Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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Photo of a busy street in Hong Kong
August 3, 2017

Middle Class: Winners or Losers in a Globalized World?

Globalization is under attack in the West. The debate among pundits is no longer about whether globalization is to blame or not. It is about why globalization is now the bugaboo it has become. A common thread are changes, for the worse, in the economic and social standing of the Western middle class.

April 4, 2017

Latin America´s Policy Options for Times of Protectionism

A rise in protectionism and increased external uncertainty may compound already existing domestic weaknesses. Latin America cannot run the risk of being unprepared for the significant potential direct and indirect effects of such a menace to its exports, capital inflows and growth.

March 14, 2016

Six Questions African Policymakers Must Answer Now

The “Africa rising” story of the past decade, fueled by 5 percent average annual growth, is in danger of faltering. To change the narrative, and — more importantly — the reality it describes, African policymakers must urgently answer these six questions.

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.

flic.kr/p/oTbje9
January 19, 2016

Shine a Light on the Gaps

If Africa’s smallholder farmers are going to lift themselves out of poverty, they need access to formal financial services instead of the unstable, inflexible, informal arrangements that they currently rely on and that keep them poor. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Janeen Madan review the ways in which digital technology is changing how financial services are delivered and made affordable. With the right investments and policies, farmers will be able to access credit, savings accounts, insurance, payment platforms, and other financial products that allow them to invest in their livelihoods without being exposed to exploitation or untenable risks.

flickr user Cho Wah Ye / cc bit.ly/1KEFu1s
July 31, 2015

Food Security Post-2015: What Countries Need to Do So That Regional Collaboration Can Be Effective

To explain why ending hunger has been so hard, Peter Timmer highlights four main themes: the complex role of markets, the importance of government policies, the historical process of structural transformation, and the need to identify the appropriate time horizon for analysis and interventions. These themes are not new, but integrating them into a coherent approach to ending hunger seems to be original

April 28, 2015

The Aid Ring Fence: Protection or Prison?

The development landscape between now and 2030 will be look completely different from the last fifteen years. The Sustainable Development Goals which look likely to be agreed in September, including a commitment to eradicate absolute poverty by 2030, will be addressed against a very different backdrop to the relatively successful period of the Millennium Development Goals. There are three challenges we are going to have to address.

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.

January 12, 2015

In Defence of Britain’s Overseas Aid

When Sir Tim Lankester defends the aid programme against charges that it can sometimes be misused for other things, he knows what he is talking about. He was the most senior civil servant in Britain’s aid ministry (then called ODA, now known as DFID), and in 1991 he bravely blew the whistle on a project to finance a dam in Malaysia because it was not a good use of development money (and indeed turned out to be connected to agreements to buy British arms).

Tim Lankester
November 11, 2011

Where Is the Virtue in the Middle Class?

It is widely agreed that the middle class is vital to progress because of its many virtues, but defining middle class in any meaningful way is difficult. And survey evidence suggests the middle class is not culturally unique, particularly socially progressive, or entrepreneurial.

July 13, 2011

Can Aid Work? Written Testimony Submitted to the House of Lords

The main body of this short essay comprises written testimony that Owen Barder submitted to Britain’s House of Lords in response to a question about the effectiveness of foreign aid. In a brief introduction Barder draws upon his recent experience living in Ethiopia for three years to shed light on how he thinks about the question of aid effectiveness.

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