Yesterday, Lant Pritchett expressed his bewilderment at my open letter to Bill Gates advocating cash for the poor rather than chickens. I think Lant’s right and he’s wrong. We have to focus on the big picture and economic growth as a society, but I think there’s a strong argument for directly tackling the worst poverty now.
CGD Policy Blogs
Give a man a fish, the old adage runs, and he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat forever. Professor Chris Blattman doesn’t think we should do either. “We’re saying don’t give a man a fish. Don’t teach a man to fish. Give them the capital to decide, first of all, whether they want to be a fisherman or something else. And if they want to be a fisherman, they can use that capital to decide, do they need a rod, do they need someone to teach them how to fish.”
David Cameron's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday morning lays out his "golden thread" vision of development and foreign aid. This is an approach to development clearly pitched to political conservatives.
I was sad and disgusted last week to see the highly-respected New York Times declare that “America is stealing the world’s doctors”.
First Edition of the Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa Features Essays by CGD Staff and Board
This is a joint post with Julie Walz
Since the mid-nineties, many African nations have ushered in dramatic economic and political changes. But growth in other countries is stalled due conflict, repressive regimes, and lack of infrastructure. A new publication captures the diversity across Africa, using an economic lens to evaluate the key issues affecting Africa’s ability to grow and develop. The Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa is a compilation of 100 essays on key issues and topics across the continent. It includes contributions from young African researchers, longtime researchers on Africa and four Nobel Laureates. Authors were given the freedom to write their own perspectives, thus the result is not a literature review but an engaging snapshot of concerns and possibilities across the continent. With 48 country perspectives (from Algeria to Zimbabwe) and 53 thematic essays, the book rejects a one-size-fits-all approach yet recognizes that there are continent-wide opportunities and challenges. As the first work of its kind, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the field, from graduate students to policymakers.
I’m thrilled that the 2nd edition of African Development: Making Sense of the Issues and Actors is out this week. Thanks to Chris Blattman at Yale, Callisto Madavo at Georgetown, and others who have used it in their courses, demand for the first 2007 edition was high enough that the terrific Lynne Rienner asked me to do an update.
Researchers who call their work scientific must make their work reproducible. That is, other scientists must be able to reproduce the same result in an essentially similar setting. If they can’t, the result gets dumped. When I was a boy, two scientists at the University of Utah claimed to discover a way to cheaply generate energy with “cold fusion”. But because other scientists could not reproduce that result, no one today builds energy policy around cold fusion.
This is a joint posting with Rebecca Schutte.
Last week’s deadly unrest in Mozambique became a global news story, as clashes between security forces and people protesting rising food prices in the capital, Maputo, left at least ten people dead and more than 400 people injured. CGD Non-Resident Fellow Chris Blattman explained his skepticism about such riots, questioning why many were blaming climate change and higher international grain prices for domestic unrest. Rather, he pointed to poor domestic policies and alarmist journalism and “yearned for real information” about the root causes of the riots this weeks. Having recently returned from Mozambique, here are some additional insights on the food riots.
The ever-vigilant Chris Blattman drew attention yesterday to Ethiopia’s currency devaluation. What was surprising and interesting about this move is that the devaluation was not undertaken under the usual duress of “macroeconomic adjustment.” Typically, in Africa, macroeconomic and foreign exchange crises have been the trigger for devaluation.