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Cover of Working Paper 152
September 30, 2008

Human Capital Investment under Exit Options: Evidence from a Natural Quasi-Experiment - Working Paper 152

When countries select immigrants based on skill, what happens in the migrants' countries of origin? Departing skilled workers obviously tend to reduce stocks of skill there, but the prospect of skilled migration can induce more investment in skill. It is not clear which effect dominates. This paper studies one of the fastest and relatively largest exoduses of skilled workers on record, in the Pacific country of Fiji, which paradoxically produced a net increase in the stock of skill within Fiji. It offers evidence that skilled migration prospects caused that net increase, and evidence to rule out several competing explanations.

August 22, 2008

Don't Close the Golden Door: Making Immigration Policy Work for Development (White House and the World Policy Brief)

International movements of people can spark and sustain the development process in poor countries, helping people climb out of poverty. Creating opportunities for poor people to improve their lives promotes our values, enhances our security,and restores our faltering image abroad. The next president of the United States has an opportunity to advance a migration agenda that is one of several pillars of our leadership position on global development. CGD research fellow Michael Clemens shows how.

Cover of The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President
August 22, 2008

The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President

The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President shows how modest changes in U.S. policies could greatly improve the lives of poor people in developing countries, thus fostering greater stability, security, and prosperity globally and at home. Center for Global Development experts offer fresh perspectives and practical advice on trade policy, migration, foreign aid, climate change and more. In an introductory essay, CGD President Nancy Birdsall explains why and how the next U.S. president must lead in the creation of a better, safer world.

July 3, 2008

The Place Premium: Wage Differences for Identical Workers across the U.S. Border - Working Paper 148

Are your wages determined by what you know, or where you are? This paper estimates how the wages of workers in 42 developing countries would change if the same people could work in the United States. It uses a rich new database on over two million workers around the world. A worker from the median country would earn about 2.7 times as much in the US as at home. This means that (1) for many countries, the wage gaps caused by barriers to movement across international borders are among the largest known forms of wage discrimination; (2) these gaps represent one of the largest remaining price distortions in any global market; and (3) simply allowing labor mobility can reduce a given household’s poverty to a much greater degree than most known antipoverty interventions inside developing countries.

Michael Clemens , Claudio E. Montenegro and Lant Pritchett
May 27, 2008

Don't Close the Golden Door: Our Noisy Debate on Immigration and Its Deathly Silence on Development

International migration has long been a central tool in the battle against global poverty and inequality, but the recent heated political debate over immigration reform has largely failed to recognize how migration shapes the development process. In this essay, research fellow Michael Clemens and co-author Sami Bazzi outline five major reasons why migration is a development issue in today’s world, and they suggest an agenda for the next U.S. administration to make U.S. migration policy work for the United States, for countries of origin, and for the migrants themselves.

Michael Clemens and Sami Bazzi
March 13, 2008

Income per Natural: Measuring Development as if People Mattered More Than Places - Working Paper 143

Data on the average income of a resident of Ecuador is easy to find. But until now there has been no data on the average income of a person born in Ecuador, regardless of where she or he lives. In this paper, research fellow Michael Clemens and non-resident fellow Lant Pritchett introduce a new dataset, income per natural: the mean annual income of persons born in a given country regardless of residence. Turns out that defining things this way makes a big difference, and not just for tiny nations. Income per natural differs by more than 10% from income per resident for dozens of countries including Vietnam, Kenya and Morocco. In other words, one of the largest sources of increased income for people in many parts of the developing world is moving to another country.

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September 10, 2007

Helping the Bottom Billion: Is There a Third Way in the Development Debate?

Paul Collier's new book, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, argues that many developing countries are doing just fine and that the real development challenge is the 58 countries that are economically stagnant and caught in one or more "traps": armed conflict, natural resource dependence, poor governance, and geographic isolation. In a review of the book recently published in Foreign Affairs, CGD research fellow Michael Clemens explores whether or not Collier's proposed solutions constitute a practical middle path between William Easterly's development pessimism and Jeffrey Sach's development boosterism.

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March 9, 2007

Do Visas Kill? Health Effects of African Health Professional Emigration - Working Paper 114

Large numbers of African nurses and doctors are emigrating to the U.S., U.K., Australia and other rich countries. These movements strain local health systems and deprive sick people of urgently needed care. Right? Think again. What if wages and working conditions in city slums and rural villages are so dismal that trained health workers are unwilling to work there, regardless of migration options? What if the possibility of migration actually causes more people in developing countries to train as health care workers? Drawing on a new database of health worker emigration from Africa, CGD research fellow Michael Clemens finds that the conventional wisdom about the impact of doctors and nurses migration is entirely wrong. Visas, he concludes, do not kill. Learn more

August 11, 2006

New data on African health professionals abroad - Working Paper 95

The migration of doctors and nurses from Africa to rich countries has raised fears of an African medical brain drain. Research on the issue has been hampered by lack of data. How many doctors and nurses have left Africa? Which countries did they leave? Where have they settled? To answer these questions, CGD researchers compiled the first dataset of cumulative bilateral net flows of African-born physicians and nurses to the nine most important destination countries. Learn more

Michael A. Clemens and Gunilla Pettersson
September 12, 2005

What's Wrong with the Millennium Development Goals?

Many poor countries, especially in Africa, will miss the MDGs by a large margin. But neither African inaction nor a lack of aid will necessarily be the reason. Instead, responsibility for near-certain ‘failure’ lies with the overly-ambitious goals themselves and unrealistic expectations placed on aid. While the MDGs may have galvanized activists and encouraged bigger aid budgets, over-reaching brings risks as well. Promising too much leads to disillusionment and can erode the constituency for long-term engagement with the developing world.

September 6, 2005

Ghost of 0.7%: Origins and Relevance of the International Aid Target - Working Paper 68

The international goal for rich countries to devote 0.7% of their national income to development assistance has become a cause célèbre for aid activists and has been accepted in many official quarters as the legitimate target for aid budgets. The origins of the target, however, raise serious questions about its relevance.

Michael A. Clemens and Todd J. Moss
July 20, 2005

Costs and Causes of Zimbabwe's Crisis

Zimbabwe has experienced a precipitous collapse in its economy over the past five years. The government blames its economic problems on external forces and drought. We assess these claims, but find that the economic crisis has cost the government far more in key budget resources than has the donor pullout. We show that low rainfall cannot account for the shock either. This leaves economic misrule as the only plausible cause of Zimbabwe’s economic regression, the decline in welfare, and unnecessary deaths of its children.

July 22, 2004

Counting Chickens When They Hatch: Timing and the Effects of Aid on Growth - Working Paper 44

Recent research offers differing assessments of the overall, worldwide effect of foreign aid on economic growth in the countries that receive aid. To understand these differences, we re-analyze the same data and same regressions used in the three most influential aid-growth studies. In all three, increases in aid have been followed on average by modest increases in investment and growth. The most plausible explanation is that aid causes some degree of growth in recipient countries, though the magnitude of this relationship is modest, varies greatly across recipients, and diminishes at high levels of aid.

Michael Clemens , Steven Radelet , Rikhil Bhavnani and Samuel Bazzi
May 1, 2004

The Trouble with the MDGs: Confronting Expectations of Aid and Development Success - Working Paper 40

*REVISED Version September 2004

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are unlikely to be met by 2015, even if huge increases in development assistance materialize. The rates of progress required by many of the goals are at the edges of or beyond historical precedent. Many countries making extraordinarily rapid progress on MDG indicators, due in large part to aid, will nonetheless not reach the MDGs. Unrealistic targets thus may turn successes into perceptions of failure, serving to undermine future constituencies for aid (in donors) and reform (in recipients). This would be unfortunate given the vital role of aid and reform in the development process and the need for long-term, sustained aid commitments.

March 16, 2004

The Long Walk to School: International Education Goals in Historical Perspective - Working Paper 37

This work quantifies how long it has taken countries rich and poor to make the transition towards high enrollments and gender parity. It finds that many countries that have not raised enrollments fast enough to meet the Millennium Development Goals have in fact raised enrollments extraordinarily rapidly by historical standards and deserve celebration rather than condemnation. The very few poor countries that have raised enrollment figures at the rates envisioned by the goals have done so in many cases by accepting dramatic declines in schooling quality, failing large numbers of students, or other practices that cast doubt on the sustainability or exportability of their techniques.

April 1, 2003

From Promise to Performance: How Rich Countries Can Help Poor Countries Help Themselves

At the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 the nations of the world committed to join forces to meet a set of measurable targets for reducing world poverty, disease, illiteracy and other indicators of human misery—all by the year 2015. These targets, later named the Millennium Development Goals, include seven measures of human development in poor countries. At the same summit, world leaders took on several qualitative targets applicable to rich countries, later collected in an eighth Goal. The key elements of the eighth Goal, pledge financial support and policy changes in trade, debt relief, and other areas to assist poor countries'domestic efforts to meet the first seven Goals. Combined, the eight Goals constitute a global compact between poor and rich to work today toward their mutual interests to secure a prosperous future.

February 23, 2003

The Millennium Challenge Account: How Much is Too Much, How Long is Long Enough? - Working Paper 23

The US government's proposed $5 billion Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) could provide upwards of $250-$300m or more per year per country in new development assistance to a small number of poor countries judged to have relatively "good" policies and institutions. Could this assistance be too much of a good thing and strain the absorptive capacity of recipient countries to use the funds effectively? Empirical evidence from the past 40 years of development assistance suggests that in most potential MCA countries, the sheer quantity of MCA money is unlikely to overwhelm the ability of recipients to use it well, if the funds are delivered effectively.

December 20, 2002

World Bank Capital Neither Complements Nor Substitutes for Private Capital - Working Paper 20

What should the World Bank optimally do with the US$10 to $20 billion it can loan each year? Has it, in fact, done what is optimal? This study suggests a simple framework within which to measure the World Bank against an optimal international public financier for development. It goes on to argue that a careful treatment of the empirical evidence on Bank lending strongly contradicts optimal behavior under different assumptions. The evidence, in fact, rejects any notion that the Bank has substituted for private capital or that it has successfully catalyzed private development finance.

Michael A. Clemens

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