Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



June 15, 2021

Texts Don’t Nudge: An Adaptive Trial to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 in India

We conduct an adaptive randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of a SMS-based information campaign on the adoption of social distancing and handwashing in rural Bihar, India, six months into the COVID-19 pandemic. We test 10 arms that vary in delivery timing and message framing, changing content to highlight gains or losses for either one’s own family or community.Our results suggest that SMS-based information campaigns may have limited efficacy after the initial phase of a pandemic.

The cover of the case study
June 15, 2021

From Displacement to Development: How Ethiopia Can Create Shared Growth by Facilitating Economic Inclusion for Refugees

This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative by Refugees International (RI) and the Center for Global Development (CGD). It outlines the barriers refugees face in Ethiopia to economic inclusion; the impacts of these barriers; and the steps that the government of Ethiopia, international organizations, donors, and the private sector could take to overcome them

Cover of Working Paper 584
June 14, 2021

Can Africa Help Europe Avoid Its Looming Aging Crisis?

There will be 95 million fewer working-age people in Europe in 2050 than in 2015, under business as usual. The paper compares business as usual estimates of inflows to 2050 with the size of the labor gap in Europe. Under plausible estimates, business as usual will fill one-third of the labor gap. This suggests a need for an urgent shift if Europe is to avoid an aging crisis. Africa is the obvious source of immigrants, to mutual benefit.

June 7, 2021

The Insurance Cascade Framework to Diagnose Bottlenecks and Improve the Effectiveness of Health Insurance Programs: An Application to India

Many low- and middle-income countries are looking to achieve universal health coverage by implementing large social health insurance schemes. India has been a frontrunner in this effort, introducing state and national health insurance schemes, especially for tertiary care. Despite these efforts, Indian households remain at risk of high out-of-pocket spending due to inpatient hospitalizations. We examine bottlenecks to the effectiveness of health insurance schemes in India by using the “insurance cascade,” a framework that traces the steps from enrolling eligible households to ultimately delivering their benefits at no charge.

An image of three young black women wearing masks.
June 1, 2021

Promoting an Inclusive Recovery by Prioritizing Gender: A “Care, Cash, and Data” Agenda for the IDA20 Replenishment

The World Bank estimates that the global pandemic could push between 55 and 63 million people into extreme poverty in IDA (the International Development Association) countries. With IDA being the largest source of concessional loans and grants for the world’s poorest countries, its upcoming replenishment cycle (IDA20) is a key opportunity to promote a more inclusive recovery—and, in particular, one that reaches and benefits women and girls disproportionately hurt by the COVID-19 crisis.

The cover of the paper
May 27, 2021

Ethical Recruitment of Health Workers: Using Bilateral Cooperation to Fulfill the World Health Organization’s Global Code of Practice

In this policy paper, we outline how the WHO defined a “critical shortage” of health workers, both for the original Code and for its newly published Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List. The paper then goes onto explore how countries of migrant destination and origin can (and should) design ethical and sustainable health worker migration partnerships that fulfil the requirements of the Code.

The cover of the QuODA brief
May 25, 2021

The Quality of Official Development Assistance

The Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) measures and compares providers of official development assistance (ODA) on quantitative indicators that matter most to development effectiveness and quality. It aims to encourage improvements to the quality of ODA by highlighting and assessing providers’ performance.

An image of Benjamin Franklin wearing a mask on the $100 bill
May 21, 2021

MDBs to the Rescue? The Evidence on COVID-19 Response

The world is now more than a year into the second global crisis of the century. This time, the IMF has stepped up. But what about the multilateral development banks? One of their central roles is to expand the fiscal space of middle- and low-income countries (MICs and LICs) for development spending, exactly what is needed now, and to catalyze finance from the private sector, especially when private finance pulls back. Have they done so? As the 2020 data on MDB finance become available, what can we conclude about how MDBs are performing when the developing world needs them most?

Students at the Mulago School for the Deaf in Mulago, Uganda
May 19, 2021

The Pathway to Progress on SDG 4: A Symposium

The heart of Girin Beeharry’s manifesto is that we must reorient global aid for education around promoting foundational literacy and numeracy, unflinchingly monitor progress on that core goal, and hold all development institutions accountable for measurable results in this domain. In this collection, sector leaders, researchers, and practitioners provide their reflections and counter proposals to Girin’s essay.

A graphic of the indexed GIPC 2019 IP Index Component Score for African Countries and China.
May 18, 2021

China’s Model of Innovation: Are There Lessons for African Countries?

Innovation is known to be important for productivity and economic growth, while intellectual property rights are, in conventional economics models, thought to spur innovation. Yet China, which averaged over 6 percent annual economic growth for three decades and is often cited as a “growth miracle,” has been criticized for poor intellectual property rights protection domestically, as well as when exporting products abroad.

Peter Grinsted and Ovigwe Eguegu
Cover of working paper 581
May 12, 2021

Do High-Stakes Exams Promote Consistent Educational Standards?

Each year over two million secondary-school students across English-speaking West Africa sit coordinated exams, with the explicit goal of maintaining consistent educational standards across schools and over time. We find that scores across math items drawn from different exam years—when taken by an identical group of students on the same day—closely track fluctuations in Ghana’s national pass rates over time, absent any role for cheating or changes in real performance.

May 11, 2021

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Social Health Insurance Claims for High-Burden Diseases in the Philippines

In the Philippines, anecdotes on the dwindling use of essential healthcare services as an indirect consequence of COVID-19 pandemic are mounting, but compelling evidence remains scarce up to this day. In this study, we examined the magnitude of decline in insurance claims of twelve high burden diseases and five common procedures from 1,286 public and private hospitals.

Valerie Gilbert Ulep , Anton Paterno , Jhanna Uy , Vanessa Siy Van , Lyle Casas and Justin Tan
May 5, 2021

Incentivising Investment in Human Capital through the European Fund for Sustainable Development

As the EU prepares to significantly scale up its deployment of blended finance, guarantees, and other risk-sharing tools aimed at stimulating investment in developing countries, and, in the face of spiralling needs as a result of COVID-19, this paper analyses how the EU could use its development budget to incentivise private investment in human capital. The paper provides three contributions.

May 4, 2021

Should Governments and Donors Prioritize Investments in Foundational Literacy and Numeracy?

Students around the world lack foundational literacy and numeracy skills at striking rates. This essay examines the potential channels by which FLN investments and skills—which most systems teach in the early grades of primary school—may impact later schooling and subsequent life outcomes and the existing evidence for each channel. We find suggestive evidence for widening trajectories in school between students who master FLN skills in early grades and those who do not, although other factors may also explain the widening gaps.