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Latin America faces old and new development challenges. While, over the last two decades, some countries have implemented solid macroeconomic policies and many have improved their financial regulatory and supervisory frameworks, large segments of the population have not reaped the benefits from economic growth. The COVID-19 crisis has only made things worse—poverty reduction is expected to suffer a setback of more than 10 years and inequality continues to rise.
Structural problems, including very low productivity, the substantial size of the informal economy and the lowest savings rate in the emerging world, remain unsolved. Novel issues, like the migration from Venezuela, or the health and economic challenges that COVID-19 brings about add further pressure to weak social and political consensus—and the looming risk of a financial crisis persists.
CGD’s Latin America Initiative provides sound analysis on these issues and advances recommendations to policymakers and multilateral organizations to support the effort of overcoming these challenges to climb the development ladder and reach shared prosperity.
América Latina afronta, al mismo tiempo, nuevos y viejos desafíos en materia de desarrollo. Aunque, en las últimas dos décadas, algunos países han implementado políticas macroeconómicas sólidas y han mejorado sus marcos regulatorios y de supervisión, amplios segmentos de la población no se han beneficiado del crecimiento económico. La crisis de la COVID-19 solo ha empeorado las cosas: se espera un retroceso de más de 10 años en materia de reducción de la pobreza y la desigualdad continúa aumentando.
Problemas estructurales, como la muy baja productividad, el gran tamaño de la economía informal y los niveles de ahorro más bajos en el mundo emergente, continúan sin resolverse. Nuevos temas, como la migración venezolana o los desafíos sanitarios y económicos generados por la COVID-19, ejercen aun mayor presión sobre un débil consenso social y político. Además, continúa existiendo la amenaza de una crisis financiera.
La Iniciativa Latinoamericana de CGD busca analizar estos temas y proponer recomendaciones que apoyen los esfuerzos de los formuladores de políticas y los organismos multilaterales para avanzar en el proceso de desarrollo de la región y lograr una prosperidad compartida.
From 2011 to 2016, about 179,000 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala were apprehended entering the United States. While the crisis received ample media attention, limited data has meant little rigorous analysis of what made those children move. Using unprecedented data on each apprehension, we measure how violence in these children’s hometowns shaped their migration. In the average municipality the children came from, 10 additional homicides caused about six additional apprehensions.
This paper studies the relationship between violence in the Northern Triangle and child migration to the United States. It finds that one additional homicide per year in the region, sustained over the six-year period of study—that is, a cumulative total of six additional homicides—caused a cumulative total of 3.7 additional unaccompanied child apprehensions in the United States. The explanatory power of short-term increases in violence is roughly equal to the explanatory power of long-term economic characteristics like average income and poverty.
The controversy surrounding the recent purchase of Venezuelan government bonds by Goldman Sachs is a great reminder of the role that “preemptive contract sanctions” could play in the struggle against odious regimes like that of Nicolas Maduro. In 2010, CGD released a working group report explaining in detail how this new sanctions tool could work. The Maduro regime in Venezuela could be the perfect candidate.
Two recent books reveal an internal debate about the value of childcare and women's work at the Inter-American Development Bank. Impact evaluations show home visitation programs are cheaper and better for kids than center-based childcare. But a new volume argues the cost-benefit calculation may change once impacts on women, and not just children, are added to the equation.
Peru is a remarkable example of a country that established civil identification as a national priority in response to the need to re-integrate the state after a serious insurgency. The approach has combined the creation of an autonomous civil registration and identification agency and the use of performance-based financing to expand coverage to poor, remote, communities and to help integrate civil registration with the national ID.
A rise in protectionism and increased external uncertainty may compound already existing domestic weaknesses. Latin America cannot run the risk of being unprepared for the significant potential direct and indirect effects of such a menace to its exports, capital inflows and growth.
We study a natural experiment that excluded almost half a million Mexican ‘bracero’ seasonal agricultural workers from the United States, with the stated goal of raising wages and employment for domestic farm workers. We reject the wage effect of bracero exclusion required by the model in the absence of induced technical change, and fail to reject the hypothesis that exclusion had no effect on US agricultural wages or employment. Important mechanisms for this result include both adoption of less labor-intensive technologies and shifts in crop mix.
How resilient are emerging market economies to potentially tougher external conditions, especially if they become prolonged? This paper takes the view that initial economic conditions before the eruption of an adverse external shock matter, and they matter a lot.
This paper explores the impact of international financial integration on credit markets in Latin America. The overall effect is positive, but the foreign banks do tend to amplify the impact of foreign shocks on credit and interest rates. Important policy recommendations include ring-fencing mechanisms, early-warning systems, and the incorporation for agreements between domestic and foreign supervisors.
From 2004-2013, Brazil reduced climate emissions by more than any other country on earth, thanks to its success cutting Amazon deforestation by 80 percent. Now, a new study in Ecological Economics finds that actions to protect the Amazon were affordable too, costing Brazilian governments at the federal, state, and local levels just $2.1 billion over nine years—one-third the estimated $6.2 billion price tag of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
This work quantifies how long it has taken countries rich and poor to make the transition towards high enrollments and gender parity. It finds that many countries that have not raised enrollments fast enough to meet the Millennium Development Goals have in fact raised enrollments extraordinarily rapidly by historical standards and deserve celebration rather than condemnation. The very few poor countries that have raised enrollment figures at the rates envisioned by the goals have done so in many cases by accepting dramatic declines in schooling quality, failing large numbers of students, or other practices that cast doubt on the sustainability or exportability of their techniques.
It is a major concern often heard from US border residents: how much might increasing drug cartel violence in Mexico “spill over” into the United States? It’s certainly true that illicit markets—in drugs, guns and people—have long flourished across the 2,000 mile frontier, and pose policy concerns for both countries. To date, the major strategy to tackle this problem has been a law enforcement approach sponsored by the United States. Is this the right approach?
What if international development finance paid for outcomes, like children educated or diseases avoided, rather than inputs like classrooms built or medicines procured? That’s the premise of CGD’s longstanding work on Cash-on-Delivery Aid. By paying only for the verified progress on measured outcomes, donors are assured of value for money, and recipients have the flexibility and incentive to innovate. This idea is taking hold in education, health, and other sectors.
In Haiti, already the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Hurricane Matthew’s devastation is still being calculated. We know that hundreds of people have died, and the damage to Haiti’s already-fragile infrastructure is immense. So what can people in rich countries do to help? Based on the latest research on humanitarian disaster relief and on the lessons learned in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, here are some do’s and some don’ts for policymakers and individuals.