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Two top authors compared: Hossain on Bangladesh and Ang on China

Duncan Green - September 21, 2017

OK, so this week I’ve reviewed the two important new books on the rise of China and Bangladesh. Now for the tricky bit – the comparison. The books are very different in their approach. Where Yuen Yuen Ang focuses on the ‘how’ in China, Naomi Hossain is more interested in the ‘why’ in Bangladesh. Hossain traces the ‘why’ to the critical junctures that littered Bangladeshi’s …

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Book Review: The Aid Lab: Understanding Bangladesh’s Unexpected Success, by Naomi Hossain

Duncan Green - September 19, 2017

Over the summer I read a few absolutely brilliant books – hence the spate of book reviews. This week I will cover two new studies on development’s biggest recent success stories – China, but first Bangladesh. How did Bangladesh go from being a ‘basket case’ (though ‘not necessarily our basket case’ – Henry Kissinger, 1971) to a development success story, claimed by numerous would-be fathers …

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Can the UK become a Human Economy?

Duncan Green - September 15, 2017

Rising inequality is a global problem. Oxfam inequality guru Deborah Hardoon appraises a new report on its manifestations in the UK. Last week the IPPR, a progressive policy think tank, published a new report, ‘A time for change: A new vision for the British Economy’, which argues that “the economy we have today is creating neither prosperity nor justice. This is not inevitable, but the …

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Book Review: The Road to Somewhere, by David Goodhart

Duncan Green - September 13, 2017

There was a moment a few years ago when I was walking through Brixton with my son, Calum. I was tediously droning on about how much I loved the cultural and ethnic kaleidoscope, compared to the plain vanilla places where I grew up. Calum suddenly turned on me – ‘you’re just a tourist; you visit on Saturdays. It’s different growing up here’ and proceeded to …

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DFID is 20 years old: has its results agenda gone too far?

Duncan Green - September 12, 2017

DFID just turned 20 and Craig Valters (right) and Brendan Whitty (left) have a new paper charting its changing relationship to results  Focusing on results in international development is crucial. At this level of abstraction, how could one argue otherwise? Yet it matters how development agencies are managed for these results. We know that with proper management systems, aid interventions can be very effective; but if poorly managed, …

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Living in interesting times: one year in the life of Oxfam’s Women’s Rights Director

Duncan Green - September 8, 2017

Nikki van der Gaag looks back on her first year as Oxfam’s Gender Justice and Women’s Rights Director. ‘May you live in interesting times’ is a Chinese saying that could equally be a promise or a curse. In the past decade, there can’t have been many more interesting times to be working on women’s rights and gender justice. I began my new post three months …

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Book Review: Norms in the Wild: How to Diagnose, Measure, and Change Social Norms, by Cristina Bicchieri

Duncan Green - September 7, 2017

Alice Evans was raving about this book on twitter, so I scrounged a review copy and read it on holiday (that’s just how I roll). Verdict? A useful resource on an incredibly important topic (see my previous blogs), but sorry Alice, no cigar. Why important? Because norms are the neglected heart of development and social change – how people see themselves and their neighbours, what …

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From Starving Greece in 1942 to Yemen and Nigeria in 2017: Why Total War is still Wrong

Duncan Green - September 6, 2017

Ed Cairns worries that, 75 years since Oxfam was founded, we have returned to an era of heartless total war When a group of people met in Oxford’s University Church on 5 October 1942, they talked about the dire shortage of food in Nazi-occupied countries, and how to raise money and get relief through the Allies’ blockade. They agreed to set up something called the …

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Book Review: How to Resist: Turn Protest to Power, by Matthew Bolton

Duncan Green - September 5, 2017

Full disclosure: Matt Bolton works for Citizens UK, an organization of which I am a big fan, and who my son works for, but if you’re OK with that level of bias, read on. Citizens UK is a fascinating community organization, with a reputation far beyond its relatively small size (currently about 30 full time staff). For a fuller description see its Wikipedia entry.Here’s my …

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What can we learn from 7 successes in making markets work for poor people?

Duncan Green - September 1, 2017

Hi everyone, I’m back from an August blog break, with lots of great reading to report back on. First up, if you’re even slightly interested in how markets can benefit poor people, I urge you to read Shaping Inclusive Markets, a new publication from FSG and Rockefeller. The 60 page document explains their approach to ‘market systems innovation’, which we discussed at an event in …

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