Each year billions of dollars are spent on thousands of programs to improve health, education and other social sector outcomes in the developing world. But very few programs benefit from studies that could determine whether or not they actually made a difference. This absence of evidence is an urgent problem: it not only wastes money but denies poor people crucial support to improve their lives.
Will Debt Relief Make a Difference? Impact and Expectations of the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative - Working Paper 88
The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), the latest phase of debt reduction for poor countries from the World Bank, the IMF, and the African Development Bank, will come close to full debt reduction for at least 19 and perhaps as many as 40 countries. Debt relief proponents see it as a momentous leap in the battle against global poverty. CGD research fellow Todd Moss argues that actual gains in poverty reduction will be modest and slow.
This new collection of essays sets an agenda for increased American effectiveness in dealing with failed states to promote economic development and international security. It includes an overview of the poorly understood challenge of weak and failed states and case studies by regional policy experts, then offers recommendations for reform of U.S. foreign and development policy to better meet the challenges posed by weak states.
Health care is no more immune to governance problems than any other sector. Numerous studies have documented such problems, for example, in the procurement of health supplies, in under-the-table payments for services, and in nurses and doctors who fail to show up at their clinics but nonetheless collect their salaries. This new CGD Brief by non-resident fellow Maureen Lewis brief surveys these problems and suggests mechanisms for addressing them, including better management, improved logistics and information systems, and strengthened accountability. Learn More
Sarah Lucas May 2006 Download the full text version of the field report (PDF, 89KB)
CGD program director Ruth Levine argues that independent impact evaluation of anti-corruption programs will be crucial to the success of the new World Bank campaign against corruption. As corruption-fighting programs are put into place, she writes, donor and recipient countries should request and fund careful, credible and independent third party evaluations—then publish the results whether or not they make the funders and implementers look good. Learn More
While the importance of vaccines is increasingly well-understood, significant challenges inhibit increases in basic immunization coverage, introduction of underused vaccines and development of new vaccines. In this brief, Owen Barder describes these challenges and analyses five innovative policy responses. He argues that these constitute a consistent package of measures that benefit from the institutional umbrella of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization—and suggests that there may be lessons for other types of development aid. Learn More
The World Bank and IMF are two of the three institutional pillars of globalization, and today they face compelling trends pushing them to change. In this CGD Brief, Ngaire Woods, author of The Globalizers: The IMF, the World Bank, and Their Borrowers, describes those trends and offers practical advice about how the global development institutions can reform.
CGD senior fellow and director of programs Ruth Levine has urged the U.S. Congress to push for independent evaluation of development assistance. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Levine said that independent impact evaluation is crucial for ensuring that the billions of dollars spent on development actually helps poor people.
In this new CGD working paper John Nellis takes stock of fifteen years of privatization in developing and post-communist countries. He finds that a surprisingly large amount of assets remain in state hands. And while technical assessments of the impact of privatization are often positive, public opinion tends to be highly critical. The paper ends with suggestions for creating incentives for privatization that better serve public needs.
With foreign investment in the U.S. increasingly in the spotlight, this working paper by William Cline explores the U.S. external deficit and the fact that the U.S. relies on foreign lending to finance its trade deficit. Cline emphasizes the dangers of a hard landing for the U.S., and why this would especially hurt developing countries that depend on an expanding U.S. economy and are vulnerable to spikes in interest rates. The paper is based on a chapter in Cline’s recent book, The U.S. as a Debtor Nation.
The Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 21 countries across six policy areas, is widely seen as the most comprehensive and substantive measure of rich country policies towards development. In response to requests from other would-be index builders, CDI architect David Roodman describes the work of the interdisciplinary team that builds and runs the Index. Among the lessons: to work well, policy indexes must combine humility with a clear sense of purpose.
In this new working paper, CGD visiting fellow Ethan Kapstein and Nathan Converse analyze the economic performance of young democracies around the world and find that stagnating economic performance is a good indicator of imminent democratic reversal. The authors also find evidence suggesting that the design of political institutions significantly influence their probability of survival.
Ghana is expected to sign the largest MCA compact to date--upwards of $500 million over 5 years--by the end of July.
Back to the Future for African Infrastructure? Why State-Ownership Is No More Promising the Second Time Around - Working Paper 84
African state-owned enterprises, particularly those in infrastructure, have a long history of poor performance. But moves in the 1990s to rely instead on private-sector participation and ownership have yet to deliver the hoped-for improvements. Is the solution to return to a strategy of improving state firms under public management? In this new CGD working paper, John Nellis argues that that Africa's SOEs are no more promising now than before and that private firms still have not been given a real chance.
CGD senior fellow Steven Radelet discusses how the IMF can be helpful to low-income countries that have maintained macroeconomic stability for several years and no longer require IMF financing. He suggests that the Fund move toward greater use of non-funded programs and play a less dominant role in overall conditionality, while continuing to work with countries to ensure an appropriate macroeconomic framework. He argues, however, that the Fund should not provide grants to these countries.
In a related paper (A Stability and Growth Facility -Working Paper 77), Nancy Birdsall and Kemal Dervis propose an IMF Stability and Growth Facility to help high-debt, mostly middle-income countries maintain credibility in the markets through fiscal discipline, in part to reduce their debt burden, while also addressing longstanding social needs.
In this working paper, David Roodman and Scott Standley analyze the use of tax incentives in rich countries to promote private charity. They discuss tax policy as de facto aid policy, and policy implications.
Does openness in trade and the free flow of capital promote growth for the poor? In this new working paper, CGD president Nancy Birdsall describes asymmetries in globalization and their implications for poverty reduction. She argues that poor countries lack effective social contracts, progressive tax systems, and laws and regulations that rich capitalist societies use to manage markets so that free trade and commerce more equally benefit all. These asymmetries also exist at the global level, where poor countries are especially susceptible to the risks of free trade and the vagaries of volatile capital flows.