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  • Author: Vijaya Ramachandran, Alan Gelb, Christian J. Meyer
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We consider economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa from the perspective of slow convergence of productivity, both across sectors and across firms within sectors. Why have "productivity enclaves", islands of high productivity in a sea of smaller low-productivity firms, not diffused more rapidly? We summarize and analyze three sets of factors: First, the poor business climate, which constrains the allocation of production factors between sectors and firms. Second, the complex political economy of business-government relations in Africa's small economies. Third, the distribution of firm capabilities. The roots of these factors lie in Africa's geography and its distinctive history, including the legacy of its colonial period on state formation and market structure.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy, Markets
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Justin Sandefur
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Across multiple African countries, discrepancies between administrative data and independent household surveys suggest official statistics systematically exaggerate development progress. We provide evidence for two distinct explanations of these discrepancies. First, governments misreport to foreign donors, as in the case of a results-based aid program rewarding reported vaccination rates. Second, national governments are themselves misled by frontline service providers, as in the case of primary education, where official enrollment numbers diverged from survey estimates after funding shifted from user fees to per pupil government grants. Both syndromes highlight the need for incentive compatibility between data systems and funding rules.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Dean Karlan, Pia Raffler, Greg Fischer, Margaret McConnell
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In a field experiment in Uganda, we find that demand after a free distribution of three health products is lower than after a sale distribution. This contrasts with work on insecticide-treated bed nets, highlighting the importance of product characteristics in determining pricing policy. We put forward a model to illustrate the potential tension between two important factors, learning and anchoring, and then test this model with three products selected specifically for their variation in the scope for learning. We find the rank order of shifts in demand matches with the theoretical prediction, although the differences are not statistically significant.
  • Topic: Development, Health
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa
  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Alex Ezeh
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Despite improvements in censuses and household surveys, the building blocks of national statistical systems in sub-Saharan Africa remain weak. Measurement of fundamentals such as births and deaths, growth and poverty, taxes and trade, land and the environment, and sickness, schooling, and safety is shaky at best. The challenges are fourfold: (1) national statistics offices have limited independence and unstable budgets, (2) misaligned incentives encourage the production of inaccurate data, (3) donor priorities dominate national priorities, and (4) access to and usability of data are limited. The Data for African Development Working Group's recommendations for reaping the benefits of a data revolution in Africa fall into three categories: (1) fund more and fund differently, (2) build institutions that can produce accurate, unbiased data, and (3) prioritize the core attributes of data building blocks.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Michael Clemens, Gabriel Demombynes
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Millennium Villages Project is a high profile, multi-country development project that has aimed to serve as a model for ending rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The project became the subject of controversy when the methodological basis of early claims of success was questioned. The lively ensuing debate offers lessons on three recent mini-revolutions that have swept the field of development economics: the rising standards of evidence for measuring impact, the “open data” movement, and the growing role of the blogosphere in research debates.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The United States government has made repeated declarations over the last decade to align its assistance programs behind developing countries' priorities. By utilizing public attitude surveys for 42 African and Latin American countries, this paper examines how well the US has implemented this guiding principle. Building upon the Quality of Official Development Assistance Assessment (QuODA) approach, I identify what people cite most frequently as the 'most pressing problems' facing their nations and then measure the percentage of US assistance commitments that are directed towards addressing them. By focusing on public surveys over time, this analysis attempts to provide a more nuanced and targeted examination of whether US portfolios are addressing what people care the most about. As reference points, I compare US alignment trends with the two regional multilateral development banks (MDBs) – the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Overall, this analysis suggests that US assistance may be only modestly aligned with what people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America cite as their nation's most pressing problems. By comparison, the African Development Bank – which is majority-led by regional member nations – performs significantly better than the United States. Like the United States, however, the Inter-American Development Bank demonstrates a low relative level of support for people's top concerns.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, America, Latin America
  • Author: Kevin Ummel
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: South Africa and many other countries hope to aggressively expand wind and solar power (WSP) in the coming decades. This presents significant challenges for power system planning. Success hinges largely on the question of how and where to deploy WSP technologies. Well-designed deployment strategies can take advantage of natural variability in resources across space and time to help minimize costs, maximize benefits, and ensure reliability.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics, Energy Policy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Laura E. Seay
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Although its provisions have yet to be implemented, section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is already having a profound effect on the Congolese mining sector. Nicknamed “Obama's Law” by the Congolese, section 1502 has created a de facto ban on Congolese mineral exports, put anywhere from tens of thousands up to 2 million Congolese miners out of work in the eastern Congo, and, despite ending most of the trade in Congolese conflict minerals, done little to improve the security situation or the daily lives of most Congolese. In this report, Laura Seay traces the development of section 1502 with respect to the pursuit of a conflict minerals-based strategy by U.S. advocates, examines the effects of the legislation, and recommends new courses of action to move forward in a way that both promotes accountability and transparency and allows Congolese artisanal miners to earn a living.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Poverty, Natural Resources, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Amanda Beatty
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Learning profiles that track changes in student skills per year of schooling often find shockingly low learning gains. Using data from three recent studies in South Asia and Africa, we show that a majority of students spend years of instruction with no progress on basics. We argue shallow learning profiles are in part the result of curricular paces moving much faster than the pace of learning. To demonstrate the consequences of a gap between the curriculum and student mastery, we construct a simple, formal model, which portrays learning as the result of a match between student skill and instructional levels, rather than the standard (if implicit) assumption that all children learn the same from the same instruction. A simulation shows that two countries with exactly the same potential learning could have massively divergent learning outcomes, just because of a gap between curricular and actual pace—and the country which goes faster has much lower cumulative learning. We also show that our simple simulation model of curricular gaps can replicate existing experimental findings, many of which are otherwise puzzling. Paradoxically, learning could go faster if curricula and teachers were to slow down.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Asia
  • 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