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Legal empowerment of the poor, education, Africa, evaluating aid effectiveness
Justin Sandefur is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and the co-director of CGD’s education program. Prior to joining CGD, he spent two years as an adviser to Tanzania's national statistics office and worked as a research officer at Oxford University's Centre for the Study of African Economies. His research focuses on a wide range of topics, including education, poverty reduction, legal reform, and democratic governance.
While I think it's silly to argue we spend too much on girls' education, perhaps it's reasonable to ask whether a concern with gender equality and a cold hard look at recent data would lead anyone to put their marginal dollar into girls' schooling over, say, campaigning for gender quotas (which seem to work well in Indian politics, at least) or even subsidized childcare (which has boosted female labor force participation in Latin America).
Teachers in poor countries earn far more, in relative terms, than teachers in the OECD—and several recent studies suggest their pay isn’t linked to skills or performance. But we also have growing evidence that high-quality teachers generate huge economic returns. The question is how to ensure high pay attracts high quality.
Reasonable people can disagree about the usefulness of the World Bank’s country rankings. But after the Chief Economist resigned amidst a controversy about the index, the Bank has made a number of misleading claims, including defending numbers in the press that its researchers have quietly repudiated.
While Modi has celebrated India’s rapid rise in the Doing Business rankings, the World Bank’s Chief Economist recently resigned amid controversy over methodological changes. Without those changes, India’s “jump” in the rankings looks much more modest.
On top of 63 million missing women, a new report from the Indian government reveals an even more pervasive pattern of sexism in recent demographic data—hinting at persistent patriarchal preferences impervious to India's economic boom.
On Wednesday, Angus Deaton published an op-ed in the New York Times that paints a compelling picture of the depth of poverty in America, and the need for more money and more policy attention to fix it. It's a sobering read, and we strongly agree that America’s most destitute deserve far more support. But in comparing US poverty to poverty in developing countries, we think he’s got his numbers wrong.
After one year, public schools managed by private contractors in Liberia raised student learning by 60 percent, compared to standard public schools. But costs were high, performance varied across contractors, and contracts authorized the largest contractor to push excess pupils and underperforming teachers onto other government schools.
Across multiple African countries, discrepancies between administrative data and independent household surveys suggest official statistics systematically exaggerate development progress. We provide evidence for two distinct explanations of these discrepancies.
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.