February 2015

Why premature deindustrialization is really bad news for development

Duncan Green - February 27, 2015

One of the many positives about development is that lots of good stuff is happening much earlier in a country’s trajectory – on average, falling infant mortality, access to healthcare and education, rights, democracy etc all take place at lower levels of GDP per capita than in the past. Unfortunately, guru economist Dani Rodrik has also found something not so positive following the same pattern …

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My Friend Died Last Week – Tax Could Have Saved His Life

Duncan Green - February 26, 2015

My colleague Max Lawson (@maxlawsontin ), Oxfam’s head of global policy and campaigns, lost a friend to illness recently, and wrote this fine, angry polemic in response (it appeared earlier this week in Huffpo): My friend died last week. Mr Kumambala was a great man, who had taught mathematics to Malawi’s children for more than forty years. His huge smile and loud gasps and gesturing on …

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8 myths about non-violent activism (from a movement that overthrew a dictator)

Duncan Green - February 25, 2015

I’m still catching up on the email backlog after returning from holiday, but while I’m doing so, here’s something I should probably do more of – a straight lift from a really interesting article. I recently signed up to the New York Times ‘Fixes’ column (‘solutions to social problems and why they work’). On a bad week, it can be a bit ‘Ted talks’ – …

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What happens if we apply doughnut economics to single countries, starting with the UK?

Duncan Green - February 19, 2015

Katherine Trebeck (@ktrebeck), Oxfam policy adviser and all round well-being guru, reports on a new effort to apply doughnut economics at a national scale, starting with the UK   Every so often, a simple idea catches people’s imagination. Complex concepts get distilled into a mantra or image that elicits an ‘a ha’ moment. World views can be changed. Perspectives shifted. And ideologies dented. Such was …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - February 16, 2015

Livestock demography: where do the world’s 1.4 billion cows, 19.6 billion chickens & 0.98 billion pigs live? Here’s the cows Tolkien’s ‘one ring to rule them all’ as a parable for the attractions and perils of new technologies UK aid watchdog criticises DFID for its efforts to expand work in fragile states, but accepts real impact will ‘take a generation’ No we are not all …

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What do we know about the politics of reducing inequality? Not much – it’s time to find out

Duncan Green - February 13, 2015

Spent a fun day at the Developmental Leadership Program annual conference in Birmingham yesterday. I was on a panel pitching an idea for a research programme that has got me very excited (along with David Hudson and Niheer Dasandi from University College London). Here’s my pitch. One of my formative influences as a policy wonk was watching the impact of Ha-Joon Chang’s great book Kicking …

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If annoying, talking down to or ‘othering’ people is a terrible way to influence them, why do we keep doing it? (research edition)

Duncan Green - February 12, 2015

I’ve been thinking about how we criticize/critique people, groups and ideas recently. It started with a conversation with my pal Chris Roche who first expressed surprise at the snarky tone of my post on a paper on NGOs (What can we learn from a really annoying paper on NGOs and development?) and then pronounced himself a bit irritated by some of the ‘Doing Development Differently’ …

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Why making an assassinated Archbishop into a Saint is a great victory for social justice (and not just for Catholics)

Duncan Green - February 11, 2015

No-one does long term campaigning better than faith groups – the Quakers led the anti-slavery struggle for 50 years in the early 1800s. As for the Catholics, when your institution is a couple of thousand years old, you tend to take the long view. I thought of this last week, as I cycled past ‘Romero Close’ – site of the old office of my former …

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What are the implications of ‘doing development differently’ for NGO Campaigns and Advocacy?

Duncan Green - February 10, 2015

I’ve been having fun recently taking some of the ideas around ‘Doing Development Differently’ and applying them to INGOs, building on the post I wrote last year on ‘You can’t take a supertanker white-water rafting’. The Exam Question is: Given complexity, systems thinking and the failure of top down approaches, what future, if any, is there for International NGOs? Paper and blog forthcoming – bet …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - February 9, 2015

Never make predictions, especially about the future: 42 predictions by futurologists from c1960 (some correct – driverless cars) [h/t Tim Harford] Flurry of posts on life and love in the aid biz: How not to get a job in development. Some painful examples of pressing the self destruct button ‘Your mother will love the fact that you’re dating someone so caring’ 52 reasons to date …

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