Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

A Social Impact Bond without the Impact? Critics Question Success of Early Childhood Development Program

The most essential feature of a social impact bond (SIB) is measuring impact. But what happens if the impact metric is questioned or unclear? A recent dispute over measuring the impact of a SIB for early childhood development in Utah yields two important practical lessons for this innovative financing tool. First, SIB implementers should be careful not to exaggerate the precision of their success indicators. Second, they need to be clear to everyone about which objectives they are pursuing.

Opportunity Knocks: Paying for Results at the Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the newest funding source to address climate change in developing countries. With $10 billion in pledges – and $5 billion committed to mitigation – the GCF is at a critical juncture because its Board is considering the rules and protocols it will follow when it pays for results. We believe the GCF can learn a lot from existing results-based aid agreements and the state of REDD+ finance (summarized in the forthcoming report of a CGD Working Group) which demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of pay for results approaches.

The World Bank Keeps Missing Opportunities to Save Lives and Mobilize Domestic Revenues

I have argued that tobacco taxes are the single best health policy that any country could implement. The World Bank is the most prominent organization in the world with the skills, mandate, and network to support raising tobacco taxes in developing countries where the number of smokers and shortened lives is increasing every year. Yet, the World Bank has committed far too little to this effort. One of the key reasons is that World Bank management has let this best-buy for development fall between the cracks – tobacco is a health issue and taxes are a fiscal policy issue.

Strange Football: Education Programs Rarely Keep Score

“Is learning the only result worth financing in education?” That was the question posed to me at a recent World Bank debate about results-based financing in education. The question is germane because the World Bank has a large program of results-based financing in health and a new modality of Program for Results lending operations, and it is negotiating a new trust fund for performance programs in education. 

The Evaluation Gap Is Closing, But Not Closed

Recently, I sent out the final Evaluation Gap Update – a newsletter about impact evaluations and the institutions that fund them, implement them, or are supposed to be influenced by them. After 10 years, it seemed the right time to move on to other projects, particularly since numerous other resources have sprung up over this decade (many listed below!). Yet there is pushback on the growth of impact evaluations that sometimes worries me. I hear people say too many impact evaluations are being conducted (despite the need for the information they provide).

Funders Worry About “Double Counting” – but What About “Double Demanding”?

In the world of international aid, performance payments are a hot topic. But when it comes to signing performance payment agreements, most funders have been reticent. One of the reasons is a fear of “Double Counting” – paying once for investments to achieve outcomes and a second time when the outcomes are delivered. This concern ignores the complexity of achieving development goals and the intangible assets invested by recipient countries. When funders do agree to performance agreements, they end up ignoring the burden on recipients of “Double Demanding” – disbursing when outcomes are achieved and then setting restrictions on the use of those funds. All this confusion gets in the way of designing effective aid programs.

Research So Clear, You Can See Right Through It?

Creating an evidence base requires good research, but how can we know if evidence is strong or weak … or even misleading? The process by which researchers conduct, document, and share their work is essential to winnowing out weak studies and to improving, honing and disseminating strong ones. At the risk of taking the metaphor too far – can we make research so transparent that anyone can see right through it?

Pages