Ideas to Action:

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April 16, 2007

Liberia's External Debt: Moving Towards Comprehensive Debt Relief

In this essay, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet describes Liberia's debt situation and the key issues in moving forward on debt relief with the IMF, World Bank, African Development Bank and bilateral creditors. He explains why it is important for Liberia's recovery that the international community act quickly and outlines the key steps necessary for Liberia to achieve a debt deal before the end of 2007.

April 16, 2007

Cost-Effective Prevention of Diarrheal Diseases: A Critical Review - Working Paper 117

Diarrheal diseases kill two million children a year in poor countries. Vaccination, oral rehydration therapy, breastfeeding, and micronutrient supplementation have been effective in saving lives but the continuing toll suggests that further investments are needed. In this CGD working paper, non-resident fellow Michael Kremer and his co-author critically review existing research and identify research priorities to reduce the impact of the disease.

April 9, 2007

Will the Poor Be Flooded Out? The IPCC's Predicted Flood Disasters and Their Implications for Development Aid

The April 5, 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report predicts that droughts and floods will become more frequent and severe as a result of global warming. In this CGD Note senior fellow David Wheeler shows that citizens of poor countries are much more likely than citizens in rich countries to suffer homelessness, injury and death from flood. He urges the international community to help low-income countries develop stronger protective institutions, greater resources for flood protection, and affordable insurance.

April 9, 2007

What Have IMF Programs With Low-Income Countries Assumed About Aid Flows? - Working Paper 116

This paper examines IMF projections of donor aid to low-income countries and whether these projections changed after world leaders pledged at the 2005 Gleneagles G8 summit to double aid to Africa by 2010. The authors find that IMF projections since the post-Gleneagles Summit have shown little change for countries in sub-Saharan Africa: only two out of 30 such projections showed increases consistent with the commitment to double aid to Africa by 2010. The authors also explore the role of IMF aid projections and argue for greater clarity about the role of the IMF in the aid architecture.

David Goldsbrough and Ben Elberger
March 30, 2007

Will the Millennium Challenge Account Be Caught in the Crosshairs? A Critical Year for Full Funding

As Congress gears up to allocate some $36 billion in the international affairs budget across a multitude of foreign aid programs, CGD senior policy analyst Sheila Herrling and research assistant Sarah Rose ask whether the MCA should receive the full $3 billion requested by the president for the initiative. The authors applaud the MCA as one of the few U.S. foreign aid programs specifically dedicated to long-term global growth and poverty reduction and argue that reduced funding could jeopardize its core credibility.

March 29, 2007

A Better Way Forward on Trade and Labor Standards

Core labor standards--an end to forced and child labor, nondiscrimination, and respect for workers' right to organize--are important for sharing the benefits of globalization. But how to enforce them remains contentious. In this CGD Note, senior fellow Kimberly Elliott says that U.S. policy should focus on domestic issues, such as ensuring that U.S. workers have adequate safety nets, and international issues, such as assisting countries in improving compliance with labor standards. The U.S should leave the details of labor laws to national governments, with monitoring by the International Labor Organization.

March 16, 2007

Billions for War, Pennies for the Poor: Moving the President's FY2008 Budget from Hard Power to Smart Power

President Bush's FY2008 budget request provides a first glimpse into how the administration's new foreign assistance framework and transformational diplomacy agenda translate into who gets how much for what. In this CGD essay, authors Samuel Bazzi, Sheila Herrling and Stewart Patrick, show that the U.S. continues to devote a tiny fraction of national wealth to alleviate poverty and promote growth in the developing world. They recommend reform of U.S. development assistance include: a comprehensive national strategy for global development; a hard look at the top recipients; impact evaluation; a cabinet-level development agency; and rewriting the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Learn more

Samuel Bazzi , Sheila Herrling and Stewart Patrick
March 14, 2007

Pathways Out of Poverty During an Economic Crisis: An Empirical Assessment of Rural Indonesia - Working Paper 115

How do people escape poverty? In this working paper, CGD senior fellow Peter Timmer and his co-authors describe pathways out of poverty in Indonesia from 1993 to 2000, a period of economic and political turmoil. They find that most rural poor people who escaped poverty did so without moving to cities. From this experience they distill three policy recommendations: boost agricultural productivity, improve the investment climate for the rural non-agricultural sector, and make education a cornerstone of the government anti-poverty strategy. Learn more

Neil McCulloch and Julian Weisbrod
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

March 8, 2007

Do No Harm: Aid, Weak Institutions, and the Missing Middle in Africa - Working Paper 113

Does aid to Africa undermine the emergence of a robust African middle class? If so, what can be done about it? In this new working paper, CGD president Nancy Birdsall argues that high and unpredictable aid flows could be making life harder for Africa's small and medium-sized businesses by, for example, inflating wages and making governments less reliant on domestic revenue—and hence less accountable to taxpayers. She urges that donors systematically monitor such impacts in aid-dependent countries and suggests ways that aid could help to bolster Africa's crucial but fragile middle-income groups. Learn more

March 8, 2007

Nicaragua: Field Report

Download the full text version of the field report (PDF, 84KB) Sarah LucasMarch 2007[1]

Sarah Lucas
March 5, 2007

A Trickle or a Flood: Commitments and Disbursement for HIV/AIDS from the Global Fund, PEPFAR, and the World Bank's Multi-Country AIDS Program (MAP)

In response to both public health imperative and unprecedented political pressure, aid to fight HIV/AIDS has increased massively in recent years: global funding to combat the disease in low- and middle-income countries has more than tripled since 2001, from $2.1 billion to an estimated $8.9 billion in 2006. This paper, by Michael Bernstein and Myra Sessions, discusses the increase in aid commitments by the three main financing agencies--the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the World Bank's Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program (MAP)--and the receiving countries' ability, or lack thereof, to absorb the aid. It is one in a series of analyses of the sources of funding for HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries conducted under the Center for Global Development’s HIV/AIDS Monitor.

Michael Bernstein and Myra Sessions
March 5, 2007

African Development: Making Sense of the Issues and Actors

Bill Easterly calls Moss's new introduction to Africa "compulsively readable and accessible" and "a masterpiece of clear thinking." Each chapter is organized around three fundamental questions: Where are we now? How did we get to this point? What are the current debates?

February 26, 2007

New Data on African Health Professionals Abroad

In CGD working paper 95, research fellow Michael Clemens and Gunilla Petterrsson estimate the number of African-born doctors and professional nurses working abroad in a developed countries circa 2000 using destination-country census data. They then compare this to the stocks of these workers in each country of origin. These numbers are the first standardized, systematic, occupation-specific measure of skilled professionals working in developed countries and born in a large number of developing countries. Compilation of the dataset is a part of CGD's ongoing research on the links between international labor mobility and global development.

February 20, 2007

Why Doesn't Africa Get More Equity Investment? Frontier Stock Markets, Firm Size and Asset Allocations of Global Emerging Market Funds - Working Paper 112

Africa receives only a tiny fraction of global investments in emerging markets. But the problem is not that fund managers are scared away by a seemingly steady stream of bad news out of Africa, nor is a general marketing of Africa to global investors the solution. Instead the authors of this new CGD working paper find that the small size of African markets and low levels of liquidity are a binding deterrent for foreign institutional investors. Drawing on firm surveys to explore why African firms remain small, the authors offer practical recommendations for increasing portfolio investment in Africa. Learn more

Todd Moss , Vijaya Ramachandran and Scott Standley
January 29, 2007

Group Versus Individual Liability: A Field Experiment in the Philippines - Working Paper 111, updated May 2009

Group liability--wherein individuals are both borrowers and guarantors of other client's loans--is often described as the key innovation that led to the explosion of microcredit. It is thought to create incentives for peers to screen, monitor and enforce each other's loans. But some argue that group liability actually discourages good clients from borrowing, jeopardizing growth and sustainability. In this working paper, CGD non-resident fellow Dean Karlan and his co-author discuss the results of a field experiment at a bank in the Philippines, where they randomly reassigned half of the existing group liability centers as individual liability centers. They find that converting group liability to individual liability, while keeping aspects of group lending like weekly repayments and common meeting place, does not affect the repayment rate, and actually attracts new clients. This paper is one in a series of six CGD working papers by Dean Karlan on various aspects of microfinance (Working Paper Nos. 106 –111).

Dean Karlan and Xavier Giné
January 29, 2007

Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Report - Working Paper 109

Information asymmetries--which occur when one party to a transaction has more or better information than the other party--can cause inefficiency, over-investment, or poverty traps. Unfortunately, they are difficult to identify in practice. In this working paper, CGD non-resident fellow Dean Karlan and his co-author identify two kinds of information asymmetries: adverse selection (where sellers lack information) and moral hazard (where buyers or borrowers lack information). The authors randomize loan pricing using 58,000 direct mail offers along three dimensions: an initial "offer interest rate", the actual interest rate on the loan contract, and the interest rate on future loans. They find that 7% to 16% of default on loans is due to asymmetric information problems. This paper is one in a series of six CGD working papers by Dean Karlan on various aspects of microfinance (Working Paper Nos. 106 –111).

Dean Karlan and Jonathan Zinman

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