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In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
Biometrics, foreign aid, Africa, economics of resource-rich countries, growth and development, transition economies
Alan Gelb is a senior fellow and director of studies at the Center for Global Development. His recent research includes aid and development outcomes, the transition from planned to market economies, the development applications of biometric ID technology, and the special development challenges of resource-rich countries.
He was previously director of development policy at the World Bank and chief economist for the bank’s Africa region and staff director for the 1996 World Development Report “From Plan to Market.”
India’s Aadhaar biometric identification scheme has registered over 1.1 billion people, including almost all adults in the country and over 15 percent of the global population. Of course, initiatives of this scale cannot escape controversy. What the debate has so far lacked, however, is data. We set out to help fill that gap with a survey focused on a digital governance initiative in the state of Rajasthan.
How do you give over a billion people a digital ID within five years? How do you improve learning for 200 million children in India and countless millions worldwide within a decade? How do you improve health outcomes for billions of poor people and achieve the goals of Universal Health Coverage within a generation? How do you solve the world’s most pressing challenges, not incrementally, but with the urgency they demand?
Last week we published a new paper, Can Africa Be A Manufacturing Destination?, that highlights the persistence of high labor costs in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This led to a lively debate on Twitter, initiated by Chris Blattman at the University of Chicago.
Uganda has sought to finance its development agenda with oil since discovering the resource in its Albertine Lakes Basin in 2009. This paper considers alternative methods for distributing the rents from oil that mitigate some of the governance risks associated with natural resource revenues.
This paper discusses the evolution of India's Universal ID program, the innovative organization and pathbreaking technology behind it, how it is being rolled out, and how robust ID is beginning to be used.
India’s Universal ID program seeks to provide a unique identity to all 1.2
billion residents. Its
successes and potential failures will have far-reaching implications for other
developing countries looking to create national identity systems.
Over 1 billion women lack access to financial services due to economic and social barriers, time and mobility constraints, and discrimination in service provision. Financial services delivered digitally can address these barriers by providing women with safe and accessible channels. This event will look at the recent evidence and emerging technologies that work to empower women economically.
In response to our August 5 blog criticizing the World Bank’s current reorganization plans, a few readers wrote to ask us if we could come up with a better idea. This is a daunting challenge. We’ve heard that the Bank has spent millions over more than a year to generate more than 40 ideas about how to tweak the Bank’s organization and has intensively discussed three overarching ideas, for none of which we have actually seen a background paper – or even a PowerPoint. So with brains unfettered by facts, uncluttered by concept papers, bereft of briefings and emboldened by ignorance, here goes…
The new World Bank Group Strategy posted this week for discussion by the Development Committee, the ministerial-level forum that oversees the World Bank and the IMF, provides a solid analytical foundation for what has so far been a messy and disjointed re-organization effort. The release of the paper coincided with a speech by bank president Jim Kim that covered much of the same ground, but the strategy paper digs deeper. For those of us who believe that the World Bank has a crucial role to play in addressing the problems of the 21st Century, there is much to applaud.
India's inability to deliver public services remains its Achilles’ heel. Without a solution to this critical weakness, India's aspiration to be a global economic power will remain unrealized. Why is this problem so particularly acute in India? Is it political interference and corruption, poorly designed programs, weak administration, and over-centralization, or is it a much deeper cultural problem of aversion to collective action?
What does the empirical evidence tell us? What are the examples of successful experiments within India of effective service delivery and what lessons can be drawn from these? What can India learn from other countries? Ajay Chhibber will draw on these questions to explore directions for change so that India can deliver.
To better understand the large variation in price levels between countries beyond income levels and their contribution to economies’ competitiveness in the global market, we report on a cross-country analysis of national price levels, using data on 168 economies from the most recent 2011 International Comparison Program (ICP).
Why do so many businesses choose to remain informal? Vijaya Ramachandran and co-authors discover that the answer is more nuanced than often believed. In East Africa, for instance, the difference in productivity between formal and informal firms is often indistinguishable, while in Southern Africa productivity it is more differentiated. Policies to encourage formalization and increase productivity are likely to be more successful in East Africa, whereas an emphasis on job training and vocational skills might be more appropriate in Southern Africa.
This paper ties together the macroeconomic and microeconomic evidence on the competitiveness of African manufacturing sectors. The conceptual framework is based on the newer theories that see the evolution of comparative advantage as influenced by the business climate—a key public good—and by external economies between clusters of firms entering in related sectors. Macroeconomic data from purchasing power parity (PPP), though imprecisely measured, estimates confirms that Africa is high-cost relative to its levels of income and productivity. This finding is compared with firm-level evidence from surveys undertaken for Investment Climate Assessments in 2000-2004.