Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

Topic

 

May 1, 2004

The Trouble with the MDGs: Confronting Expectations of Aid and Development Success - Working Paper 40

*REVISED Version September 2004

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are unlikely to be met by 2015, even if huge increases in development assistance materialize. The rates of progress required by many of the goals are at the edges of or beyond historical precedent. Many countries making extraordinarily rapid progress on MDG indicators, due in large part to aid, will nonetheless not reach the MDGs. Unrealistic targets thus may turn successes into perceptions of failure, serving to undermine future constituencies for aid (in donors) and reform (in recipients). This would be unfortunate given the vital role of aid and reform in the development process and the need for long-term, sustained aid commitments.

March 16, 2004

The Long Walk to School: International Education Goals in Historical Perspective - Working Paper 37

This work quantifies how long it has taken countries rich and poor to make the transition towards high enrollments and gender parity. It finds that many countries that have not raised enrollments fast enough to meet the Millennium Development Goals have in fact raised enrollments extraordinarily rapidly by historical standards and deserve celebration rather than condemnation. The very few poor countries that have raised enrollment figures at the rates envisioned by the goals have done so in many cases by accepting dramatic declines in schooling quality, failing large numbers of students, or other practices that cast doubt on the sustainability or exportability of their techniques.

February 18, 2004

Boom Towns and Ghost Countries: Geography, Agglomeration, and Population Mobility - Working Paper 36

Ghost towns dot the West of the United States. These cities boomed for a period and then, for various reasons, fell into a process of decline and have shrunk to a small fraction of their former population. Are there ghost countries—countries that, if there were population mobility, would only have a very small fraction of their current population? This paper carries out four empirical illustrations of the potential magnitude of the "ghost country" problem by showing that the "desired population" of any given geographic region varies substantially.

January 22, 2004

The Illusion of Sustainability - Working Paper 35

The history of foreign development assistance is one of movement away from addressing immediate needs to a focus on the underlying causes of poverty. A recent manifestation is the move towards "sustainability," which stresses community mobilization, education, and cost-recovery. This stands in contrast to the traditional economic analysis of development projects, with its focus on providing public goods and correcting externalities.

November 1, 2003

Who is not Poor? Proposing a Higher International Standard for Poverty - Working Paper 33

Poverty reduction is now, and quite properly should remain, the primary objective of the World Bank. But, when the World Bank dreams of a world free of poverty—what should it be dreaming? I argue in this essay that the dream should be a bold one, that treats citizens of all nations equally in defining poverty, and that sets a high standard for what eliminating poverty will mean for human well-being.

Cover of From Social Assistance to Social Development: Targeted Education Subsidies in Developing Countries
September 1, 2003

From Social Assistance to Social Development: Targeted Education Subsidies in Developing Countries

The book compiles a vast amount of unpublished and published material on existing CTE programs and their impact on poverty. Groundbreaking case studies and detailed evaluations of programs in Mexico, Brazil, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Chile add up to an unusual and surprising success story for skeptics of development and foreign aid.

Samuel Morley and David Coady
August 15, 2003

The Anarchy of Numbers: Aid, Development, and Cross-country Empirics - Working Paper 32

*REVISED Version May 2007

Recent literature contains many stories of how foreign aid affects economic growth: aid raises growth in countries with good policies, or in countries with difficult economic environments, or mainly outside the tropics, or on average with diminishing returns. The diversity of these results suggests that many are fragile. I test 7 important aid-growth papers for robustness. The 14 tests are minimally arbi-trary, deriving mainly from differences among the studies themselves. This approach investigates the importance of potentially arbitrary specification choices while minimizing arbitrariness in testing choices. All of the results appear fragile, especially to sample expansion.

August 1, 2003

Privatization in Latin America - Working Paper 31

In Latin America, privatization started earlier and spread farther and more rapidly than in almost any other part of the world. Despite positive microeconomic results, privatization is highly and increasingly unpopular in the region. While privatization may be winning the economic battle it is losing the political war: The benefits are spread widely, small for each affected consumer or taxpayer, and occur (or accrue) in the medium-term. In contrast, the costs are large for those concerned, who tend to be visible, vocal, urban and organized, a potent political combination.

John Nellis
July 30, 2003

The Surprise Party: An Analysis of US ODA Flows to Africa - Working Paper 30

Conventional wisdom about US foreign policy toward Africa contains two popular assumptions. First, Democrats are widely considered the party most inclined to care about Africa and the most willing to spend resources on assistance to the continent. Second, the end of the Cold War was widely thought to have led to a gradual disengagement of the US from Africa and reduced American attention toward the continent. This paper analyzes OECD data on US foreign assistance flows from 1961-2000 and finds that neither of these assumptions is true.

Markus P. Goldstein and Todd J. Moss
July 29, 2003

Economic Policy and Wage Differentials in Latin America - Working Paper 29

This paper applies a new approach to the estimation of the impact of policy, both the levels and the changes, on wage differentials using a new high-quality data set on wage differentials by schooling level for 18 Latin American countries for the period 1977–1998. The results indicate that liberalizing policy changes overall have had a short-run disequalizing effect of expanding wage differentials, although this effect tends to fade away over time.

updated 07/04/2006

Jere R. Behrman and Miguel Székely
Cover of The Other War: Global Poverty and the Millennium Challenge Account
June 1, 2003

The Other War: Global Poverty and the Millennium Challenge Account

This book tackles head on the tension between foreign policy and development goals that chronically afflicts U.S. foreign assistance; the danger of being dismissed as one more instance of the United States going it alone instead of buttressing international cooperation; and the risk of exacerbating confusion among the myriad overlapping U.S. policies, agencies, and programs targeted at developing nations, particularly USAID.

Lael Brainard , Nigel Purvis , Steven Radelet and Gayle Smith
Cover of Challenging Foreign Aid: A Policymaker's Guide to the Millennium Challenge Account
May 1, 2003

Challenging Foreign Aid: A Policymaker's Guide to the Millennium Challenge Account

In this study, Steven Radelet examines the MCA's potential promise and possible pitfalls. He offers a rigorous analysis of the MCA’s central challenge: making foreign aid more effective in supporting economic growth and poverty reduction in the poor countries. He systematically explores what makes the MCA different and pinpoints the critical issues that will determine its success or failure.

April 1, 2003

From Promise to Performance: How Rich Countries Can Help Poor Countries Help Themselves

At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 the nations of the world committed to join forces to meet a set of measurable targets for reducing world poverty, disease, illiteracy and other indicators of human misery—all by the year 2015. These targets, later named the Millennium Development Goals, include seven measures of human development in poor countries. At the same summit, world leaders took on several qualitative targets applicable to rich countries, later collected in an eighth Goal. The key elements of the eighth Goal, pledge financial support and policy changes in trade, debt relief, and other areas to assist poor countries'domestic efforts to meet the first seven Goals. Combined, the eight Goals constitute a global compact between poor and rich to work today toward their mutual interests to secure a prosperous future.

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