Ideas to Action:

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February 5, 2015

The Face of African Infrastructure: Service Availability and Citizens' Demands - Working Paper 393

The need for infrastructure improvements is a top-tier economic, political, and social issue in nearly every African country. Although the academic and policy literature is extensive in terms of estimating the impact of infrastructure deficits on economic and social indicators, very few studies have examined citizen demands for infrastructure.

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
Should Countries Be More Like Shopping Malls? A Proposal for Service Performance Guarantees for Africa
September 17, 2014

Should Countries Be More Like Shopping Malls? A Proposal for Service Performance Guarantees for Africa

Many developing countries have made progress in political openness and economic management but lag in terms of attracting private sector investments, at least outside of narrow resource-based enclaves.These countries may have recognized potential but have not yet established the reputation needed to sustain investment through the inevitable political and policy shocks that take place in most countries. The concerns that deter investors are many but can be broadly classified into high costs that that prevent global competitiveness and high actual or perceived risks.

Alan Gelb , Vijaya Ramachandran and Alice Rossignol
September 15, 2014

Self‐Selection into Credit Markets: Evidence from Agriculture in Mali - Working Paper 377

We partnered with a micro-lender in Mali to randomize credit offers at the village level. Then, in no-loan control villages, we gave cash grants to randomly selected households. These grants led to higher agricultural investments and profits, thus showing that liquidity constraints bind with respect to agricultural investment.

Lori Beaman , Dean Karlan , Bram Thuysbaert and Christopher Udry
August 4, 2014

How Has the Developing World Changed since the Late 1990s? A Dynamic and Multidimensional Taxonomy of Developing Countries - Working Paper 375

Many existing classifications of developing countries are dominated by income per capita (such as the World Bank’s low, middle and high income thresholds), thus neglecting the multidimensionality of the concept of ‘development’. Even those deemed to be the main ‘alternatives’ to the income-based classification have income per capita heavily weighted within a composite indicator.

AGOA agriculture barriers trade restrictions
July 28, 2014

AGOA’s Final Frontier: Removing US Farm Trade Barriers

If the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is to remain as a key part of US development policy in Africa, it needs to embrace the sector on which so many of the poor in Africa depend. According to World Bank data, more than 60 percent of Africans live in rural areas, and they are more likely to be poor than their urban counterparts. Yet, while almost all manufactured goods enter duty-free under AGOA and other trade preference programs, US policy (unintentionally) discriminates against agricultural sectors in which Africa could be competitive.

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