Ideas to Action:

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September 7, 2017

Can a Public-Private Partnership Improve Liberia’s Schools?

After one year, public schools managed by private operators raised student learning by 60 percent compared to standard public schools. But costs were high, performance varied across operators, and contracts authorized the largest operator to push excess pupils and under-performing teachers into other government schools.

Mauricio Romero , Justin Sandefur and Wayne Aaron Sandholtz
September 5, 2017

Commitment to Development Index 2017

The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the world's richest countries on policies that affect more than five billion people living in poorer nations. Because development is about more than foreign aid, the Index covers seven distinct policy areas: Aid, Finance, Technology, Environment, Trade, Security, and Migration.

Credit: Pippa Ranger/Department for International Development
August 21, 2017

Good Quality Evaluations for Good Policy: Findings and Recommendations from Aid Agency Evaluations in Global Health

Evaluations are key to learning and accountability yet their usefulness depends on the quality of their evidence and analysis. This brief summarizes the key findings of a CGD Working Paper that assessed the quality of aid agency evaluations in global health. By looking at a representative sample of evaluations—both impact and performance evaluations—from major health funders, the study authors developed 10 recommendations to improve the quality of such evaluations and, consequently, increase their usefulness.

William Savedoff , Janeen Madan Keller and Julia Goldberg Raifman
Cover of Working Paper 461
August 18, 2017

Evaluating Evaluations: Assessing the Quality of Aid Agency Evaluations in Global Health - Working Paper 461

We assessed the methodological quality of global health program evaluations from five major funders between 2009 and 2014. We found that most evaluations did not meet social science methodological standards in terms of relevance, validity, and reliability. Nevertheless, good quality evaluations made it possible to identify ten recommendations for improving evaluations, including a robust finding that early planning is associated with better quality.

Julia Goldberg Raifman , Felix Lam , Janeen Madan Keller , Alexander Radunsky and William Savedoff
Photo of a busy street in Hong Kong
August 3, 2017

Middle Class: Winners or Losers in a Globalized World?

Globalization is under attack in the West. The debate among pundits is no longer about whether globalization is to blame or not. It is about why globalization is now the bugaboo it has become. A common thread are changes, for the worse, in the economic and social standing of the Western middle class.

July 27, 2017

Violence, Development, and Migration Waves: Evidence from Central American Child Migrant Apprehensions - Working Paper 459

This paper studies the relationship between violence in the Northern Triangle and child migration to the United States. It finds that one additional homicide per year in the region, sustained over the six-year period of study—that is, a cumulative total of six additional homicides—caused a cumulative total of 3.7 additional unaccompanied child apprehensions in the United States. The explanatory power of short-term increases in violence is roughly equal to the explanatory power of long-term economic characteristics like average income and poverty.

July 26, 2017

Financing for Whom by Whom? Complexities of Advancing Energy Access in India

This paper finds that end-user financing (i.e. consumer subsidies and tax rebates) is relatively ineffective at enhancing sales of off-grid solar technologies in India. If the government is to make meaningful progress toward its national goal to extend a constant supply of electricity to every household in the coming years, it will need to learn from and adapt its current financing structures for off-grid solar (and other renewable energy) technologies.

Photo of stack of renminbi
July 24, 2017

What the AIIB Can Do for the Multilateral System

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has enjoyed considerable success in its young life. The challenge going forward is to translate this resounding political success into operational effectiveness and sound strategy. Given the political dimensions of this new institution, it is also worth considering what it will mean for other MDBs like the World Bank and the ADB. There are large questions of political leadership in the multilateral “system” but also an array of issues on which the AIIB could help shape a new system-wide approach, whether defined by some division of labor among the MDBs or by introducing institutional innovations.

July 24, 2017

Five Approaches to Doing Better in Foreign Assistance during Times of Budget Cutting

CGD’s US Development Policy Initiative (DPI) has assembled five proposals to do foreign assistance better, drawing on both new and long-standing work and analysis from the Center. We believe there should be a shift in mindset to embrace “doing better” in a way that can be applied in times of budget-cutting or even budget expansion. The ideas we promote here offer ways in which our aid enterprise can pursue qualitative improvement alongside budgetary savings.

Cover of Policy Paper 107: Blockchain and Economic Development: Hype vs. Reality
July 20, 2017

Blockchain and Economic Development: Hype vs. Reality

Increasing attention is being paid to the potential of blockchain technology to address long-standing challenges related to economic development. This paper provides a clear-eyed view of the technology’s potential in the context of development. It focuses on identifying the questions that development practitioners should be asking technologists, and challenges that innovators must address for the technology to meet its potential.

American Agriculture's Long Reach Brief Cover
June 26, 2017

American Agriculture’s Long Reach: Why the Farm Bill Matters for Development

A healthy US agricultural sector is critical to global food security. American farmers help keep food affordable around the world, but they also receive public assistance that too often comes at the expense of American taxpayers and consumers, as well as millions of poor farmers in developing countries. While the farm bill is not the primary vehicle for setting policy on biofuels or antibiotic use, Congress could use the legislation to advance smart policy changes that set the stage for broader reforms.

Global Agriculture book cover
June 26, 2017

Global Agriculture and the American Farmer: Opportunities for US Leadership

In Global Agriculture and the American Farmer, Kimberly Elliott focuses on three policy areas that are particularly damaging for developing countries: traditional agricultural subsidy and trade policies that support the incomes of American farmers at the expense of farmers elsewhere; the biofuels mandate, which in its current form can contribute to market volatility while doing little if anything to mitigate climate change; and weak regulation of antibiotic use in livestock, which contributes to the global spread of drug-resistant super bugs. While noting that broad reforms are needed to fix these problems, Elliott also identifies practical steps that US policymakers could take in the relatively short run to improve farm policies—for American taxpayers and consumers as well as for the poor and vulnerable in developing countries.

June 21, 2017

Measuring Rents from Public Employment: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Kenya - Working Paper 457

Public employees in many developing economies earn much higher wages than similar private-sector workers. These wage premia may reflect an efficient return to effort or unobserved skills, or an inefficient rent causing labor misallocation. To distinguish these explanations, we exploit the Kenyan government’s algorithm for hiring eighteen-thousand new teachers in 2010 in a regression discontinuity design. Fuzzy regression discontinuity estimates yield a civil-service wage premium of over 100 percent (not attributable to observed or unobserved skills), but no effect on motivation, suggesting rent-sharing as the most plausible explanation for the wage premium.

Nicholas Barton , Tessa Bold and Justin Sandefur
June 20, 2017

“The Evidence” About “What Works” in Education: Graphs to Illustrate External Validity and Construct Validity

Currently, the bulk of the new empirical work on estimating the impact on learning of various education projects/ programmes/policies, while based on sound principles of estimating causal impacts, is far too inadequately theorised and specified to be of much immediate and direct use in formulating effective action to accelerate learning. The RISE research agenda is moving forward by: (a) embedding research into a prior diagnostic of the overall system, (b) evaluating on-going attempts at education reform at scale, (c) specifying the details of programme/project/policy design, and (d) acknowledging that policy relevant learning is itself part of the system.

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