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  • Author: Amanda Glassman, Justin Sandefur
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Across multiple African countries, discrepancies between administrative data and independent household surveys suggest official statistics systematically exaggerate development progress. We provide evidence for two distinct explanations of these discrepancies. First, governments misreport to foreign donors, as in the case of a results-based aid program rewarding reported vaccination rates. Second, national governments are themselves misled by frontline service providers, as in the case of primary education, where official enrollment numbers diverged from survey estimates after funding shifted from user fees to per pupil government grants. Both syndromes highlight the need for incentive compatibility between data systems and funding rules.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Todd Moss, Stephanie Majerowicz
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Ghana's largest and most important creditor for the past three decades has been the International Development Association (IDA), the soft loan window of the World Bank. That will soon come to an end. The combination of Ghana's rapid economic growth and the recent GDP rebasing exercise means that Ghana suddenly finds itself above the income limit for IDA eligibility. Formal graduation is imminent and comes with significant implications for access to concessional finance, debt, and relations with other creditors. This paper considers the specific questions related to Ghana's relationship with the World Bank, as well as the broader questions about the country's new middle-income status.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Lant Pritchett, Michael Woolcock, Matt Andrews
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Many reform initiatives in developing countries fail to achieve sustained improvements in performance because they are merely isomorphic mimicry—that is, governments and organizations pretend to reform by changing what policies or organizations look like rather than what they actually do. In addition, the flow of development resources and legitimacy without demonstrated improvements in performance undermines the impetus for effective action to build state capability or improve performance. This dynamic facilitates “capability traps” in which state capability stagnates, or even deteriorates, over long periods of time even though governments remain engaged in developmental rhetoric and continue to receive development resources. How can countries escape capability traps? We propose an approach, Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA), based on four core principles, each of which stands in sharp contrast with the standard approaches. First, PDIA focuses on solving locally nominated and defined problems in performance (as opposed to transplanting preconceived and packaged “best practice” solutions). Second, it seeks to create an authorizing environment for decision-making that encourages positive deviance and experimentation (as opposed to designing projects and programs and then requiring agents to implement them exactly as designed). Third, it embeds this experimentation in tight feedback loops that facilitate rapid experiential learning (as opposed to enduring long lag times in learning from ex post “evaluation”). Fourth, it actively engages broad sets of agents to ensure that reforms are viable, legitimate, relevant, and supportable (as opposed to a narrow set of external experts promoting the top-down diffusion of innovation).
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Political Economy, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance
  • Author: Dean Karlan, Ryan Knight, Christopher Udry
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: We show how financial and managerial constraints impede experimentation and thus limit learning about the profitability of investments. Imperfect information about one's own type, but willingness to experiment to learn one's type, leads to short-run negative expected returns to investments, with some outliers succeeding. We find in an experiment that entrepreneurs invest randomized grants of cash and adopt advice from randomized grants of consulting services, but both lead to lower profits on average. In the long run, they revert back to their prior scale of operations. In a meta-analysis, results from 19 other experiments find mixed support for this theory.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Dean Karlan, Robert Osei, Christopher Udry, Isaac Osei-Akoto
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The investment decisions of small-scale farmers in developing countries are conditioned by the farmers' financial environment. Binding credit-market constraints and incomplete insurance can reduce investment in activities with high expected profits. We conducted several experiments in northern Ghana in which farmers were randomly assigned to receive cash grants, grants of or opportunities to purchase rainfall-index insurance, or a combination of the two. Demand for index insurance is strong, and insurance leads to significantly larger agricultural investment and riskier production choices in agriculture. The salient constraint to farmer investment is uninsured risk: when provided with insurance against the primary catastrophic risk they face, farmers are able to find resources to increase expenditure on their farms. Demand for insurance in subsequent years is strongly increasing in a farmer's own receipt of insurance payouts, and with the receipt of payouts by others in the farmer's social network. Both investment patterns and the demand for index insurance are consistent with the presence of important basis risk associated with the index insurance, and with imperfect trust that promised payouts will be delivered.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Markets, Food, Foreign Direct Investment