Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD Policy Blogs

 

Mapping Development Trends in Google N-Grams

A few days ago, Google put online a tool designed as a time-suck for the holiday season (HT to Marginal Revolution for the link).  Google N-gram viewer allows you to type in some search terms and it spits out how often those terms appear in Google Books by year of publication.  Google books now contains 5,195,769 digitized books –or about 4% of all books ever published—so that it’s a pretty powerful tool to monitor cultural trends.

My World AIDS Day Wish: Data and Greater Transparency

After almost five years (yes, it’s been that long!) of tracking and analyzing key features of the design, delivery and management of top global AIDS donors, several key policy debates have emerged from the HIV/AIDS Monitor’s country-level studies. Perhaps the most prominent was our call for greater information and data transparency, because we found that the lack of data made effectiveness analysis difficult, if not impossible.

On the Hill: Moss Says Nigeria Should Try Cash Transfers (and U.S. Should Support Multilateral Development Banks)

This is a joint post with Kaci Farrell.

During a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on the global financial crisis and Nigeria’s financial reforms, CGD vice president for programs and senior fellow Todd Moss said Nigeria’s economic and political stability are inextricably linked to each other and to U.S. national interests. He urged members to support the African Development Bank and the World Bank and proposed a new idea: Nigeria should consider using oil revenues to finance cash transfers to citizens in the Niger Delta.

Three Seoul Sleepers and a Damp Squib

Perhaps predictably, media coverage of the G-20 Seoul Summit focused on the currency wars, and assessments of impact of the meeting were decidedly mixed (though, interestingly, more negative in the United States than in the big emerging markets). But global imbalances were hardly the only item on the agenda. Three summit documents have the potential to become more important with the passage of time, especially if the development community seizes upon them as opportunities to press the big economies for pro-development policies and spreads the word.

Biometrics, Identity, and Development

I recently presented an overview of this work at one of CGD’s biweekly Research-in-Progress (RIP) staff meetings; colleagues urged me to share my thinking about this and the slides via this blog post.

Replenishing IDA’s Coffers: Time to Get Creative

This afternoon, the World Bank’s shareholders will wrap up their latest discussions about replenishing IDA’s financial coffers – which provides cheap loans and grants to the world’s poorest countries.  The largest donors seem more or less content with the new package of policy reforms.  They have agreed that IDA should focus even more on evaluating project effectiveness and have greater flexibility in dealing with the most fragile countries.  Nothing particularly earth shattering – and definitely nothing sexy (even for us propeller heads).  Then again, IDA is already one of the most

When Rigorous Impact Evaluation Is Not a Luxury: Scrutinizing the Millennium Villages

A version of this blog also appeared on the Huffington Post.

Back in 2004 a major new development project started in Bar-Sauri, Kenya. This Millennium Village Project (MVP) seeks to break individual village clusters free from poverty with an intense, combined aid package for agriculture, education, health, and infrastructure. The United Nations and Columbia University began the pilot phase in Bar-Sauri and have extended it to numerous village clusters in nine other countries. They hope to scale up the approach across much of Africa.

But wait: Before we consider blanketing a continent with any aid intervention, we have to know whether or not it works. For example, we have to know if different things have happened in Bar-Sauri than have happened in nearby Uranga, which was not touched by the project. And we have to know if those differences will last. This matters because aid money is scarce, and the tens of millions slated for the MVP are tens of millions that won’t be spent on other efforts.

Here I discuss a new research paper that I wrote with Gabriel Demombynes of the World Bank.

Zoellick Annual Meeting Speech on Research!

The most important thing about Robert Zoellick’s speech at Georgetown yesterday is that the president of the World Bank gave a speech about research – development economics research, that is --  in the run-up to the Bank’s annual meeting.

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