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Bill Easterly weighs in about possible pitfalls in the Gates-Buffett merger in Sunday's Washington Post. A central message: It's not about how much, but how -- how money from the outside, whether private or public, can translate into better health, education, employment and other long-sought aims in low-income countries. Finding out how is harder in foreign aid than in commercial enterprise, and development agencies and advocates have been all too ready to think of the amount of money spent, rather than real-world impact, as the indicator of success. Easterly's injunction to the philanthropists: "Your challenge -- much harder in foreign aid than in business -- is to find out if your final customers are satisfied." The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other far-sighted organizations, can do just that if they pair their spending on "doing" with investments in rigorous evaluation.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.