State Capacity

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Making Government Work - Kennedy School Group Aids 13 Nations in Solving Political Problems

November 10, 2015

By Christina Pazzanese - Harvard Gazette

It starts with the best of intentions. When policymakers push a new strategy or program, they usually do so believing their efforts will solve a problem or improve some vital aspect of life for the community. But when the rubber meets the road, things don’t always go as planned, especially in the developing world where administrative capacity, along with access to information and training, is weak.

To get the right policy, ask the right question

To get the right policy, ask the right question

October 14, 2015

By Rohini Pande, Charity Moore, and Eric Dodge - Alliance for Useful Evidence

If the development community agrees on one thing, it is the need to “bridge the gap” between researchers and practitioners. If it agrees on a second thing, it’s that misaligned incentives underlie this gap. 

Asim Khwaja on Evidence for Policy Design

Asim Khwaja on Evidence for Policy Design

September 29, 2015

By Doug Gavel - Harvard Kennedy School

When development economists conduct research, one of the goals is to help practitioners and policymakers create better policies in countries struggling with a host of educational, political, and financial challenges. Asim Ijaz Khwaja is the Sumitomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development Professor of International Finance and Development at Harvard Kennedy School, and co-director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at the Center for International Development.

Building State Capacity in Developing Countries

Building State Capacity in Developing Countries

July 16, 2015

By Doug Gavel - Harvard Kennedy School

From tax collection to redistribution policies, there are many fiscal challenges facing developing countries. Associate Professor Monica Singhal focuses much of her writing and research on these challenges.  Her current research agenda focuses on state capacity in developing countries – understanding the constraints these countries face when attempting to raise revenue and what types of policies may be effective (or not) in improving state fiscal capacity.

How empirical studies of political violence (can) help policymakers

How empirical studies of political violence (can) help policymakers

March 16, 2015

By Eli Berman, Joseph Felter, Ethan B. Kapstein and Jake Shapiro - The Washington Post

...Michael Callen and James Long successfully used [a randomized control trial] to demonstrate how to reduce corruption in Afghan elections, and in a recent follow-up (with Eli Berman and Clark Gibson) showed how that intervention improved attitudes toward the government. Christine Fair, Neil Malhotra and Jake Shapiro have worked with coauthors to conduct surveys and experiments in Pakistan, which address the complexity of local attitudes towards militancy, as have Jason Lyall and… Read more about How empirical studies of political violence (can) help policymakers

Tax Compliance and Social Acclaim

Tax Compliance and Social Acclaim

September 15, 2014

By Mushfiq Mobarak - Livemint

There is significant potential for improving revenue collection through social recognition programmes.

High rates of economic growth, in-migration and urbanization have stressed the ageing infrastructure of Bangladesh. Firm production is regularly disrupted by power outages, and Dhaka, the epicentre of economic activity, is rated as one of the most unlivable cities in the world.

Tax revenues are required to address the acute infrastructure challenges necessary to support economic growth, but Bangladesh has one of the… Read more about Tax Compliance and Social Acclaim

How can personality tests improve the health service in Pakistan?

How can personality tests improve the health service in Pakistan?

September 9, 2014

By Michael Callen and Arman Rezaee - The Guardian

An unmotivated bureaucrat slowing down care in hospitals is a stereotype in much of the developing world. Is it true?

Staff absenteeism at health centres across Africa and South Asia is notoriously high. Our baseline measurement at clinics in rural Punjab, Pakistan found doctors to be absent 58% of the time. As so often is the case with service delivery in developing countries – and with economic development in general – links along the chain are opportunities for the process to break down. All of… Read more about How can personality tests improve the health service in Pakistan?

As Millions Of People Fast For Ramadan, Does The Economy Suffer?

As Millions Of People Fast For Ramadan, Does The Economy Suffer?

July 24, 2014

By Shankar Vedantam - NPR

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: And we are approaching the end of Ramadan, the holy month where Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. The fact that hundreds of millions of people around the world go without food all day has drawn the attention of another group of people - social scientists. To learn what they discovered, our David Greene sat down with NPR's social science correspondent, Shankar Vedantam. DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: OK, Shankar, so explain to us exactly what social scientists were studying here.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Well, David, these are… Read more about As Millions Of People Fast For Ramadan, Does The Economy Suffer?

Fake seeds force Ugandan farmers to resort to 'bronze age' agriculture

Fake seeds force Ugandan farmers to resort to 'bronze age' agriculture

April 8, 2014

By Francisco Toro - The Guardian

Of the many factors that keep small-scale Ugandan farmers poor, seed counterfeiting may be the least understood. Passing under the radar of the international development sector, a whole illegal industry has developed in Uganda, cheating farmers by selling them seeds that promise high yields but fail to germinate at all – with results that can be disastrous.

Counterfeiting gangs have learned to dye regular maize with the characteristic pinkish orange colour of industrially processed maize seed, duping farmers into paying good money… Read more about Fake seeds force Ugandan farmers to resort to 'bronze age' agriculture