Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs

 

Do Weak Governments Doom Developing Countries to Poverty?

When you read what economists have to say about development, it is easy to be disheartened about the prospects for poor countries. One big reason is that slow changing institutional factors are seen as key to development prospects. I’ve just published a CGD book that’s a little more optimistic: Results Not Receipts: Counting the Right Things in Aid and Corruption.

A No More Tiers Formula to Clean Up Corruption

A bipartisan group of eight Senators led by Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) has just reintroduced a new version of a bill designed to identify and combat corruption overseas. The Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017 ties some potentially useful anti-corruption measures to a less-than-useful exercise in corruption ranking that will blunt their impact. That’s a shame, but it also suggests an easy fix: junk the ranking.

How Much Aid is Really Lost to Corruption?

One of the questions reportedly from the Presidential transition team to the State Department was: “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen?” During the nomination hearings for Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, Senator Rand Paul provided one answer: seventy percent of aid is “stolen off the top.” The question is a fair one to ask. The bad news is that the short answer is “we don’t know.” The better news is that the slightly longer answer is “nowhere near 70 percent.” And the best news is that if we spent more time tracking the results of aid projects, we’d have a much better idea of where corruption was a problem and if our efforts to reduce it were working.

The Senate Tackles Corruption in US Foreign Assistance

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin recently introduced legislation to establish a tiered system of countries with respect to levels of corruption by their governments and their efforts to combat such corruption. It is great to see Senator Cardin looking for ways the United States can contribute to the global fight against corruption, and there is some smart language in the bill. Of course, it wouldn’t be a CGD blog if I didn’t also have some suggestions on how to make the bill even better.

Ranking Aid Donors, Revisited: Perhaps Big, Old Donors Are Better Than We Thought

The research organization Aid Data has been getting a lot of attention in the aid world of late with its survey of recipient country policymakers and practitioners and their views of the utility, influence and helpfulness during reform of various aid agencies. Suggests the press release: “According to nearly 6,750 policymakers and practitioners, the development partners that have the most influence on policy priorities in their low-income and middle-income countries are not large Western donors like the United States or UK. Instead it is large multilateral institutions like the World Bank, the GAVI Alliance, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria." That conclusion is based on average worldwide agency scores from the survey.

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