Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

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October 2, 2013

Can Results-Based Payments Reduce Corruption? - Working Paper 345

A common objection to results-based programs is that they are somehow more vulnerable to corruption. This paper explains why results-based approaches to foreign aid may be less vulnerable to corruption than traditional approaches which track inputs and activities. The paper highlights corruption costs associated with failing to generate benefits and outlines the conditions under which one approach or another might be preferable. It concludes that results-based programs may be less vulnerable to corruption costs associated with failure because they limit the capacity of dishonest agents to divert funds unless those agents first improve efficiency and outputs.

Cover of The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain't Learning
September 24, 2013

The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain’t Learning

With abundant data, sound analysis, and first-hand experience, Lant Pritchett shows that the way to turn underperforming schools around is to allow functional systems to evolve locally out of an environment pressured for success. Schools systems need to be open to variety and experimentation, locally operated, and flexibly financed. The only main cost is ceding control; the reward would be the rebirth of education suited for today’s world.

September 5, 2013

The Development Space Goes Global: A New Role for Global Citizens

In this speech delivered at the 2012 Annual Conference of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Nancy Birdsall shares her observations about the changing development space and offers three proposals to help the development community tap the potential for informed and empowered citizens push for better local and global politics. Her remarks were prepared after delivering a 2012 speech to the 2012 UN General Assembly, "Global Citizens and the Global Economy," and foreshadowed her 2013 working paper , "Global Markets, Global Citizens, and Global Governance in the 21st Century."

September 5, 2013

Subsidizing Farmers and Biofuels in Rich Countries: An Incoherent Agenda for Food Security

At the beginning of the new millennium, a key development concern was the impact of agricultural policies in high-income countries on poor farmers in the rest of the world. Over the ensuing decade, the focus swung from the role of price-suppressing farm subsidies to the role biofuel policies play in driving food prices up. While development advocates are right to criticize the trade-distorting costs and environmental risks of current biofuel policies, agricultural subsidies and trade barriers in rich countries remain in place and the distorting impact of those policies will rise again when prices decline.

September 4, 2013

Planning for Large-Scale Wind and Solar Power in South Africa: Identifying Cost-Effective Deployment Strategies Using Spatiotemporal Modeling - Working Paper 340

South Africa and many other countries hope to aggressively expand wind and solar power (WSP) in coming decades. The challenge is to turn laudable aspirations into concrete plans that minimize costs, maximize benefits, and ensure reliability. Success hinges largely on the question of how and where to deploy intermittent WSP technologies. This study develops a 10-year database of expected hourly power generation for onshore wind, solar photovoltaic, and concentrating solar power technologies across South Africa. A simple power system model simulates the economic and environmental performance of different WSP spatial deployment strategies in 2040, while ensuring a minimum level of system reliability. 

August 27, 2013

Estimating Income / Expenditure Differences across Populations: New Fun with Old Engel’s Law - Working Paper 339

How much larger are the consumption possibilities of an urban US household with per capita expenditures of 1,000 US dollars per month than a rural Indonesian household with per capita expenditures of 1,000,000 Indonesian Rupiah per month? Consumers in different markets face widely different consumption possibilities and prices and hence the conversion of incomes or expenditures to truly comparable units of purchasing power is extremely difficult. We propose a simple supplement to existing purchasing power adjusted currency conversions.

August 22, 2013

Grant Performance and Payments at the Global Fund

Performance-based financing can be used by global-health funding agencies to improve program performance and thus value for money. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was one of the first global-health funders to deploy a performance-based financing system. However, its complex, multistep system for calculating and paying on grant ratings has several components that are subjective and discretionary. We aimed to test the association between grant ratings and disbursements, an indication of the extent to which incentives for performance are transmitted to grant recipients. 

August 20, 2013

Moving Beyond Mines and Mobiles: How Can IFC Add Value in Fragile States?

The International Finance Corporation wants to increase its development impact in fragile states. Currently, the IFC’s fragile-state portfolio mirrors that of overall foreign direct investment stocks in such countries: focused in extractive industries and mobile telephony. That suggests potentially limited value-added from the Corporation’s investments in terms of crowding in private capital. If the IFC is trying to increase its portfolio and development impact in fragile states, it should look for sectoral opportunities that share some of the features of mines and mobile investments but currently attract limited FDI.

August 19, 2013

Revisiting the Quality of Agricultural Official Development Assistance

The Quality of Agricultural Official Development Assistance (Ag QuODA) measures how well donors giving agricultural aid score on the dimensions of aid quality that evidence and experience suggest lead to effective aid. Improvements in the data quality and availability are making sector-specific assessments like Ag QuODA more feasible, but further improvements are needed to allow a deeper understanding of aid effectiveness.

Edward Collins and Kimberly Ann Elliott

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