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  • Author: Gabriel Demombynes, Justin Sandefur
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The lack of reliable development statistics for many poor countries has led the U.N. to call for a “data revolution” (United Nations, 2013). One fairly narrow but widespread interpretation of this revolution is for international aid donors to fund a coordinated wave of household surveys across the developing world, tracking progress on a new round of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. We use data from the International Household Survey Network (IHSN) to show (i) the supply of household surveys has accelerated dramatically over the past 30 years and that (ii) demand for survey data appears to be higher in democracies and more aid-dependent countries. We also show that given existing international survey programs, the cost to international aid donors of filling remaining survey gaps is manageable--on the order of $300 million per year. We argue that any aid-financed expansion of household surveys should be complemented with (a) increased access to data through open data protocols, and (b) simultaneous support for the broader statistical system, including routine administrative data systems.
  • Topic: Development, Human Welfare, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Asia, United Nations
  • Author: Nigel Purvis, Abigail Jones
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Worldwide, about 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity (one in five people), while unreliable electricity networks serve another 1 billion people. Roughly 2.7 billion—about 40 percent of the global population—lack access to clean cooking fuels. Instead, dirty, sometimes scarce and expensive fuels such as kerosene, candles, wood, animal waste, and crop residues power the lives of the energy poor, who pay disproportionately high costs and receive very poor quality in return. More than 95 percent of the energy poor are either in sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia, while 84 percent are in rural areas—the same regions that are the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics, Energy Policy, Environment, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Asia
  • Author: Tessa Bold, Mwangi Kimenyi, Germano Mwabu, Justin Sandefur
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Existing studies from the United States, Latin America, and Asia provide scant evidence that private schools dramatically improve academic performance relative to public schools. Using data from Kenya—a poor country with weak public institutions—we find a large effect of private schooling on test scores, equivalent to one full standard deviation. This finding is robust to endogenous sorting of more able pupils into private schools. The magnitude of the effect dwarfs the impact of any rigorously tested intervention to raise performance within public schools. Furthermore, nearly two thirds of private schools operate at lower cost than the median government school.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Government, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Kenya, United States, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Paul Romer
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Non-resident fellow Paul Romer argues that the principal constraint to raising living standards in this century will come neither from scarce resources nor limited technologies. Rather it will come from our limited capacity to discover and implement new rules—new ideas about how to structure interactions among people, such as land titles, patents, and social norms. The central task of reducing global poverty is to find ways for developing countries to adopt new rules that are known to work better than the ones they have. Economists who advise leaders on policy have often overlooked why some good rules get adopted and others do not. But a better understanding of rules-that-change-rules could lead to breakthrough thinking about development policy. The special rules of China's Special Economic Zones, where new cities like Shenzhen could grow up, created small laboratories through which rules from Hong Kong spread to the mainland, helping unleash the largest and fastest reduction of poverty on record. Romer concludes that a new type of development policy would be to voluntarily charter new cities for the purpose of changing rules, using a range of new legal and political structures analogous to the ones that made Hong Kong and Shenzhen possible. The essay is adapted from a talk presented in Mexico City on October 2009, at the conference, “Challenges and Strategies for Promoting Economic Growth,” organized by Banco de México.
  • Topic: Development, Poverty, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Mexico, Hong Kong, Shenzhen
  • Author: David Roodman, Jonathan Morduch
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The most-noted studies on the impact of microcredit on households are based on a survey fielded in Bangladesh in the 1990s. Contradictions among them have produced lasting controversy and confusion. Pitt and Khandker (PK, 1998) apply a quasi-experimental design to 1991–92 data; they conclude that microcredit raises household consumption, especially when lent to women. Khandker (2005) applies panel methods using a 1999 resurvey; he concurs and extrapolates to conclude that microcredit helps the extremely poor even more than the moderately poor. But using simpler estimators than PK, Morduch (1999) finds no impact on the level of consumption in the 1991–92 data, even as he questions PK's identifying assumptions. He does find evidence that microcredit reduces consumption volatility. Partly because of the sophistication of PK's Maximum Likelihood estimator, the conflicting results were never directly confronted and reconciled. We end the impasse. A replication exercise shows that all these studies' evidence for impact is weak. As for PK's headline results, we obtain opposite signs. But we do not conclude that lending to women does harm. Rather, all three studies appear to fail in expunging endogeneity. We conclude that for non-experimental methods to retain a place in the program evaluator's portfolio, the quality of the claimed natural experiments must be high and demonstrated.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, Asia
  • Author: Satish Chand, Ruth Coffman
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: When can a donor (successfully) exit from an on-the -ground presence in a post-conflict state? The answer, according to the analysis presented here, is in decades: figures well beyond what was originally envisioned when peacekeeping troops were first deployed. In the specific cases of Liberia, Mozambique, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste considered here, the best case scenario for successful exit ranges from 15 to 27 years. Successful exit, for the purposes of this paper, entails the creation of the necessary fiscal space to fund the recurrent budget from internally generated revenues. This is a necessary, albeit, not sufficient condition for donor exit. Of essence, however, is the time rather than the dollar value of support provided. An extended donor presence, it is argued, provides the space for the creation, sustenance, and maturation of institutions that are finally able to undergird the state from rolling back into state failure on donor exit.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Liberia, Mozambique, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste
  • Author: Paul Hubbard
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Chinese government, through the China Exim Bank, is pledging billions of dollars worth of concessional lending to the developing world. More information on these lending practices can be gleaned from Chinese language sources than is readily available in English. However, this material is insufficient to draw more than tentative conclusions about the real nature and scope of China's concessional lending. Over 48 countries have agreements with China for concessional loans. An average loan of US$20-30 million is made available to Chinese exporting firms to develop infrastructure and facilities in developing countries. While these loan sizes are not huge when compared to other aid flows, China's status as the dominant lender of concessional loans amongst some recipients makes this program significant. Finally, it is still not clear if the loans could be considered Official Development Assistance according to the DAC definition.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Peter Timmer, Neil McCulloch
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Most poor people in developing countries still live in rural areas and are primarily engaged in low productivity farming activities. Thus pathways out of poverty are likely to be strongly connected to productivity increases in the rural economy, whether they are realised in farming, rural non-farm enterprises or via rural-urban migration. We use cross-sectional data from the Central Statistical Board (BPS) for 1993 and 2002, as well as a panel data set from the Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS) for 1993 and 2000, to show which pathways out of poverty were most successful over this period. Our findings suggest that increased engagement of farmers in rural non-farm enterprises is an important route out of rural poverty, but that most of the rural agricultural poor that exit poverty still do so while remaining rural and agricultural. Thus changes in agricultural prices, wages and productivity still play a critical role in moving people out of poverty.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia