Category Archives: Foreign aid
Almost whenever you read anything about fragile states, the introduction notes that, ‘no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet to achieve a single United Nations Millennium Development Goal’. This is a quote from the overview from the 2011 World Development Report on conflict, security and development. It seems to be an elaboration of a quote from the main body of the report that is subtly but importantly different. ‘No low-income, fragile state has achieved a single MDG, and few are expected to meet targets by 2015.’ (more…)
When the new head of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, engages the wider public, he asks, “What Will It Take to End Poverty?” When the prime minister of the United Kingdom touts his accomplishments in the development field, he writes about “Combating Poverty at Its Roots.” And when NGOs fundraise, they stir your heart by telling you, “Sponsoring a child is the most powerful way you can fight poverty.”
But given great reductions in absolute poverty (from 55 to 22 percent of the developing world’s population over the past three decades) and great improvements in the lives of the poor, is this focus on poverty reduction detracting from more important issues? (more…)
Like many struggling countries, Pakistan’s two most critical problems are feckless leaders and a feeble state. Can donors do anything to help get such countries’ political economy moving in the right direction?
I recently convened a working group of leading Pakistani development professionals and outside experts at the Global Economic Symposium (GES) to discuss just such this question.
Economists dominate the development field, but politics is more important to promoting it. This contradiction explains why the policies often recommended by international institutions (such as the World Bank) do not sufficiently take into account the local political, social, and institutional context.
The problem is echoed in other fields, with some blaming the inability of economists to understand institutions and politics a contributing factor to the 2008 financial crisis.
Economists were not always this ignorant. Thinkers such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo—known today as founders of the profession—considered themselves “political economists;” they never used the term “economics” by itself. The term didn’t stand by itself until the late 19th century when it was separated into a stand-alone discipline. (more…)
Although we may not always agree on the specifics – or the application of the concept given its political sensitivities – there is a degree of consensus on the general traits of state fragility. These include, for example, weak capacity to provide basic services, public security and rule of law; inability to manage political conflict; and delegitimization of the state. But this year’s Global Monitoring Report, produced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, threw a new trait into the mix. “Fragile states,” it argued, are characterized by, among other things, a “lack of timely and reliable statistics on the basis of which policies can be formulated.” (more…)