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.
Ten months after the onset of the crisis, Bangladesh is home to the largest refugee settlement in the world. So what comes next? How should Bangladesh and the international community respond to this new phase of Rohingya displacement in Bangladesh for which Bangladesh is bearing far more than its fair share?
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.
The USG International Family Planning Landscape: Defining Approaches to Address Uncertainties in Funding and Programming
The international family planning community has made impressive gains in increasing global access to high-quality, voluntary family planning services. However, significant challenges remain with maintaining current support and meeting the growing need projected for family planning services and commodities across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The Trump administration has pledged to tie foreign aid more directly to countries’ United Nations (UN) votes, threatening to punish countries who vote against the US position by cutting their foreign assistance. While the administration’s harsh rhetoric marks a shift from the recent past, the United States has been using aid to influence UN votes for decades.
Unequal Ventures: Results from a Baseline Study of Gender and Entrepreneurship in East Java, Indonesia
A study of women and men business owners in East Java offers a unique opportunity to analyze characteristics of entrepreneurs and their businesses by gender for a country where such systematic data are scarce. The study is one of two randomized controlled trials launched in 2015 to assess the power of mobile savings and training for women entrepreneurs. This report details baseline results from the Indonesia trial, still under way, which is testing whether providing financial literacy training for women who are potential bank clients and varying financial incentives to bank agents promoting a new mobile savings product make a difference in increasing entrepreneurs’ uptake of formal savings and in improving economic outcomes. Short-term results of the other trial, in Tanzania, were reported in the first report in this series.
Mobile savings hold great promise, because they can considerably reduce transaction costs that can be unduly heavy for women. Two questions guide us: how can we encourage more women microentrepreneurs to access formal savings accounts, and is mobile saving a particularly fitting solution? This series uses empirical evidence to address these issues.
While it is far too soon to discuss returns, it is the right time to plan for the longer-term wellbeing of refugees and their host communities in Bangladesh.
Healthcare Systems as Intelligent Payers: What Can the Global Health Community Learn from the English National Health Service?
Today, politicians are under growing pressure to squeeze more out of every dollar and guarantee greater access to better, more affordable healthcare for their citizens. In such a resource-constrained environment, wasting trillions of dollars on health every year is not viable. This note provides an overview of some of the approaches and policy options that the National Health Service in England has been using to maximise value for money.