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Figure 1: Tax Expenditure as a % of GDP

Time to Pay More Attention to Tax Expenditures?

It is time that donors and technical assistance providers turn their attention to tax concessions provided by developing countries struggling to raise more taxes from domestic sources. The granting of tax concessions is not only mostly opaque and prone to corruption, but these concessions are further constricting the already narrow tax base of countries, thereby undermining the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to promote domestic resource mobilization. There is a risk that additional revenues collected through tax reforms may be lost through tax concessions.

Graph showing that there is shockingly little progress on answering multiple choice questions about simple arithmetic operations as students move through schooling.

The Learning Crisis and How to Fix it: Reflections from the 2018 RISE Conference

Imagine an economically thriving and democratic middle-income country that has achieved near universal primary school enrollment, tripled percentage of total government expenditure on education since 2000 (in real terms), and roughly doubled teacher salaries. You would think all is well, right? But new measures of learning progress show low absolute and marginal learning as students are promoted from grade to grade.

adorable baby

Time to Deliver: New Ebola Findings Highlight the Need to Improve Evidence and Interventions for Pregnant Women

On July 23, an outbreak report in The Lancet Infectious Diseases documented the case of a female Ebola survivor who transmitted the virus to family members more than year later. This raises new questions about how pregnancy may impact the presentation of Ebola virus disease (EVD), not just for women in the near term but across multiple pregnancies, and potentially as the source of new outbreaks.

Stock photo of various currencies

The Eight Virtues of Highly Effective DFIs

Amid much discussion of SDG finance gaps, DFIs, both bilateral and multilateral, are in the spotlight as the most important publicly funded instruments for mobilising private capital. Yet, there is a surprising lack of clarity on what we can and should expect from DFIs, beyond broad goals of profitability and development impact.

CGD-J-PAL event on measuring women's empowerment

We Can’t Measure Women’s Empowerment the Same Way Everywhere—But Should We Try?

Measuring empowerment is a perennial challenge for those of us evaluating programs targeting women. Last Wednesday’s launch of J-PAL’s new Practical Guide to Measuring Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in Impact Evaluations at CGD was an exciting opportunity be inspired by impact evaluation powerhouse Rachel Glennerster, the former Executive Director of J-PAL and current Chief Economist at DFID, while simultaneously getting a bit discouraged about the quality of existing quantitative measures of empowerment. Here are a few takeaways for economists doing impact evaluations.

The Proposed SDG Indicator on Illicit Financial Flows Risks Conflating Ordinary Business and Dirty Money

“Illicit financial flows” means dirty money crossing borders. It is an umbrella term which covers diverse actors including organised crime groups, business people making bribes, political leaders engaging in grand corruption, and major tax evaders hiding undeclared wealth. What they all have in common is that what they are doing is illegal (although they may be getting away with it), and they often use opaque international networks of legal entities, bank accounts, and property holdings to facilitate and store ill-gotten gains. There is a clear development case for rich countries to act to prevent their financial systems being used as havens for illicit financial flows that harm developing countries.

book covers

What We're Reading in Summer 2018

Whether you want to take an in-depth look at the human smuggling industry, find out how a Mars rover works, or beat the heat with a vivid depiction of a Cornish Winter, you're sure to find something here to round out your summer reading list.

confidentiality agreement

Myths, Challenges, and (Maybe?) a Consensus around Commercial Confidentiality in Government Contracts: Grist for a New CGD Working Group

Last week, the Open Contracting Partnership released a new report, Mythbusting Confidentiality in Public Contracting, during the Open Government Partnership meetings in Georgia. The report is a fascinating and helpful read, based on a review of recent contract publication practices in eight countries as well as legal frameworks in another seven.

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