The interesting question in development is not whether aid works or does not work. Not surprisingly, the answer is that some aid works and some doesn’t. A more interesting question is: what kind of aid works best?
On the Oxfam blog, Max Lawson has an excellent guest post telling the story of how Malawi has used an extensive programme of fertilizer subsidies to generate seven years of economic growth, reduductions in poverty and child deaths.
Development activists should not try to bypass the systems of democratic control of spending priorities, nor should they advocate taxes which do not make good tax policy on either distributional or microeconomic grounds.
We would get three or four times as much bang for our buck - in terms of climate change benefits - from population policies and girls' education as we would from the most cost-effective investments in forest management, and in addition we'd get the broader economic and social benefits for the people of developing countries.
On World Food Day let us remember Sen's insight that hunger is not a problem of food production but of poverty. The fact that most poor people work in agriculture suggests that a good way to escape poverty is to get out of agriculture. So the best way to reduce hunger and help people out of poverty may be to focus not on improving agriculture, but rather on helping people who want to leave agriculture into more rewarding work.
An interesting Economist article about the uses of prizes to promote innovation is a missed opportunity to explain the economic logic of prizes for innovations for developing countries. The reported comments by Tachi Yamada at the Gates Foundation about the value of market success do not seem to take account of the shortcomings of the system of patents and markets when it comes to developing drugs for diseases that mainly affect developing countries, nor to the problem of ensuring access in developing countries for new drugs.
The development policy debate focuses too much on aid. Aid policies may help to improve the living conditions of people in developing countries, but it is development policies that will result in lasting transformation. If we are serious about promoting long-term change, we should talk less about aid, and more about the other rich-world policies and behaviours that affect developing countries. Continue reading →
A new article published in The Lancet by Chunling Lu with Chris Murray, Dean Jamison and others, has caused quite a stir in development circles. They use data on health aid and government spending on health to estimate that… Continue reading →
Laura Freschi at AidWatch lists four ways in which the brain drain from Africa is a good thing. Her analysis includes (a) gains to the migrants; (b) gains to the migrants’ families; (c)the benefits of exchange of ideas; and (d)… Continue reading →