CGD Policy Blogs




Trump’s Retrogressive Executive Order on Climate Change: A Development Perspective in Three Charts

On Tuesday the Trump Administration dropped a long-feared executive order on climate change. There’s no sugarcoating it—this order is an attempted assault by the administration on the climate we all depend on, the world’s poorest people most of all. Nevertheless, just how bad things get depends not just on vigorous opposition to these moves within the US, but more and more on other countries.

Getting Kinky with Chickens

“Chickens versus cash” might be the “best investment” for a very narrow question, but I argue it probably isn’t in the top 100 value for money research questions in development economics.

Congress Looks at World Bank, Asks How It Can Do Better

With big cuts to US bilateral and multilateral assistance looming, the House Committee on Financial Services convened a hearing to investigate accountability and results at the World Bank. Scott Morris, CGD’s director of the US Development Policy initiative (DPI), was joined by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Sasha Chavkin, CalTech’s Jean Ensminger, and BIC’s Elana Berger. It was a thoughtful conversation, with everyone on the panel agreeing that it is in the United States’ interest to continue engagement with the World Bank. Here are my main takeaways from the hearing.

Results Measurement and the Case for Aid

Many in the development community lament that we have failed on two counts: broad audiences don’t know about unprecedented progress in poverty reduction and human development indicators in recent decades, and, if they do know, they don’t see the connection between aid programs and such progress. Despite strongs efforts on the part of development institutions to measure results, it remains hard to articulate them in a way that is compelling to nontechnical audiences—taxpayers who absolutely deserve to understand why and how development dollars are making a difference. 

Really, Global Poverty *Is* Falling. Honest.

Martin Kirk and Jason Hickel published a piece earlier this week on the annual Gates Letter. The core critique is that the letter is too rosy. In particular, Kirk and Hickel say of the Gates' letter: "some of their examples are just wrong." The case they provide in illustration is the idea that poverty has been cut by half since 1990. The Gates "use figures based on a $1.25 a day poverty line, but there is a strong scholarly consensus that this line is far too low." Use other poverty lines, and global poverty "hasn’t been falling. In fact, it has been increasing—dramatically.” (See related pieces by Jason here and here). I don't think this critique holds up.

Health Technology Assessment: Global Advocacy and Local Realities

Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) can help countries attain and sustain universal health coverage (UHC), as long as it is context-specific and considered within deliberative processes at the country level. Institutionalising robust deliberative processes requires significant time and resources, however, and countries often begin by demanding evidence (including local CEA evidence as well as evidence about local values), whilst striving to strengthen the governance structures and technical capacities with which to generate, consider and act on such evidence. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), such capacities could be developed initially around a small technical unit in the health ministry or health insurer. The role of networks, development partners, and global norm setting organisations is crucial in supporting the necessary capacities.

Putting Foreign Aid Cuts in Context

Put funding for the 150 account in context, and you better understand the broader trend and two crucial points: (1) the 150 Account is a tiny slice of the federal budget, so proposed cuts will contribute little toward shoring up much larger accounts like national defense; and (2) increases in foreign assistance over the past sixteen years have supported US development efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and helped deliver on a historic US commitment to fight global HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa.