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An MCA Scorecard: Who Qualified, Who Did Not, and the MCC Board’s Use of Discretion

5/28/04
Sarah Lucas and Steven Radelet

On May 6, the Millennium Challenge Corporation announced the selection of 16 countries eligible to apply for funding under the Millennium Challenge Account. This note examines the seven cases in which the Board used its discretion to either include countries that did not meet the indicators test, or exclude countries that passed the tests. Although several of the discretionary cases appear justified, several are more questionable, particularly the exclusion of Guyana and the inclusion of Georgia.

The Trouble with the MDGs: Confronting Expectations of Aid and Development Success - Working Paper 40

5/1/04

*REVISED Version September 2004

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are unlikely to be met by 2015, even if huge increases in development assistance materialize. The rates of progress required by many of the goals are at the edges of or beyond historical precedent. Many countries making extraordinarily rapid progress on MDG indicators, due in large part to aid, will nonetheless not reach the MDGs. Unrealistic targets thus may turn successes into perceptions of failure, serving to undermine future constituencies for aid (in donors) and reform (in recipients). This would be unfortunate given the vital role of aid and reform in the development process and the need for long-term, sustained aid commitments.

The Long Walk to School: International Education Goals in Historical Perspective - Working Paper 37

3/16/04

This work quantifies how long it has taken countries rich and poor to make the transition towards high enrollments and gender parity. It finds that many countries that have not raised enrollments fast enough to meet the Millennium Development Goals have in fact raised enrollments extraordinarily rapidly by historical standards and deserve celebration rather than condemnation. The very few poor countries that have raised enrollment figures at the rates envisioned by the goals have done so in many cases by accepting dramatic declines in schooling quality, failing large numbers of students, or other practices that cast doubt on the sustainability or exportability of their techniques.

A Comment on the Millennium Challenge Account Selection Process

3/9/04
Sarah Lucas and Rikhil Bhavnani

This note examines how countries are selected to receive funding under the Millennium Challenge Account. The authors argue that while the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s proposed selection process is a reasonable starting point, there are several simple steps that could be taken to improve the system.

Boom Towns and Ghost Countries: Geography, Agglomeration, and Population Mobility - Working Paper 36

2/18/04

Ghost towns dot the West of the United States. These cities boomed for a period and then, for various reasons, fell into a process of decline and have shrunk to a small fraction of their former population. Are there ghost countries—countries that, if there were population mobility, would only have a very small fraction of their current population? This paper carries out four empirical illustrations of the potential magnitude of the "ghost country" problem by showing that the "desired population" of any given geographic region varies substantially.

The Illusion of Sustainability - Working Paper 35

1/22/04
Michael Kremer and Edward Miguel

The history of foreign development assistance is one of movement away from addressing immediate needs to a focus on the underlying causes of poverty. A recent manifestation is the move towards "sustainability," which stresses community mobilization, education, and cost-recovery. This stands in contrast to the traditional economic analysis of development projects, with its focus on providing public goods and correcting externalities.

Who is not Poor? Proposing a Higher International Standard for Poverty - Working Paper 33

11/1/03

Poverty reduction is now, and quite properly should remain, the primary objective of the World Bank. But, when the World Bank dreams of a world free of poverty—what should it be dreaming? I argue in this essay that the dream should be a bold one, that treats citizens of all nations equally in defining poverty, and that sets a high standard for what eliminating poverty will mean for human well-being.

The Anarchy of Numbers: Aid, Development, and Cross-country Empirics - Working Paper 32

8/15/03

*REVISED Version May 2007

Recent literature contains many stories of how foreign aid affects economic growth: aid raises growth in countries with good policies, or in countries with difficult economic environments, or mainly outside the tropics, or on average with diminishing returns. The diversity of these results suggests that many are fragile. I test 7 important aid-growth papers for robustness. The 14 tests are minimally arbi-trary, deriving mainly from differences among the studies themselves. This approach investigates the importance of potentially arbitrary specification choices while minimizing arbitrariness in testing choices. All of the results appear fragile, especially to sample expansion.

Privatization in Latin America - Working Paper 31

8/1/03
John Nellis

In Latin America, privatization started earlier and spread farther and more rapidly than in almost any other part of the world. Despite positive microeconomic results, privatization is highly and increasingly unpopular in the region. While privatization may be winning the economic battle it is losing the political war: The benefits are spread widely, small for each affected consumer or taxpayer, and occur (or accrue) in the medium-term. In contrast, the costs are large for those concerned, who tend to be visible, vocal, urban and organized, a potent political combination.

The Surprise Party: An Analysis of US ODA Flows to Africa - Working Paper 30

7/30/03
Markus P. Goldstein and Todd J. Moss

Conventional wisdom about US foreign policy toward Africa contains two popular assumptions. First, Democrats are widely considered the party most inclined to care about Africa and the most willing to spend resources on assistance to the continent. Second, the end of the Cold War was widely thought to have led to a gradual disengagement of the US from Africa and reduced American attention toward the continent. This paper analyzes OECD data on US foreign assistance flows from 1961-2000 and finds that neither of these assumptions is true.

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