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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.

 

The monument to an anonymous reviewer in Moscow

A Better Process for Better Evidence: My Review of Open Review

Peer review is an important part of establishing the credibility and quality of research, yet it has been controversial since its inception. My recent experience with a relatively new approach which publishes reviewers’ comments along with their names—open peer review—led me to reflect on the not so subtle ways it altered the way I refereed a paper. I was originally lukewarm to the idea. But after trying it out, thinking on it, and reading a little further, I've decided I'm all for it.

CGD-J-PAL event on measuring women's empowerment

We Can’t Measure Women’s Empowerment the Same Way Everywhere—But Should We Try?

Measuring empowerment is a perennial challenge for those of us evaluating programs targeting women. Last Wednesday’s launch of J-PAL’s new Practical Guide to Measuring Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in Impact Evaluations at CGD was an exciting opportunity be inspired by impact evaluation powerhouse Rachel Glennerster, the former Executive Director of J-PAL and current Chief Economist at DFID, while simultaneously getting a bit discouraged about the quality of existing quantitative measures of empowerment. Here are a few takeaways for economists doing impact evaluations.

The World Bank Now Has Three Poverty Lines. Why Not Three for Energy?

The World Bank now has three benchmarks for measuring poverty. The “headline” extreme poverty threshold of $1.90/day will stay, but two new international poverty lines were added for lower middle-income ($3.20/day) and upper middle-income ($5.50/day) countries. While it’s great that the World Bank is bringing a little more nuance to the way we define poverty, it's still a repackaging of Lant Pritchett’s kinky development.

The (Sometime) Tyranny of (Somewhat) Arbitrary Income Lines

As Lant Pritchett reports, the World Bank has introduced two new poverty lines: $3.20 for lower middle income countries, and $5.50 for upper middle income countries. I’m with Lant that this is broadly a good thing. But the process by which the World Bank came up with its new poverty lines suggests it might be worth revisiting some of the pitfalls of income thresholds at the individual or national level. 

Three Reasons the Spring Meetings Remained Glum—Despite Better Global Economic News

Each year, as ministers gather from all corners of the world for the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Washington DC resounds with a cacophony of differing perspectives on future prospects, like a giant, multinational orchestra tuning up. Yet this time, in both public and private gatherings, with both developed and developing country dignitaries, as well as leading technocrats from the international financial institutions, one refrain kept recurring, defining the mood of the whole symphony. I would summarize it as 'The numbers are looking better, so why don't I feel good about them?'

Getting Kinky with Chickens

“Chickens versus cash” might be the “best investment” for a very narrow question, but I argue it probably isn’t in the top 100 value for money research questions in development economics.

Results Measurement and the Case for Aid

Many in the development community lament that we have failed on two counts: broad audiences don’t know about unprecedented progress in poverty reduction and human development indicators in recent decades, and, if they do know, they don’t see the connection between aid programs and such progress. Despite strongs efforts on the part of development institutions to measure results, it remains hard to articulate them in a way that is compelling to nontechnical audiences—taxpayers who absolutely deserve to understand why and how development dollars are making a difference. 

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