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Reality is not yet matching rhetoric in moving from “billions to trillions” to finance the SDGs—how can we accelerate sustainable development finance?
To meet the Sustainable Development Goals, the world must ramp up development financing from billions to trillions. We must think beyond aid, to private finance and unlocking developing countries’ own resources. How development financing is mobilized and allocated must also change. Shared problems like climate change and the threat of pandemics can only be addressed through international cooperation. In addition, the rise of China as a major bilateral development partner and the emergence of new development agencies raise the question of whether the existing multilateral financing system is fit for purpose.
Our research focuses on four questions: How can international finance produce sufficient funding for development? How should it be allocated to meet both ongoing needs and future challenges, such as climate change and pandemics? How can financing most effectively mobilize private capital, safeguard public monies, and keep debt levels sustainable? And how should existing institutions be changed to best assist?
Although nearly all poor countries are classified by the World Bank as IDA-only, Nigeria stands out as a notable exception. Indeed, Africa’s most populous country is the poorest country in the world that is not classified as IDA-only. Under the World Bank’s own criteria, however, Nigeria has a strong case for reclassification. IDA-only status would have two potential benefits for Nigeria. First, it would expand Nigeria’s access to IDA resources and make the country eligible for grants. Second, it would strengthen Nigeria’s case for debt reduction. With a renewed economic reform effort getting under way and the emerging use of debt reduction as a tool for assisting economic and political transitions, the UK, the US, and other official creditors should support such a move as part of a broader strategy for encouraging progress in one of Africa’s most important countries.
Sugar is a prototypical case of a policy that favors the few at the expense of the many. Thanks to a government policy that supports prices by sharply restricting imports, a small number of American sugar cane and beet growers are enriched at the expense of US consumers and of more efficient foreign growers, most of whom are in poorer developing countries.
New medicines are usually financed by a mixture of public funding by governments, philanthropic giving, and investment by private firms. Private investment is especially important in paying for and managing the later stages of clinical trials, regulatory approval, and investment in manufacturing capacity. But for diseases that mainly affect people in developing countries, the prospective sales market is tiny—and not sufficient to justify commercially the large scale investment that is needed to develop new products.
An advance market commitment to accelerate the development of vaccines for diseases concentrated in developing countries, donors could make a binding commitment to pay for a desired vaccine if and when it is developed. This advance market commitment would mean firms could invest in finding a vaccine with the confidence that if they succeed there would be a market for the product.
It has long been understood that economic growth is the essential foundation for poverty reduction. The key to income growth is the expansion of jobs that pay sustainable remunerative wages, and the two keys areas of production in this vein have almost always been agriculture and labor-intensive manufactured exports. Rising average incomes, both personal and national, are a necessary ingredient for improved livelihoods, but they do not guarantee broad-based poverty reduction. Economic history shows that countries, and communities within countries, with similar growth rates can have very different degrees of success in connecting growth to the poor and translating it into sustained poverty reduction.
This paper analyzes privatization and enterprise reform of three major countries in the transition region; Poland, Czechoslovakia (subsequently the Czech Republic), and the Soviet Union (subsequently Russia). For each, it discusses the prevailing ideologies of advisors prior to and during the transition process, the initial conditions faced by reformers and advisors, the policy frameworks that evolved, the results achieved, the mistakes made, and the opportunities missed.
The tragedy of foreign aid is not that it didn't work; it was never really tried. A group of well-meaning national and international bureaucracies dispensed foreign aid under conditions in which bureaucracy does not work well. The hostile environment under which such aid agencies functioned induced them to organize a cartel that increased inefficiency and reduced effective supply of development services, frustrating the good intentions and dedication of development professionals. The cartel of good intentions allows rich country politicians to feel that they are doing all in their power to help the world's poor, supports rich nations' foreign policy goals, preserves a panoply of large national and international institutions, and provides resources to poor country politicians with which to buy political support; in short, foreign aid works for everyone except for those whom it was intended to help.
While most technical assessments classify privatization as a success, it remains widely and increasingly unpopular, largely because of the perception that it is fundamentally unfair, both in conception and execution. We review the increasing (but still uneven) literature and conclude that most privatization programs appear to have worsened the distribution of assets and income, at least in the short run. This is more evident in transition economies than in Latin America, and less clear for utilities such as electricity and telecommunications, where the poor have tended to benefit from much greater access, than for banks, oil companies, and other natural resource producers.