Diamonds, long seen as symbols of love and prosperity, are now blamed for war and corruption in some of the poorest places on earth. But do all diamonds fuel conflict and strife? In this CGD Note program associate Kaysie Brown and senior fellow Todd Moss consider the strengths and limitations of industry efforts to break the deadly link between diamonds and conflict, most notably through the Kimberley Process, which certifies that a diamond has been obtained legitimately. They find that the Kimberley Process, which has helped turn conflict diamonds into development diamonds, is a good thing but it could be even better. They also offer consumers tips on how to buy conflict-free diamonds.
The aid business has long grappled with the trade-off between showing results and supporting a country's own institution-building. Donors want to be sure that their money makes a difference, and often quickly. But close monitoring raises costs and pushing for quick results leads to projects that bypass or even undermine domestic institutions that are crucial to development. In Payments for Progress: A Hands-Off Approach to Foreign Aid, Owen Barder, now director of Global Development Effectiveness at the United Kingdom Department for International Development, and CGD president Nancy Birdsall propose solving this problem by having donors pay for proven progress towards such agreed goals as additional children completing school and additional kilometers of roads built. How to achieve these goals would be left to the aid recipient government. They suggest this approach may be particularly useful in fragile states. Learn more
The colonial legacy of artificial borders is often seen as an important cause of problems for developing countries. In this paper CGD non-resident fellow William Easterly and his co-authors quantify this effect. They find that countries with straight borders that divide ethnic groups--lines on maps--tend to be less successful economically and politically than countries with less arbitrary borders.Learn more
Critics allege that the World Bank is deeply flawed. Yet the world needs a strong World Bank to help manage development and the related global challenges of the 21st century. Do the Bank's shortcomings put its future at risk? If so, can the Bank be rescued? Rescuing the World Bank, a new book that includes a CGD working group report and selected essays edited by CGD president Nancy Birdsall, offers timely perspectives on challenges that are crucial to the Bank’s future success.
Do development and democracy lead to fewer massacres? By one estimate governments killed more than 170 million civilians in the 20th century – more than twice the number of soldiers killed in the century’s many wars. A new working paper co-authored by CGD non-resident fellow William Easterly using data from 1820 to 1998 finds that massacres are more likely at intermediate levels of income and less likely at very high levels of democracy. Episodes at the highest levels of democracy and income involve fewer victims. Learn more
When aid projects proliferate, donors often seek better oversight through smaller projects. While this may improve administration, it burdens recipient governments with reporting requirements and donor visits. CGD research fellow David Roodman suggests in a new working paper that big projects are best for countries that get more aid, have better governance, or have less revenue. He also shows how donors who care most about their own success tend to divide their aid portfolios into more, smaller projects to draw the recipient's resources away from other donors. This reduces development.Learn more
State building is creating and strengthening the institutions necessary to support long-term economic, social, and political development. In the U.S. we often take these institutions for granted, but in many countries they are weak or absent.Learn more about Rich World, Poor World: A Guide to Global Development
This new collection of essays sets an agenda for increased American effectiveness in dealing with failed states to promote economic development and international security. It includes an overview of the poorly understood challenge of weak and failed states and case studies by regional policy experts, then offers recommendations for reform of U.S. foreign and development policy to better meet the challenges posed by weak states.
Health care is no more immune to governance problems than any other sector. Numerous studies have documented such problems, for example, in the procurement of health supplies, in under-the-table payments for services, and in nurses and doctors who fail to show up at their clinics but nonetheless collect their salaries. This new CGD Brief by non-resident fellow Maureen Lewis brief surveys these problems and suggests mechanisms for addressing them, including better management, improved logistics and information systems, and strengthened accountability. Learn More
CGD program director Ruth Levine argues that independent impact evaluation of anti-corruption programs will be crucial to the success of the new World Bank campaign against corruption. As corruption-fighting programs are put into place, she writes, donor and recipient countries should request and fund careful, credible and independent third party evaluations—then publish the results whether or not they make the funders and implementers look good. Learn More
In this new working paper, CGD visiting fellow Ethan Kapstein and Nathan Converse analyze the economic performance of young democracies around the world and find that stagnating economic performance is a good indicator of imminent democratic reversal. The authors also find evidence suggesting that the design of political institutions significantly influence their probability of survival.
Ever since Adam Smith, economists have debated what conditions are required for nations to become wealthy. In a new CGD brief, senior fellow Peter Timmer argues that the "Smithian conditions" – low taxes, good government, and peace – are necessary but far from sufficient. He shows how investments in education, technology, and trade have contributed to the rapid progress of countries like South Korea, Singapore, and Brunei. The "miracle" of getting rich, Timmer concludes, lies in creating durable institutions that perpetuate both sets of policies over many decades.
Maureen Lewis examines the relationship in poor countries between governance and health care woes such as absenteeism, corruption, informal payments, and mismanagement. She finds that returns to investments in health are low where governance is weak and suggests ways that donors could help.
One of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) key innovations is its transparency criteria for country selection. But is the MCC as transparent in its decision-making process, particularly in decisions that are exceptions to rules? This paper argues that the MCC should deepen its transparency agenda, particularly with the consistency and clarity of the country selection decisions and the compact and threshold program development process.
An Aid-Institutions Paradox? A Review Essay on Aid Dependency and State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa- Working Paper 74
Does foreign aid help develop public institutions and state capacity in developing countries? In this Working Paper, the authors suggest that despite recent calls for increased aid to poor countries by the international community, there may be an "aid-institutions paradox." While donor intentions may be sincere, the authors conclude that it is possible that aid could undermine long-term institutional development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.