It’s tricky to evaluate government education policies. Using the examples of three rigorous studies of three different education policies, this note aims to shed some light from the perspective of someone on the policy side on how, why, and when to evaluate government-led reforms.
“The Missing Profits of Nations,” by Thomas Tørsløv, Ludvig Wier, and Gabriel Zucman is a recent high-profile study seeking to assess profit shifting by multinational corporations. Headlines such as “40 percent of multinational profits are shifted” are at risk of being misinterpreted as indicating potential revenue gains that are higher than their findings suggest.
Earlier this year we undertook a field study of Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh (AP), together with collaborators from Microsave, to understand the experience and perceptions around digital governance reforms. Our three surveys—of households, ration shop owners, and bank correspondents—find widespread support for digital governance reforms, including the use of Aadhaar authentication to receive food rations through the public distribution system (PDS) and social pensions through the panchayat, as well as for digital land records. However, we also find some areas for improvement.
Five Ways to Improve the World Bank Funding for Refugees and Hosts in Low-Income Countries and Why These Dedicated Resources Matter More than Ever
For too long, the international community has accepted the convenient fiction that refugee crises are temporary.
The Declaration of Alma-Ata at 40: Realizing the Promise of Primary Health Care and Avoiding the Pitfalls in Making Vision Reality
At the Global Conference on Primary Health Care (PHC) in Astana on October 25–26, 2018, world leaders will redouble their commitment to PHC as a cornerstone of universal health coverage (UHC). The event marks the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of Alma-Ata, which enshrined health as a basic human right and underscored the potential of equitable, high-quality PHC to deliver “health for all.”
For more than a decade, reform efforts have attempted to put crisis-affected people at the center of humanitarian response, and make the system more cohesive and responsive. These reforms have produced ever-heavier coordination systems and technocratic guidance, but have targeted the symptoms of the system’s shortcomings rather than the causes. Traditional humanitarian response remains plagued by deep power imbalances, needless rivalries between organizations, and perverse institutional incentives. A new approach is badly needed—one that builds on the aspirations of earlier reform efforts while explicitly tackling the red-line issues that have long undermined them. A new multi-year research initiative at the Center for Global Development (CGD) aims to do just that: develop concrete, pragmatic, and actionable reform options to overhaul the outdated power structures and institutional incentives that have long skewed the humanitarian system’s behavior.
Let’s Be Real: The Informal Sector and the Gig Economy are the Future, and the Present, of Work in Africa
It’s time we recognized the truth about the future of work in Africa: it isn’t in the growth of full-time formal sector jobs. The future of work will be people working multiple gigs with “somewhat formal” entities. This is already true, and it will be for the foreseeable future. When we consider the future of work in Africa the question shouldn’t be whether jobs will be formal or informal, but how digital platforms and new technologies might make this type of work more productive and of a better quality for workers themselves.
Are USAID programs high impact and good value for money? Do they work? Do they generate more results for less cost than if the agency just gave poor people cash? We don’t always know the answers to those questions, but USAID is trying to find out.
Like a number of other countries, even in 2017, Malawi lacked a functioning national registry or identification system. This essay describes how a comprehensive multipurpose national ID system was implemented in 180 days, with the assistance of UNDP and other development partners.
Many countries’ systems of basic education are in “stall” condition.
A recent paper of Beatty et al. (2018) uses information from the Indonesia Family Life Survey, a representative household survey that has been carried out in several waves with the same individuals since 2000 and contains information on whether individuals can answer simple arithmetic questions. Figure 1, showing the relationship between the level of schooling and the probability of answering a typical question correctly, has two shocking results.
I argue that we did learn two very important things from growth research, and these were learned from research in the strong sense that they changed people’s views from a previous view that was incorrect.
An economic, political, and humanitarian crisis has driven more than one million Venezuelans across the border into Colombia in the past year. Countries hosting Venezuelans have done so with relative welcome, keeping their borders open and offering some services and protection to migrants. But additional significant financial and other support will be required to meet the needs of both migrants and hosts.
The economic impacts of Donald Trump’s trade dispute with China have so far been limited, but the countries of Latin America are nonetheless paying an early price. For a region where many economies are already constrained by weakened fiscal positions, the additional uncertainty caused by rising protectionism is especially unwelcome.
Over the past 50 years, Pakistan’s record on macroeconomic management has been mixed. The next crisis is now approaching. Most economists agree that the post-election government will have no alternative but to approach the IMF yet again for another bailout with associated policy conditionality. Against this background, this note examines three questions that economists both within and outside Pakistan are asking.
Even with international assistance, the cost of providing refuge to so many people has strained the budget of the Jordanian government. At the same time, international partners, notably the IMF, have been insisting that Jordan take actions to bring down government debt to “more sustainable levels” through increasing fiscal discipline to tame government deficits. These dual imperatives by the international community—host more refugees and tame the budget—seem to put Jordan in an untenable situation as long as the refugee crisis continues. Something will have to give—the question is how, what, and when?
Domestic Resource Mobilization in Low-Income Countries: Proposal for a Surge in Multilateral Support
Rising debt vulnerability in low-income countries (LICs) is emerging as a front-burner issue. Analysts at the IMF and elsewhere are tracking increases in public debt ratios that had fallen after the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. Forty percent of LICs are either in, or at high risk of, debt distress. Many factors have contributed to rising debt-to-GDP ratios: falling commodity prices, deteriorating fiscal balances, conflict, and corruption, among others. The larger fiscal deficits are fully or partially accounted for by increased public investment in about half of LICs. Which brings us to the challenge of financing the SDGs.
Policymakers and voters reasonably want to know what the effects of immigration are, to help them decide how much immigration there should be. But the effects of immigration are highly contingent on where, when, how, and who. We must ask a more fruitful question: how can different policy choices generate positive economic effects from immigration and avoid negative ones? Immigration is not inherently “good” or “bad.” Its effects depend on the context and the policy choices that shape it.
This brief essay explores a key but often overlooked hurdle to using blockchain solutions, which is the complexity that decentralized solutions necessarily introduce. At times, the benefits of such solutions appear to exceed the added cost of complexity but often they do not. With this tradeoff in mind, the paper considers two use cases, digital ID and health supply chain management.