Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity





A cover image for a paper on health taxes
March 1, 2021

Using Health Taxes to Support Revenue: An Action Agenda for the IMF and World Bank

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to large budget gaps in low- and middle-income countries, with revenues projected to be reduced for years to come. This is the moment for policymakers to consider whether health taxes—levied on tobacco products, alcoholic and sugar-sweetened beverages, and polluting fuels—can play a part in boosting revenue while also supporting better health

Cover of the note Education Technology for Effective Teachers
February 16, 2021

Education Technology for Effective Teachers

Education systems around the world are investing in technology to help teachers be more effective. In some cases, the results are exciting. In others, the impact of technology falls short of expectations or remains unevaluated. This note lays out four principles for investing in technology for effective teachers and six aspects of teaching where technology can boost teacher performance, together with examples of tested, promising, and cautionary experiences with teacher technologies.

An image showing a person holding a phone and receiving a message that they have a COVID vaccine certificate.
February 11, 2021

A COVID Vaccine Certificate: Building on Lessons from Digital ID for the Digital Yellow Card

COVID-19 vaccination efforts are well and truly underway across the world. In addition to those in Europe and North America, vaccination campaigns are gathering pace across China, India, Russia, and the Middle East, though lagging in many other, mostly poor, countries. As more start scaling up their own programs and the number of vaccinated people increases over the coming year, a COVID Vaccine Certificate is likely to become an important tool to help monitor and manage the rollout of vaccinations and get national economies back on track.

February 9, 2021

Financing a Possible Expansion of the IMF’s Support for LICs

The IMF’s concessional support for low-income countries (LICs) is provided primarily through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT). Since the start of the pandemic, lending from the PRGT has risen very sharply in response to the unprecedented and urgent needs of LICs; total PRGT credit outstanding nearly doubled during 2020 to far exceed past peaks. This note considers possible financing sources, taking into account legal, political, and practical constraints including the timeliness with which different resources could be mobilized.

February 4, 2021

How Might an SDR Allocation Be Better Tailored to Support Low-Income Countries?

Since Covid-19 emerged there have been numerous calls for an allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as part of a broader effort to assist low-income countries (LICs) in dealing with the fallout from the pandemic. So far, these calls have been thwarted by political opposition from some of the IMF’s shareholders, in part because SDR allocations are not well-targeted towards LICs or developing countries in general.

The cover of the note
February 3, 2021

Social Protection During the Pandemic: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico

The pandemic, people’s response to fend off contagion, and the measures designed to contain the spread of the virus took an enormous toll on the region’s living standards. Governments faced the challenge of reaching three groups of people: formal sector workers in social security (and their dependents), recipients of existing non-contributory cash transfer programs and their dependents, and finally, households whose members were reliant on labor income from the informal sector and were part of neither social protection system.

An image of greenhouse gas emissions
January 13, 2021

Valuing Climate Liability

This note looks at cumulative historical emissions but adds two adjustments to quantify countries’ liability for climate damage. First, we use recent thinking on carbon prices to cost emissions. Second, we allow that cost to fall for historic emissions and include a cut-off to reflect the rising certainty of climate damage.

The cover of the brief
December 22, 2020

All Foreign Policy Spending Should Take Gender Into Account

Always considering gender is smart foreign policy. Globally, gender plays a significant role in determining the barriers people face and the opportunities they have available to them—including their access to economic opportunities and leadership positions, or protection from violence or climate change impacts. When foreign policy ignores the gendered nature of these barriers and opportunities, policy decisions risk exacerbating inequality, slowing growth, and undermining the durability of peace agreements, among other detriments

A close-up of two people exchanging Nigerian Naira in a transaction.
December 21, 2020

E-commerce and Mobile Money for Poverty Reduction in China: Lessons for African Countries

Global e-commerce sales surged to US$25.6 trillion in 2018, up 8 percent from 2017. Leading the way are China (US$1.5 trillion), the United States (US$600 billion), and the United Kingdom (US$135 billion) holding the top three spots respectively. Yet Africa, with 17 percent of the world’s population, still lags behind both in e-commerce sales and the use of mobile money for online purchases. Why is this a problem?

Leah Lynch and Chung Tsz Chung
Cover of working paper 563
December 17, 2020

The Educational Impacts of Cash Transfers for Children with Multiple Indicators of Vulnerability

Cash transfers boost educational outcomes for poor children on average, but among the poor, which children benefit most? This study examines the educational impacts of cash transfers for children facing different challenges (e.g., being girls, orphans, among the poorest, and having low baseline exam performance), drawing on a randomized, community implemented conditional cash transfer program targeted to poor households in Tanzania.