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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 (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. 

World Bank Presidents, Ranked: From McNamara to Kim

The United States is pushing to re-elect the World Bank’s twelfth consecutive American president. Does he deserve another term? Both lending growth and project performance at the Bank appear weak by historical standards, but evaluating a bank with no profit motive is inherently difficult.

The Parable of the Visiting Impact Evaluation Expert

Visitans Perito works at the World Bank as an education specialist, and has just set off on a two week mission to the country of Peripheria, a poor, land-locked former Soviet Republic in Central Asia, about which he knows very little, except that everyone seems to agree it has a totally dysfunctional public school system.

Recognizing and Rewarding the Best Development Professionals

This blog post is co-authored with Martin Ravallion, who has been the Director of the World Bank’s Development Economics Research Group for several years and is currently Acting Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the Bank. The blog is cross-posted on the World Bank site here.

These days there is a lot of discussion within development organizations and governments across the globe (including the World Bank) about how to assure a greater emphasis on development impact. It would no doubt help if senior management gave stronger verbal signals on the ultimate goals of the institution, and more actively supported staff to attain those goals. But such “low-powered incentives” have been tried before, and the problems seem to persist.

B-Span and a Broader Vision of Public Information from the World Bank

This is a joint post with Michele de Nevers.

The World Bank’s expanding public information mandate is the focus of Stephanie Strom’s excellent article in Saturday’s New York Times. During Robert Zoellick’s tenure as the Bank’s president, he has promoted free public access to databases that formerly required a paid subscription, such as the World Development Indicators, or were simply unavailable (such as detailed information on the location, design, objectives and performance of Bank projects). We have no doubt that this excellent initiative will be a boon to development analysts and scholars worldwide.

Zoellick Annual Meeting Speech on Research!

The most important thing about Robert Zoellick’s speech at Georgetown yesterday is that the president of the World Bank gave a speech about research – development economics research, that is --  in the run-up to the Bank’s annual meeting.

Free Access to the Data You Paid For

The World Bank announced this week that it will providing “free, open and easy access to World Bank statistics and indicators about development.” It is an important step for the Bank. First and foremost because it will facilitate more research and better-informed writing about development issues; but also because it recognizes that this kind of information is exactly the kind of public good that the World Bank should be producing.