Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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by Carlos Lowry flic.kr/p/Abrxy
February 16, 2016

Middle-Class Heroes: The Best Guarantee of Good Governance

The two economic developments that have garnered the most attention in recent years are the concentration of massive wealth in the richest one percent of the world’s population and the tremendous, growth-driven decline in extreme poverty in the developing world, especially in China. But just as important has been the emergence of large middle classes in developing countries around the planet. This phenomenon—the result of more than two decades of nearly continuous fast-paced global economic growth—has been good not only for economies but also for governance. After all, history suggests that a large and secure middle class is a solid foundation on which to build and sustain an effective, democratic state. Middle classes not only have the wherewithal to finance vital services such as roads and public education through taxes; they also demand regulations, the fair enforcement of contracts, and the rule of law more generally—public goods that create a level social and economic playing field on which all can prosper.

April 28, 2015

Does the Rise of the Middle Class Lock in Good Government in the Developing World?

The current size of the income-secure middle class and its likely future growth, suggest that optimism is indeed warranted for many of today’s middle-income countries. But it is not warranted for all of them, and especially not for most of the low-income countries of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa — even if they continue to grow at the relatively healthy rates they have enjoyed in the last decade and more.

September 5, 2013

The Development Space Goes Global: A New Role for Global Citizens

In this speech delivered at the 2012 Annual Conference of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Nancy Birdsall shares her observations about the changing development space and offers three proposals to help the development community tap the potential for informed and empowered citizens push for better local and global politics. Her remarks were prepared after delivering a 2012 speech to the 2012 UN General Assembly, "Global Citizens and the Global Economy," and foreshadowed her 2013 working paper , "Global Markets, Global Citizens, and Global Governance in the 21st Century."

September 17, 2012

Global Citizens and the Global Economy

In this speech delivered to the UN General Assembly, Nancy Birdsall argues that in the absence of an activist global political entity to address these issues, global citizens should press their own governments to adopt policies that address these problems, domestically and internationally.

Cover of The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President
August 22, 2008

The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President

The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President shows how modest changes in U.S. policies could greatly improve the lives of poor people in developing countries, thus fostering greater stability, security, and prosperity globally and at home. Center for Global Development experts offer fresh perspectives and practical advice on trade policy, migration, foreign aid, climate change and more. In an introductory essay, CGD President Nancy Birdsall explains why and how the next U.S. president must lead in the creation of a better, safer world.

Cover of Fair Growth: Economic Policies for Latin America's Poor and Middle-Income Majority
January 17, 2008

Fair Growth: Economic Policies for Latin America's Poor and Middle-Income Majority

In an increasingly globalized world, inequality is an issue of rising concern, especially in Latin America, home to many of the world's most unequal societies. This new book, co-published by the Center for Global Development and the Inter-American Dialogue, describes the links between recent growth trends, changing patterns of inequality, and rising cynicism and frustration with the political leadership across the region. The authors, Nancy Birdsall, Augusto de la Torre, and Rachel Menezes, present a dozen economic policy tools to make life fairer for the great majority of people--without sacrificing economic growth.

Nancy Birdsall , Augusto de la Torre and Rachel Menezes
March 8, 2007

Do No Harm: Aid, Weak Institutions, and the Missing Middle in Africa - Working Paper 113

Does aid to Africa undermine the emergence of a robust African middle class? If so, what can be done about it? In this new working paper, CGD president Nancy Birdsall argues that high and unpredictable aid flows could be making life harder for Africa's small and medium-sized businesses by, for example, inflating wages and making governments less reliant on domestic revenue—and hence less accountable to taxpayers. She urges that donors systematically monitor such impacts in aid-dependent countries and suggests ways that aid could help to bolster Africa's crucial but fragile middle-income groups. Learn more

December 4, 2006

Payments for Progress: A Hands-Off Approach to Foreign Aid - Working Paper 102

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

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