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Views from the Center

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How 28 Poor Countries Escaped the Poverty Trap

This is a joint post with Charles Kenny

Zambia and Ghana are the 27th and 28th countries the World Bank has reclassified as middle-income since the year 2000

Doctors perform cataract surgery at the Lusaka Eye Hospital in Zambia. It's inexpensive and it changes people's lives instantly, so it's a good example of how just a little bit more money can make a huge difference to the world's poorest people. Photograph: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images

Remember the poverty trap? Countries stuck in destitution because of weak institutions put in place by colonial overlords, or because of climates that foster disease, or geographies that limit access to global markets, or simply by the fact that poverty is overwhelmingly self-perpetuating. Apparently the trap can be escaped.

The United States Can Give Better Aid to Haiti

This commentary also appeared on The Huffington Post and Global Post

Last week at a United Nations conference, donors pledged more than $10 billion to finance reconstruction and development investments in Haiti. The United States promised a hefty $1.15 billion.

But pledging money is the easy part. The United States, the lead donor and friend with the greatest interest in Haiti's future development, can do much more, in two ways: its own aid programs can be more effective; and it can take steps beyond aid that are far more critical to long-run prosperity for Haiti's people.

Controversy over World Bank trade & poverty estimates

Three years ago the World Bank said that freeing international trade of all barriers and subsidies would lift 320 million people above the $2 a day poverty line by 2015. But new World Bank projections emphasizing $1 a day poverty and based on new data and methods put the number at just 32 million people. CGD/IIE Senior Fellow William R. Cline, author of Trade Policy and Global Poverty, has been examining the Bank's new calculations and argues that the first estimate was closer to the truth.

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