With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
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.
CGD’s work in technology and development focuses on the macroeconomic implications of technology change as well as technological applications for specific development challenges.
Technological advances are a driving force for development. But policy choices determine who benefits. CGD focuses on three key questions around innovation, growth, and inequality: How can governments use existing technologies to deliver services more effectively to citizens? How can international institutions help create and spread new technologies to tackle shared problems like climate change and pandemics? And how can policymakers ensure advances in artificial intelligence, automation, and communications bring shared benefits and not greater global inequality?
Policy makers regularly make decisions for the whole country, but with poor access to the experiences and realities of a large majority of citizens. It is also difficult for them to know whether policies are properly implemented or actually working. Citizens equally do not have an easy way to know what is going on around the country, and to compare their situation with others’.
Until now, the only types of data that have been available to provide insight into national realities are administrative or survey data. Administrative data often suffer from quality issues and survey data are costly in terms of resources and time. At this CGD seminar, Elvis Mushi will talk about Sauti za Wananchi (Voices of Citizens), a new Twaweza initiative that uses mobile phones to regularly collect information from a broad cross-section of Tanzanian citizens. The initiative allows survey data to be gathered quickly and efficiently, at low cost.
Twaweza is a founding member of Feedback Labs, a consortium of nine philanthropic and international development organizations committed to making governments, NGOs and donors more responsive to the needs of their constituents.
This podcast was originally recorded in March 2011. Development is easy, right? All poor countries have to do is mimic the things that work in rich countries and they’ll evolve into fully functional states. If only it were that simple. My guest this week is Lant Pritchett, a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development and chair of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Master’s program in international development. His latest work looks at how the basic functions of government fail to improve in some developing countries (a dynamic he defines as a “state capability trap”). Part of the problem, says Lant, is that donors often insist on transplanting institutions that work in developed countries into environments where those institutions don’t fit at all.
In the wake of Zimbabwe’s disputed reelection of Robert Mugabe, it is alleged that dead voters accounted for one-third of the voter rolls, that 63 constituencies had more registered voters than actual inhabitants even though 2 million potential voters under 30 went unregistered. The elections have left many asking if biometrics are the future of voting.
What exactly is privacy? As Bob Gellman points out in his new CGD paper, the concept changes from place to place. Scandinavian countries have strict privacy laws, but tax returns are public; the United States has no broad privacy laws, but tax returns are shield from public scrutiny. In some European countries, nude sunbathing is common; in some Muslim countries, women typically appear in public wearing garments that cover the body from head to feet. That’s all to say that privacy—and efforts to protect it—depend on context.
Biometric identification systems that are in place or under consideration in many countries present significant privacy consequences principally relating to information privacy or data protection. This paper discusses personal privacy in the context of the adoption of biometric identification systems.
We evaluate the impact of a health information intervention implemented through mobile phones, using a clustered randomized control trial augmented by qualitative interviews. The intervention aimed to improve sexual health knowledge and shift individuals towards safer sexual behavior by providing reliable information about sexual health. The novel technology designed by Google and Grameen Technology Center provided automated searches of an advice database on topics requested by users via SMS. It was offered by MTN Uganda at no cost to users.
Jenny Aker and co-authors present the results of a field experiment implemented in Mozambique based on three interventions providing information to voters and calling for their participation in the elections: an SMS civic education campaign centered on the elections, an SMS hotline to which citizens were able to report electoral misconduct, and the distribution of a free newspaper door-to-door focusing on voter education.