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Empirical development economics, economic reform, international migration, poverty, social policy and development.
Lant Pritchett is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and professor of the practice of international development at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he taught from 2000 to 2004 and from 2007 onward. Before rejoining the Kennedy School in 2007, he was lead socio-economist in the social development group of the South Asia region of the World Bank. He occupied various other positions at the World Bank during his tenure there, beginning in 1988. Pritchett was a team member on a number of prominent World Bank publications including Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reforms (2005); Making Services Work for Poor People (World Development Report 2004); Assessing Aid: What Works, What Doesn't and Why (with David Dollar, 1998); and Infrastructure for Development (World Development Report 1994). He has published two books with Center for Global Development, Let Their People Come (2006) and The Rebirth of Education (2013). Pritchett has published over a hundred articles and papers (with more than 25 co-authors) on a wide range of topics, including state capability, labor mobility, and education, among many others. Originally from Idaho, Pritchett is the father of three children and now lives in an empty nest with his wife of 31 years.
The head of USAID claims that “political momentum” is building to make extreme poverty “central” to the development agenda. The question is: How does one build political momentum for a global development agenda that excludes 5 billion people and the middle class of (nearly) every large developing country?
“Dollar a day” poverty morphed from a technical curiosity that interests at most a few dozen technocrats to the first of the Millennium Development Goals. It is now one of only two corporate goals of the World Bank (in spite of its obvious inconsistency with the World Bank’s own Articles of Agreement). And , according to a recent (August 18, 2014) missive from Rajiv Shah, the head of USAID “political momentum” is “build[ing] to make the end of extreme poverty central to the post-2015 Development Agenda.”
Angus Deaton said he didn’t mind poverty analysis as long as the poverty line is infinity. Stevenson and Wolfers (2013) assemble the array of survey based measures of subjective well- being (SWB), such as “life satisfaction” or “happiness” and search for income satiation.
The World Bank loves to talk about the importance of “good governance” and “strong institutions” and “rule of law” as keys to development success. Presumably that means that organizations are managed in accordance to their own legal procedures. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the primus inter pares of the many units under the World Bank group umbrella (IDA, IFC, MIGA) has an agreed upon Articles of Agreement. Article One is worth reproducing in its entirety:
The last decade has seen considerable progress enrolling children in schools worldwide: today most people live in countries on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of 100% primary completion by 2015.
Sadly, enrollment doesn’t necessarily equal learning. A new report by the CGD Study Group on Measuring Learning Outcomes shows a shockingly wide gap between education inputs and learning outcomes – many children finish primary school unable to read, write or do simple addition. The report, Schooling is Not Education: Using Assessment to Change the Politics of Non-Learning, finds the learning crisis reflects systemic issues in education sectors worldwide. It recommends strong assessment regimes as part of the solution.
On May 9, CGD president Nancy Birdsall will chair a conversation on the report with Alice Albright, chair of the Global Partnership for Education; CGD Study Group co-chair Lant Pritchett; Project director Charles Kenny; and other members of the Study Group. They will discuss the findings and implications for education in the post-2015 development agenda.
The US economy needs low-skill workers now more than ever, and that requires a legal channel for the large-scale, employment-based entry of low-skill workers. The alternative is what the country has now: a giant black market in unauthorized labor that hinders job creation and harms border security. A legal time-bound labor-access program could benefit the American middle class and low-skill workers, improve US border security, and create opportunities for foreign workers.
In a recent SNL sketch Bill Haider is a white celebrity filming a commercial in a village using black people as props to plead for “39 cents a day” which he claims is “all these people need to survive.”
For decades, migration economics has stressed the effects of migration restrictions on income distribution in the host country. Recently the literature has taken a new direction by estimating the costs of migration restrictions to global economic efficiency. In contrast, a new strand of research posits that migration restrictions could be not only desirably redistributive, but in fact globally efficient. This is the new economic case for migration restrictions: empirically, a case against the stringency of current restrictions.
Ghost towns dot the West of the United States. These cities boomed for a period and then, for various reasons, fell into a process of decline and have shrunk to a small fraction of their former population. Are there ghost countries—countries that, if there were population mobility, would only have a very small fraction of their current population? This paper carries out four empirical illustrations of the potential magnitude of the "ghost country" problem by showing that the "desired population" of any given geographic region varies substantially.
Efforts to decentralize educational systems often arouse fears that the quality of schooling will become less equal as a result. But what’s the evidence? CGD non-resident fellow Lant Pritchett and co-author Martina Viarengo show in a new CGD working paper that the supposedly greater equality of centralized systems is often little more than the illusion of a bureaucracy blinded to local realities.
Motivated by our experience in designing a particular social program, skill set signaling for new entrants to the labor market in Peru, we articulate the need for, and explore the empirical consequences of, alternative learning approaches to the design of development projects. We suggest that project, program, and policy design must depend on more robust learning strategies than the attempt to directly apply results from ”systematic reviews” or move prematurely to an RCT.