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The political economy of development policies and aid, innovative finance, transparency and accountability, complexity, technology, public financial management, information, knowledge, new media, Africa, health economics.
Owen Barder was a Vice President at the Center for Global Development, Director for Europe and a senior fellow. He is a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics and a Specialist Adviser to the UK House of Commons International Development Committee. Barder was a British civil servant from 1988 to 2010, during which time he worked in No.10 Downing Street, as Private Secretary (Economic Affairs) to the Prime Minister; in the UK Treasury, including as Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and in the Department for International Development, where he was variously Director of International Finance and Global Development Effectiveness, Director of Communications and Information, and head of Africa Policy & Economics Department. As a young Treasury economist, Barder set up the first UK government website, to put details of the 1994 budget online.
Europe has been caught off guard by recent asylum-seeker arrivals, prompting what some have called a threat to the survival of the EU. However, we have shown that Europe has admitted and integrated much larger numbers of refugees in the past. So why have countries been so overwhelmed this time around? One major hurdle has been assessing the validity of such large numbers of asylum claims.
When it comes to development aid, you might think that there is a trade-off between head and heart: that more generous donors would be less serious about making sure that their aid is used properly. But in a new CGD working paper, we find that In general, more generous donors tend also to be the most effective. One possible explanation of this correlation is that much of what we consider to be effective aid involves donors putting the interests of the intended beneficiaries of aid ahead of the interests of the donor country.
In a recent TV documentary, Professor Hans Rosling suggested that middle-income countries (MICs) get three times as much aid per person in poverty as countries which are further back in their development. Is aid being spent disproportionately in MICs? As you would expect, countries are diverse, and so too is the amount of aid they each receive. We show that the apparent under-allocation of aid to low-income countries (LICs) calculated by ODI, which is cited by Rosling, depends heavily on the choice of averages.
Our migration team has kicked off a new research program on forced migration to better understand people’s motivation to flee their homes, and the implications this has for the legal migration framework. What space does the current system have to accommodate individuals who do not qualify for formal refugee status?
Nine thousand delegates gathered in Istanbul for the first World Humanitarian Summit. There was no shortage of great commentary in advance, all of which pointed to the pivotal role that the WHS could play in the future of humanitarian aid. Depending on who you ask, the humanitarian system is either broke or broken. How could the Summit have tackled the system's mounting problems?
Although the real value of global aid has grown 9% in the last five years, all of that increase has been eaten up by the rising costs of humanitarian aid and refugees. Instead of condemning more and more people to a long-term future as aid-dependent refugees, what if we turned the support they would receive from donors over many years into an endowment that would enable them to start a new life in a new country?
Companies that own property in the UK are going to have to publish the names of their owners, in a publicly-accessible registry. And they will also have to list their owners if they want to get a contract from the UK government.
There are 20 pages covering the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. And while they are inevitably bubble-wrapped in diplo-speak and hat-tipping, there is a solid package of proposals nestled within. They cover domestic public finance, private finance, international public finance, trade, debt, technology, data and systemic issues. Amongst many other things, the Agenda calls for more tax and better tax (less regressive, more focused on pollution and tobacco). And it is long and specific on base erosion, tax evasion and competition and tax cooperation. It calls for financial inclusion and cheaper remittances. The draft discusses blended finance and a larger role for market-based instruments to support infrastructure rollout, as well as a new measure of “Total Official Support for Sustainable Development.” It calls for Multilateral Development Bank reform including new graduation criteria and scaling up. And it suggests a global compact to guarantee a universal package of basic social services and a second compact covering infrastructure. Finally, the draft has a good section on technology including the need for public finance and flexibility on intellectual property rights.
Does a stand-alone Department for International Development have a long-term future? What is the role of DFID in facilitating other British government departments and other UK organizations to assist developing countries? What is its role in influencing the policies of other Whitehall departments?
The Financing for Development Conference, which drew to a close yesterday in Addis Ababa, was never going to solve all the world’s development problems. What it could do was establish a shared policy framework within which decisions for the rest of 2015 can be taken. The outcome document, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, actually does that pretty well. But the real test is still to come: what specifically will countries commit to which will make these ideas real?
On the eve of the Social Impact Investment summit in London this Thursday, 6th June, I am excited that CGD and Social Finance are releasing a consultation draft of the report of the Working Group on Development Impact Bonds that we have convened over the past year.
Want to know what Americans think about the foreign aid budget? They think it is big. If they thought it were small, they might want to cut it less. On the other hand, they might not. In fact the real problem isn’t the actual or perceived size of the aid budget, it is what people think is done with it. They believe a lot of aid money is wasted. Want to shore up support for development assistance? Rather than say ‘but it is such a small amount!’ try persuading people it might do some good.