Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



November 1, 2003

Who is not Poor? Proposing a Higher International Standard for Poverty - Working Paper 33

Poverty reduction is now, and quite properly should remain, the primary objective of the World Bank. But, when the World Bank dreams of a world free of poverty—what should it be dreaming? I argue in this essay that the dream should be a bold one, that treats citizens of all nations equally in defining poverty, and that sets a high standard for what eliminating poverty will mean for human well-being.

Cover of From Social Assistance to Social Development: Targeted Education Subsidies in Developing Countries
September 1, 2003

From Social Assistance to Social Development: Targeted Education Subsidies in Developing Countries

The book compiles a vast amount of unpublished and published material on existing CTE programs and their impact on poverty. Groundbreaking case studies and detailed evaluations of programs in Mexico, Brazil, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Chile add up to an unusual and surprising success story for skeptics of development and foreign aid.

Samuel Morley and David Coady
August 15, 2003

The Anarchy of Numbers: Aid, Development, and Cross-country Empirics - Working Paper 32

*REVISED Version May 2007

Recent literature contains many stories of how foreign aid affects economic growth: aid raises growth in countries with good policies, or in countries with difficult economic environments, or mainly outside the tropics, or on average with diminishing returns. The diversity of these results suggests that many are fragile. I test 7 important aid-growth papers for robustness. The 14 tests are minimally arbi-trary, deriving mainly from differences among the studies themselves. This approach investigates the importance of potentially arbitrary specification choices while minimizing arbitrariness in testing choices. All of the results appear fragile, especially to sample expansion.

August 1, 2003

Privatization in Latin America - Working Paper 31

In Latin America, privatization started earlier and spread farther and more rapidly than in almost any other part of the world. Despite positive microeconomic results, privatization is highly and increasingly unpopular in the region. While privatization may be winning the economic battle it is losing the political war: The benefits are spread widely, small for each affected consumer or taxpayer, and occur (or accrue) in the medium-term. In contrast, the costs are large for those concerned, who tend to be visible, vocal, urban and organized, a potent political combination.

John Nellis
July 30, 2003

The Surprise Party: An Analysis of US ODA Flows to Africa - Working Paper 30

Conventional wisdom about US foreign policy toward Africa contains two popular assumptions. First, Democrats are widely considered the party most inclined to care about Africa and the most willing to spend resources on assistance to the continent. Second, the end of the Cold War was widely thought to have led to a gradual disengagement of the US from Africa and reduced American attention toward the continent. This paper analyzes OECD data on US foreign assistance flows from 1961-2000 and finds that neither of these assumptions is true.

Markus P. Goldstein and Todd J. Moss
July 29, 2003

Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America - Working Paper 29

This paper applies a new approach to the estimation of the impact of policy, both the levels and the changes, on wage differentials using a new high-quality data set on wage differentials by schooling level for 18 Latin American countries for the period 1977–1998. The results indicate that liberalizing policy changes overall have had a short-run disequalizing effect of expanding wage differentials, although this effect tends to fade away over time.

updated 07/04/2006

Jere R. Behrman and Miguel Székely
July 28, 2003

Financing Pharmaceutical Innovation: How Much Should Poor Countries Contribute? - Working Paper 28

We use a public economics framework to consider how pharmaceuticals should be priced when at least some of the R&D incentive comes from sales revenues. We employ familiar techniques of public finance to relax some of the restrictions implied in the standard use of Ramsey pricing. We use this framework to examine on-going debates regarding the international patent system as embodied in the WTO's TRIPS agreement.

William Jack and Jean O. Lanjouw
Cover of The Other War: Global Poverty and the Millennium Challenge Account
June 1, 2003

The Other War: Global Poverty and the Millennium Challenge Account

This book tackles head on the tension between foreign policy and development goals that chronically afflicts U.S. foreign assistance; the danger of being dismissed as one more instance of the United States going it alone instead of buttressing international cooperation; and the risk of exacerbating confusion among the myriad overlapping U.S. policies, agencies, and programs targeted at developing nations, particularly USAID.

Lael Brainard , Nigel Purvis , Steven Radelet and Gayle Smith
May 1, 2003

National Policies and Economic Growth: A Reappraisal - Working Paper 27

National economic policies' effects on growth were over-emphasized in the early literature on endogenous economic growth. Most of the early theoretical models of the new growth literature (and even their new neoclassical counterparts) predicted large policy effects, which was followed by empirical work showing large effects. A re-appraisal finds that the alleged association between growth and policies does not explain many stylized facts of the postwar era, depends on the extreme policy observations, that the association is not robust to different estimation methods (pooled vs. fixed effects vs. cross-section), does not show up as expected in event studies of trade openings and inflation stabilizations, and is driven out by institutional variables in levels regressions.

Cover of Challenging Foreign Aid: A Policymaker's Guide to the Millennium Challenge Account
May 1, 2003

Challenging Foreign Aid: A Policymaker's Guide to the Millennium Challenge Account

In this study, Steven Radelet examines the MCA's potential promise and possible pitfalls. He offers a rigorous analysis of the MCA’s central challenge: making foreign aid more effective in supporting economic growth and poverty reduction in the poor countries. He systematically explores what makes the MCA different and pinpoints the critical issues that will determine its success or failure.

April 1, 2003

The Millennium Challenge Account: Soft Power or Collateral Damage?

In March 2002 President Bush proposed establishing the "Millennium Challenge Account"(MCA), a new foreign aid program designed to provide substantial assistance to low-income countries that are "ruling justly, investing in their people, and encouraging economic freedom." The MCA could bring about the most fundamental changes to U.S. foreign assistance policy since the Kennedy administration. The significance of the initiative lies partly in its scale: the proposed $5-billion annual budget represents a 50-percent increase over the FY02 foreign aid budget and a near doubling in the amount of aid focused strictly on development objectives. Perhaps even more important, the MCA brings with it the opportunity to improve significantly the allocation and delivery of U.S. foreign assistance as well as a recognition of the value of both hard and soft power in the pursuit of a safer and more secure world. If the new program is not implemented carefully, however, it could lead to greater fragmentation and confusion in U.S. foreign assistance policy, weaken the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and impede coordination with other donors. Much will depend on the details of how the MCA is established during its first year, as well as the extent to which the administration implements changes in other assistance programs. This policy brief is a preview to the analysis and recommendations in Challenging Foreign Aid: A Policymaker's Guide to the Millennium Challenge Account by Steven Radelet, available April 30, 2003.

April 1, 2003

From Promise to Performance: How Rich Countries Can Help Poor Countries Help Themselves

At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 the nations of the world committed to join forces to meet a set of measurable targets for reducing world poverty, disease, illiteracy and other indicators of human misery—all by the year 2015. These targets, later named the Millennium Development Goals, include seven measures of human development in poor countries. At the same summit, world leaders took on several qualitative targets applicable to rich countries, later collected in an eighth Goal. The key elements of the eighth Goal, pledge financial support and policy changes in trade, debt relief, and other areas to assist poor countries'domestic efforts to meet the first seven Goals. Combined, the eight Goals constitute a global compact between poor and rich to work today toward their mutual interests to secure a prosperous future.

February 27, 2003

Aid, Policies, and Growth data set

CGD working paper 26, "New Data, New Doubts: Revisiting "Aid, Policies, and Growth" by CGD non-resident fellow William Easterly, research fellow David Roodman, and Ross Levine (also published as "Aid, Policies, and Growth: Comment" in the American Economic Review, June 2004), concludes that the Burnside and Dollar (2000) finding that aid raises growth in a good policy environment is not statistically robust. This dataset is a four-year panel covering 1966–97. It includes all the Burnside and Dollar data and Easterly, Levine and Roodman's expanded data set.

Ross Levine and David Roodman
February 27, 2003

New Data, New Doubts: Revisiting "Aid, Policies, and Growth" - Working Paper 26

The Burnside and Dollar (2000) finding that aid raises growth in a good policy environment has had an important influence on policy and academic debates. We conduct a data gathering exercise that updates their data from 1970-93 to 1970-97, as well as filling in missing data for the original period 1970-93. We find that the BD finding is not robust to the use of this additional data. (JEL F350, O230, O400)

Ross Levine and David Roodman