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CGD in the News

December 7, 2018

The Nonbinding Migration Pact That Was Too Much for Trump (Slate)

From the article:
The objections to the pact are probably less about any of its specific clauses than about a generalized hostility toward the idea of taking in new migrants. “Stephen Miller pulled the United States out of the compact before there was even a draft text,” says Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development who studies migration. “The fact that the word migration is in the title was sufficient for him to consider this a violation of U.S. sovereignty.” He notes that the countries that have pulled out of the compact “offer nothing in counterpoint.”
Read the full article here.
October 27, 2017

Why Do Nations Invest In International Aid? Ask Norway. And China (Washington Post)

From the article:

How much are acts of generosity worth in international relations? For affluent countries, foreign aid has helped spread power and influence. Donors give foreign aid in part because it will benefit them. For example, political scientist Carol Lancasterfinds that domestic politics and international pressures combine to shape how and why donor governments give aid, and that aid was initially based on “hard-headed, diplomatic realism.”

The Trump administration’s proposal to slash foreign aid by more than one-third (including drastic cuts to global health and humanitarian aid) represents a major shift away from the goal of using aid to attain “smart power,” a strategy that supplements the ability to exercise brute force with efforts to win hearts and minds in far-off places. At the other end of the spectrum is Norway, a small but wealthy country, which has consistently tried to bolster its “soft power” ever since it helped broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine in the 1990s. Between these two extremes is China, which is using foreign aid to acquire greater soft power as it gears up for a more active role in world affairs...

As it struggles to better integrate foreign aid and national interests, Norway has been falling in the Center for Global Development’s rankings of countries committed to development — one of the most cited indexes among aid advocates and civil society organizations. Such results directly undermine its carefully cultivated image of being a humanitarian superpower.

Read full article here.

October 12, 2017

On Myanmar, The World Bank Should Follow Its Own Policies On Keeping Hatred Out Of Projects It Funds (Quartz)

From the op-ed:

As the World Bank’s member countries convene in Washington this week, the institution’s stance on the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar deserves their attention. In its first public response to the exodus that has unfolded in Myanmar, which the United Nations high commissioner for human rights has labeled ethnic cleansing, the World Bank on Sept. 14 issued a maddeningly bland statement about its work in the country, acknowledging the “deterioration in security,” but pointing fingers at no one. The statement reveals a remarkable lack of direction within the institution coming from its largest country shareholders, and particularly the United States.

The bank is in the business of development lending to country governments, and since Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest in 2010, the World Bank has provided over $2 billion in assistance to the government of Myanmar. Suu Kyi is now state counsellor, after her party won a landslide in elections in 2015, but the military retains power over key areas.

The mix of projects supported by the bank in the country run the gamut from physical infrastructure, to health services access, to a highly popular model of support in development circles called community-driven development. The community development model disburses small amounts of money to many localities, empowering them to decide how to spend it. This model favors the local over the national in a way that has demonstrated success in various settings, but it also makes oversight more difficult.

And here lies just one of the challenges facing the World Bank. How much certainty does the bank have that its projects are safeguarded against abuses in Myanmar today, that no projects are enabling discriminatory treatment toward the Rohingya population?

Read full op-ed here.

October 10, 2017

Here's How the International Community Should Respond to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis (Devex)

From the op-ed:

Half a world away, thousands of people are uprooting their lives from the country they called home, and putting everything at stake to flee. As Myanmar’s regime continues to perpetrate horrific acts of violence against the Rohingya community — acts that a U.N. official called a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” — half a million civilians have already fled. It’s the swiftest outflow of refugees since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. On September 28, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that the horrific campaign of violence has "spiraled into the world's fastest-developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare."

Bangladesh is now home to over 809,000 Rohingya refugees, creating a situation the country’s government officials describe as “untenable.” This inflow of refugees puts a strain on a country that already ranks among the poorest 50 countries in the world. And many Rohingya are fleeing to one of Bangladesh’s poorest districts.

As world leaders meet in Washington, D.C., this week at the World Bank Annual Meetings and G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors, they must come together to call on Bangladesh to offer a safe haven to Rohingya refugees. But Bangladesh can’t be expected to take on this burden alone.

Here are three ways the international community should support Bangladesh as it grapples with this crisis.

Read full op-ed here.

October 5, 2017

Mass Deportation Is a Lose-Lose Proposition (Bloomberg)

From the op-ed:

How could deporting people make local labor markets worse? Jobs are not a fixed commodity that get parceled out to whoever is in the neighborhood; that’s a common fallacy. The people deported to Mexico in the Depression weren’t just workers, they were also consumers -- their demand supported local businesses. When the government stepped in and removed them, local businesses naturally suffered.

That wasn’t the last time the U.S. tried to support native-born workers by keeping out Mexican laborers. In 1965, the U.S. ended a program that allowed Mexican farm workers, called braceros, into the country on a temporary basis. The idea was to raise wages and provide jobs for native-born agricultural laborers.

But a recent study by economists Michael Clemens, Ethan Lewis, and Hannah Postel finds no evidence that the policy worked as designed. Wages didn’t rise in the sectors where workers were excluded, nor did more native-born Americans take the jobs. Many farmers either switched to crops that required less manpower to pick, or invested in more automation. Sometimes they simply grew less, which probably resulted in higher food prices for American consumers.

So the benefit of mass deportation to the native-born is low or even negative. Crops will rot in the field, local businesses in cities across the country will lose customers and landlords will lose tenants. These costs will cancel out whatever benefits native-born Americans see from having low-paid, low-skill jobs suddenly open to them. Taxpayers might save a little money from not paying for unauthorized immigrants’ kids to go to school, but that’s about it. Meanwhile, the U.S. government will become a more repressive, more intrusive entity, eroding the freedoms that Americans have traditionally prided themselves on.

Read full op-ed here.

October 4, 2017

The Bright Side of the Venezuelan Exodus (Americas Quarterly)

From the article:

World leaders and migration experts met in New York this week to participate in the UN General Assembly High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development. Participants discussed the growing impact of migrants’ contributions to the economic and social realities of member countries and the need to include migration as a key topic in the development agenda.

The recent world economic crisis led to a new socio-economic landscape—particularly in Latin America, where intra-regional migration flows increased significantly as a result of fewer employment opportunities and tighter immigration policies in Europe and the United States. Countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay became popular destinations for international migrants...

But there is a bright side to the drama and the brain drain. According to Michael Clemens, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington DC, emigration has many overlooked benefits for countries of origin. In a recent report about skilled migration and development, Clemens says that “even if migrants do not return to their countries of origin, they transfer money, skills, technology, and even democratic ideas; their stories can inspire investments in education in sending countries; and they expand their own life opportunities in ways not possible without moving.”

Read full article here.

October 4, 2017

The Paradox of Prosperity (Foreign Policy)

From the article:

Either way, experts are doubtful that this or any other development project aimed at creating jobs can reverse, or even slow, the tide of emigration. “If the success of your policy is dependent on being able to defeat both market forces and human nature, your chances of success aren’t good,” said Kathleen Newland, a senior fellow and co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute.

Michael Clemens, an economist at the Center for Global Development in Washington, has studied the interplay between development and migration for years. He has found that development gains, far from keeping young people at home, are associated with increased migration — until a country attains a per capita income of roughly $7,500 (or three times that of Mali). “There’s this idea that development and migration substitute for each other that underlies all of this. That if we can just make a sufficiently successful industrial park in Ethiopia, that people will go work there and migration will end,” Clemens said. “That ignores the many, many ways in which migration and development complement each other.”

Not only does more income mean people can do more expensive things, like pay a smuggler thousands of dollars to take them to Europe; it typically means more education and bigger aspirations. That’s why Clemens says on average as countries transition from poor to middle-income, they experience a “dramatic rise” in migration. Over the very long term, it is true that development would depress migration as a country transitions to developed status. “But Mali is not going to be a developed country in our lifetime or in the lifetime of our children,” he said. “The reality is that the development of nations is measured in generations.”

Read full article here.

October 2, 2017

How Can the US and Humanitarian Groups Respond to the Rohingya Crisis? (Devex)

From the article:

Canberra — As the United Nations Security Council ramped up talks on how to respond to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, the Center for Global Development brought the debate directly to Washington on September 29, discussing what the United States and humanitarian groups should do.

In the past month, half a million Rohingya have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh, joining hundreds of thousands of refugees already there. A brutal Myanmar military campaign against the Rohingya population started on August 25 in response to coordinated attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on army and police bases. “There is an increased level of violence among certain elements of the Rohingya and because of the state led persecution against this population, you might not be surprised to know that,” Sarah Margon, Washington director for Human Rights Watch, explained. “They have nowhere else to turn.”

Read full article here.

September 29, 2017

The World Faces A Growing Refugee Crisis. Here's What Some Companies Are Doing About It (Fortune)

From the article:

As the world tries to house and care for a refugee population larger than the record set in World War II — some 65 million people have been forcibly displaced, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees — the cap on the number of asylum seekers allowed to enter the U.S. is the lowest it’s been since 1980. What’s more, the White House plans to lower the refugee cap again next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While the federal government takes a less active role in helping the victims of humanitarian crises, the Center for Global Development is highlighting a few companies have taken steps to help the one in 122 people that are displaced or seeking asylum.

The CGD is a D.C.-based think tank focused on policies to reduce global poverty and inequality. They released the report along with the Tent Foundation, an organization that works to improve the situations of refugees around the world through direct assistance as well as policies and partnerships.

Read full article here.

September 27, 2017

Global Companies Can Help Solve Refugee Crisis — Report (The Jordan Times)

From the article:

AMMAN — Global businesses can make unique and valuable contributions to the refugee response by engaging refugees not as aid recipients, but as employees, producers, investees and customers, a recent report by the Centre for Global Development (CGD) stated.

An independent non-profit research organisation, CGD aims to find policy solutions to reduce global poverty and inequality. In the report, titled “Global Business and Refugee Crises”, CGD has partnered with the Tent Foundation to identify the sustainable ways global businesses use to help address refugee crises while maintaining their position as market dominating entities...

Due to their position as market leaders, policy influencers, and innovators, global entreprises have some distinctive capacities for engagement and advocacy that do not exist within the traditional refugee response community, Cindy Huang, senior policy fellow at CGD, told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.

Read full article here.