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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?
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.
Recent research offers differing assessments of the overall, worldwide effect of foreign aid on economic growth in the countries that receive aid. To understand these differences, we re-analyze the same data and same regressions used in the three most influential aid-growth studies. In all three, increases in aid have been followed on average by modest increases in investment and growth. The most plausible explanation is that aid causes some degree of growth in recipient countries, though the magnitude of this relationship is modest, varies greatly across recipients, and diminishes at high levels of aid.
In 1999, the United States and other major donor countries supported an historic expansion of the heavily indebted poor country (HIPC) debt relief initiative. Three years after the initiative came into existence, we are beginning to see the apparent impact that HIPC is having, particularly on recipient countries' ability and willingness to increase domestic spending on education and HIV/AIDS programs. Yet it has also become clear that the HIPC program is not providing a sufficient level of predictability or sustainability to allow debtor countries (and donors) to reap the larger benefits, particularly in terms of sustained growth and poverty reduction, originally envisioned. After reviewing some of the main critiques and proposals for change, we offer here a new way forward -- a proposal to deepen, widen, and most importantly insure debt relief to poor countries.
Is there any reason to think trade negotiations are more likely now than in the past to encourage substantial reform of rich countries’ farm policies? This paper looks at the evolution of and current approaches to agricultural policies in rich countries to see if there are lessons from the past that might improve chances for reform this time around.
Nigeria is currently classified by the World Bank as a ‘blend’ country, making it the poorest country in the world that does not have ‘IDA-only’ status. This paper uses the World Bank’s own IDA eligibility criteria to assess whether Nigeria has a case for reclassification.
This paper reviews research on the impact of rice prices on the poor, on real wages in rural and urban areas, and on the broader macroeconomic consequences for investments in labor-intensive manufacturing.
This paper argues that regional public goods in developing countries are under-funded despite their potentially high rates of return compared to traditional country-focused investments. In Africa the under-funding of regional public goods is primarily a political and institutional challenge to be met by the countries in this region. But the donor community ought to consider the opportunity cost – for development progress itself, in Africa and elsewhere – of its relative neglect, and explore changes in the aid architecture that would encourage more attention to regional goods.
Paradoxically, in most successfully developing countries, especially those in the rice-based economies of Asia, the public provision of food security quickly slips from its essential role as an economic stimulus into a political response to the pressures of rapid structural transformation, thereby becoming a drag on economic efficiency. The long-run relationship between food security and economic growth thus tends to switch from positive to negative over the course of development. Because of inevitable inertia in the design and implementation of public policy, this switch presents a serious challenge to the design of an appropriate food policy.