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The capacity for donors to evaluate and learn from development activities is crucial for supporting evidence-based decision-making and ultimately, aid effectiveness. This blog post sets out a new approach to scoring agencies on their evaluation and learning and are keen to get feedback on the proposed approach.
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.
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 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.
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.
Most research starts from wanting to explain the causes of effects. A different approach to research is “x-centric” or “effects of causes,” which is to start from an X that is under some agent’s active control and ask: “What is the impulse response function of Y with respect to purposive variations in X?”
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?'