Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



August 27, 2013

Estimating Income / Expenditure Differences across Populations: New Fun with Old Engel’s Law - Working Paper 339

How much larger are the consumption possibilities of an urban US household with per capita expenditures of 1,000 US dollars per month than a rural Indonesian household with per capita expenditures of 1,000,000 Indonesian Rupiah per month? Consumers in different markets face widely different consumption possibilities and prices and hence the conversion of incomes or expenditures to truly comparable units of purchasing power is extremely difficult. We propose a simple supplement to existing purchasing power adjusted currency conversions.

August 22, 2013

Grant Performance and Payments at the Global Fund

Performance-based financing can be used by global-health funding agencies to improve program performance and thus value for money. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was one of the first global-health funders to deploy a performance-based financing system. However, its complex, multistep system for calculating and paying on grant ratings has several components that are subjective and discretionary. We aimed to test the association between grant ratings and disbursements, an indication of the extent to which incentives for performance are transmitted to grant recipients. 

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 19, 2013

Revisiting the Quality of Agricultural Official Development Assistance

The Quality of Agricultural Official Development Assistance (Ag QuODA) measures how well donors giving agricultural aid score on the dimensions of aid quality that evidence and experience suggest lead to effective aid. Improvements in the data quality and availability are making sector-specific assessments like Ag QuODA more feasible, but further improvements are needed to allow a deeper understanding of aid effectiveness.

Edward Collins and Kimberly Ann Elliott
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 14, 2013

OPIC Unleashed: Strengthening US Tools to Promote Private-Sector Development Overseas

A strengthened OPIC—more efficiently deploying existing tools at no additional budget cost—would (1) increase US commercial access in emerging economies, (2) reflect economic, social, and political priorities in developing countries, (3) promote flagship US initiatives during austere budget conditions, and (4) support stability in fragile or frontline states.

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.

August 8, 2013

The Strugglers: The New Poor in Latin America? - Working Paper 337

In this paper we identify a group of people in Latin America and other developing countries that are not poor but not middle class either. We define them as the vulnerable “strugglers”, people living in households with daily income per capita between $4 and $10 (at constant 2005 PPP dollar). They are well above the international poverty line, but still vulnerable to falling back into poverty and hence not part of the secure middle class. In a first step, we use long-term growth projections to show that in Latin America about 200 million people will likely be in the struggler group in 2030, accounting for about a third of the total population.

August 7, 2013

Data Set for The Financial Flows of PEPFAR: A Profile

This is the data set for Policy Paper 27 , “The Financial Flows of PEPFAR: A Profile,” in which Victoria Fan, Rachel Silverman, Denizhan Duran, and Amanda Glassman track the financial flows of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) from donor agencies via intermediaries and to pr

Victoria Fan , Denizhan Duran and Amanda Glassman
August 7, 2013

Context Matters for Size: Why External Validity Claims and Development Practice Don't Mix - Working Paper 336

In this paper we examine how policymakers and practitioners should interpret the impact evaluation literature when presented with conflicting experimental and non-experimental estimates of the same intervention across varying contexts. We show three things. First, as is well known, non-experimental estimates of a treatment effect comprise a causal treatment effect and a bias term due to endogenous selection into treatment. When non-experimental estimates vary across contexts any claim for external validity of an experimental result must make the assumption that (a) treatment effects are constant across contexts, while (b) selection processes vary across contexts. This assumption is rarely stated or defended in systematic reviews of evidence. Second, as an illustration of these issues, we examine two thoroughly researched literatures in the economics of education—class size effects and gains from private schooling—which provide experimental and non-experimental estimates of causal effects from the same context and across multiple contexts.

August 2, 2013

US Development Assistance to Pakistan: 2014 and Beyond

In this note, CGD senior policy analyst Alexis Sowa outlines three recommendations for US development assistance to Pakistan: name the leader of US development efforts, clarify the mission, and finance what is already working.

Alexis Sowa