Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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cover of working paper 463
October 6, 2017

Testing for Repugnance in Economic Transactions: Evidence from Guest Work in the Gulf - Working Paper 463

Workers from poor countries can find enormous economic opportunity by working temporarily in a rich country. But agencies that fight global poverty do little to facilitate guest work. This may be because guest workers are perceived to typically suffer negative side effects that outweigh the benefits. This paper uses a natural experiment to test several perceptions of harmful side-effects on Indian guest workers in the Gulf. The research shows little evidence that the harmful side-effects often ascribed to guest work are typical and systematic, though this does not contradict the occurrence of many individual cases of harmful side-effects.

Photo of some British pound notes
October 2, 2017

Solving the Private Sector Imbroglio

Disagreement over how investments in the private sector are counting to aid is threatening to overwhelm the OECD Development Assistance Committee. There are no perfect solutions here; governments must find the least-bad compromise. We point the way forward.

September 26, 2017

Advancing the Evidence Agenda at USAID

Front and center in discussions around the reform and redesign of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are the objectives of increased efficiency and effectiveness. The agency’s new administrator, Mark Green, who has highlighted these goals from day one, has an excellent opportunity to improve the agency’s efficiency and effectiveness through better generation and use of evidence to inform policy and programming decisions.

Cover of "Global Business and Refugee Crises: A Framework for Sustainable Engagement"
September 20, 2017

Global Business and Refugee Crises: A Framework for Sustainable Engagement

Global businesses can make unique and valuable contributions to refugee response by engaging refugees not as aid recipients, but as employees, producers, investees, and customers.

The position of global enterprises as market leaders, policy influencers, and innovators gives them distinctive capacities for engagement and advocacy that do not exist within the traditional refugee response community.

The cover of the Gitanjali Cooperative: A Social Enterprise in the Making
September 15, 2017

The Gitanjali Cooperative: A Social Enterprise in the Making (brief)

In 1995 India’s Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) organized women waste pickers in Ahmedabad into a cooperative to improve their working conditions and livelihoods. Over time, this informal arrangement evolved into Gitanjali—a women-owned and -run social enterprise. With support from key partners, Gitanjali has generated social value, providing its members with safe and dignified work while increasing their earnings. While Gitanjali faces challenges in becoming a fully self-sufficient social enterprise, its experience offers insights for other initiatives seeking to provide opportunities for women to transition from informal to formal work.

Robots on a factory assembly line
September 13, 2017

Automation, AI, and the Emerging Economies

For the world’s middle-income countries, the changes unleashed by automation, digital technologies, and the advent of increasingly more capable AI pose major challenges. They threaten to upend the few tried and tested development strategies.

Cover of Policy Paper 108: The Electricity Situation in Ghana: Challenges and Opportunities
September 8, 2017

The Electricity Situation in Ghana: Challenges and Opportunities

In the past decade, Ghana has experienced severe electricity supply challenges even though installed generation capacity has more than doubled over the period. The electricity supply challenges can be attributed to a number of factors, including a high level of losses in the distribution system as well as non-payment of revenue by consumers. Solving Ghana’s electricity challenges would require a range of measures.

Ebenezer Nyarko Kumi
September 7, 2017

Can a Public-Private Partnership Improve Liberia’s Schools?

After one year, public schools managed by private operators raised student learning by 60 percent compared to standard public schools. But costs were high, performance varied across operators, and contracts authorized the largest operator to push excess pupils and under-performing teachers into other government schools.

Mauricio Romero , Justin Sandefur and Wayne Aaron Sandholtz
September 5, 2017

Commitment to Development Index 2017

The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the world's richest countries on policies that affect more than five billion people living in poorer nations. Because development is about more than foreign aid, the Index covers seven distinct policy areas: Aid, Finance, Technology, Environment, Trade, Security, and Migration.

Credit: Pippa Ranger/Department for International Development
August 21, 2017

Good Quality Evaluations for Good Policy: Findings and Recommendations from Aid Agency Evaluations in Global Health

Evaluations are key to learning and accountability yet their usefulness depends on the quality of their evidence and analysis. This brief summarizes the key findings of a CGD Working Paper that assessed the quality of aid agency evaluations in global health. By looking at a representative sample of evaluations—both impact and performance evaluations—from major health funders, the study authors developed 10 recommendations to improve the quality of such evaluations and, consequently, increase their usefulness.

William Savedoff , Janeen Madan Keller and Julia Goldberg Raifman
Cover of Working Paper 461
August 18, 2017

Evaluating Evaluations: Assessing the Quality of Aid Agency Evaluations in Global Health - Working Paper 461

We assessed the methodological quality of global health program evaluations from five major funders between 2009 and 2014. We found that most evaluations did not meet social science methodological standards in terms of relevance, validity, and reliability. Nevertheless, good quality evaluations made it possible to identify ten recommendations for improving evaluations, including a robust finding that early planning is associated with better quality.

Julia Goldberg Raifman , Felix Lam , Janeen Madan Keller , Alexander Radunsky and William Savedoff
Photo of a busy street in Hong Kong
August 3, 2017

Middle Class: Winners or Losers in a Globalized World?

Globalization is under attack in the West. The debate among pundits is no longer about whether globalization is to blame or not. It is about why globalization is now the bugaboo it has become. A common thread are changes, for the worse, in the economic and social standing of the Western middle class.

July 27, 2017

Violence, Development, and Migration Waves: Evidence from Central American Child Migrant Apprehensions - Working Paper 459

This paper studies the relationship between violence in the Northern Triangle and child migration to the United States. It finds that one additional homicide per year in the region, sustained over the six-year period of study—that is, a cumulative total of six additional homicides—caused a cumulative total of 3.7 additional unaccompanied child apprehensions in the United States. The explanatory power of short-term increases in violence is roughly equal to the explanatory power of long-term economic characteristics like average income and poverty.

July 26, 2017

Financing for Whom by Whom? Complexities of Advancing Energy Access in India

This paper finds that end-user financing (i.e. consumer subsidies and tax rebates) is relatively ineffective at enhancing sales of off-grid solar technologies in India. If the government is to make meaningful progress toward its national goal to extend a constant supply of electricity to every household in the coming years, it will need to learn from and adapt its current financing structures for off-grid solar (and other renewable energy) technologies.

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