Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



August 10, 2005

The Dollar and Development - Working Paper 64

In this posthumously published working paper, Dick Sabot argues that the U.S. external deficit is putting at risk the welfare of poor people in developing countries. This accessible paper draws on a forthcoming book, The U.S. as a Debtor Nation, by William Cline, and has been updated to include Cline's latest results.

Richard Sabot
July 21, 2005

Agriculture and Pro-Poor Growth: An Asian Perspective - Working Paper 63

After two decades of neglect, interest in agriculture is on the rise. This new working paper by one of the leading thinkers in rural development argues that the reach and efficiency of rural infrastructure, coupled with effective investment in agricultural research and extension, hold the key to unlocking the potential of agriculture for poverty reduction.

July 20, 2005

Costs and Causes of Zimbabwe's Crisis

Zimbabwe has experienced a precipitous collapse in its economy over the past five years. The government blames its economic problems on external forces and drought. We assess these claims, but find that the economic crisis has cost the government far more in key budget resources than has the donor pullout. We show that low rainfall cannot account for the shock either. This leaves economic misrule as the only plausible cause of Zimbabwe’s economic regression, the decline in welfare, and unnecessary deaths of its children.

July 19, 2005

U.S. Pledges of Aid to Africa: Let's Do the Numbers

Before the G-8 Summit, President Bush said that U.S. aid to Africa had tripled since he took office and would double again by 2010. CGD’s Steve Radelet and Bilal Siddiqi find that total U.S. aid to the region has doubled, but not tripled, since 2000, continuing an upward trend that began in 1996. Going forward, the pledge to double aid implies an additional $4.3 billion in aid to Africa by 2010, accounted for by projected increases in the Millennium Challenge Account ($2.0-$2.5 billion), the global AIDS program (PEPFAR) ($1.5 billion), and the recently announced malaria program ($0.5 billion). The pledge to double aid should be seen as a recommitment to previous (important) pledges, rather than an announcement of something new.

May 17, 2005

Reflections on "Our Common Interest," The Report of the Commission on Africa

CGD President Nancy Birdsall testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 on the Commission for Africa report initiated by Tony Blair. She suggested the U.S. should prepare a package of Africa-related initiatives for the UK-hosted G-8 Summit in July covering areas such as peace and security, advance market commitments for vaccines; debt relief, trade, and aid delivery. Sen. Lugar praised the proposal for an advance market commitment for vaccines. "This is an extraordinary idea and I thank you for bringing it to our attention," he said.

April 28, 2005

Adjusting to the MFA Phase-Out: Policy Priorities

In this brief we focus on potential disruptions in poor countries and the policy priorities for coping with them. In particular, we recommend that the United States, which is the only rich country that does not grant tariff-free access for imports from all least-developed countries, provide this access as quickly as possible. In addition, to take advantage of any resulting opportunities, beneficiary countries must adopt domestic reforms to encourage greater productivity.

Debapriya Bhattacharya and Kimberly Ann Elliott
April 1, 2005

Resolving Nigeria’s Debt Through a Discounted Buyback

Nigeria has $33 billion in external debt. The government has been trying unsuccessfully for years to cut a deal with creditors to reduce its external obligations but to date has only managed to gain non-concessional restructuring. The major creditors also have good reasons for wanting to seek a resolution, yet agreement has been elusive. Fortunately, there is a brief window of opportunity in 2005 to find a compromise that can meet the needs of both sides. This note briefly outlines a proposal for striking such a deal through a discounted debt buyback.

Cover of Overcoming Stagnation in Aid-Dependent Countries
March 31, 2005

Overcoming Stagnation in Aid-Dependent Countries

In this book, Nicolas van de Walle identifies 26 countries that are extremely poor and grew little if at all in the 1990s. His sample excludes North Korea and countries where civil war explains some of their failure to grow (Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tajikistan and others). The 26 countries have limited infrastructure and human capital and the small size of their markets deter private savings and investment. Aid was meant to help overcome these problems, and these countries received a lot. Yet they have failed to grow. What is wrong? Is foreign aid a solution or part of the problem? What changes might make aid more effective? Given these countries require the financial and technical resources of the West, why haven’t aid programs made a difference?

March 23, 2005

Overcoming Stagnation in Aid-Dependent Countries - Brief

Traditional economic theory predicts that capital mobility and international trade will push the world's national economies to one income level. As poorer nations race ahead, richer ones should slow down. Eventually, theory says, national economies would reach equilibrium. The reality of the last few decades, however, defies this notion; most of the poorest economies continue to lag far behind. For 50 years, foreign aid has been the main way the international community has promoted economic development. Yet it has not proven to be a silver bullet.

March 1, 2005

Double Standards on IDA and Debt: The Case for Reclassifying Nigeria

Although nearly all poor countries are classified by the World Bank as IDA-only, Nigeria stands out as a notable exception. Indeed, Africa’s most populous country is the poorest country in the world that is not classified as IDA-only. Under the World Bank’s own criteria, however, Nigeria has a strong case for reclassification. IDA-only status would have two potential benefits for Nigeria. First, it would expand Nigeria’s access to IDA resources and make the country eligible for grants. Second, it would strengthen Nigeria’s case for debt reduction. With a renewed economic reform effort getting under way and the emerging use of debt reduction as a tool for assisting economic and political transitions, the UK, the US, and other official creditors should support such a move as part of a broader strategy for encouraging progress in one of Africa’s most important countries.

Todd Moss and Scott Standley
February 28, 2005

On the Road to Universal Primary Education

Education is an end in itself, a human right, and a vital part of the capacity of individuals to lead lives they value. It gives people in developing countries the skills they need to improve their own lives and to help transform their societies. Women and men with better education earn more throughout their lives and participate more fully in the civic and political lives of their communities and countries. Particularly for women, education confers the skills and behaviors that lead to healthier lives. Education that reaches women, the poor, and marginalized ethnic groups not only benefits them directly; it contributes to a more equitable and just society.

February 18, 2005

Business Environment and Comparative Advantage in Africa: Evidence from the Investment Climate Data - Working Paper 56

This paper ties together the macroeconomic and microeconomic evidence on the competitiveness of African manufacturing sectors. The conceptual framework is based on the newer theories that see the evolution of comparative advantage as influenced by the business climate—a key public good—and by external economies between clusters of firms entering in related sectors. Macroeconomic data from purchasing power parity (PPP), though imprecisely measured, estimates confirms that Africa is high-cost relative to its levels of income and productivity. This finding is compared with firm-level evidence from surveys undertaken for Investment Climate Assessments in 2000-2004.

February 9, 2005

Primary Health Care in Practice: Is It Effective? - Working Paper 55

Primary health care is accepted as the model for delivering basic health care to low income populations in developing countries. Using El Salvador as a case study, the paper draws on three data sets and a qualitative survey to assess health care access and utilization across public and private sector options (including NGOs).

Maureen Lewis , Gunnar Eskeland and Ximena Traa-Valerezo