Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


Each year the Center for Global Development hosts more than 80 public and invitation-only events. These events range from private roundtables to small seminars to book launches and other large public forums. The Center continues to host two popular on-going event series, the CGD Invited Research Forum (formerly the Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminars) and Global Development Matters, our summer movie night series. If you would like more information about CGD events or are interested in renting our conference space, please send us an e-mail. You can subscribe to an RSS feed of upcoming events, and view our event photo archives on flickr.

Social Origins of Dictatorships: Elite Networks and Political Transitions in Haiti


Existing theories of coups against democracies emphasize elite coup plotters’ motivations in terms of what they stand to gain from dictatorship and the threat of democracy to their interests. But holding interests constant, some potential plotters, by the nature of their social networks, have much more influence over whether or not a coup succeeds. Lauren Young, and her coauthors James Robinson and Suresh Naidu, develop a model of elite social networks and show that coup participation of elites is increasing in their network centrality, as is the extent to which they receive rents from a dictatorship.

Using an original dataset they constructed, the authors show that highly central families are more likely to be involved in importing and are more likely to participate in the 1991 coup against the democratic Aristide government. Additionally, they find that the retail prices of the staple goods imported by coup participators differentially increase during subsequent periods of non-democracy and that urban children born during periods of non-democracy are more likely to experience adverse health outcomes.

The Pace of Poverty Reduction


How much can poverty be reduced by growth and how much by redistribution? Existing analyses of that question have been limited by inaccurate estimates of current and forecasted poverty rates, based on excessive optimism regarding the impact of growth on poverty in richer countries. Richard Bluhm will discuss a new framework for estimating and projecting poverty rates based on two new papers coauthored with Denis de Crombrugghe and Adam Szirmai.

The two papers highlight four key findings. First, the new modeling approach reveals that the relationship between average incomes and poverty is considerably weaker in richer regions and stronger in poorer regions than previous studies suggest. Second, the findings imply a much larger role of inequality in driving poverty rates. Third, the projections show that the pace of $1.25-a-day poverty reduction will slow down. Optimistic scenarios suggest a poverty rate of 8–9 percent in 2030, far short of the World Bank’s new target of 3 percent by 2030. Finally, rapid progress of $2-a-day poverty reduction will likely be maintained, with an additional one billion people crossing that line by 2030.

Guns, Drugs, and Military Aid: Exploring Unintended Effects of US Policy in Latin America


The last ten years have seen escalating violence south of the US border. The violence manifests in different forms and intensity levels, and affects Mexico, Central America, and several countries in South America. Politicians and pundits debate the appropriate role for US policy in combating this trend, but data-driven research is scarce and many questions remain. What do leading academic researchers find about the effects of US policy on violence in Latin America and the indirect effects of US efforts to combat arms and drug trafficking on public health, migration, public security, and development? What do researchers know that policymakers should know, and what priorities should drive future research aimed at informing policy decisions?

To address these questions, the Center for Global Development has created the Beyond the Fence Study Group . Beyond the Fence includes many of the preeminent scholars investigating the relationship between drugs, crime, violence, trade, and migration. The panelists will discuss ongoing, leading-edge research on the ripple effects of US policy in Latin America, key findings from this work, and point to areas where future research is needed. After a brief, moderated discussion, the panelists will field questions from the audience. Registration begins at 12:00 p.m. and a light lunch will be provided.

Hospital Collaborative for Emerging Markets: Consultation Session


Despite their centrality to health systems, hospital policy and performance in low- and middle-income countries has largely been neglected by health policymakers and the development community. This session will introduce for the first time a proposed Collaborative for Hospital Performance in Emerging Economies, which aims to improve the performance of hospitals in emerging markets and promote their integration in the broader health delivery system. Discussants will briefly explain the concept and underlying research, and solicit input from participants. The session welcomes a diverse audience including researchers, private sector stakeholders, hospital managers, practitioners and policy makers, particularly from low- and middle-income countries.

Generating Accountability for People-Centered Health Systems: Strategies and Lessons from Think Tanks


Independent policy research organizations – or think tanks – play a potentially important role in translating evidence to action, lending both technical expertise and an objective evidence base to help strengthen policy behind people-centered health systems in the developing world. This panel will highlight successful and less successful efforts by think tanks around the world to bridge the gap between health systems research and policy impact, with emphasis on tried and tested strategies as well as “bloopers” that unite researchers, activists, practitioners and policy-makers and can be utilized in a variety of settings. Panelists will describe a specific experience and debate the issues related to driving a research agenda from concept to conclusion to policy impact, highlighting what worked – and what didn’t – along the way.