Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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The cover of the Gitanjali Cooperative: A Social Enterprise in the Making
September 15, 2017

The Gitanjali Cooperative: A Social Enterprise in the Making (brief)

In 1995 India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) organized women waste pickers in Ahmedabad into a cooperative to improve their working conditions and livelihoods. Over time, this informal arrangement evolved into Gitanjali—a women-owned and -run social enterprise. With support from key partners, Gitanjali has generated social value, providing its members with safe and dignified work while increasing their earnings. While Gitanjali faces challenges in becoming a fully self-sufficient social enterprise, its experience offers insights for other initiatives seeking to provide opportunities for women to transition from informal to formal work.

December 6, 2015

Global Public Goods That Matter for Development: A Path for US Leadership

The United States has been at the forefront of providing several development-related global public goods, including peace and security via its contributions to international peacekeeping, the monitoring of international sea trade routes, its engagement in forums such as the Financial Action Task Force to stem flows of funding to terrorist organizations, and more. Yet it has not fully capitalized on its comparative advantage in research and development at home that matters especially for the world’s poor, or on its opportunities for globally transformative investments abroad in such areas as clean power and disease surveillance. We propose two areas where the United States should lead on providing even more transformative global public goods.

women working in Africa
July 20, 2015

Advancing a Gender-Based Development Agenda

The same ideals that guided America’s earliest women of courage now lead our country into the world to combat the dehumanization of women in every form. We will not accept that women and girls are sold into modern-day slavery. We will not accept that women and girls are denied an education. We will not accept so-called honor killings, and we’ll do everything that we can to end forced early marriages. And we will work to improve health-care opportunities for all women so that they can help to build a more hopeful future for themselves and for their own children.

July 20, 2015

Powering Up US Policy to Promote Energy Access

As late as 1930, only 1 in 10 rural Americans had access to electricity. In subsequent years, rapidly increasing power generation and growing the electrical grid across the country became major pillars of the American battle against domestic poverty and a foundation for decades of economic growth and wealth creation. Today, energy access is universal in the United States. Reliable and affordable electricity is considered a basic necessity of life, an indispensable input to almost every aspect of modern living.

That same transformation is possible today in large parts of the developing world, where lack of access to modern energy harms quality of life and constrains economic growth. A concerted policy effort by the United States could help unleash tremendous human and market potential around the world. Pushing to promote electricity generation and access could significantly contribute to doing good in developing countries — and doing well for the United States.

July 20, 2015

Defining the Next Ten Years of the Millennium Challenge Corporation

MCC’s model has received much recognition. However, since the agency controls just a small portion of the US foreign assistance budget, it alone has not fulfilled — and cannot be expected to fulfill — the founding vision of transforming US foreign assistance policy. Partly in response to the recommendations stemming from the 2010 Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on Global Development, the larger agencies, especially the US Agency for International Development (USAID), have commendably worked to incorporate many of the same principles included in MCC’s model. For the most part, however, those principles are applied to a still-limited portion of the overall US foreign assistance portfolio. The next US president should continue to support MCC as a separate institution and support efforts to more thoroughly extend the good practices promoted in MCC’s model throughout US foreign assistance in general.

July 20, 2015

Protecting Tropical Forests, Global Prosperity, and Climatic Stability

Climate change is a threat not only to prosperity in the United States but also to national security, foreign policy, and development objectives throughout the world. Hurricane Sandy served as a reminder of the destruction to life and property from extreme weather events, which are likely to become more frequent and severe. Likewise, extended drought in the Southwest illustrates how climate change could affect agriculture, energy, recreation, and other major sectors of the US economy. The implications of climate change for the development prospects of poor countries are even worse. Lacking infrastructure, financial assets, insurance mechanisms, or strong institutions to cushion the impacts, developing societies remain highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including those resulting from increasingly irregular climatic conditions. The poorest households are most vulnerable — their houses often perch on steep, landslide-prone hillsides around cities or in coastal floodplains, and smallholder farmers lack irrigation and depend on increasingly erratic seasonal rains.

March 18, 2011

The New Bottom Billion: What If Most of the World's Poor Live in Middle-Income Countries?

Most of the world’s poor no longer live in low-income countries. An estimated 960 million poor people—a new bottom billion—live in middle-income countries, a result of the graduation of several populous countries from low-income status. That is good news, but it has repercussions. Donors will have to change the way they think about poverty alleviation. They should design development aid to benefit poor people, not just poor countries, keep supporting middle-income countries, think beyond traditional aid to craft coherent development policies, and work to help create space for more inclusive policy processes in new and old MICs.

September 29, 2010

Reviving AGOA

In this brief Kimberly Ann Elliott discusses the two main priorities the Obama administration should focus on in order to revive the AGOA program and expand its benefits.

September 9, 2010

Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way (brief)

In this essay Steven Radelet explains how since the mid 1990s seventeen Sub-Saharan African states have transcended the conflict and dictatorships of decades past to establish themselves as burgeoning world states. Approaching the discussion by delineating between cultural differences across the region, Radelet offers a dynamic analysis of the new and encouraging growth observed in several African countries.

September 25, 2009

Growing Pains in Latin America (brief)

What policies could help Latin America achieve accelerated, sustained growth that reduces poverty and inequality? CGD senior fellow Liliana Rojas-Suarez describes the framework for growth outlined in the book Growing Pains in Latin America and its practical policy recommendations.

January 17, 2008

Young Democracies in the Balance: Lessons for the International Community

Why do new democracies sometimes fail? This CGD brief by visiting fellow Ethan Kapstein explores the underlying reasons for frequent backsliding in the world's fledgling democracies and offers the international community recommendations for helping them stay on track toward political stability. Kapstein argues that the international community should encourage political arrangements in which government leaders are constrained by effective checks and balances, and economic policies that help to ensure that the benefits of growth are widely shared.

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Ethan B. Kapstein and Nathan Converse
October 10, 2007

The 2007 Commitment to Development Index: Components and Results

This CGD brief summarizes the results of the 2007 Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 21 of the world's richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit the five billion people living in poorer nations. The Netherlands comes in first on the 2007 CDI on the strength of ample aid-giving, falling greenhouse gas emissions, and support for investment in developing countries. Close behind are three more big aid donors: Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

September 10, 2007

Poverty and Inequality in Latin America: How the U.S. Can Really Help

For the past decade, U.S. attention to Latin America has focused mainly on promotion of free trade and opposition to narcotics trafficking and security threats. But there are signs that Washington is beginning to recognize the importance of helping the region tackle longstanding poverty and social inequality. Candidates at this weekend's Democratic presidential debate called for a robust foreign policy in Latin America and the Bush administration has recently shown a renewed interest in promoting development and improving Washington's image in the region. This new brief by CGD president Nancy Birdsall and Inter-American Dialogue president Peter Hakim sets forth a practical agenda for how the U.S. can help. Examples: buttress free trade agreements with aid programs that compensate losers; include land redistribution and alternative employment programs in the so-called "war against drugs."

Peter Hakim
September 4, 2007

Trade Policy for Development: Reforming U.S. Trade Preferences

By any measure, the United States is one of the most open economies in the world—importing more than $1 trillion worth of goods duty-free in 2006 alone. Yet poor nations still pay much higher U.S. tariffs than rich countries—an average of 15 percent on a quarter of their imports, compared to 2-5 percent for rich countries. Not only is this unfair, it also undermines American interests by hindering growth in the poorest countries, thereby making them more vulnerable to epidemic diseases, terrorists, and transnational criminal organizations. In this new CGD Brief, senior fellow Kimberly Ann Elliott makes the case for the U.S. to fix this problem by permanently granting all least-developed countries 100% duty-free, quota-free market access and simplifying rules of orgin.

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