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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.


More on the Definition of ODA: Proper Credit for Credits

CGD’s recent publication of my paper on improving the statistical definition of Official Development Assistance (ODA) brought me into contact with several people involved with the ongoing review of this issue. (For the history of that process see my previous post.) Those conversations have stimulated my thinking. They have also helped me appreciate that among the questions in play, the hottest is how to count loans in ODA—where “hot” is some blend of complicated and controversial.

I wrote about loans in my last post. But I focused on arguing against factoring the probability of default into the assessed financial value of a loan. Here, I’ll explain some other loan-related recommendations. In another post, I’ll talk about other questions.

The Crisis in Official Development Assistance (ODA) Statistics: Needed Revamp Would Lift Japan, Lower France

Not to be melodramatic, but the official system for counting foreign aid is in crisis. The longstanding mathematical rule determining whether a loan’s interest rate is low enough to qualify it as aid has gone out of sync with the times. The rule’s benchmark interest rate of 10% per year was reasonable when adopted in 1972, but not now. Today, wealthy governments can borrow below 3%, lend a couple percent higher, come in well under the 10% bar, and count the potentially profitable lending as aid.

Should Development RCTs Be Blind? Not So Fast

Proponents of the use of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in impact evaluation and development research often point out the close link between these trials and their clinical counterparts in the world of medical research. 

Post 2015: Ownership in All the Wrong Places

With the Sustainable Development Goals Working Group busy in New York trying to whittle down its areas of interest into a plausible list of targets, two issues of ‘goal ownership’ have come to the fore.  First, everyone seems very keen the goals should be universal but ‘country-owned’ — this is the excuse for all of the Xs in the High Level Panel Report (“Cover X% of people who are poor and vulnerable with social protection systems,” for example).  Such Xs should be decided at the country level, they suggest.

Two DIB Pilots Will Test New Development Partnerships

If one thing was clear at the first High Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, it’s that the 1500 people in attendance— representing the governments of developing, emerging and rich countries, multilateral institutions, business, philanthropy, and civil society—were not interested in how aid can be delivered more effectively from rich to poor countries but how the wide and growing range of actors who contribute to development can work together more effectively.