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  • Author: Susan Prowse
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Aid-for-trade programs can help strengthen low-income countries' supply capacity and knowledge of trade preferences, which will allow them to take fuller advantage of these preferences. Aid for trade to support preference reform can be divided into three categories: (i) creation of information-sharing mechanisms to ensure that governments, SMEs and other businesses are aware of the opportunities that preferential market access offers; (ii) capacity-building support to overcome supply-side and policy constraints; and (iii) support to ease the adjustments to preference erosion that will inevitably occur. As with other aid initiatives, coordination and cohesion among assistance programs is critical for success. Delivery mechanisms such as the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the Trade Facilitation Facility (TFF), and the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), are aimed at facilitating such coordination, but more could be done. And, as preference programs are intended to be temporary, aid for trade can also facilitate graduation from these programs and compensate beneficiaries for preference erosion. Unfortunately, this area is still lacking the level of innovation and financial support needed.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Author: Alan Gelb
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: International Development Association (IDA) donors and others operating a country performance-based allocation system face two difficult problems: how to strengthen incentives to produce and document development results and how to increase flexibility for fragile states. Fragile states have the greatest need for projects, but their projects tend to rate poorly in performance-based allocations systems, which provide little incentive to produce successful projects in fragile states or other countries.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Over the last 25 years, the international community has pursued a series of measures to address unsustainable debt burdens in low-income countries. Early actions focused on debt relief for official bilateral claims—initially by rescheduling—followed by increasing levels of debt stock reduction. During this period, the Paris Club repeatedly reduced or rescheduled the debts of a number of countries.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Foreign Aid
  • 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
  • Author: Alexandra Gillies
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The governments of resource rich states have several options for how to allocate oil and mineral revenues, including the direct distribution of revenues to their citizens. This paper discusses the political feasibility and political implications of such cash transfers in the specific context of resource-rich states. Identifying the contexts in which this policy is mostly likely to emerge, and understanding the potential governance risks and benefits, will help policymakers to consider the desirability of cash transfers as an allocation choice.
  • Topic: Development, Humanitarian Aid, Poverty, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Author: Owen Barder
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: There is a healthy debate about how to achieve poverty reduction in developing countries, but not enough discussion of what we mean by “poverty reduction.” “Poverty reduction” is often used as a short-hand for promoting economic growth that will permanently lift as many people as possible over a poverty line. But there are many different objectives that are consistent with “poverty reduction,” and we have to make choices between them. There are trade-offs between tackling current and future poverty, between helping as many poor people as possible and focusing on those in chronic poverty, and between measures that tackle the causes of poverty and those which deal with the symptoms. Because donors focus on just one dimension of poverty reduction (growth) they marginalise other legitimate objectives such as reducing chronic poverty or providing social services in countries that cannot otherwise afford them.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Humanitarian Aid, Poverty, Third World, Foreign Aid
  • 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: Owen Barder
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The political economy of aid agencies is driven by incomplete information and multiple competing objectives and confounded by principal-agent and collective-action problems. Policies to improve aid rely too much on a planning paradigm that tries to ignore, rather than change, the political economy of aid. A considered combination of market mechanisms, networked collaboration, and collective regulation would be more likely to lead to significant improvements. A “collaborative market” for aid might include unbundling funding from aid management to create more explicit markets; better information gathered from the intended beneficiaries of aid; decentralized decision-making; a sharp increase in transparency and accountability of donor agencies; the publication of more information about results; pricing externalities; and new regulatory arrangements to make markets work. The aid system is in a political equilibrium, determined by deep characteristics of the aid relationship and the political economy of aid institutions. Reformers should seek to change that equilibrium rather than try to move away from it. The priority should be on reforms that put pressure on the aid system to evolve in the right direction rather than on grand designs.
  • Topic: Development, Political Economy, Foreign Aid
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Raghuram G. Rajan
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We examine the effects of aid on the growth of manufacturing, using a methodology that exploits the variation within countries and across manufacturing sectors, and corrects for possible reverse causality. We find that aid inflows have systematic adverse effects on a country\'s competitiveness, as reflected in the lower relative growth rate of exportable industries. We provide some evidence suggesting that the channel for these effects is the real exchange rate appreciation caused by aid inflows. We conjecture that this may explain, in part, why it is hard to find robust evidence that foreign aid helps countries grow.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: Macartan Humphreys, James Fearon, Jeremy M. Weinstein
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Can brief, foreign-funded efforts to build local institutions have positive effects on local patterns of governance, cooperation, and well-being? Prior research suggests that such small-scale, externally driven interventions are unlikely to substantially alter patterns of social interaction in a community, and that the ability of a community to act collectively is the result of a slow and necessarily indigenous process. We address this question using a randomized field experiment to assess the effects of a community-driven reconstruction (CDR) project carried out by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in northern Liberia. The project attempted to build democratic, community-level institutions for making and implementing decisions about local public goods. We find powerful evidence that the program was successful in increasing social cohesion, some evidence that it reinforced democratic political attitudes and increased confidence in local decision-making procedures, but only weak evidence that material well-being was positively affected. There is essentially no evidence of adverse effects. *Jeremy Weinstein is on leave from the Center for Global Development.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Civil War, Development, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia