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Cover of Working Paper 508
April 10, 2019

Pooled Procurement of Drugs in Low and Middle Income Countries - Working Paper 508

We use data from seven low and middle income countries with diverse drug procurement systems to assess the effect of centralized procurement on drug prices and provide a theoretical mechanism that explains this effect. We find that centralized procurement of drugs by the public sector allows much lower prices but that the induced price reduction is smaller when the supply side is more concentrated.

Cover of Working Paper 507
April 3, 2019

The Future of Global Health Procurement: Issues around Pricing Transparency - Working Paper 507

This paper focuses on the role that price transparency may play in the efficient and effective procurement of medicines by middle- and low-income countries. Will making prices publicly available make procurement more efficient and cost-effective medicines more accessible? We conclude that transparency of the procurement process significantly lowers costs by encouraging bidders. 

An 18-wheeler on a highway
March 26, 2019

The Machines Are Not So Easy to Ride: Another Take on Automation

Contrary to popular imagination, automation in the workplace is not some modern-day development composed chiefly of hardware, robotics, and human-cognition level embedded algorithms. Instead, it is an old phenomenon consisting primarily of business productivity software deployment in the forms of enterprise resource planning, customer resource management, and human capital management solutions. And however far back one goes, process control and risk management have always competed with increased flexibility for priority in the business case for these systems.

Bright Simons
Cover of Working Paper 505
March 21, 2019

The Limits (And Human Costs) of Population Policy: Fertility Decline and Sex Selection in China under Mao - Working Paper 505

Most of China’s fertility decline predates the famous One Child Policy—and instead occurred under its predecessor, the Later, Longer, Fewer (LLF) policy. Studying LLF’s contribution to fertility and sex selection behavior, we find that it i) reduced China’s total fertility rate by 0.9 births per woman (explaining 28% of China’s modern fertility decline), ii) doubled the use of male-biased fertility stopping rules, and iii) promoted postnatal neglect (implying 210,000 previously unrecognized missing girls). Considering Chinese population policy to be extreme in global experience, our paper demonstrates the limits of population policy—and its potential human costs.

Close-up of hands using a phone to call a ride-sharing app
March 21, 2019

Why “Leapfrogging” in Frontier Markets Isn’t Working

There are two big questions about modern innovation: Why does it tend to confine itself to only a narrow “vanguard” of the economy in every part of the world? And why does it not provide as big a boost to productivity as expected, especially since the dotcom bust?

Bright Simons
Cover of the report The Principles on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts
March 7, 2019

The Principles on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts

Every year, governments worldwide sign contracts worth trillions of dollars. They buy textbooks and fighter planes, hire consultants, commission firms to run railways and build bridges, take out loans and give guarantees, grant mining concessions, and issue licenses to use the public airwaves. Each time, legal documents specify who will pay how much to whom for what.

The Working Group on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts
Pallets of DFID aid being unloaded. Photo from DFID / Flickr
March 1, 2019

A Short-Sighted Vision for Global Britain

There has been a resurgence in calls to reconsider the cross-party consensus in the UK on foreign aid and development. The main political parties are all committed to spending 0.7 percent of gross national income on aid, to using the internationally agreed definition of aid, and to maintaining a separate government department to administer the majority of this aid, led by a Cabinet Minister. In their recent report, Global Britain: A Twenty-first Century Vision, Bob Seely MP and James Rogers lay challenge to these long-established pillars of UK development policy. In this note, we consider some of the questions they raise and suggest alternative answers.

Cover of Working Paper 504
February 27, 2019

Learning Equity Requires More than Equality: Learning Goals and Achievement Gaps between the Rich and the Poor in Five Developing Countries - Working Paper 504

Achieving some absolute standard of learning for all children is a key element of global equity in education. Using the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) data from India and Pakistan, and Uwezo data from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda that test all children of given ages, whether in school or not, on simple measures of learning in math, reading (local language), and English, we quantify the role of achieving equality between the richest 20% and the poorest 40% in terms of grade attainment and learning achievement toward accomplishing the global equity goal of universal numeracy and literacy for all children.

Cover of Policy Paper 139
February 25, 2019

Improving Global Health Supply Chains through Traceability

In many low- and lower-middle-income countries (LMICs) where disease burdens are highest, health supply chains function poorly, resulting in frequent stockouts and a high prevalence of substandard and even falsified medications. In response to these concerns, the global health initiatives have stepped up their efforts to improve supply chain management.

Michael Pisa and Denise McCurdy
Robots on an assembly line in a car factory
February 14, 2019

Women and the Future of Work: Fix the Present

There is a lot we don’t know about what automation will mean for jobs in the future, including its impact (if any) on gender inequality. This note reviews evidence and forecasts on that question and makes four main points.

Cover of Working Paper 502
February 7, 2019

Enhancing Young Children’s Language Acquisition through Parent-Child Book-Sharing: A Randomized Trial in Rural Kenya - Working Paper 502

Worldwide, 250 million children under five (43 percent) are not meeting their developmental potential because they lack adequate nutrition and cognitive stimulation in early childhood. Several parent support programs have shown significant benefits for children’s development, but the programs are often expensive and resource intensive. The objective of this study was to test several variants of a potentially scalable, cost-effective intervention to increase cognitive stimulation by parents and improve emergent literacy skills in children.

Women pumping water at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar. Photo: UN Women/Allison Joyce
February 7, 2019

Toward Medium-Term Solutions for Rohingya Refugees and Hosts in Bangladesh: Mapping Potential Responsibility-Sharing Contributions

Bangladesh is providing a significant global public good by hosting nearly one million Rohingya refugees, including 700,000 who fled violence carried out with “genocidal intent” in 2017. The international community has an opportunity to recognize Bangladesh’s contributions through a robust responsibility-sharing process. This brief explores the potential range of responsibility-sharing commitments in support of Bangladesh.

Cover of Policy Paper 137
February 5, 2019

The Two Hundred Billion Dollar Question: How to Get the Biggest Impact from the 2019 Replenishments

In 2019/2020 donor governments are anticipated to pledge up to $170 billion to various multilateral organisations as part of their replenishment cycles. This unusual bunching of replenishments of some of the largest organisations in 2019 provides an opportunity to think more coherently about multilateral funding and to address key systemic problems, such as overlapping mandates and under-funding of some parts of the system.

Cover of Policy Paper 138
February 5, 2019

Governing Big Tech’s Pursuit of the “Next Billion Users”

The rapid expansion of internet access across the globe is a welcome development, but it raises new policy challenges. And while there is broad agreement in the development community on the importance of getting digital policy “right,” too little attention has been paid to how policymakers in the developing world can best engage with the companies who dominate the digital landscape.

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