Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



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.

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 14, 2013

Promoting Millennium Development Ideals: The Risks of Defining Development Down - Working Paper 338

The approach of 2015, the target date of the Millennium Development Goals, sets the stage for a global reengagement on the question of “what is development?” We argue that the post-2015 development framework for development should include Millennium Development Ideals which put into measurable form the high aspirations countries have for the well-being of their citizens.

August 13, 2013

A UN Declaration on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

In 2000, the UN General Assembly endorsed the Millennium Declaration, a statement that provided the source and inspiration for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The effects of the declaration—and the MDGs—are difficult to measure, but it certainly framed important global discussions about development.

In 2015, the UN’s world leaders will likely agree to a new set of goals to follow the Millennium Declaration. In this essay, Charles Kenny proposes that—instead of getting bogged down hammering out details of how to measure progress—the UN craft a new consensus statement to replace the Millennium Declaration. Kenny proposes such a statement in the pages that follow and provides commentary in the margins.

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