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.
Keynote Rebeca Grynspan, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations and Associate Administrator, United Nations Development Programme
Session I: The Ins and Outs of Inequality Measures Nancy Birdsall, Center for Global Development Alex Cobham, Center for Global Development James Foster, George Washington University Nora Lustig, Tulane University Martin Ravallion, Georgetown University Moderator: Lawrence MacDonald, Center for Global Development
Session II: Measuring Inequality: Policy Practitioners’ Views Andrew Berg, International Monetary Fund Santiago Levy, Inter-American Development Bankt Richard Morgan, United Nations Children's Fund Paul O’Brien, Oxfam America Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Moderator: Lawrence MacDonald, Center for Global Development
Remarks by Nancy Birdsall, Center for Global Development
The gap between the richest and poorest countries -- and people -- not only persists, it is getting larger. In developing countries in particular, inequality is frequently economically destructive, interacting with underdeveloped markets and ineffective government programs to slow growth – which in turn slows progress in reducing poverty.
This CGD conference brought together technical experts and policymakers to consider the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches to measuring and understanding inequality—and the potential application of these measures in setting national and global policy targets, including within the United Nations post-2015 development goals. It is intended as a substantive, technical contribution to the ongoing debate about what measures of inequality are useful in what settings, and how to include these in national and international policy goals.
The event included two panels: the first comprised of experts on measurement approaches and issues; and a second panel of individuals drawn from development institutions, governments, and civil society.
In a recent paper, Kate Ambler and coauthors studied the impact of one-season cash transfers for agricultural investment in Senegal and Malawi, using data from a randomized control trial (RCT) in each country. They found evidence that transfers reduced both the number of decision makers and female decision making in Senegal in the short-run, particularly for measures directly related to agriculture. However, the effects disappeared two years after the transfers. Conversely, the authors find transfers in the Malawi program led to robust transitory increases in these measures, seeing a greater impact related to the number of decision makers in the household persisting after two year period. Join us for the latest CGD Invited Research Forum to discuss these opposing findings on the effects of cash transfers on household decision making.
Indian agriculture remains vulnerable to the vagaries of weather, and the looming threat of climate change may expose this vulnerability further. Using district-level data on temperature, rainfall and crop production, Siddharth Hari’s paper first documents a long-term trend of rising temperatures, declining average precipitation and increase in extreme precipitation events. One key finding is that the impact of temperature and rainfall are felt only in the extreme: when temperatures are much higher, rainfall is significantly lower, and the number of “dry days” greater is than normal. He also finds that these impacts are significantly more adverse in unirrigated areas (and hence rainfed crops) compared to irrigated areas. Can policy makers react to the challenges of climate change and find ways to get “more crop for every drop?"
Estimating intergenerational mobility in developing countries is difficult because matched parent-child income records are rarely available and education is measured very coarsely. In particular, there are no established methods for comparing educational mobility for subsamples of the population when the education distribution is changing over time.
In their recent paper, Sam Asher and coauthors present new methods and new administrative data to overcome this gap, and study intergenerational mobility across groups and across space in India. They find that the intergenerational mobility for the population as a whole has remained constant since liberalization, but cross-group changes have been substantial. Rising mobility among historically marginalized "Scheduled Castes" is almost exactly offset by declining intergenerational mobility among Muslims, a comparably sized group that has few constitutional protections. These findings contest the conventional wisdom that marginalized groups in India have been catching up on average. The paper also explores heterogeneity across space, generating the first high-resolution geographic measures of intergenerational mobility across India, with results across 5600 rural subdistricts and 2300 cities and towns.