Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity




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December 6, 2021

Assessing the UK’s ODA Focus on Poverty and Africa

The UK has historically prioritised poverty reduction in its aid spending, focusing finance where it is most needed. In this note, we assess the poverty focus of the UK’s bilateral official development assistance (ODA) over the past decade and compare this to other major donors. To do so, we examine the average income of the UK’s development partners (measured by GNI per capita, adjusted for purchasing power parity) which serves as a good indication of a country’s level of poverty. We also look at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO’s) most recent aid allocations as outlined in its annual report, to ascertain how the UK’s poverty focus might evolve in the future and how important Africa will remain in the UK’s aid spending plans.

December 6, 2021

Adolescent Girls’ Safety In and Out of School: Evidence on Physical and Sexual Violence from across Sub-Saharan Africa

Media coverage and country-level studies have highlighted violence—including sexual and physical abuse—against girls in schools as an important problem in need of immediate attention. This study characterizes rates of physical and sexual violence against adolescent girls and compares rates of violence against girls who are enrolled versus unenrolled in school, across countries that together represent 80 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s girls aged 15-19. This study uses Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), which capture basic data on physical and sexual violence, together with data from the Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS) in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which capture a wider array of sexual abuses and the location where the violence took place.

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December 6, 2021

Why Data Protection Matters for Development: The Case for Strengthening Inclusion and Regulatory Capacity

This note summarizes two years of research under the Center for Global Development project “Governing Data for Development,” led by Michael Pisa and Ugonma Nwankwo along with project co-chairs Pam Dixon and Benno Ndulu. The project was funded by the Hewlett Foundation and guided by a working group of 15 experts. For more information, please visit the project website.

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December 6, 2021

How Can Multilateral Organizations Strengthen Global Data Governance Practices? Roundtable Summary

This brief is based on a roundtable hosted by CGD as part of the Governing Data for Development project, which explores how governments can use data to support innovation, development, and inclusive growth while protecting citizens and communities against harm. The views expressed here are those of the participants and do not necessarily represent the views of CGD staff. For other briefs in the series, as well as more on the project, visit 

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December 1, 2021

Understanding Education Policy Preferences: Survey Experiments with Policymakers in 35 Developing Countries

Foreign aid donors and international organizations supporting education in developing countries have increasingly coalesced around a policy agenda prioritizing foundational learning, measured by test scores in primary school, based on a diagnosis of deficient school quality, and a growing body of empirical evidence about effective interventions to improve quality. We survey over 900 senior government officials working on education in 35 low- and middle-income countries to gauge their alignment with this agenda.

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November 30, 2021

MDB COVID-19 Crisis Response: Where Did the Money Go?

The pandemic and its economic impact have been a revealing test of the multilateral development bank (MDB) system and of individual MDBs. Although lending by the MDBs as a group rose significantly in 2020 (39 percent), this is much less than the rise in MDB lending in response to the Global Financial Crisis (77 percent), despite the much greater economic and social costs of the pandemic.

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November 22, 2021

Who’s Responsible for Climate Change? New Evidence Based on Country-Level Estimates of Climate Debt

In this paper, we introduce the concept of climate debt and provide country-level estimates through 2035 under a business-as-usual scenario. These estimates can help inform the debate on climate change by providing a clear view of which countries have (until the present) contributed the most to climate change, as well as the likely path for climate debt by country over the next 15 years. We then discuss the implications for carbon emissions if the G-20 countries and EU were to adopt either of the two policy options proposed in recent months: the first by President Biden for the US and the other by the EU for its member countries.

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November 19, 2021

From Displacement to Development: How Kenya Can Create Shared Growth by Facilitating Economic Inclusion for Refugees

Since the early 1990s, Kenya has hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees from across East Africa. Despite instances of refoulement, restrictions, and repeated threats from the government to shut down camps and deny other rights, large numbers of asylum seekers have found refuge in Kenya; some 490,000 refugees and asylum seekers live there today. But despite Kenya’s relatively generous policy for providing refuge, refugees in Kenya face many barriers to economic inclusion.

November 18, 2021

Mapping China’s Multilateralism: A Data Survey of China’s Participation in Multilateral Development Institutions and Funds

A considerable body of recent research attempts to shed light on China’s bilateral aid and finance flows, but there have been fewer efforts focused on China’s participation in multilateral development channels. As a result, China’s role across the landscape of multilateral institutions and funds is poorly understood, even as China has emerged as a leading donor within many of these entities.

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November 18, 2021

Mapping China’s Participation in Multilateral Development Institutions and Funds

China has emerged as a leading participant in multilateral development organizations. In many ways, this is a welcome development. Today’s global challenges, including COVID-19 and climate change, require an international response and have prompted renewed calls for increased multilateral engagement by the major economy countries. This, combined with the recognition of multilateral institutions’ high standards for transparency and environmental safeguards, have led the United States at times to encourage China to step up its multilateral contributions. At the same time, countervailing voices focused on strategic competition increasingly view China’s multilateral participation with skepticism.

November 18, 2021

The Journey to Universal Health Coverage

Since 2018, the government of Kenya has worked on a series of policies and pilots to support the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2022. UHC ensures that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.

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November 17, 2021

Meeting the Global Health Challenge to Reduce Death and Disability from Alcohol, Tobacco, and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption with Corrective Taxes

Behind the daily trauma of COVID-19 lies a larger and longer-lasting global health challenge resulting from the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Using a sample of 25 large advanced and emerging market economies accounting for three-quarters of global GDP, we show that about 60 million productive life years were lost every year in 2000, 2010, and 2019 from death and disability attributable to alcohol, tobacco, and diets high in sugar-sweetened beverages.

Chris Lane and Vinayak Bhardwaj
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November 15, 2021

What Next for IDA?

IDA, the World Bank’s concessional fund, was set up 1960 to provide affordable finance to countries with the smallest economies, lowest per capita incomes and lowest creditworthiness. The goal was to help those countries to grow faster and more equally and thereby sustainably to reduce poverty. IDA can fairly claim to have made a significant contribution to global poverty reduction over recent decades. But it is now underperforming in the countries with the biggest challenges. If it wants to retain its preferred status as a beneficiary of donor resources in the future, it needs a better offer to the neediest countries.

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November 10, 2021

Navigating the Straits: Pull Financing for Climate and Development Outcomes

An increasing share of official development assistance is being used for climate-related activities. This trend is continuing despite the lack of comprehensive cost-effectiveness evidence to guide spending decisions and continuing concerns that few applications are effective or efficient mechanisms for either climate or development outcomes. This paper proposes that a well-designed pull financing mechanism, which identifies specific problems for which it will pay a pre-specified price for solutions that can scale up, has the potential to navigate these problems.

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November 1, 2021

What Do Middle-Income Countries Want from the IMF as They Look to Recover from the Pandemic?

After more than a year of grappling with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many middle-income countries (MICs) will continue to experience health and economic dislocation for some time to come. While much of the global financial community’s attention has focused on supporting low-income countries (LICs), about 75 percent of the world’s poor are in MICs, and economic recovery in these countries will be critical to an equitable and sustainable global future.