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Nancy Birdsall to Deliver Kapuscinski Development Lecture in Berlin

On February 23, CGD President Nancy Birdsall will deliver the first Kapuscinski Development Lecture of 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Her lecture, “The New Middle Class in the Developing World: Does It Matter?” will take a hard look at what it means to be middle class in developing countries and explore the role of strugglers, the rapidly expanding group of people caught between extreme poverty and the middle class.

The World Bank’s Poverty Statistics Lack Median Income Data, So We Filled In the Gap Ourselves — Download Available

PovcalNet, the World Bank’s global poverty database, provides all kinds of country statistics, including mean income, the share (and number) of the population living in absolute poverty ($1.90), the poverty gap and several measures of income inequality, such as the Gini coefficient. But one thing it doesn’t provide is median income or consumption. The median is a better measure of “typical” well-being than the mean, which is always skewed to the right.

We’ve been waiting for the World Bank to add these medians to its PovcalNet database, but we got impatient and did it ourselves. By manually running a few hundred queries in PovcalNet, we now have (and can share with you) the latest median income/consumption data for 144 countries (using 2011 PPPs — more on our methods below).

Seven Development Policy Wishes for 2016

Sometimes it feels like Groundhog Day. Every twelve months or so, I sit down to write about my main wishes for the forthcoming year in development, and every list for the last few years has included my desire to see the US make good on its commitment to IMF quota reform (which would be of little extra cost to the US taxpayer as the US share of IMF funds could be augmented from existing monies already set aside for global financial crises). Dear reader, you can share my past frustration here, here and here.

SFRC on the Future of MCC

Earlier this week, CGD president Nancy Birdsall testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  A main impetus for the hearing was the introduction this summer of legislation (S. 1605) that would enable MCC to pursue regionally-focused investments with eligible countries.  The hearing itself, however, was wide-ranging, covering the “current operations and authority” of MCC. 

How the United States Can Lead on Global Goods and Bads

Climate change is one of many global problems that pose risks to well-being for everybody in the world – and bigger, scarier, and harder to manage risks for poor people in poor countries.  As with non-state terrorism, pandemic diseases, cybercrime, war refugees and microbial resistance to antibiotics, no one country, rich or poor, wants to act alone in dealing with these “global public goods” (in this case bads) since other countries will free-ride on its efforts. Dealing with these development challenges requires America’s leadership.

A Letter from Nancy Birdsall

Dear friends, colleagues, supporters of CGD,

I am writing to share with you my decision, after a healthy period of careful consideration, to step down as president of CGD in 2016, once a successor is in place. I’m pleased and excited about moving to a new chapter in my work life, as a senior fellow at CGD, with more time for research, writing and collaborating with incredible colleagues; and a new chapter in the other part of life, with more time and flexibility to travel and enjoy a large and still-growing extended family.

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