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  • Author: John R Allen
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: On June 12, 2017, Bruce Jones, director of the Brookings Foreign Policy Program, convened five Brookings experts—John Allen, Vanda Felbab-Brown, Tanvi Madan, Michael O’Hanlon, and Bruce Riedel—to discuss the history and future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. The edited transcript below reflects their assessments of evolving U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, progress to date, enduring challenges, regional dynamics, burden-sharing with coalition partners and regional stakeholders, domestic political support for ongoing U.S. commitment, and policy recommendations for U.S. strategy going forward.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Raj M. Desai, Homi Kharas
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Does an expanding middle class benefit society’s poorest? Much has been written recently about the rapid growth of the middle class as well as the rapid fall in absolute poverty (Kharas 2017; Kocharand Oates 2015; Burrows 2015). However, few studies seek to link these two trends. It is worth emphasizing at the outset that a growing middle class and a falling poverty rate are not simply two sides of the same coin; there is a large “vulnerable” (or near poor) cohort between the poorest individuals and the middle class. Additionally, the trends can be quite different. In the United States, for example, the percentage of middle-class households has steadily fallen since the 1970s, while the portion of households in the lowest income brackets has remained steady (Kochhar,Fry, and Rohal 2015). Similar trends have occurred in the European Union since the early 2000s (ILO 2015). By contrast, in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, most of those lifted out of poverty appear to have joined the ranks of the vulnerable rather than the middle class (Calvo-Gonzalez 2017; Chandy 2015). There, the middle class has stagnated despite reductions in poverty.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kenneth Gwilliam
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: common criticism of urban transport strategies is that they are unduly concerned with mobility or the ability to move rather than accessibility in which a desired journey purpose can be satisfied. It is often further argued that a consequence of this focus on mobility, particularly motorized mobility, is that transport is not affordable to the poor, and that this exclusion justified the use of subsidies to remedy the situation. A key element of “Moving to Access” is thus concerned with increasing the affordability of transport for the poor. The objective of this paper is to explore the relationships between mobility, accessibility, affordability and transport prices and subsidies in more detail with a view to better reconciling the economic efficiency of the urban transport systems with the welfare of the poor.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elizabeth Mann
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Amid persistent concerns about the well-documented skills gap, community colleges have the potential to provide low-cost, high-quality education and training to students. Robust relationships between colleges and local industry partners are critical to building strong workforce development programs for students. In this context, this toolkit offers practical advice on how community college leaders can take a deliberate approach to communication with potential partners in their community, including local businesses and industry leaders.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Homi Kharas
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: “Foreign assistance” combines two of the least popular words in United States politics. Since the end of the Cold War, isolationism has slowly weakened internationalism, perhaps because of the growing feeling that foreigners are freeloading on the U.S. as the world’s policeman and problem solver. Some indicators of popular attitudes toward foreign assistance are concerning, although these are not all consistent with each other. A 2016 Pew Survey found far more Americans responding that the U.S. does too much in terms of solving global problems (41 percent) than too little (27 percent). Similarly, a significant majority (57 percent) think that the U.S. should deal with its own problems and let others deal with theirs as best they can.
  • Topic: International Affairs, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Liz Schrayer
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In 2011, as the annual budget resolution hit the Senate floor, multiple amendments were offered to cut the foreign assistance account. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky offered the most dangerous amendment to cut billions from the International Affairs Budget. While it was defeated, it still garnered 20 votes. In the intervening years, Senator Paul offered similar amendments—but his final effort in 2015 was different. It was soundly defeated by a 96-4 vote.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: George Ingram
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: “Bureaucratically fragmented, awkward, and slow, its (foreign aid) administration is diffused over a haphazard and irrational structure... The program is based on a series of legislative measures and administrative procedures conceived at different times and for different purposes and many of them obsolete, inconsistent, and unduly rigid and thus unsuited for our present needs and purpose.”—President John F. Kennedy’s Special Message to the Congress on Foreign Aid, March 22, 1961, that led to the enactment of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the establishment of United States Agency for International Development.
  • Topic: Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nancy Lindborg
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Despite enormous gains in poverty reduction and a long, steady drop in global violence over the past 70 years, progress is stubbornly stalled in those states considered most fragile. In the last de- cade, rising levels of violent con ict in states and regions like Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Nigeria and East Africa have spawned four civil wars, the specter of four famines, and historic numbers of people displaced by violence, all of which are straining the global humanitarian sys- tem and threatening precious development gains. The world has responded with ever-larger pack- ages of humanitarian, military, and peacekeeping action. What remains missing, however, is a concerted focus on the underlying dynamics of fragility, which will ultimately require a different way of doing business and, importantly, a shared blueprint for action among political, security, development, and humanitarian actors.
  • Topic: Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Homi Kharas
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The multilateral development system, led by the United States, has guided development cooperation by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, evolving gradually through new institutions and new norms since World War II. Organized by a small group of like-minded countries, multilateralism has been a way of managing burden-sharing among donors and of delivering public goods. These functions are now under stress. According to a poll conducted in December 2016 by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland, most Americans (59.3 percent) support the statement that “when giving foreign aid, it is best for the U.S. to participate in international efforts, such as through the United Nations. This way it is more likely that other countries will do their fair share and that these ef- forts will be better coordinated.” However, a majority of Republican voters disagree, believing that it is better for the U.S. to provide aid on its own, to ensure control over how money is spent and to gain recognition for its generosity.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Stephen Kull
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Is President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy a reflection of a larger isolationist trend in public attitudes? And what do Americans think about foreign aid in particular? The answer is complex. On the one hand, recent polls suggest a robust majority support an engaged U.S. role in the world, a moral dimension to U.S. foreign policy, and giving foreign aid, especially humanitarian aid. On the other, many are dissatisfied with America’s role in the post-Cold War era, and Trump has effectively played on that disillusionment. The U.S. is seen as having overextended itself in playing a hegemonic role in the world, a role that has served corporate interests and the wealthy, but that has not effectively served the middle class, which is largely footing the bill for it. This overextension is seen as being reflected in the U.S. budget deficit, which troubles the public more than the elites.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Global Focus