CGD's weekly Podcast, event videos, whiteboard talks, slides, and more.

Development Drums Episode 32: Gender and Development

Gender permeates all development issues, and there is growing debate surrounding how best to implement and promote gender balance and equality throughout the development agenda.This episode broadly focuses on two different views of why we might be interested in women in development: the first based on instrumental reasons (what can women and girls do for development) and the second on more structural and contextual reasons (what development can do for women and girls).

Our guests are Andrea Cornwall of the Institute of Development Studies and Prue Clarke of New Narratives.

The Implications of Complexity for Development - Owen Barder

In this lecture, adapted from his May 2012 Kapuściński Lecture, Owen Barder explores the implications of complexity theory for development policy. He explains how traditional economic models have tried and failed to understand why some countries have managed to improve living standards while other countries have not.

A Behavioral Economics Approach to Development Policy (Event Video)

SendhilBehavioral economics seeks to complement traditional approaches to economics by incorporating insights from psychology and human behavior, and taking a behavioral approach allows us to understand a host of behaviors that are critical to the success of a variety of development policies. In this event, Sendhil Mullainathan and Saugato Datta will present a paper exploring how behavioral economics can inform development policy, from education to health to cash transfer programs. Drawing on the latest research in these and other areas, the authors will discuss how behavioral economics provides policymakers with innovative new ways of tackling many important issues in development.

More Money, More Problems for US Development in Pakistan – Milan Vaishnav and Danny Cutherell

Despite an unprecedented increase in US civilian assistance to Pakistan, more money has led to more problems in achieving long-term development goals in the fractious and fragile state.  My guests on this week’s Wonkcast are Milan Vaishnav and Danny Cutherell, co-authors of a recent report written jointly with CGD president Nancy Birdsall. The new report--More Money, More Problems: A 2012 Assessment of the US Approach to Development in Pakistan--assigns letter grades to US government efforts in ten areas and provides recommendations for more effectiveengagement in Pakistan.

Haitian Officials Welcome H-2 Visa Program – Michael Clemens

Michael Clemens

After the 2010 Haitian earthquake flattened Port-au-Prince, the United States responded with an outpouring of money, food, and medicine for Haiti. But a more effective form of assistance -- the powerful tool of migration and labor mobility -- was at first overlooked in relief and recovery efforts.

CGD senior fellow Michael Clemens led a two-year research and policy engagement effort that reached a milestone in January when the U.S. government added Haiti to the list of more than 50 countries eligible for temporary worker visas, the H-2 visa program.  Michael calculated at the time that if just 2,000 Haitians worked as H-2 workers in the United States each year (just 2% of total H-2s) over the course of 10 years they would earn $400 million in additional, new income for Haitian families—an amount equal to the entire U.S. post-earthquake budget for reconstruction in Haiti.

Improving Health in Developing Countries: Lessons from RCTs with Michael Kremer (Event Video)

Over the last 15 years, development economists have carefully accumulated rigorous evidence about what works and what does not in promoting health in poor countries. While each individual evaluation tests specific questions or sets of questions in specific contexts, the large number of studies now means that it is possible to draw more general conclusions. In addition, randomized evaluations are increasingly being designed to test fundamental questions about how people behave and thus generate lessons that are relevant for the design of different types of programs. In this seminar, Michael Kremer will discuss a new research paper co-authored with Rachel Glennerster, Lessons from Randomized Evaluations for Improving Health in Developing Countries, which summarizes lessons from the growing body of randomized evaluations of health programs in developing countries. The paper finds considerable evidence that consumers do not always invest optimally in health. In particular, consumers underinvest in cost-effective products for prevention and non-acute care of communicable disease and are very sensitive to the price and convenience of these products. This underinvestment does not simply reflect a lack of information of the benefits of preventative health. While this suggests the need for government intervention, many government health systems perform poorly and there is little accountability and few incentives for health care providers. Of the approaches designed to improve accountability, community or nongovernmental monitoring has had mixed results but district-level contracting has been quite successful. Many programs can improve health without excessive reliance on dysfunctional health delivery systems—delivering health products through schools for example, or improving health through water treatment.

Leapfrogging Technology, the Case for Biometrics: Alan Gelb

Alan Gelb

In developed countries, official identification systems are a fact of life, providing the foundation for a myriad of transactions including elections, pension payments, and the legal system. Without functional ID systems, citizens of many developing countries miss out on the benefits of official identification. On this week’s Wonkcast, I am joined by CGD senior fellow Alan Gelb who has been researching the potential for new biometric technology, such as computerized finger printing and iris scans, to help poor countries leapfrog the long and complicated process of setting up ID systems.

Delivering Sustainable Energy for All: Opportunities at Rio+20 (Event Video)

Worldwide, about 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, while 2.7 billion lack access to clean cooking fuels. Meeting their needs is central to reducing poverty but relying on existing technologies would make runaway climate change unavoidable. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is leading a “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative that is built on his vision for deploying renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency, and achieving universal energy access during the next two decades. Can the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro this June help to foster a global consensus for action? What could the United States do to spur progress? The Secretary General and other distinguished speakers provide a thoughtful discussion of one of the world’s most pressing development issues.

Key Challenges for Jim Kim, New World Bank President—Nancy Birdsall

Nancy Birdsall

After an unprecedented competition, with three official nominees, the World Bank announced on Monday that the board had selected Jim Yong Kim, the Korean-born U.S. nominee, as the next president of the World Bank. My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is CGD president Nancy Birdsall, who discusses why it matters who leads the bank and sets out key challenges for the incoming president.

Prospects on Greek Debt Crisis - Liliana Rojas-Suarez on CNN

Liliana Rojas-Suarez

In this interview Liliana Rojas-Suarez argues that for a true and lasting solution to the Greek crisis to occur, a deeper restructuring of sovereign debt is needed (one that is based on the country's capacity to repay, and not on arbitrarily-determined goals for debt ratios; i.e. 120% debt/GPP by 2020) . Since the likelihood of key Eurozone members (especially Germany) to agree on further debt restructurings (including ECB’s holdings of Greek debt) is very low, the most likely scenario is still one where Greece leaves the Eurozone. This would allow for a depreciation of the domestic currency to boost competitiveness. In this scenario, it is essential a re-design of the IMF program to include the avoidance of a banking crisis (which could occur if banks' borrowers, earning' income  denominated in a depreciated currency, are not able to make good on  payments on Euro-denominated loans).            

How Democracy Works: Film Excerpts and Conversations with the Filmmakers

democracy works

In August 2001, when the Bush administration and key leaders in Congress were readying the plans for a sweeping overhaul of America’s troubled immigration system, filmmakers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini were there to record history in the making—negotiating exclusive access to document the lives and strategies of the principal players. The resulting “Grand Bargain” promised to change the lives of tens of millions of immigrants and affect every citizen and every state in the union. Its eventual failure offers lessons for what a future, successful bargain might look like.

Robertson and Camerini join Esther Olavarria, a key player in the film series, and CGD senior fellow Michael Clemens, for an exclusive look at never-before-released scenes and a discussion on lessons-learned from the “Grand Bargain” era, pointing to what is possible for future, bi-partisan immigration policy.

What to Do About U.S. Aid to Pakistan -- Nancy Birdsall and Arvind Subramanian

Nancy Birdsall

The debate over U.S. foreign assistance in Pakistan has grown hotter lately, with Stanford political scientist Stephen Krasner arguing in Foreign Affairs that the United States should get tough by threatening to halt aid to Pakistan to force the country into cooperating better on security matters. CGD president Nancy Birdsall responded with an article in Foreign Policy. Drawing on the recommendations of a 2011 CGD study group report, Beyond Bullets and Bombs: Fixing the U.S. Approach to Development in Pakistan, she argued that U.S. development assistance should be focused on helping to create a stable, prosperous Pakistan—goals that are in America’s own best interest and would be ill-served by trying to use the aid as a bargaining chip.

Program-for-Results (PforR) Financing: Current Progress and Next Steps (Event Video)

David Roodman

Program-for-Results (PforR), a new World Bank lending instrument, is one of several innovative approaches to development aid that focus on measurable development outcomes. Proponents argue that PforR will help strengthen institutions, build capacity, and enhance partnerships. Critics contend it may bypass hard-won social and environmental safeguards. This event will include an overview of the approach followed by a panel discussion with aid experts with a variety of perspectives.

Global Health and the New Bottom Billion – Amanda Glassman

Owen Barder

Global health funders have historically focused their aid on countries with the lowest per capita incomes, on the assumption that that’s where most of world’s poor people live.  In recent years, however, many large developing countries achieved rapid growth, lifting them into the ranks of the so-called middle-income countries, or MICs, even though they are still home to hundreds of millions of very poor people.  Andy Sumner has called the poor people in the MICs a “new bottom billion”, as distinct from the bottom billion in poor and fragile states that Paul Collier wrote about in a popular 2007 book.

In this week’s Wonkcast, I ask Amanda Glassman, a CGD research fellow and director of our global health policy program, how global health funders should respond to the emergence of the new bottom billion. Should money that now goes to the world’s poorest countries be reallocated to reach poor people who happen to live in the new MICs? Are there other ways that the global community can help? Amanda’s answers draw on the findings of a new working paper she wrote jointly with Sumner and Denizhan Duran, and an accompanying policy brief

Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance (Event Video)

David Roodman

Microfinance has been whiplashed by the hype cycle. Where it once was seen as a powerful treatment for poverty, recent headlines have favored phrases such as “borrower revolt,” “doesn’t work after all,” and “suicide.” What to make of this cacophony? David Roodman seeks the sensible truth in his new book, Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance, with an investigation that is unprecedented in its depth and breadth. He concludes that, while financial services are no more likely to lift people out of poverty than clean water and electricity, the microfinance movement has built thriving industries that deliver valuable services to millions of poor people. The challenge going forward is to help microfinance play to its strengths. In general, that calls for putting less money into microcredit, to avoid credit bubbles and increase the incentive for microfinance institutions to take savings deposits.


Who Will Win Out? The Millennium Challenge Corporation Selection

Vijaya RamachandranOn December 15th the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an innovative U.S. aid agency, is set to announce which countries will receive its unique development assistance. Casey Dunning, policy analyst at CGD and my guest on this week’s Wonkcast, provides insight and recommendations on how these countries will (and should) be selected. I catch Casey shortly after her return from Honduras, where she saw firsthand the positive impacts of an MCC compact on rural development and highway construction.