Cover of Policy Paper 117

Structuring and Funding Development Impact Bonds for Health: Nine Lessons from Cameroon and Beyond

Roxanne Oroxom , Amanda Glassman and Lachlan McDonald

Despite the considerable interest in Development Impact Bonds, only a few have reached the implementation phase. We use information from stakeholder interviews to describe the design of one DIB in-depth and use lessons from a range of impact bonds to develop recommendations for potential partners to future DIBs. Lessons from the set of impact bonds reveal a need to reset expectations, particularly around the time and effort needed to develop and market a DIB. 

Cover of Policy Paper 115

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

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 Policy Paper 114

Fuel Subsidy Reform in Developing Countries: Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG Cooking Gas Subsidy in India

Neeraj Mittal , Anit Mukherjee and Alan Gelb

India’s reform of household subsidies for the purchase of LPG cooking gas stands out for a several reasons. The paper provides a detailed picture of the reform through its various stages, including how the process was conceptualized, coordinated, and implemented. It analyzes how such a reform must be able to adapt to concerns as they arise and to new information, how digital technology was used and how it is possible to use a voluntary self-targeting “nudge” to defuse potential resistance to income-based targeting.

Towards the Argentine Presidency in the G20: What Macro-Financial Challenges Does the Region Face and What Are the Implications for the Debate?


After the slowdown of the Chinese economy and the sharp decrease in commodity prices, the Latin American macroeconomic outlook has worsened substantially in relation to the boom that occurred between 2003 and 2012, despite favorable external conditions characterized by significantly high liquidity in international capital markets and a strong economic recovery in developed nations.

Cover of Working Paper 473

Encouraging State Governments to Protect and Restore Forests Using Ecological Fiscal Transfers: India’s Tax Revenue Distribution Reform - Working Paper 473


India’s tax revenue distribution reform creates the world’s first ecological fiscal transfers (EFTs) for forest cover, and a potential model for other countries. In this paper we discuss the origin of India’s EFTs and their potential effects. In a simple preliminary analysis, we do not yet observe that the EFTs have increased forest cover across states, consistent with our hypothesis that one to two years of operation is too soon for the reform to have had an effect. This means there remains substantial scope for state governments to protect and restore forests as an investment in future state revenues.

Cover of Working Paper 472

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.

Aadhaar survey respondents give a show of hands when discussing issues with receiving rations

What a New Survey of Aadhaar Users Can Tell Us About Digital Reforms: Initial Insights from Rajasthan


India’s Aadhaar biometric identification scheme has registered over 1.1 billion people, including almost all adults in the country and over 15 percent of the global population. Of course, initiatives of this scale cannot escape controversy. What the debate has so far lacked, however, is data. We set out to help fill that gap with a survey focused on a digital governance initiative in the state of Rajasthan.

Cover of Working Paper 470

Family Planning and Fertility Behavior: Evidence from Twentieth Century Malaysia - Working Paper 470

Kimberly Singer Babiarz , Jiwon Lee , Grant Miller , Tey Nai Peng and Christine Valente

There is longstanding debate about the contribution of family planning programs to fertility decline. Studying the staggered introduction of family planning across Malaysia during the 1960s and 1970s, we find modest responses in fertility behavior. Overall, Malaysia’s total fertility rate declined by about one quarter birth under family planning, explaining only about 10 percent of the national fertility decline between 1960 and 1988. Our findings are consistent with growing evidence that global fertility decline is predominantly due to underlying changes in the demand for children.

Cover of Working Paper 471

Family Planning and Women’s Economic Empowerment: Incentive Effects and Direct Effects among Malaysian Women - Working Paper 471

Kimberly Singer Babiarz , Jiwon Lee , Grant Miller , Tey Nai Peng and Christine Valente

Although family planning programs can improve women’s welfare directly through changes in realized fertility, they may also have important incentive effects by increasing parents’ investments in girls not yet fertile. We study these potential incentive effects, finding that family planning may have raised raise girls’ educational attainment substantially. We also find that these early investments are linked to gains in women’s paid labor at prime working ages and to greater support for women’s elderly parents (a marker for women’s bargaining power within the household). Notably, these incentive effects may be larger than the direct effects of family planning alone.