Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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May 6, 2013

Schooling Is Not Education! Using Assessment to Change the Politics of Non-Learning

Most of the world’s children now live in countries on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary completion by 2015. Countries have indeed made great progress getting kids in school, but behind that progress is a problem: many children are hardly learning anything in school. Some measures of learning are just dismal. In India, for example, only about one-third of children in grade 5 can perform long division. Nearly one-half cannot read a grade 2 text, and one in five cannot follow a grade 1 text.

What is to be done? Broadly speaking, schools, governments, and donors need to focus more on actual learning goals, not just filling seats. This report of the CGD Study Group on Measuring Learning Outcomes shows how to make some headway in that direction. Governments need to develop comparable, public learning assessments. Civil society should engage at the grassroots to demand accountability. Donors can play a secondary role by pegging funding to results or experimenting with different strategies. And the UN and other multilaterals should set global standards against which national efforts can be measured. One option is to establish a global learning goal as part of the post-2015 development agenda.

The Study Group on Measuring Learning Outcomes
April 29, 2013

China's Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection - Working Paper 323

China’s presence in Africa is, beyond dispute, large in both trade and what can be called official finance to Africa. But how large, exactly? A new database from the College of William and Mary brings additional resources to help answer the question. This paper describes the new database, its key findings, and its possible applications and limitations of the data, which is being made publicly available for the first time.

Austin Strange , Brad Parks , Michael J. Tierney , Andreas Fuchs , Axel Dreher and Vijaya Ramachandran
April 24, 2013

Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on Maternal and Newborn Health

The authors carry out a systematic review of studies on CCTs that report maternal and newborn health outcomes, including studies from eight countries. We find that CCTs have increased antenatal visits, skilled attendance at birth, delivery at a health facility, and tetanus toxoid vaccination for mothers, and reduced the incidence of low birth weight. The programs have not had a significant impact on fertility or Caesarean sections while impact on maternal and newborn mortality has not been well documented thus far.

Amanda Glassman , Denizhan Duran and Marge Koblinsky
April 11, 2013

Temporary Work Visas: A Four-Way Win for the Middle Class, Low-Skill Workers, Border Security, and Migrants

The US economy needs low-skill workers now more than ever, and that requires a legal channel for the large-scale, employment-based entry of low-skill workers. The alternative is what the country has now: a giant black market in unauthorized labor that hinders job creation and harms border security. A legal time-bound labor-access program could benefit the American middle class and low-skill workers, improve US border security, and create opportunities for foreign workers.

April 8, 2013

It’s All About MeE: Using Structured Experiential Learning (“e”) to Crawl the Design Space - Working Paper 322

Here we extend the basic idea of rigorous impact evaluation—the use of a valid counterfactual to make judgments about causality—to emphasize that the techniques of impact evaluation can be directly useful to implementing organizations (as opposed to impact evaluation being seen by implementing organizations as only an external threat to their funding).

Lant Pritchett , Salimah Samji and Jeffrey Hammer
March 27, 2013

Scaling Up What Works: Experimental Evidence on External Validity in Kenyan Education - Working Paper 321

We investigate heterogeneity across beneficiaries and implementers—in a randomized trial of contract teachers in Kenyan schools. The data show a stark contrast in success between the government and NGO arm that can be traced back to implementation constraints and political economy forces put in motion as the program went to scale.

Tessa Bold , Mwangi Kimenyi , Germano Mwabu , Alice Ng'ang'a and Justin Sandefur
March 26, 2013

Cash or Coupons? Testing the Impacts of Cash versus Vouchers in the Democratic Republic of Congo - Working Paper 320

Despite the increased use of conditional and unconditional cash-transfer programs worldwide, a majority of social protection programs in both developed and developing countries use in-kind transfers and vouchers. This paper reports the results of a randomized evaluation of an unconditional cash transfer and voucher program in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that has been plagued by intense civil war for much of the past two decades.

March 18, 2013

Foreign Workers Benefit Massively from Guest Work Opportunities, Submission to House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protection

Michael Clemens’s “Foreign Workers Benefit Massively from Guest Work Opportunities” was entered into the Congressional Record by Chairman Tim Walberg, House Education and the Workforce Committee, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, at a March 14, 2013, hearing, “Examining the Role of Lower-Skilled Guest Worker Programs in Today’s Economy.”

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