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  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Christian J. Meyer
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We argue that survey-based median household consumption expenditure (or income) per capita be incorporated into standard development indicators, as a simple, robust, and durable indicator of typical individual material well-being in a country. Using household survey data available for low- and middle-income countries from the World Bank's PovcalNet tool, we show that as a measure of income-related well-being, it is far superior to the commonly used GDP per capita as well as survey-based measures at the mean. We also argue that survey-based median measures are "distributionaware", i.e. when used as the denominator of various widely available indicators such as mean consumption expenditure per capita they provide a "good-enough" indicator of consumption (or income) inequality. Finally, as a post-2015 indicator of progress at the country-level in promoting shared development and reducing inequality, we propose that the rate of increase in median consumption per capita after taxes and transfers exceed the rate of increase in average consumption in the same period.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Poverty, World Bank
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Jonah Busch, Kalifi Ferretti-Gallon
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We have constructed a comprehensive database of 117 spatially explicit econometric studies of deforestation published in peer-reviewed academic journals from 1996-2013. We present a metaanalysis of what drives deforestation and what stops it, based on the signs and significance of 5909 coefficients in 554 multivariate analyses. We find that forests are more likely to be cleared where economic returns to agriculture and pasture are higher, either due to more favorable climatological and topographic conditions, or due to lower costs of clearing forest and transporting products to market. Timber activity, land tenure security, and community demographics do not show a consistent association with either higher or lower deforestation. Population is consistently associated with greater deforestation, and poverty is consistently associated with lower deforestation, but in both cases endogeneity makes a causal link difficult to infer. Promising approaches for stopping deforestation include reducing the intrusion of road networks into remote forested areas; targeting protected areas to regions where forests face higher threat; tying rural income support to the maintenance of forest resources through payments for ecosystem services; and insulating the forest frontier from the price effects of demand for agricultural commodities.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • 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: Raghuram G. Rajan
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Rajan examines the problems of failed states, including the repeated return to power of former warlords, which he argues causes institutions to become weaker and people to get poorer. He notes that economic power through property holdings or human capital gives people the means to hold their leaders accountable. In the absence of such distributed power, dictators reign. Rajan argues that in failed states, economic growth leading to empowered citizenry is more likely if a neutral party presides. He proposes a unique solution to allow the electorate to choose a foreigner, who would govern for a fixed term. Candidates could be proposed by the UN or retired leaders from other countries; they would campaign on a platform to build the basic foundations of government and create a sustainable distribution of power. Rajan emphasizes that this is not a return to the colonial model—the external candidate (like all the others) would be on a ballot and the electorate would choose whether he or she was their best chance to escape fragility.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Economics, Government, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Charles Kenny
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Broadband Commission for Digital Development is an ITU (UN International Telecommunications Union) and UNESCO–backed body set up to advocate for greater broadband access worldwide. The commission's Declaration of Broadband Inclusion for All and other reports call for governments to support ubiquitous fixed broadband access as a vital tool for economic growth and to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Examining the evidence, however, shows that the benefits of broadband are being oversold. Several points stand out: (i) the evidence for a large positive economic impact of broadband is limited; (ii) the impact of broadband rollout on achieving the MDGs would be marginal; (iii) there is little evidence ubiquitous broadband is needed for 'national competitiveness' or to benefit from opportunities like business process outsourcing; (iv) the costs of fixed universal broadband rollout dwarf available resources in developing countries; (and so) (v) the case for government subsidy of fixed broadband rollout is very weak. There are, however, some worthwhile policy reforms that could speed broadband rollout without demanding significant government expenditure.
  • Topic: Development, Globalization, Science and Technology, Communications
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Benjamin Lee, Julia Barmeier
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In September, world leaders will assemble in New York to review progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Ahead of the ensuing discussions, we examine how individual countries are faring towards achieving the highly ambitious MDG targets. We outline a new MDG Progress Index, which compares country performance against the core MDG targets on poverty, hunger, gender equality, education, child mortality, health, and water. Overall, we find evidence of dramatic achievements by many poor countries such as Honduras, Laos, Ethiopia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Cambodia, and Ghana. In fact, these countries' performance suggests that they may achieve most of the highly ambitious MDGs. Moreover, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for many of the star MDG performers. Interestingly, poor countries perform nearly on par with middle-income countries. Not surprisingly, the list of laggards largely consists of countries devastated by conflict over the last few decades, such as Afghanistan, Burundi, the DRC, and Guinea-Bissau. Most countries fall somewhere in between, demonstrating solid progress on some indicators and little on others.
  • Topic: Development, Human Welfare, Poverty, Third World, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, New York, Cambodia, Nepal, United Nations, Ethiopia
  • Author: Tony Blair
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Country ownership has become the new watchword in development. The problem for traditional donors is that ownership is too often code for convincing developing country governments to adopt the donors' agenda as their own: a way of securing influence without imposing conditionality. What is really needed is genuine country leadership. As President Obama said when he announced the United States' new development policy at the UN Millennium Development Goals summit in New York in September, “We will partner with countries that are willing to take the lead. Because the days when your development was dictated in foreign capitals must come to an end.”
  • Topic: Development, Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, New York, United Nations