A picture of the National Audit Office

No smoking gun – DFID and the surge in spending

Press reports about the NAO report on DFID budget management in 2013 are wholly misleading. DFID actually comes out of the report pretty well. There is a cautionary tale here for DFID, but it isn’t about the way it manages its budget. It is that the sharks are circling, and they do not seem to be very interested in the facts. Read the full post »
Boy with smallpox on his face

Is aid a waste of money?

If you add up all the aid that all OECD countries have given since they started counting it in 1960, and then assume that the only thing that this aid has achieved was the eradication of smallpox, then the whole thing would still be a bargain, costing less than half what the UK National Health Service spends on average to save a life. Read the full post »
Daron Acemoglu, Jim Robinson, Owen Barder

It’s the politics, stupid

One thing that the public knows, which many development experts apparently do not, is that poor countries are poor because they are badly governed and have institutions which prevent growth and permit a small elite to capture the nation's wealth. According to Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoğlu and Jim Robinson, the public is (as usual) basically right. Read the full post »
David Roodman on the bbC

Microfinance as an allegory for aid

In the latest episode of Development Drums, David Roodman explains that rigorous evaluations of micro-credit suggest that, on average, it has no effect on poverty.

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The Mercato, the commercial hub of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia's economy grew by 7.5% in 2011.

End of year reflections

The Guardian development blog is running a series of end of year reflections on development, including one by me. Many of the articles are upbeat about progress in developing countries, but pessimistic about the short term economic prospects for … Go to www.owen.org to read the rest

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The Guardian's data visualisation

UN summit roundup: three development narratives

Last week’s UN meetings in New York prompted a flurry of papers, speeches, documents, announcements and articles about development in general, and the Millennium Development Goals in particular.  There seem to be three emerging development narratives which are not obviously … Go to www.owen.org to read the rest

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