Topic: General

Angus Deaton makes the case against aid (and you get to vote)

I am grateful to Duncan Green for giving me an opportunity to respond to his comments on The Great Escape. I summarize the key evidence, and try to give a coherent story of how I think aid works, and when it will fail. Like Duncan, I fully recognize (and am motivated by) the moral imperative […]

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What about the 1 in 7? Important progress in getting DFID (and other donors) to get serious on disability

Disability campaigners Mosharraf Hossain and Julia Modern on a new report on disability and development Back in 1988, I was denied a job in the Bangladesh civil service. This wasn’t because I didn’t have the skills to do the job – I had a Masters in Economics from the University of Dhaka – but because […]

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“Parlez-vous politics?” Or why working politically is like learning a language

Alina Rocha Menocal of the ODI introduces her new paper The world of development assistance has come a long way since James Ferguson published his searing critique of the aid establishment in The Anti-Politics Machine: ‘Development,’ Depoliticization and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho in 1994. The (gradual) evolution that different international development actors have undergone to […]

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What are the limits of transparency and technology? From three gurus of the openness movement (Eigen, Rajani, McGee)

After a slightly disappointing ‘wonkwar’ on migration, let’s try a less adversarial format for another big development issue: Transparency and Accountability. I have an instinctive suspicion of anything that sounds like a magic bullet, a cost-free solution, or motherhood and apple pie in general. So the current surge in interest on open data and transparency […]

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The World Bank tackles Mind and Culture: heads up on the next World Development Report

Even though annual reports by the many fragments of the multilateral system have proliferated in recent years (I can’t keep up any more), the World Bank’s World Development Report still stands head and shoulders above the rest. And the next one’s theme, WDR 2015: Mind and Culture, due out in November this year, is pretty […]

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Killer factcheck: ‘Women own 2% of land’ = not true. What do we really know about women and land?

Cheryl Doss, a feminist economist at Yale University argues that (as with ‘70% of the world’s poor are women‘ ) we need to stop using the unfounded ‘women own 2% of the world’s farmland’ stat, and start using some of the real numbers that are emerging (while also demanding much better gender data). For advocates, […]

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Q: How many people is one rich man worth? A: 6.3 million. Extreme Inequality in the UK

Following his uber killer fact paper (assets of world’s 85 richest individuals = 3.5 billion poorest) Ricardo Fuentes (@rivefuentes) turns his jaundiced but numerate gaze to the UK (and triggers another media splash – see end for links) Economic inequality is much talked about these days. Two documents have made a splash over the last […]

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Fairtrade: celebrating the first 20 years. What’s next?

Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam’s Ethical Trade Manager looks back on the astonishing 20 year rise of Fairtrade. The Fairtrade Foundation launched its first products – coffee, chocolate and tea – 20 years ago. As one of the Oxfam types who sat around in the late 80s debating whether UK supermarkets would ever stock ‘alternative trade’ products, this […]

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What do White House Policy Makers want from Researchers? Important survey findings.

Interesting survey of US policymakers in December’s International Studies Quarterly journal. I’m not linking to it because it’s gated, thereby excluding more or less everyone outside a traditional academic institution (open data anyone?) but here’s a draft of What Do Policymakers Want From Us?, by Paul Avey and Michael Desch. The results are as relevant to […]

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How is India’s iconic NREGA social protection scheme doing? Interesting research from Tamil Nadu.

Some social programmes act as honey pots for busy bee researchers. A few years ago Brazil’s Bolsa Familia was the subject of choice, but it seems to have been overtaken by India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) which has researchers all over it. A Global Insights paper from the University of Sussex […]

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What Makes Big Corporations Decide to Get on the Right Side of History?

For the past year, Oxfam’s Erinch Sahan (right) has been working on the ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign. Here he reflects on some successes and lessons from his time in the advocacy trenches. On 19 May 1997, the CEO of BP, John Browne, made a speech at Stanford University. Browne: “We must now focus on what can […]

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What do we know about food riots and their link to food rights? Some interesting new findings from IDS

Went off to a rain-drenched Institute of Development Studies last week for one of those great workshops where a group of country researchers come together with case studies on a similar issue and then swap ideas on what general conclusions are emerging. The topic was the rash of food riots that struck 30+ countries in […]

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