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  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Christian J. Meyer
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We argue that survey-based median household consumption expenditure (or income) per capita be incorporated into standard development indicators, as a simple, robust, and durable indicator of typical individual material well-being in a country. Using household survey data available for low- and middle-income countries from the World Bank's PovcalNet tool, we show that as a measure of income-related well-being, it is far superior to the commonly used GDP per capita as well as survey-based measures at the mean. We also argue that survey-based median measures are "distributionaware", i.e. when used as the denominator of various widely available indicators such as mean consumption expenditure per capita they provide a "good-enough" indicator of consumption (or income) inequality. Finally, as a post-2015 indicator of progress at the country-level in promoting shared development and reducing inequality, we propose that the rate of increase in median consumption per capita after taxes and transfers exceed the rate of increase in average consumption in the same period.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Poverty, World Bank
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In this paper, written as the introduction to New Ideas on Development after the Financial Crisis (JHU Press, 2011), Nancy Birdsall discusses two themes. The first is the pre-crisis subtle shift in the prevailing model of capitalism in developing countries—away from orthodoxy or so-called market fundamentalism—that the crisis is likely to reinforce.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Homi Kharas, Rita Perakis
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This report presents the results of the second edition of the Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) assessment, with a focus on the changes that have occurred in donor performance since the first edition. These results were released in summary form in November, 2011, just before the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Humanitarian Aid, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: South Korea
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) database provides information about the carbon dioxide emissions, electricity production, corporate ownership, and location of more than 60,000 power plants in over 200 countries. Originally launched in 2007, CARMA is provided freely to the public at www.carma.org and remains the only comprehensive data source of its kind. This paper documents the methodology underpinning CARMA v3.0, released in July, 2012. Comparison of CARMA model output with reported data highlights the general difficulty of precisely predicting annual electricity generation for a given plant and year. Estimating the rate at which a plant emits CO2 (per unit of electricity generated) generally faces fewer obstacles. Ultimately, greater disclosure of plant-specific data is needed to overcome these limitations, particularly in major emitting countries like China, Russia, and Japan. For any given plant in CARMA v3.0, it is estimated that the reported value is within 20 percent of the actual value in 85 percent of cases for CO2 intensity, 75 percent for annual CO2 emissions, and 45 percent for annual electricity generation. CARMA's prediction models are shown to offer significantly better estimates than more naïve approaches to estimating plant-specific performance.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, America, Latin America
  • Author: Francis Fukuyama, Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: A clear shift in the development agenda is underway. Traditionally, an agenda generated in the developed world was implemented in—and, indeed, often imposed on—the developing world. The United States, Europe, and Japan will continue to be significant sources of economic resources and ideas, but the emerging markets will become significant players. Countries such as Brazil, China, India, and South Africa will be both donors and recipients of resources for development and of best practices for how to use them. In fact, development has never been something that the rich bestowed on the poor but rather something the poor achieved for themselves. It appears that the Western powers are finally waking up to this truth in light of a financial crisis that, for them, is by no means over.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Nora Lustig, Darryl McLeod
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Latin America is known to have income inequality among the highest in the world. That inequality has been invoked to explain low growth, poor education, macroeconomic volatility, and political instability. But new research shows that inequality in the region is falling. In this paper we summarize recent findings on inequality, present and discuss an assessment of how the type of political regime matters and why, and investigate the relationship between changes in inequality and changes in the size of the middle class in the region. We conclude with some questions about whether and how changes in income distribution and in middle-class economic power will affect the politics of distribution in the future.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The global community faces a number of critical challenges ranging from climate change to crossborder health risks to natural-resource scarcities. Many of these so-called global commons problems carry grave risks to economic growth in the developing world and to the livelihoods and welfare of their people. Climate change is the classic example. Despite the risks involved, donor governments have funded programs addressing global challenges such as climate change at far lower levels than traditional programs of country-based development assistance. The prospects for dealing with such global challenges will depend at least in part on new collective financing mechanisms.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Health, Humanitarian Aid, Foreign Aid
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Molly Kinder
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: During the 1990s, the World Bank and several donor partners provided a “surge” in external aid to support Pakistan's social sectors. Despite the millions of donor dollars spent, the program failed. Poverty was higher in Pakistan in 2004 than it was a decade earlier when the antipoverty program began. This working paper re-releases a CGD analysis of the World Bank's program, which was prepared in 2005 by CGD researchers Nancy Birdsall, Milan Vaishnav, and Adeel Malik. The analysis reports the many problems donors faced while working with Pakistan's government to improve health and education outcomes. A new preface by Nancy Birdsall and Molly Kinder identifies the key lessons from this massive donor experiment that are relevant today, as the United States and other donors prepare to increase their assistance to Pakistan to historic levels.
  • Topic: Development, Poverty, Foreign Aid, World Bank
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Central Asia
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Inclusive growth is widely embraced as the central economic goal for developing countries, but the concept is not well defined in the development economics literature. Since the early 1990s, the focus has been primarily on pro-poor growth, with the "poor" being people living on less than $1 day, or in some regions $2 day. The idea of pro-poor growth emerged in the early 1990s as a counterpoint to a concern with growth alone (measured in per-capita income) and is generally defined as growth which benefits the poor as much or more than the rest of the population. Examples include conditional cash transfers, which target the poor while minimizing the fiscal burden on the public sector, and donors' emphasizing primary over higher education as an assured way to benefit the poor while investing in long-term growth through increases in human capital. Yet these pro-poor, inclusive policies are not necessarily without tradeoffs in fostering long-run growth. In this paper I argue that the concept of inclusive growth should go beyond the traditional emphasis on the poor (and the rest) and take into account changes in the size and economic command of the group conventionally defined as neither poor nor rich, i.e., the middle class.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Augusto de la Torre, Felipe Valencia Caicedo
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In this paper we analyze the Washington Consensus, which at its original formulation reflected views not only from Washington but also from Latin America. We trace the life of the Consensus from a Latin American perspective in terms of evolving economic development paradigms. We document the extensive implementation of Consensus-style reforms in the region as well as the mismatch between reformers' expectations and actual outcomes, in terms of growth, poverty reduction, and inequality. We then present an assessment of what went wrong with the Washington Consensus-style reform agenda, using a taxonomy of views that put the blame, alternatively, on (i) shortfalls in the implementation of reforms combined with impatience regarding their expected effects; (ii) fundamental flaws—in either the design, sequencing, or basic premises of the reform agenda; and (iii) incompleteness of the agenda that left out crucial reform needs, such as volatility, technological innovation, institutional change and inequality.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Latin America