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When opportunities for corrupt earnings rise, is there more corruption? This fundamental question is the subject of new, frontier-pushing research by two young stars of development economics: CGD alumnus Sandip Sukhtankar and his co-author Paul Niehaus.
Professor Dani Rodrik will be at CGD on Thursday, giving the annual Sabot lecture. He will be speaking on African growth, and will likely discuss premature de-industrialization, a topic he first raised in this blog post and has written about subsequently.
According to current estimates, some 10,000 people have been killed in the Philippines by super-typhoon Haiyan, 620,000 displaced, and over 9 million affected. Emergency relief and reconstruction assistance will be required on a large scale and for an extended period – perhaps more frequently in future years as climate change leads to an increase in extreme weather events.
Low-cost private schools are popping up rapidly in many parts of the developing world, especially India where even in rural areas 28% of students attend private schools. Should governments be supporting these schools as a cheap way to boost learning for the poor? Or is privatization reducing equity and undermining public institutions? A year ago I participated in a somewhat heated online debate on this topic, see here and here.
This United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is heading into the tenth and possibly last year of office, a tenure whose crowning achievement might well be the Food Security Bill. One may fault this government for incompetence, corruption, and delayed action but it cannot be faulted for lacking a vision. There has been an overarching idea that underlies many of its economic policies: namely, that the poor and underprivileged in society must be empowered by conferring them with new rights - to work, education, food, and presumably, all basic needs.
Earlier this year, Nancy Birdsall and I laid out why India’s new cash transfer program is superior to current in-kind subsidy programs on which the government spends $26 billion a year with no discernible impact on poverty. While not a panacea, the new program has a lot going for it – cash transfers have been shown to work for poverty reduction in many settings, the program uses a biometrics-based system to identify beneficiaries and process payments, and the country has experience in implementing similar programs like the JSY – a cash transfer conditional on a facility birth.
On April 1, the Indian Supreme Court rejected the attempt by Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, to patent a new version of the leukemia drug Glivec. The latest verdict follows previous rulings that granted compulsory licenses to an Indian generic drug manufacturer for a kidney cancer drug (Nexavar) patented by Bayer. Five important questions are raised by these rulings.
The Washington Post reported yesterday that India will, starting Jan 1st in 51 districts, pay cash directly into the accounts of poor families as it begins unraveling its convoluted web of food, fuel and other subsidies. India’s been toying with this idea for a while, so it’s good news that it’ll finally kick-off in the New Year. Many others will be watching.
For global producers of consumer products, the rise of a middle class in India is great news. Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and IKEA have all recently announced they will move into the Indian market. The Swedish furniture maker plans to invest up to €1.5 billion over the next 15 to 20 years. A growing and more economically secure middle class in a country that, for all its troubles, is expected to continue to grow at a healthy if not torrid pace, ensures a healthy consumer market for years to come.