellow energy guide tag that shows how much electricity the unit will use in a typical year. I know I live an energy-intensive lifestyle. Americans on average use 13,395 kWh/year (IEA data for 2010), which is nearly three times what the typical South African uses and 100 times the average Nigerian.  But I was still pretty shocked to ...

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September 6 2013

From globaldevelopment Fri Sep 6 2013, 10:13:38

International norms matter. Citizens of the more than 80 nations where polls have been conducted do think and act taking into account global realities and norms. Most could be called "global citizens", not in opposition to but along with their self-identity as citizens of their own country. That was a key point of this paper, prepared as part of a larger project on the global economy sponsored by this new foundation. It was the logic behind Secretary of State John Kerry's stirring speech last week, making the case for a US military intervention to punish Bashar al-Assad for his apparent use of chemical weapons. Doing nothing, he argued, would be appeasement (recalling the Munich compromise) and send a signal that the United States is no longer able or willing to punish behavior that ...

However, international law matters too. A virtually unilateral US military intervention would set the norm on which people everywhere agree (that use of chemical weapons is a step too far) against the awkward and inadequate but still better-than-nothing framework of international law against the use of military force except for self-defense without Security Council approval ...

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