This paper reflects on the global goal setting experience of the MDGs and what might be done differently if there is new round of MDGs after 2015.
Overselling Broadband: A Critique of the Recommendation of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development
The Broadband Commission for Digital Development is an ITU (UN International Telecommunications Union) and UNESCO–backed body set up to advocate for greater broadband access worldwide. The commission’s Declaration of Broadband Inclusion for All and other reports call for governments to support ubiquitous fixed broadband access as a vital tool for economic growth and to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Examining the evidence, however, shows that the benefits of broadband are being oversold. Several points stand out: (i) the evidence for a large positive economic impact of broadband is limited; (ii) the impact of broadband rollout on achieving the MDGs would be marginal;(iii) there is little evidence ubiquitous broadband is needed for ‘national competitiveness’ or to benefit from opportunities like business process outsourcing; (iv) the costs of fixed universal broadband rollout dwarf available resources in developing countries; (and so) (v) the case for government subsidy of fixed broadband rollout is very weak. There are, however, some worthwhile policy reforms that could speed broadband rollout without demanding significant government expenditure.
Construction is a vital part of development, but it often falls prey to poor governance and corruption. Making the details of construction contracts public is one proven way to help citizens get what they are paying for.
It is widely agreed that the middle class is vital to progress because of its many virtues, but defining middle class in any meaningful way is difficult. And survey evidence suggests the middle class is not culturally unique, particularly socially progressive, or entrepreneurial.
Charles Kenny investigates the complex role development agencies have in promoting technology overseas.
Subjective-well-being (SWB) polls help to illustrate some of the absurdities of taking income per capita as our measure of the ultimate good. Polls do not capture a be-all and end-all measure of the good. Considerable caution is required in the use of such polls for policymaking.
The Best Things in Life are (Nearly) Free: Technology, Knowledge and Global Health - Working Paper 252
In this paper, background to Kenny’s book Getting Better, the authors investigate the cross-country determinants of health improvements and describe the implications for development policy.
Charles Kenny takes a look at the Peace Corps, fifty years after its founding. Demand from developing countries for volunteers outstrips the Peace Corps’ capacity to respond. Nonetheless, he argues, the agency operates on a model designed for a very different world, and an evolutionary change in that model from a government-operated program to a grant-making system closer to the Fulbright scholarships could result in a higher effectiveness in meeting the Peace Corps’ fundamental goals over its next fifty years of life.
In his latest essay, Charles Kenny seeks to revive Solow's model of exogenous growth; growth driven by the global diffusion of new technologies and ideas. He suggests that when it comes to quality of life improvements, institutions may be less important than exogenous factors, like new vaccines, oral re-hydration therapies, or improvements in hygiene and education practices.
Charles Kenny attempts to dispel development pessimists' fears in this essay summarizing his latest book Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding - And How We can Improve the World Even More (Basic Books). According to Charles, better health, education, greater access to civil and political rights, infrastructure and even beer, are all signs historic progress being made in the developing world.