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While income growth has been labeled "the holy grail of development," new analysis from Owen Barder, Lee Robinson, and Euan Ritchie suggests that there is just as much value in focusing on promoting innovation and the spread of technology.
A quarter-century after the empirical growth literature set out to explain why poor countries aren’t catching up with rich ones, cross-country regressions have mercifully gone out of fashion. But in the interim, the core facts have changed.
A small pilot project between the US and Haiti showed that the US could directly and effectively assist Haitian families to earn dignified livelihoods—at negative cost to US taxpayers. That is, the two countries could cooperate for development in a way that actually adds value to the US economy. It did this with short-term work visas.
Amartya Sen’s famous study of famines found that a nation’s people died not because of a food shortage but because some people lacked entitlements to that food. In a new CGD working paper with Chris Hoy, we ask if a similar situation is now the case for global poverty: are national resources available but not being used to end poverty?
After several starts and stops, the Nigerian government has finally removed fuel subsidies, resulting in an overnight price hike of 67 percent. The economic logic of subsidy reform is clear. What’s notable, and potentially problematic, is that the government is planning to use any savings from lifting the fuel subsidy in the regular budget.
Over the weekend, Angus Deaton won the Nobel Prize in economics. The previous weekend, the World Bank announced that the global poverty rate dipped below 10 percent in 2015, for the first time in history. These two announcements have an interesting connection.
There have been numerous estimates of future poverty to 2030 based on projections of growth and inequality that rely on informed assumptions and guess work. With that method, no matter how carefully done, you’re almost certain to get it wrong. So Peter Edward and I decided to do something different: look back at growth and its distribution since 1990 and see what it would have taken to have ended global poverty by now based on the actual data.
You may find the answer surprising, but the most recent data show that the world as a whole is becoming more equal, driven by fast growth rates of China and India and slower growth rates in rich countries. A decrease in the US mean income from 2008 to 2011, for instance, makes global convergence of people’s incomes a lot easier to achieve.
I’m pleased to be on this list of “top economist” signatories of an open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon endorsing the simple idea that economic growth should be the foundation stone on which the other Sustainable Development Goals, especially poverty reduction, are built.