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Robots in a factory. Adobe Stock
October 22, 2019

Automation and AI: Implications for African Development Prospects?

Now that computers are capable of taking the jobs that require brain as well as brawn, it may appear there is little left for humans to do. But there are reasons to doubt the pessimism. This note reviews some of the literature around AI, automation, jobs, and development prospects with a focus on potential implications for developing countries and in particular for Africa.

Front cover of Charles Kenny's policy paper on five principles for DFIs
October 9, 2019

Five Principles for Use of Aid in Subsidies to the Private Sector

There is a significant and ongoing ramp-up in support for explicitly subsidized official development finance to the private sector around the world, but its role remains poorly defined. Lessons from the aid effectiveness literature as a whole and principles on effective use of aid suggest the need for approaches that do not merely finance the marginal private investment. 

Image of the Front Cover of the What Works Paper
October 4, 2019

When Does “What Works” Work? And What Does that Mean for UK Aid R&D Spend?

The UK’s Secretary of State for International Development oversees an aid-financed R&D budget that is larger than that of the next 15 biggest donors combined. At the moment, a considerable proportion of that UK R&D spend goes towards solving global technological challenges related to neglected tropical diseases including malaria, and a considerable proportion again towards local evaluation of aid-financed development interventions. Much of the rest is somewhat opaquely distributed to British universities for research supposedly related to development.

Cover of Policy Paper 152
July 25, 2019

UK Research Aid: Tied, Opaque and Off-Topic?

The UK has considerably increased the amount of aid it spends on research in recent years. We suggest reporting reforms that will increase transparency and allow greater scrutiny of the way UK research aid is spent. We also call for the UK to live up to its reporting to the OECD that all British aid is untied. 

Cover of Working Paper 511
June 11, 2019

Examining the Impact of E-Procurement in Ukraine

This paper examines the impact of Ukraine’s ambitious procurement reform on outcomes amongst a set of procurements that used competitive tendering. This paper examines the impact of ProZorro and reform on contracts that were procured competitively both prior to and after the introduction of the new system. It finds some evidence of impact of the new system on increasing the number of bidders, cost savings, and reduced contracting times.

Artur Kovalchuk , Charles Kenny and Mallika Snyder
Cover of the report The Principles on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts
March 7, 2019

The Principles on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts

Every year, governments worldwide sign contracts worth trillions of dollars. They buy textbooks and fighter planes, hire consultants, commission firms to run railways and build bridges, take out loans and give guarantees, grant mining concessions, and issue licenses to use the public airwaves. Each time, legal documents specify who will pay how much to whom for what.

The Working Group on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts
Robots on an assembly line in a car factory
February 14, 2019

Women and the Future of Work: Fix the Present

There is a lot we don’t know about what automation will mean for jobs in the future, including its impact (if any) on gender inequality. This note reviews evidence and forecasts on that question and makes four main points.

Cover of Working Paper 484
May 23, 2018

Speeding Sustainable Development: Integrating Economic, Social, and Environmental Development - Working Paper 484

This paper discusses the role for policy integration to speed progress towards delivering the SDGs. This paper suggests a mechanism for prioritizing coordination and the use of coordination tools including regulation, safeguards, taxes, and subsidies. It also suggests re-orienting ministerial responsibilities where possible from input control to achievement of outcomes as well as tools to promote innovation by subnational governments and the private sector.

Cover of Working Paper 474
February 5, 2018

Measures of Global Public Goods and International Spillovers - Working Paper 474

This paper attempts a first-cut listing of global public goods and international spillover activities, as well as providing some data on their global distribution alongside basic correlational analysis. Few if any goods are “pure” global public goods and there is a spectrum of the extent of spillovers. Some global public goods are not well measured. The listing is far from exhaustive, nor is it based on rigorous selection criteria. But it does suggest considerable diversity in trends, levels and sources of public good and spillover activities.

Cover of Policy Paper 115
January 17, 2018

Inside the Portfolio of the International Finance Corporation: Does IFC Do Enough in Low-Income Countries?

IFC’s portfolio is not focused where it could make the most difference. Low income countries are where IFC has the scale to make a considerable difference to development outcomes. While an excessive portfolio shift might imperil IFC’s credit rating, the evidence suggests that there is considerable scope for increasing commitments to low income countries without significant impact to IFC’s credit scores.

Cover of Policy Paper 116
January 17, 2018

Comparing Five Bilateral Development Finance Institutions and the IFC

Development Finance Institutions (DFIs)—which provide financing to private investors in developing economies—have seen rapid expansion over the past few years. This paper describes and analyses a new dataset covering the five largest bilateral DFIs alongside the IFC which includes project amounts, standardized sectors, instruments, and countries. The aim is to establish the size and scope of DFIs and to compare and contrast them with the IFC.

Cover of Working Paper 472
December 13, 2017

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goal Zero Targets: What Could We Do? - Working Paper 472

The Sustainable Development Goals are an ambitious set of targets for global development progress by 2030 that were agreed by the United Nations in 2015. A review of the literature on meeting "zero targets" suggests very high costs compared to available resources, but also that in many cases there remains a considerable gap between financing known technical solutions and achieving the outcomes called for in the SDGs. In some cases, we (even) lack the technical solutions required to achieve the zero targets, suggesting the need for research and development of new approaches.

Gender in Article IV Reports by Year
November 2, 2017

The IMF: Crawling the Walk on Gender?

Under managing director Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has become a champion for gender equality. This note examines how much the IMF’s dialogue with its member countries has changed as a result of the labeling of gender as a "macrocritical" issue. In short, there has been increased attention to the issue as reflected in word counts and discussion of women’s labor force participation, but there is still a long way to go.

Cover of Working Paper 469
October 26, 2017

Estimating the SDGs' Demand for Innovation - Working Paper 469

How much innovation will be needed to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? Our results suggest that (i) best performers are considerably outperforming the average performance at a given income level, suggesting considerable progress could be achieved through policy change but that (ii) the targets set in the SDGs are unlikely to be met by 2030 without very rapid, ubiquitous technological progress alongside economic growth.

Cover of Working Paper 465
October 13, 2017

Norms and Reform: Legalizing Homosexuality Improves Attitudes - Working Paper 465

This analysis examines the relationship between legal reform and social norms surrounding homosexuality. First, about a fifth of the variation in individual preferences can be explained at a country level. Second, using a difference-in-differences strategy, legalizing homosexuality improves how individuals view the tone of their communities. Third, we provide further evidence supporting a legal origins argument by examining former colonies. We conclude that adopting legal reform can improve societal attitudes.

Results Not Receipts book cover
June 19, 2017

Results Not Receipts: Counting the Right Things in Aid and Corruption

Results Not Receipts explores how an important and justified focus on corruption is damaging the potential for aid to deliver results. Noting the costs of the standard anticorruption tools of fiduciary controls and centralized delivery, Results Not Receipts urges a different approach to tackling corruption in development: focus on outcomes.

Cover of Results Not Receipts Brief
June 19, 2017

Results Not Receipts: Counting the Right Things in Aid and Corruption (Brief)

Results Not Receipts explores how an important and justified focus on corruption is damaging the potential for aid to deliver results. Noting the costs of the standard anticorruption tools of fiduciary controls and centralized delivery, Results Not Receipts urges a different approach to tackling corruption in development: focus on outcomes.

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