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An article in World Development based on an ESID working paper on poverty reduction and the MDGs has been selected for an article collection of five papers that have a fundamental connection to the goals of sustainability and development.
This outstanding research by M. Niaz Asadullah and Antonio Savoia is noteable for presenting new evidence on what produces poverty reduction. Asadullah and Savoia firstly demonstrate that the MDGs were instrumental to poverty reduction. But this still leaves unexplained why countries with similar initial conditions in terms of income poverty, had very different reductions in poverty measures. So they explain this with their finding that it is countries with more effective states, or greater state capacity, that have reduced income poverty at a significantly faster speed and so have been much more likely to achieve the MDG goal 1 of halving poverty. Their central estimates suggest that countries with the highest state capacity can reduce income poverty up to twice the speed than countries with the weakest capacity.
The editor in chief of World Development, Arun Agrawal had this to say about the sustainability and development collection:
Sustainability and development have been a central concern of World Development since its very inception: the journal was publishing papers on the topic well before the appearance of the term “sustainable development” in the lexicon of development professionals or the appearance of the Brundtland Report. It is therefore especially gratifying to recall such seminal contributions as those by Tisdell (1988), Lele (1991) and Anand and Sen (2000) that have helped clarify and establish the idea of sustainable development as a central focus of governmental and societal efforts for a more secure and prosperous future for vulnerable ecosystems and populations. To review the range and depth of articles on sustainability and development in World Development over the past thirty years is to acknowledge the effectiveness with which its reviewers, authors, and editors presaged the concerns embodied in the Millennium, and now the Sustainable Development Goals. As we prepare for the inaugural World Development supported conference on Sustainability and Development at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, five recent papers in the journal are worth highlighting for their fundamental connections to the goals of sustainability and development: Asadullah and Savoia 2018, Cairns 2018, Haider et al. 2018, Matin et al. 2018, and Mosse 2018. The diversity of topical concerns and methodological plurality in these recent publications demonstrate the degree to which the journal has been true to its original mission of representing heterodoxy and excellence in efforts to understand and support the processes that help the poorest and the most vulnerable. That we are committed to doing so, even in a time when the profession of Development Economics becomes methodologically and topically ever narrower in its understanding of research excellence, will be in striking evidence at our inaugural meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan during November 9-11. Come join us!
The collection and free download of the paper is available here.
19 September 2018
In his fantastic new role as Director of UNU-WIDER, Professor Kunal Sen delivered this presentation on Institutions and Economic Development to 450 delegates at the UNU-WIDER annual conference. The presentation highlights the findings from ESID book, Deals and Development.
18 September 2018
The view that ‘context matters’, that development practice needs to move from ‘best practice’ to ‘good fit’, has become commonplace among development practitioners and scholars. What are the practical implications of this general nostrum?
One way to address this question is to focus on a specific sector, and to explore how specific policy and institutional challenges within that sector play out across divergent locales. My new book (co-authored/edited with colleagues from the University of Cape Town), The Politics and Governance of Basic Education: A Tale of Two South African Provinces, published this month by Oxford University Press, and available here (by agreement with OUP) for free download – details the results of a multi-level, multi-disciplinary and multi-methodology analysis along these lines. In this blog post (the first in a series), I lay out my personal take as to what are the major findings and implications of the research.
22 August 2018
This exciting new book is drawn from ESID research on natural resource governance that began in 2012. The book’s chapters cover: resource extraction and inclusive development, before looking at specific examples in Peru, Bolivia, Zambia and Ghana. Political settlements, competitive clientelism and political economy are also analysed. In this extract from Chapter 1, the authors introduce their approach to resource extraction and inclusive development
The large-scale extraction of minerals, hydrocarbons, and other natural resources1 has long been central to national economies and the global economy. This has been the case in colonial and post-colonial economies alike, and the harnessing of such resources continues to feature prominently in the economic development strategies of many countries. The economic significance of resource extraction can be quantified through data on percentage contribution of oil, gas, and mining to GDP, exports, foreign direct investment, and the public budget (Mosley, 2017). In contrast, the contributions of extractive industries to ‘development’ and ‘inclusive development’ are more uncertain, not least because definitions of these terms differ based on the degree to which analysts emphasize goals of poverty and income inequality, environmental justice, gender equity, or human and citizenship rights. Even those advocating for the role of extractives in economic development and poverty reduction recognize that results have often been ambiguous (Davis, 2009). These observations have inspired much discussion of the factors explaining such disappointments, a series of policy recommendations regarding how to improve the contributions of resource extraction to development, and significant advocacy and social conflict surrounding the extractive economy across the globe (see Ross, 2015).
Much of the discussion regarding how to manage resource extraction more effectively has emphasized the importance of institutions and governance (Karl, 1997, 2007; Humphreys et al., 2007). Disappointing development outcomes in economies with substantial extractive activity have been explained in terms of the ‘poor quality’ or ‘weakness’ of institutions existing prior to and (p.2) during the growth of investment in mining and hydrocarbons, as well as the adverse impacts of a growing extractive economy on institutional quality (Weber-Fahr, 2002; Robinson et al., 2006; Humphreys et al., 2007; Davis, 2009; Ross, 2015). Such centring of institutions in explanations of poor performance has also meant that many proposals for change have emphasized the need for new, improved, and strengthened institutions. The sorts of institutions proposed are diverse, often depending on the most pressing concerns of the commentator. These can include: institutions and processes for free, prior and informed consent (FPIC); sovereign wealth funds to manage resource rents without distorting incentives; transparency institutions ranging from subnational government oversight to the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI); and tax codes to reallocate benefits along the value chain and among stakeholders.2 While such proposals each have their logic, they tend to say less about the conditions that would need to exist for such institutional changes to come into being, be sustained over time, and be effective.
Of course, there is only so much that any particular act of analysis or advocacy can achieve, but it remains important to explore the conditions under which institutions affecting natural resource governance have emerged. The literature on institutional change suggests that political, ideational, and bureaucratic factors are all likely to matter (Mahoney and Thelen, 2010). While much of this literature invokes exogenous drivers of change, drivers can also be endogenous to the institution and the geographical and social units that it governs (Bebbington et al., 2008; Mahoney and Thelen, 2010; Berdegué et al., 2015; Ospina et al., 2015). Regardless of whether drivers are primarily exogenous or endogenous, historical precursors are likely to affect the possibility of, and form taken by, such processes of emergence (Mahoney and Thelen, 2010; Thorp et al., 2012; Bebbington, 2013b).
This book synthesizes lessons from research enquiring into the drivers of institutional change in extractive industry governance over time and in different geographical contexts, and the implications of these governance arrangements for patterns of social, political, and economic inclusion. The project paid special attention to the political drivers of institutional change. We are certainly not the first to step into this terrain, and there is already a strong scholarly literature addressing the political dimensions of extractive industry governance (e.g. Karl, 1997; Leith, 2003; Le Billon, 2005; Robinson et al., 2006; Rajan, 2011; Mitchell, 2012; Ross, 2012; D’Argent et al., 2017). Our intended contribution is to take insights from such authors and explore what might be gained by reading the politics of resource extraction through a theoretical framework that grows out of the literature on political settlements and national developmental trajectories (Hickey, 2013; Hickey et al., 2015).