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  • Author: Francesco Burchi, Christoph Strupat, Armin von Schiller
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Social cohesion is an important precondition for peaceful and economically successful societies. The question of how societies hold together and which policies enhance social cohesion has become a relevant topic on both national and international agendas. This Briefing Paper stresses the contribution of revenue collection and social policies, and in particular the interlinkages between the two. It is evident that revenue mobilisation and social policies are intrinsically intertwined. It is impossible to think carefully about either independently of the other. In particular, revenue is needed to finance more ambitious social policies and allow countries to reach goals, such as those included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Similarly, better social policies can increase the acceptance of higher taxes and fees. Furthermore, and often underestimated, a better understanding of the interlinkages between revenue generation and social policies can provide a significant contribution to strengthening social cohesion – in particular, concerning state–citizen relationships. In order to shed light on these interlinkages, it is useful to have a closer look at the concept of the “fiscal contract”, which is based on the core idea that governments exchange public services for revenue. Fiscal contracts can be characterised along two dimensions: (i) level of endorsement, that is, the number of actors and groups that at least accept, and ideally proactively support, the fiscal contract, and (ii) level of involvement, that is, the share of the population that is involved as taxpayer, as beneficiary of social policies or both. In many developing countries, either because of incapacity or biased state action towards elite groups, the level of involvement is rather low. Given the common perception that policies are unjust and inefficient, in many developing countries the level of endorsement is also low. It is precisely in these contexts that interventions on either side of the public budget are crucial and can have a significant societal effect beyond the fiscal realm. We argue that development programmes need to be especially aware of the potential impacts (negative and positive) that work on revenue collection and social policies can have on the fiscal contract and beyond, and we call on donors and policy-makers alike to recognise these areas as relevant for social cohesion. We specifically identify three key mechanisms connecting social policies and revenue collection through which policy-makers could strengthen the fiscal contract and, thereby, enhance social cohesion: 1. Increasing the effectiveness and/or coverage of public social policies. These interventions could improve the perceptions that people – and not only the direct beneficiaries – have of the state, raising their willingness to pay taxes and, with that, improving revenues. 2. Broadening the tax base. This is likely to generate new revenue that can finance new policies, but more importantly it will increase the level of involvement, which will have other effects, such as increasing government responsiveness and accountability in the use of public resources. 3. Enhancing transparency. This can stimulate public debate and affect people’s perceptions of the fiscal system. In order to obtain this result, government campaigns aimed at diffusing information about the main features of policies realised are particularly useful, as are interventions to improve the monitoring and evaluation system.
  • Topic: Development, Finance, Economic growth, Tax Systems, Transparency, Social Cohesion
  • Political Geography: Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Lennart C. Kaplan, Sascha Kuhn, Jana Kuhnt
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Successful programmes and policies require supportive behaviour from their targeted populations. Understanding what drives human reactions is crucial for the design and implementation of development programmes. Research has shown that people are not rational agents and that providing them with financial or material incentives is often not enough to foster long-term behavioural change. For this reason, the consideration of behavioural aspects that influence an individual’s actions, including the local context, has moved into the focus of development programmes. Disregarding these factors endangers the success of programmes. The World Bank brought this point forward forcefully with its 2015 World Development Report, “Mind, Society and Behavior”, herewith supporting the focus on behavioural insights within development policies. While agencies may intuitively consider behavioural aspects during programme design and implementation, a systematic approach would improve programme effectiveness at a relatively small financial cost. For this reason, we present a framework – the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen, 1991) – that aids practitioners and researchers alike in considering important determinants of human behaviour during the design and implementation of development programmes The TPB suggests considering important determinants of human behaviour, such as the individual’s attitude towards the intervention (influenced by previous knowledge, information or learning); subjective norms (influenced by important people, such as family members or superiors); and the individual’s sense of behavioural control (influenced by a subjective assessment of barriers and enablers). The theory should be used early on in the programme design to perform a structured assessment of behavioural aspects in the appropriate context. Components of the TPB can often be addressed through cost-effective, easy changes to existing programmes. Simple guiding questions (see Box 1) can help integrate the theory into the programme design. An iterative and inclusive process, particularly in exchange with the targeted population and other stakeholders, increases success.
  • Topic: Development, Norms, Behavior
  • Political Geography: Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Laura-Theresa Krüger, Julie Vaillé
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: On 22 January 2019, France and Germany signed the Aachen Treaty. Therein, 56 years after the Elysée Treaty, re-emphasising their support for multilateralism, sustainable development and development cooperation. Despite the ambitions expressed in this document, the signing of the Treaty calls for reflection: to what extent does this type of agreement indeed lead to joint operational approaches and have a real impact on French–German cooperation? To answer this question, this Briefing Paper analyses the obstacles to a closer French–German cooperation in the field of sustainable international development. It focuses on how these commitments are put into practice at the level of political coordination and project implementation. The analysis is based on about 20 interviews with representatives of French and German ministries, development agencies and think tanks. It finds that things get most complicated at the level of political coordination. Three main obstacles are identified: slightly diverging strategic visions; an incompatibility between institutional structures concerning the degree of specialisation and the mandates of the ministries responsible for steering aid, as well as the degree to which development agencies are involved in strategic decision-making; and cultural particularities regarding communication and time management. Five recommendations are proposed: 1. Protect what has been achieved: the alignment between France and Germany at the political and project implementation levels is an asset in an international context where the focus on national interests is increasing. Such cooperation should thus continue to be supported and reinforced. 2. Channel the political momentum to the working level: in order to reinforce their coordination, the two countries could establish a solid and regular follow-up mechanism for each commitment, detailing joint actions, shared objectives and milestones. 3. Promote mutual knowledge and trust: personnel exchange between the departments, as well as deep dive sessions on the two countries’ activities and strategies would allow increased understanding of each other. 4. Share best practices: a balanced and respectful French–German collaboration could be encouraged by the sharing of practices for which one country is more advanced or better positioned than the other (such as the French interministerial coordination or the German project evaluation and monitoring procedures). 5. Act jointly or divide the work: in the run-up to each joint Franco-German action, make a deliberate and conscious decision whether the two countries have an interest to act jointly or to divide the work. This decision would allow maximisation of the impact, either by specialising or by working together.
  • Topic: Development, Treaties and Agreements, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • Author: Mark Furness, Annabelle Houdret
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: State–society relations are in flux across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), nearly a decade after the Arab uprisings. The protests and revolts that swept the region in 2011 arose from widespread rejection of the post-independence Arab social contracts. These were based on redistribution of rents from natural resources and other forms of transfers and subsidies, as “compensation” for acquiescence to political and economic authoritarianism. In several MENA countries, including Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, but also in Algeria, Lebanon and Palestine, the old social contracts have been destroyed by civil conflicts and internationally sponsored wars, which in some cases predated the 2011 uprisings. Since broken social contracts are at the root of conflict in the MENA region, supporting new social contracts should be the core objective of development cooperation with the region’s most conflict-affected countries. But “post-conflict reconstruction” often ignores the fact that conflicts do not end with peace agreements, and conflict-affected societies need more than reconstructed infrastructure, institutional capacity and private sector investment if they are to avoid violence in the future. Development agencies term this kind of cooperation “resilience”: promoting political, economic, social and environmental stability, rather than risking uncontrollable, revolutionary transformation. However, resilience has often provided cover for short-term measures aimed at preserving the position of particular actors and systems. Development cooperation needs to get beyond reconstruction and resilience approaches that often fail to foster the long-term stability they promise. By focussing on the social contract, development cooperation with conflict-affected countries can provide a crucial link between peacebuilding, reconstruction and longer-term socioeconomic and political development. It can thereby contribute not only to short-term, but also to long-term, sustainable stability. Using the social contract as an analytical lens can increase understanding not only of what donors should avoid doing, but also where they should concentrate their engagement during transitions from civil war. Practical examples from challenging contexts in the MENA region suggest that donors can make positive contributions in support of new social contracts when backing (a) stakeholder dialogues, (b) governance and reforms, and (c) socioeconomic inclusion. In Libya, the socioeconomic dialogue process has brought stakeholders together to outline a new economic vision for the country. The Municipal Development Programme in Palestine focusses on improving the accountability and delivery of local institutions. The Moroccan Economic, Social and Environmental Council provides an example of a process that engages previously marginalised groups. These programmes are all examples of targeted efforts to build cooperation among the groups that make up MENA societies. They aim to broaden decision-making processes, and to increase the impact of specific measures with the ultimate objective of improving state–society relations. They could be adapted for other fragile contexts, with external support. In backing more of these kinds of activities, donors could make stronger contributions to sustainable, long-term peace- and state-building processes in conflict-affected MENA countries.
  • Topic: Development, Natural Resources, Conflict, Peace, Social Contract
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, Algeria, North Africa, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Charlotte Fiedler, Karina Mross
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Societies that have experienced violent conflict face considerable challenges in building sustainable peace. One crucial question they need to address is how to deal with their violent past and atrocities that were committed – for example, whether perpetrators should be held accountable by judicial means, or whether the focus should be laid on truth telling and the compensation of victims. Transitional justice (TJ) offers a range of instruments that aim to help societies come to terms with their history of violent conflict. Systematic, empirical analyses of TJ instruments have been emerging over the last years. This Briefing Paper summarises the policy-relevant insights they provide regarding the main TJ instruments: trials; truth commissions; reparations for victims; and amnesties.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Transitional Justice, Political Science, Peace, Justice
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Jakob Schwab, Jan Ohnesorge
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Blockchain technology (BT), famous due to its use in digital currencies, also offers new opportunities in other fields, one of which is trade integration. Developing countries especially could benefit from greater trade integration with BT, as the technology can, for example, remedy deficiencies with regard to financial system access, intellectual property protection and tax administration. BT allows virtually tamper-proof storage of transactions and other data on decentralised computer networks. In fact, it is possible to store not only data, but also entire programmes this securely: Smart contracts enable the automation of private transactions and administrative processes. This article summarises the latest research on the use of BT in trade integration by examining in more detail five key and, in some cases, linked fields of application. The first is trade finance, where BT could deliver direct cost savings for exporters and importers by removing the need for credit-lending intermediaries. Second, tamper-proof storage of information on the origin and composition of goods could enhance supply chain documentation. This makes it possible to more reliably verify compliance with sustainability standards, particularly for globally produced goods. However, for the information in blockchains to be truthful, it must be entered correctly (it is then tamperproof), a process that therefore requires monitoring. Third, BT could deliver improvements in the field of trade facilitation by making it easier for border authorities to access information on goods and thus easing reporting requirements for exporting firms. By reducing dependence on central database operators, BT could help bring about a breakthrough with existing digital technology in the area of trade. Fourth, facilitating access to information on goods could also simplify customs and taxation procedures and make them less vulnerable to corruption and fraud. This goes hand in hand with cost reductions for exporters and better mobilisation of domestic resources for public budgets. Fifth, in the field of digital trade, BT also facilitates management of digital file rights in environments where, for institutional reasons, there is little intellectual property protection. This could help to promote digital industries in developing countries. However, when it comes to using BT in border and customs systems in particular, it is essential to involve the relevant authorities at an early stage. At the same time, it is necessary to promote uniform technical standards for supply chain documentation in order to safeguard interoperability between the different systems across actors and national borders and thus fully leverage the cost advantages. If these guidelines are taken into account, then BT could effectively support sustainable trade integration of developing countries.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Currency, Trade, Integration, Blockchain
  • Political Geography: Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Wallace Cheng, Clara Brandi
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Digitalisation is transforming the economy and redefining trade. Recently, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have started to discuss how trade policies and rules should be adapted to address this transformation. For example, in January 2019, 76 WTO members announced the launch of “negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce”. The scope of these e-commerce negotiations is yet to be defined, but to ban tariffs on electronic trans­missions will certainly be on the priority list of WTO members such as the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). The idea of banning tariffs on electronic transmission originated at the WTO’s Ministerial Conference (MC) in 1998, when Members declared that they would “continue their current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions”. This temporary moratorium on e-commerce tariffs needs to be regularly extended, requiring a decision made “by consensus”. Members have repeatedly extended the moratorium on tariffs on “electronic trans­missions”, most recently at the latest WTO MC in 2017. But the WTO e-commerce moratorium is increasingly disputed: First, while net exporters of digital products and services, typically industrialised countries, understand the tariff ban to apply to digital content, net importers interpret it as referring only to electronic carriers (e.g. CDs, electronic bits), which means that they regard themselves as permitted to impose customs duties on the content of online trade. Second, while net exporters like the US and the EU propose a permanent ban on e-commerce tariffs in order to provide greater certainty to consumers and business, arguing that the resulting revenue losses are small, net importers like India and South Africa underline that they suffer much greater revenue losses than industrialised countries and have to bear the brunt of the moratorium. Third, while industrialised countries argue that the ban on tariffs on electronic transmissions would reduce market distortions, developing countries are concerned that a permanent moratorium would limit their options to protect domestic products and services traded online. Fourth, the moratorium has stirred a debate about how to create a level playing field between domestic and foreign suppliers of digital products and services.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, World Trade Organization, Digital Economy
  • Political Geography: India, South Africa, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Karina Mross
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Evidence exists that democracies are particularly stable, yet also that processes of democratisation are highly susceptible to conflict, especially if democratisation occurs in the aftermath of violent conflict. New research from the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) indicates that external democracy support can help mitigate the destabilising effects of post-conflict democratisation. Since the 1990s, democracy support has been integral to most peacebuilding efforts. Supporting free and fair elections or a vibrant media seems well-suited for fostering peace: Democratic institutions can actively deal with societal conflicts, in sharp contrast to authoritarian regimes, which often rely on repression. However, altering power relations through more political competition can also trigger power struggles, which newly emerging democratic institutions may have difficulty containing. Therefore, questions arise regarding countries that have embarked on a process of democratisation after civil war: Can democracy support help to mitigate destabilising effects, or does it reinforce them? If it can foster peace, how should it be designed in order to avoid renewed violence? The wisdom or folly of supporting democracy to build peace after civil war has caused controversy, yet has rarely been tested empirically. This briefing paper summarises findings from DIE research that addresses this gap.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Conflict, Institutions, Peace
  • Political Geography: Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Paul Marschall , Stephan Klingebiel
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Populism is a style of politics that attacks the existing normative consensus within society, making systematic use of marginalisation and bogeyman tactics. Typical marginalisation strategies target minorities within the population and adopt an anti-scientific world view. Restrictions on civil society are one of the consequences of government action dominated by populism. When it comes to mobilising voters, populists draw upon selected topics which differ according to political camp (left-wing versus right-wing populism) and national context. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify certain patterns of populist expression, such as the practice of contrasting the “people” and their supposed will with an allegedly out-of-touch political “elite”. The values of the population are largely set within the national context, while representatives of the elite are often portrayed as primarily interested in interactions outside of the nation state and thus perceived and characterised as proponents of globalisation. Populist trends can be seen in Western nations, former Eastern Bloc states and countries in the global South. Populist movements pose considerable threats to multilateral efforts aimed at tackling transnational political challenges.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Politics, Populism, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Global Focus, Global South
  • Author: Mario Negre, Jose Cuesta, Ana Revenga, Prescott J. Morley
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Conventional economic wisdom has long maintained that there is a necessary trade-off between pursuit of the efficiency of a system and any attempts to improve equity between participants within that system. Economist Robert Lucas demonstrated the implications of this common economic axiom when he wrote: “Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution [...] the potential for improving the lives of poor people by finding different ways of distributing current production is nothing compared to the apparently limitless potential of increasing production.” (Lucas, 2004) Indeed, many economists have suggested that too little inequality or too generous a distribution of benefits may undermine the individual’s incentive to work hard and take risks. Setting aside the harsh rhetoric used by Lucas, the practical and ethical acceptability of such a trade-off is debatable. Moreover, evidence from recent decades suggests that the trade-off itself is, in many cases, entirely avoidable. A large body of research has shown that improved competition and economic efficiency are indeed compatible with government efforts to address inequality and reduce poverty, as assessed in a World Bank report (World Bank, 2016). Contrary to another common belief about economic interventions, this research indicates that such policy interventions can be tailored to succeed in all countries and at all times; even low- and middle-income countries in times of economic crisis can successfully pursue policies to improve economic distribution, with negligible negative impacts on efficiency and, in many cases, even positive ones. Some examples of such pro-equity and pro-efficiency measures include those promoting early childhood development, universal health care, quality education, conditional cash transfers, rural infra-structure investment, and well-designed tax policy. Overall, four critical policy points stand out: 1. A trade-off is not inevitable. Policymakers do not need to give up on reducing inequality for the sake of growth. A good choice of policies can achieve both. 2. In the last two decades, research has generated substantive evidence about which policies work to foster growth and reduce inequalities. 3. Policies can redress the inequalities children are born into while fostering growth. But the wrong sets of policies can magnify inequalities early in life and thereafter. 4. All countries can, under most circumstances, implement policies that are both pro-equity and pro-efficiency.
  • Topic: Governance, Inequality, Economic growth, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: Germany, Global Focus