Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

 

Shaking Up the Donor Shakedown at the World Bank

1/7/14

The World Bank should declare the IDA-17 replenishment its last and move to replace it with a broader bank resource review. Sticking with the status quo risks an underfunded institution and one that is increasingly isolated from its shareholders (yes, that would be a bad thing).

Let the People Go: The Problem with Strict Migration Limits

12/17/13

Originally published in Foreign Affairs. 

On May 29, 2013, British immigration officers raided the Alternative Tuck Shop, a café just down the road from Oxford University’s economics department, where South Asian and Middle Eastern employees serve tea, scones, and sandwiches. The agents seized two young men, one from Bangladesh and one from Algeria, under suspicion of working in the United Kingdom without authorization. And they shuttered the business temporarily, meaning that hungry Oxford economists would have to walk farther down Holywell Street for their midday panini.

Here’s the Best Thing the United States Has Done in Afghanistan

10/15/13

Afghanistan’s progress against mortality reflects the success of providing health aid that differed radically from the bulk of American aid to Afghanistan during the war. The USAID program that contributed to the decline was a multilateral effort coordinated by Afghanistan’s own Ministry of Public Health. Results were verified by random sampling, and some funding was linked to measures of performance. This internal policy experiment, however, was destined to provoke resistance. More surprising is the source of resistance to an aid program that attempted to stop simply throwing money at a problem and focus on building sustainable systems: auditors.

A UN Declaration on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

8/13/13

In 2000, the UN General Assembly endorsed the Millennium Declaration, a statement that provided the source and inspiration for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The effects of the declaration—and the MDGs—are difficult to measure, but it certainly framed important global discussions about development.

In 2015, the UN’s world leaders will likely agree to a new set of goals to follow the Millennium Declaration. In this essay, Charles Kenny proposes that—instead of getting bogged down hammering out details of how to measure progress—the UN craft a new consensus statement to replace the Millennium Declaration. Kenny proposes such a statement in the pages that follow and provides commentary in the margins.

Thinking Through When the World Bank Should Fund Coal Projects

7/12/13

The World Bank should be ambitious in working toward clean energy approaches in its development strategies, but it would be a mistake to definitively rule out coal in all circumstances. Such a decision would be bad for development and would also undermine the very goals that the bank’s coal critics espouse by further pitting developing and developed countries against each other in the climate debate occurring within the bank. The key challenges are to identify the relevant development needs related to coal-fired generation, to define the role of the bank, and to elaborate guidelines to direct decisions. In this essay, we discuss the broad issues and then summarize what the guidelines likely would mean in practice.

The Moral Imperative toward Cost-Effectiveness in Global Health

3/11/13
Toby Ord

In this essay, Toby Ord explores the moral relevance of cost-effectiveness, a major tool for capturing the relationship between resources and outcomes, by illustrating what is lost in moral terms for global health when cost-effectiveness is ignored.

Overselling Broadband: A Critique of the Recommendation of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development

12/8/11

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development is an ITU (UN International Telecommunications Union) and UNESCO–backed body set up to advocate for greater broadband access worldwide. The commission’s Declaration of Broadband Inclusion for All and other reports call for governments to support ubiquitous fixed broadband access as a vital tool for economic growth and to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Examining the evidence, however, shows that the benefits of broadband are being oversold. Several points stand out: (i) the evidence for a large positive economic impact of broadband is limited; (ii) the impact of broadband rollout on achieving the MDGs would be marginal;(iii) there is little evidence ubiquitous broadband is needed for ‘national competitiveness’ or to benefit from opportunities like business process outsourcing; (iv) the costs of fixed universal broadband rollout dwarf available resources in developing countries; (and so) (v) the case for government subsidy of fixed broadband rollout is very weak. There are, however, some worthwhile policy reforms that could speed broadband rollout without demanding significant government expenditure.

Where Is the Virtue in the Middle Class?

11/11/11

It is widely agreed that the middle class is vital to progress because of its many virtues, but defining middle class in any meaningful way is difficult. And survey evidence suggests the middle class is not culturally unique, particularly socially progressive, or entrepreneurial.

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