Ideas to Action:

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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.

 

Nancy Birdsall to Deliver Kapuscinski Development Lecture in Berlin

On February 23, CGD President Nancy Birdsall will deliver the first Kapuscinski Development Lecture of 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Her lecture, “The New Middle Class in the Developing World: Does It Matter?” will take a hard look at what it means to be middle class in developing countries and explore the role of strugglers, the rapidly expanding group of people caught between extreme poverty and the middle class.

Will SCOTUS Ruling on EPA’s Clean Power Plan Derail Paris Agreement?

Last Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court decided, by a 5 to 4 vote, to allow states to temporarily stop preparing to implement the Obama administration's signature regulation for cutting greenhouse gas emissions until a series of lawsuits against the rules have been decided.  This casts uncertainty on climate policy actions both in the U.S. and internationally, as many developing countries are only willing to take climate action if the US shows leadership.

Malawi Can’t Afford Evidence-Free Tax Campaigns

Over the past couple of weeks Malawi has become the latest poster child for UK campaigns arguing that changes to the international tax system can deliver outsize returns for development. Specifically, Action Aid is calling on the UK government to renegotiate a 60-year-old tax treaty. Questions were also raised about this issue in the House of Commons.

The World Bank’s Poverty Statistics Lack Median Income Data, So We Filled In the Gap Ourselves — Download Available

PovcalNet, the World Bank’s global poverty database, provides all kinds of country statistics, including mean income, the share (and number) of the population living in absolute poverty ($1.90), the poverty gap and several measures of income inequality, such as the Gini coefficient. But one thing it doesn’t provide is median income or consumption. The median is a better measure of “typical” well-being than the mean, which is always skewed to the right.

We’ve been waiting for the World Bank to add these medians to its PovcalNet database, but we got impatient and did it ourselves. By manually running a few hundred queries in PovcalNet, we now have (and can share with you) the latest median income/consumption data for 144 countries (using 2011 PPPs — more on our methods below).

El Niño vs El Tío: What’s Causing Food Insecurity in Southern Africa?

The UN’s World Food Program now estimates that some three million Zimbabweans, or roughly one-quarter of the population, may require food aid this year. Zimbabwe is suffering from erratic rainfall this year, blamed in large part on the El Niño weather phenomena. An estimated 70% of Zimbabweans rely on agriculture, so the impact on poverty and human welfare will no doubt be severe. But in reading about Zimbabwe’s current predicament, something struck me:  neighboring Zambia seems to have no urgent food aid requirements.

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