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Empirical development economics, economic reform, international migration, poverty, social policy and development.
Lant Pritchett was a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and professor of the practice of international development at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he taught from 2000 to 2004 and from 2007 onward. Before rejoining the Kennedy School in 2007, he was lead socio-economist in the social development group of the South Asia region of the World Bank. He occupied various other positions at the World Bank during his tenure there, beginning in 1988. Pritchett was a team member on a number of prominent World Bank publications including Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reforms (2005); Making Services Work for Poor People (World Development Report 2004); Assessing Aid: What Works, What Doesn't and Why (with David Dollar, 1998); and Infrastructure for Development (World Development Report 1994). He has published two books with Center for Global Development, Let Their People Come (2006) and The Rebirth of Education (2013). Pritchett has published over a hundred articles and papers (with more than 25 co-authors) on a wide range of topics, including state capability, labor mobility, and education, among many others. Originally from Idaho, Pritchett is the father of three children and now lives in an empty nest with his wife of 31 years.
The head of USAID claims that “political momentum” is building to make extreme poverty “central” to the development agenda. The question is: How does one build political momentum for a global development agenda that excludes 5 billion people and the middle class of (nearly) every large developing country?
“Dollar a day” poverty morphed from a technical curiosity that interests at most a few dozen technocrats to the first of the Millennium Development Goals. It is now one of only two corporate goals of the World Bank (in spite of its obvious inconsistency with the World Bank’s own Articles of Agreement). And , according to a recent (August 18, 2014) missive from Rajiv Shah, the head of USAID “political momentum” is “build[ing] to make the end of extreme poverty central to the post-2015 Development Agenda.”
Angus Deaton said he didn’t mind poverty analysis as long as the poverty line is infinity. Stevenson and Wolfers (2013) assemble the array of survey based measures of subjective well- being (SWB), such as “life satisfaction” or “happiness” and search for income satiation.
The World Bank loves to talk about the importance of “good governance” and “strong institutions” and “rule of law” as keys to development success. Presumably that means that organizations are managed in accordance to their own legal procedures. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the primus inter pares of the many units under the World Bank group umbrella (IDA, IFC, MIGA) has an agreed upon Articles of Agreement. Article One is worth reproducing in its entirety:
The US economy needs low-skill workers now more than ever, and that requires a legal channel for the large-scale, employment-based entry of low-skill workers. The alternative is what the country has now: a giant black market in unauthorized labor that hinders job creation and harms border security. A legal time-bound labor-access program could benefit the American middle class and low-skill workers, improve US border security, and create opportunities for foreign workers.
Ghost towns dot the West of the United States. These cities boomed for a period and then, for various reasons, fell into a process of decline and have shrunk to a small fraction of their former population. Are there ghost countries—countries that, if there were population mobility, would only have a very small fraction of their current population? This paper carries out four empirical illustrations of the potential magnitude of the "ghost country" problem by showing that the "desired population" of any given geographic region varies substantially.
In a recent SNL sketch Bill Haider is a white celebrity filming a commercial in a village using black people as props to plead for “39 cents a day” which he claims is “all these people need to survive.”
For at least a couple of decades NGOs and others in developing countries have been designing, evaluating, tinkering, and trying to improve projects and programs that deliver specific in-kind “interventions” to targeted individuals/households in ways that raised their incomes in a sustained way.
Simply allowing more labor mobility holds vastly more promise for reducing poverty than anything else on the development agenda. That said, the magnitude of the gains from large growth accelerations (and losses from large decelerations) are also many-fold larger than the potential gains from directed individual interventions and the poverty reduction gains from large, extended periods of rapid growth are larger than from targeted interventions and also hold promise (and have delivered) for reducing global poverty.
The “just right” approach for the mobility of low-skill labor looks to avoid either “too hard”—expecting countries to make legally binding commitments to a global protocol—or “too soft”—no global mechanisms for reducing restrictions on labor mobility. We propose a “bundled” organization that works with existing bilateral labor agreements and partners as part of an organization capable of analysis and advocacy.
How much larger are the consumption possibilities of an urban US household with per capita expenditures of 1,000 US dollars per month than a rural Indonesian household with per capita expenditures of 1,000,000 Indonesian Rupiah per month? Consumers in different markets face widely different consumption possibilities and prices and hence the conversion of incomes or expenditures to truly comparable units of purchasing power is extremely difficult. We propose a simple supplement to existing purchasing power adjusted currency conversions.