Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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September 9, 2010

Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way (brief)

In this essay Steven Radelet explains how since the mid 1990s seventeen Sub-Saharan African states have transcended the conflict and dictatorships of decades past to establish themselves as burgeoning world states. Approaching the discussion by delineating between cultural differences across the region, Radelet offers a dynamic analysis of the new and encouraging growth observed in several African countries.

January 17, 2008

Young Democracies in the Balance: Lessons for the International Community

Why do new democracies sometimes fail? This CGD brief by visiting fellow Ethan Kapstein explores the underlying reasons for frequent backsliding in the world's fledgling democracies and offers the international community recommendations for helping them stay on track toward political stability. Kapstein argues that the international community should encourage political arrangements in which government leaders are constrained by effective checks and balances, and economic policies that help to ensure that the benefits of growth are widely shared.

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Ethan B. Kapstein and Nathan Converse
February 13, 2006

How Countries Get Rich

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.

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.

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 1, 2005

A Better Globalization: Legitimacy, Governance, and Reform (Brief)

This brief summarizes five key recommendations from the CGD book A Better Globalization: Legitimacy, Governance, and Reform by Kemal Dervis. It presses for reform on a broad front with a renewed, more legitimate, and more effective United Nations as the overarching framework for global governance based on global consent.

Kemal Dervis and Ceren Özer
December 28, 2004

Toward a New Social Contract in Latin America

his policy brief proposes a new job-based social contract, geared to the aspirations of the region’s vast majority of near-poor “middle” households, whose participation is key to achieving growth and strengthening democracy.