Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD Policy Blogs


Adieu CGD, Hello MCC

I’ve been out of school for longer than I’d like to admit, but September still feels like the start of the new year to me. When it rolls around this time, I'll be starting a new position at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) as a senior policy adviser in the department of policy and evaluation.

Podcasts for Development

This piece was originally posted on Owen Barder's blog, Owen Abroad.

The mainstream broadcast media do not always do a good job of covering international development issues. The constraints of the medium mean that they have to pitch much of their content to a broad audience. Poverty porn sells better than nuanced analysis.  One reason I like podcasts is that they are not constrained in the same way as the media. They can be targeted at niche audiences out in the long tail of the distribution. There is a small group of people with an appetite for a more long-form analysis of development which mainstream media are normally not able to serve (though it amazes me that the BBC World Service does not have room anywhere in its schedule for a hour-long programme devoted to development.)

Brookings-UN Report Gets It Wrong on AGOA

The Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative, in conjunction with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, recently released an important report on possibilities for renewing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The report uses a standard trade model to explore the impact of various scenarios. It has the imprimatur of two prestigious institutions and was launched at a high-profile event with US Trade Representative Michael Froman as featured speaker, so it could be an important contribution to the debate over the future of AGOA.

Migration and the Trillion Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk: Michael Clemens

In this Wonkcast, originally posted on September 7, 2011, Michael Clemens explains why one of the biggest growth opportunities in the world economy lies not in the mobility of goods or capital, but in the mobility of labor. His message remains relevant as International Migrants Day approaches on December 18th. In his recent blog, Clemens argues we have plenty of reason to celebrate the movement of people – and backs it up with economic evidence and history.

Do Immigrants Fill Public Coffers, or Drain Them? We Finally Have an Authoritative Estimate

People who move from poor countries to rich countries add colossal value to the world economy. They can do this, my research has shown, because their labor is often several times more valuable in the countries they move to. Workers who move, even in modest numbers, can create economic gains in the trillions of dollars, and most of that value accrues to the destination country.

The Post-2015 Bandwagon: The Wheels Are Still On, and the Band Is Playing in Tune

I admit, I didn’t think things would look so good right now.  This summer of post-2015 reports has been as unexpectedly pleasant as comparatively decent August weather in DC.  Surprised by the depth and reach of the High Level Panel report on the post-2015 development agenda, then taken off guard by the healthy overlap between the Sustainable Development  Solutions Network report and the High Level Panel’s recommendations, now I’ve been mildly shocked—in a good way—by the first interim report of the Sustainable Development Goals Working Group. 

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Lant Pritchett on Mimicry in Development

This podcast was originally recorded in March 2011. Development is easy, right? All poor countries have to do is mimic the things that work in rich countries and they’ll evolve into fully functional states. If only it were that simple. My guest this week is Lant Pritchett, a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development and chair of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Master’s program in international development. His latest work looks at how the basic functions of government fail to improve in some developing countries (a dynamic he defines as a “state capability trap”). Part of the problem, says Lant, is that donors often insist on transplanting institutions that work in developed countries into environments where those institutions don’t fit at all.