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.


Is Your Impact Evaluation Asking Questions That Matter? A Four Part Smell Test

In 2006 I was in West Bengal with a World Bank team and was asking questions of a group of women about a “livelihoods” program that built and financed women’s self-help groups as a means of increasing women’s productivity and incomes.  After asking them questions for an hour or so I asked them if they had any questions for me or the team—after all, they had been so gracious to answer our nosey questions we would be rude to not allow them to ask us anything they wanted to know.  After an awkward silence, one woman said “You all are from countries

A Development Agenda without Developing Countries? The Politics of Penurious Poverty Lines (Part I)

“Dollar a day” poverty morphed from a technical curiosity that interests at most a few dozen technocrats to the first of the Millennium Development Goals. It is now one of only two corporate goals of the World Bank (in spite of its obvious inconsistency with the World Bank’s own Articles of Agreement).  And , according to a recent (August 18, 2014) missive from Rajiv Shah, the head of USAID “political momentum” is “build[ing] to make the end of extreme poverty central to the post-2015 Development Agenda.”

Another Good Reason to Dislike Low-Bar Global Poverty Lines

Angus Deaton said he didn’t mind poverty analysis as long as the poverty line is infinity.  Stevenson and Wolfers (2013) assemble the array of survey based measures of subjective well- being (SWB), such as “life satisfaction” or “happiness” and search for income satiation.

Unboiling the Frog: Can the World Bank Legally Adopt “Ending Extreme Poverty” as a Goal?

The World Bank loves to talk about the importance of “good governance” and “strong institutions” and “rule of law” as keys to development success.  Presumably that means that organizations are managed in accordance to their own legal procedures.  The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the primus inter pares of the many units under the World Bank group umbrella (IDA, IFC, MIGA) has an agreed upon Articles of Agreement.  Article One is worth reproducing in its entirety: 

What If 'Grade' Means Nothing? (Part I)

The next few posts on education are a bit unusual, in a good way I hope, but unusual entrants into the blogosphere.  As part of the CGD initiative on education in the developing world and the pivot from schooling to learning, we are going to post links to and discussions of some of the new empirical evidence that is emerging.  However,  the new evidence on learning trajectories--the gains in skills/capabilities/knowledge as students progress through grades--both requires some common background and, to my view, challenges some of the fundamental assumptions about the schooling