Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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.

 

Cape Town at morning rush hour

Anarchy Undelivered

Twenty-five years ago, travel writer and journalist Robert Kaplan wrote an article for The Atlantic, headlined “The Coming Anarchy.” It was an apocalyptic account of Kaplan’s visit to West Africa and his dark vision that much of the world would end up looking like war-torn Sierra Leone. Kaplan suggested recently that he thought “The Coming Anarchy” had stood the test of time. I disagree, and think the fact that Kaplan was wrong matters: global jeremiads are a force for isolationism. I discussed why with The Atlantic’s Matthew Peterson on a new podcast.  

 
CSAE conference topics

What’s the Latest Economics Research on Africa? A Round-up from the Center for the Study of African Economies 2019 Conference

Last week’s annual Center for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) conference brought together researchers from the African continent and around the world for the presentation of nearly 300 papers about nearly every aspect of African societies, from agriculture to education to firms to health to trade. Here I provide a micro-summary of almost every paper presented at the conference.

Exaggerating Multinational Tax Avoidance Does Not Help Africa

Matti Kohonen of Christian Aid holds out the enticing prospect that African countries could collect an additional 1.5 percent of gross domestic product in tax if only big multinationals would stop dodging. The problem is that this estimate is (still) based on wishful thinking. Multinational corporations should pay tax, but the scale of potential revenues depend on underlying levels of investment and profitability in a country. 

Stock photo of oil pumpjacks

How Can Countries Escape the Natural Resource Curse? Answer: Democracy

How can countries escape the natural resource curse? And to what extent do cohesive and democratic institutions facilitate this process? In a new CGD working paper, we look at Nigeria—often seen as the prime example of a country cursed by its wealth. We show that when political institutions are cohesive and power is shared among the diverse groups in a multi-ethnic society, political contests over resource revenues are less likely to be violent. What produces cohesive institutions? Democratic elections.

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