As we near the end of the second month of 2014, I fear already that this year is going to go in a flash. Certainly 2013 whizzed by for UNU-WIDER with all the events, publications (including 144 working papers), and then the 2013 Global Go-To Think Tanks Report—which again placed us in the top ten. Here in Helsinki we have been getting our new research programme underway (on transformation, inclusion, and sustainability). We are also preparing for the New York launch of Falling Inequality in Latin America: Policy Changes and Lessons (Oxford University Press for UNU-WIDER, January 2014), edited by Giovanni Andrea Cornia, who led a large team of researchers in this UNU-WIDER project. Full article
Visiting scholars and interns discussing a research seminar presentation in the summer of 2013.
Earlier this month, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof published a scathing critique of the role of academics in public debate. ‘Professors, We Need You!’ he bemoaned. He criticized in particular the practical irrelevance of the topics studied by many academics, the use of arcane quantitative models and theoretical constructs, and the ‘turgid prose’.
As most WIDERAngle readers know, UNU-WIDER works on policy-relevant questions affecting the living conditions of the world’s poorest people, providing a global forum for professional interaction by scholars and practitioners. PhDs and university faculty from our network in fact author most of our publications. The sort of public engagement that Kristof calls for was also explicitly part of our last research programme, ‘ReCom–Research and Communication on Foreign Aid’ (2011-13). We think that strengthening the relationship between research and policy in development is important and, collectively, we have spent a lot of time wrestling with how to make it better. Full article
While much research is freely available on the web, an awful lot more sits behind paywalls or is accessible only if you are a member of a university library that subscribes to the journal you want. Access in the Global South can be especially limited—when library resources are meager and bandwidth slow.
UNU-WIDER is now negotiating with publishers to offer more of its journal papers on open access. So you our readers can freely read more of our journal articles online. This does not come cheap, but we think the benefits more than outweigh the financial costs. So resources permitting, you will find more of our published material available this way. We will give priority to journal special issues, where we have a number coming out this year including the very interesting Journal of Income and Wealth issue on 'Poverty, Development and Behavioural Economics'. Full article
Every year UNU-WIDER hosts a number of PhD interns and young scholars from around the world who participate in the different research and professional development activities of the Institute. As part of the UNU-WIDER series ‘Advice to Early Career Researchers’, Susan Servas spoke with economist and former UNU-WIDER Research Fellow, Aziz Karimov who shared highlights of his experience as a young researcher at the Institute and his next steps at the International Livestock Research institute (ILRI) in Hanoi, Vietnam. Full article
The impact of foreign aid on the fiscal behaviour of the Ugandan government
Foreign aid donors hope that their efforts will contribute to the development of the target country and provide the necessary resources to fill gaps in the sectors seen as relevant. In the case of Uganda the country received foreign aid worth 11 per cent of its GDP between 1990 and 2006. This long-term interaction of aid with government spending, tax revenues, and public borrowing, appears to have led to a situation where development assistance has become incorporated into the country’s fiscal calculations on par with those other variables. Full article
Aid to Mozambique: a trade-off between governance and democracy?
In Mozambique, the shift away from project aid towards providing aid in the form of budget support brought a greater coherence to the whole aid agenda and strengthened the capacity of state institutions and thus improved governance in general. This is now the most important source of aid money for Mozambique accounting for nearly half of the state budget. However, paradoxically this improvement in governance has come at the price of a weakening of the political processes and institutions that are required for effective democracy. Full article
Foreign aid and Malian democracy
In a few short-weeks in early 2012, the northern territory of Mali came under the military control of an Islamist secessionist movement followed by a military coup. Prior to this the donor darling Mali had long been considered a model low-income democracy, with western donors providing the country with aid amounting to around 12-15 per cent of the country’s GNI, totalling around 50 per cent of the government's annual budget. The question is whether donors, possessing such an economic lever, could have done more to help avert the recent political turmoil rises? Full article
In this interview Sam Jones summarizes the findings of original UNU-WIDER work on the impact of aid on growth. Using data covering longer time frames, the overall picture is that aid amounting to 10 per cent of GDP can, on average, lead to 1 per cent higher GDP. Full interview
Our PhD Internship Programme gives registered doctoral students an opportunity to utilize the resources and facilities at UNU-WIDER for their PhD dissertation or thesis research, and to work with UNU-WIDER researchers in areas of mutual interest.
In 2013, we received about 200 applications from doctoral students in both developing and developed countries and hosted eight interns.
For more information on the UNU-WIDER PhD Internship Programme, please click here.