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CGD in the News

December 28, 2017

A Year In Charts: From Bitcoin To Trump And Chess Playing Robots (Financial Times)

From the article:

...It is always easy to focus on the problems, challenges and threats that surround us, but good news stories tend to develop on a slow burn. Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development and Max Roser of the online publication Our World In Data were asked to nominate ideas and were not short of suggestions. They ranged from the recent fall in the price of solar energy to improvements in child mortality. We chose to highlight the cases of polio worldwide. Since polio is a human-borne virus, it is in principle possible to eradicate it; that goal is now tantalisingly close.

There is, however, a danger in the seductive simplicity of a good chart. Florence Nightingale’s celebrated “coxcomb diagrams” showed the deadly toll of disease in the Crimean war, and the huge gains available from better standards of hospital hygiene. On closer inspection, however, the diagram proves to be an elegant piece of persuasion, highlighting Nightingale’s concerns and obscuring other interpretations. We have tried with these graphs not to persuade but to illuminate.
 

Read full article here.

December 23, 2017

Utah's Top Christmas Lights Displays - Yes, Even Temple Square - Are Using Less Electricity These Days (Salt Lake Tribune)

From the article:
 
Power and prosperity
 
In a worldwide sense, using all that electricity is a marker of wealth and prosperity, according to the Center for Global Development, a Washington, D.C. think tank devoted to eliminating poverty. Americans, as a whole, use more electricity to power Christmas lights than some entire developing nations use in a year, says Todd Moss, a fellow at the center.
 
Residents of Ethiopia in eastern Africa, for example, use just 52 kWh per person per year, according to Moss. If Utahns lit all of those million plus lights they bought from Modern Display for just five hours a day for a month, they will have used more power than 250 Ethiopians in a year.
 
That’s not to say that Utahns should take down their lights, Moss said.
 
“We think it’s amazing and fantastic that people celebrate the holidays with lights,” he said. “It invokes positive things like peace and love and life.”
 
“The point,” he continued, “is that we live in a country where we can afford to put lights on just for celebration.”
 
December 14, 2017

Three Cheers For Bhamashah As It Scores Big On Financial Inclusion, Women Empowerment And Service Delivery (Swarajya)

From the article: 
 
The Government of India’s subsidy bill runs in lakhs of crores. On top of that, there are separate welfare programmes at the state level. Until 2014, the system of subsidy delivery to the poor was poorly managed. It was leaky, inefficient and serving as a vehicle for middleman to make easy moolah. However, things have changed a lot in the last three years. The welfare delivery setup is now transparent and convenient. The government is saving thousands of crores, and the benefits are reaching those for whom it is intended.
 
This transformation was brought about with the help of three elements. Aadhaar – a programme conceived by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government – is one of them. It remained directionless for years and was thought of as another scheme like the population register or the ration card until Prime Minister Narendra Modi came in and turned it into a powerful policy tool by combining it with his Jan Dhan initiative, under which crores of new bank accounts were opened for the poor. Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case where the government’s decision to link Aadhaar with bank accounts is in the dock.
 
Whatever is the judgment of the apex court, the government will eventually have to create a system which protects data and ensures greater privacy. It’s slowly moving in that direction and India’s new data protection regime is taking shape.
 
Meanwhile, the poor are welcoming the new welfare regime. A survey, by the Center for Global Development (CGD), of 633 beneficiaries of Rajasthan government’s Bhamashah scheme proves this to be the case. The scheme’s aim is to spur financial inclusion, promote women empowerment and improve service delivery of welfare schemes.
 
Bhamashah was envisaged by the state government as an umbrella programme to deliver all cash and kind welfare transfers to the poor households. Under the programme, a woman must be the head of the family.
 
Regarding financial inclusion, the CGD survey found that nearly all households now have at least one bank account while the maximum number of those surveyed said there were two bank accounts in their household.
 
December 14, 2017

How The Adoption Of Aadhaar Is Helping India’s Women (QRIUS)

From the article:
 
India’s adoption of its first nationwide identification system is helping empower the country’s women and driving increased use of banking services, according to the first study of the nationwide Aadhaar program.
 
Virtually all homes in the western state of Rajasthan have at least one bank account, and most have several, since the introduction of the Aadhaar program, the Center for Global Development said in a report. Despite the advances, problems remain in digital authentication for the biometric system that now covers more than 1.1 billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population.
 
Aadhaar was implemented to improve the efficiency of welfare payments that account for over $60 billion in annual spending, replacing cash with bank transfers and subsidies. The program assigns a unique 12-digit number to each user that is associated with their iris, fingerprints and facial features. While the program has been praised for reducing fraud and preventing leakages, it’s been criticized for not paying enough attention to issues including privacy and data security.
 
The study was done in partnership with consultancy MicroSave and surveyed 633 households in rural and urban areas of Rajasthan. The group represented a variety of income and landholding categories, with 64 percent of respondents being women.
 
“The mandating of welfare payments to female heads of the family is changing local level dynamics and age-old hierarchies,” said Anit Mukherjee, a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and one of the authors of the study. “In many villages, women are setting out in groups to go to the bank, it’s a visible change,” he said in a phone interview.
 
December 13, 2017

Rajasthan Approaching 100 Pct Financial Inclusion: American Think Tank Report (Financial Express)

From the article:
 
Rajasthan is moving towards 100 per cent financial inclusion with a broad support for new digital modes of delivery of benefits specially from women, a top American think-tank said today. The report ‘Household Perception and Impact of Bhamashah and Digital Governance Reforms in Rajasthan’ by the Center for Global Development and Microsave is based on a first-of-its- kind of survey of the Aadhaar system in the state.
 
“There is broad support for new digital modes of delivery of benefits. Over 40 per cent think it is better than old system in Public Distribution System (PDS) and pensions. Less than 10 per cent think it is worse,” Anit N Mukherjee from the Center for Global Development told PTI. There is a broad support for new digital modes of delivery of benefits in Rajasthan, a State which is approaching 100 percent financial inclusion, the think-tank said.
 
December 12, 2017

India’s First National ID System Is Helping the Country’s Women (Bloomberg)

 
India’s adoption of its first nationwide identification system is helping empower the country’s women and driving increased use of banking services, according to the first study of the nationwide Aadhaar program.
 
Virtually all homes in the western state of Rajasthan have at least one bank account, and most have several, since the introduction of the Aadhaar program, the Center for Global Development said in a report. Despite the advances, problems remain in digital authentication for the biometric system that now covers more than 1.1 billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population.
 
Aadhaar was implemented to improve the efficiency of welfare payments that account for over $60 billion in annual spending, replacing cash with bank transfers and subsidies. The program assigns a unique 12-digit number to each user that is associated with their iris, fingerprints and facial features. While the program has been praised for reducing fraud and preventing leakages, it’s been criticized for not paying enough attention to issues including privacy and data security.
 
The study was done in partnership with consultancy MicroSave and surveyed 633 households in rural and urban areas of Rajasthan. The group represented a variety of income and landholding categories, with 64 percent of respondents being women.
 
“The mandating of welfare payments to female heads of the family is changing local level dynamics and age-old hierarchies," said Anit Mukherjee, a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and one of the authors of the study. “In many villages, women are setting out in groups to go to the bank, it’s a visible change,” he said in a phone interview.
 
The survey included sections on financial inclusion, empowerment, user experience as well as perception.
 
In Rajasthan, a state known to be patriarchal, the requirement for the family head to be female drove a massive increase in banking use with 66 percent of the female heads of family opening accounts when they didn’t have one before registration.
 
However, men still control the use of mobile phones as only about a third of the households had a female head who can read and write text messages.
 
“What the debate was missing so far was data,” Mukherjee said. “We wanted to move from anecdotal evidence toward hard data, making it a more rigorous method of policy evaluation."
 

Read full article here.

December 8, 2017

Trump’s Disdain For System Casts Unease Over WTO (Politico)

From the article:
 
What kind of year will 2018 be?...
 
Instead of relying on the United States as a standard-bearer for open markets, the latest World Trade Organization ministers’ conference may have to deal with the nation's newfound protectionism.
 
Thousands of government trade officials from more than 160 member-countries are convening in Buenos Aires this weekend to kick off a four-day event meant to strengthen the global trading body and advance the goals of the WTO. But this year, several participants have said their goals for the event center less on taking steps to improve the rules-based system and more on making sure they are able to preserve the status quo.
 
“The big fear is that instead of just a sort of stalemate, it could be the U.S. taking even more negative steps,” said Kim Elliott, a visiting fellow with the Center for Global Development. “I think most people are just hoping for it not to be a disaster."
 
The conference, set to formally kick off on Sunday, is the WTO’s 11th ministerial, a biennial gathering of members’ top trade officials. During previous gatherings, the right — and might — of the United States was often enough to tempt even the most defensive of countries to sit down and agree to pry open their markets.
 
December 7, 2017

Access To Contraception Benefits Girls — Even If They're Not Using It, New Study Finds (Romper)

From the article:
 
On Thursday, the Center for Global Development released a new report that highlights yet another benefit to making contraceptives easily accessible. According to the center's study, simply having access to contraception gives women a brighter future. That's right — regardless of whether a woman is actually taking contraception or not, simply having it available can boost her life prospects.
 
To carry out their study, researchers at the CDG took a retrospective look at both Malaysian girls' educational attainment and their risk of dropping out of school on a year-by-year basis. Malaysia began rolling out staggered family planning programs in the country in the 1960s and 1970s, so CGD researchers were able to look at stats from before and after Malaysia's implementation of family planning, comparing areas with the programs to areas without.
 
What they found was both surprising and empowering. Past research on the positive impacts of family planning has generally focused on the fact that allowing women to control if and when they have children (as well as how many children to have) allows them to further their educational attainment, go further in their careers, and do better financially. And those results, while fantastic, aren't entirely surprising: family planning gives women the ability to free up time and money that would otherwise go to unplanned children, and allows them to invest more in the kids they do have.
 
But the benefits of improved access to family planning, as the CGD found, goes beyond simply allowing women to control their fertility. In fact, the benefits seem to start way before that, with young girls' parents.
 
As it turns out, in areas where family planning was readily available even during girls' younger, non-fertile years, girls were less likely to drop out of school before entering secondary school. This wasn't due to their use of contraceptives, since they weren't yet adolescents — instead, it seems, parents were more willing to invest in girls when there was a higher likelihood of them being more successful later on.
 
"Our research shows that the availability of modern contraception may also change parents’ expectations about future opportunities for their daughters, creating incentives for girls education," Grant Miller, co-author of the study and a fellow at the CGD, said in a press release.
 
 
December 6, 2017

East African Countries Need To Embrace Biometrics In Anti-Poverty Schemes (The East African)

From the article:

East African countries need biometrics and better record-keeping for any meaningful gains from anti-poverty schemes.
 
According to the Centre for Global Development (CGD), a think-tank in Washington, the absence of proper identification tools inhibits citizens’ access to basic rights and services.
 
“Under-documentation is pervasive in the developing world, and the identity gap is increasingly recognised as not only a symptom of underdevelopment but as a factor that makes development more difficult and less inclusive,” says a study by CGD.
 
December 6, 2017

East African Countries Need To Embrace Biometrics In Anti-Poverty Schemes (The East African)

From the article: 

East African countries need biometrics and better record-keeping for any meaningful gains from anti-poverty schemes.
 
According to the Centre for Global Development (CGD), a think-tank in Washington, the absence of proper identification tools inhibits citizens’ access to basic rights and services.
 
“Under-documentation is pervasive in the developing world, and the identity gap is increasingly recognised as not only a symptom of underdevelopment but as a factor that makes development more difficult and less inclusive,” says a study by CGD.
 

Read the full article here

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