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Although President Obama will be plenty busy during the remainder of his first term working with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, he need not wait until the start of his second term to further his vision for making US policy more supportive of global poverty reduction.
We are at the start of what promises to be an unusually difficult year in the global economy. Policy decisions in the United States and other rich world countries will matter immensely for poor and vulnerable people living in developing countries.
We at CGD warmly welcome president-elect Barack Obama's appointments of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of Treasury and Lawrence Summers to head the National Economic Council. Both are members of the CGD Board of Directors. This is no coincidence.
The BBC reports that European donors have unveiled a US$6 billion aid package for West Africa to "help halt the emigration of young people from the region," by creating "a Francophone West African bloc so prosperous no one will want to leave."
Yesterday the New York Times profiled Lant Pritchett and sketched his proposal to create 16 million guest-worker jobs in rich countries for people from poor countries. His goal is to help people from very poor places make their lives better.
The Copenhagen Consensus Project recently asked a group of 24 UN ambassadors and other diplomats to prioritize a list of 40 global development interventions. The US was there. Their interesting report places heath and sanitation on top, with education and hunger somewhat lower. Trade, financial, and environmental policies received lowest priority, due in part to political infeasibility.
Nearly every time there is a news story about the billions of dollars flowing to poor countries as remittances, someone worries that not “enough” of that money is being saved and invested. A case in point is today’s piece in the Washington Post. Latin American workers in the US will send home $45 billion this year, but “only a small portion … has gone to economic development.”
A new paper (pdf) from UNDP is very old wine in a new bottle. It purports to estimate the “cost” of halving poverty in 15 of the poorest African countries. It concludes that aid in the amount of about 13-25% of GDP could cause poverty to be halved there over the next nine short years.