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Monthly Archives: October 2009

Welcome to the new Aid Watch blog

As you can see, we’ve redesigned the blog and moved to a new location. The content is the same, but we hope the new format and design will make Aid Watch easier to find, nicer to look at, and more intuitive to navigate.

Please update your bookmarks and links with our new url: If you subscribe to the blog using an RSS feed, you’ll want to update the subscription as well:

You might also want to take a look at the new Development Research Institute website, which has more information about who we are, our publications, details about occasional events and conferences, and a growing list of resources.

p.s. The images in our older posts aren’t loading right now. We’ll have this fixed in a day or two.

Posted in Meta | 1 Comment

Guest Post by April Harding on Health as a Human Right

Maybe it is not necessary that approaching health policy and health development assistance from a human rights framework undermine effective use of resources – but it often does. Bill has given the example of the misallocation of AIDS program funds (excess spending on treatment relative to prevention). I’d add excess spending on AIDS relative to[…..]

Posted in Global health, Human rights | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Debating Health as a Human Right

Yesterday’s FT op-ed on the right to health generated a lot of heat in this blog’s comments section. Several commenters disputed an absolute distinction between the “moral approach”—declaring health to be a human right, and the “pragmatic approach”—directing finite public resources to where they can benefit the most people at a given cost. Justin Krauss[…..]

Posted in Global health, Human rights | 18 Comments

Human rights are the wrong basis for healthcare

Column published today in the Financial Times. The agonising US healthcare debate has taken on a new moral tone. President Barack Obama recently held a conference call with religious leaders in which he called healthcare “a core ethical and moral obligation”. Even Sarah Palin felt obliged to concede: “Each of us knows that we have[…..]

Posted in Human rights, In the news | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

If hotels were aid agencies…

Me: Hello, I have a reservation for this evening, for a non-smoking room with one double bed. Hotel: Yes, the Hotel Reconstruction and Development Bank has approved an Overnight Accomodation and Poverty Reduction (OAPR) grant for this purpose. Me: So can I have my room please? Hotel: The OAPR committed the room, but in order[…..]

Posted in Organizational behavior | 8 Comments

The Perils of Not Knowing that You Don’t Know

Suppose you needed to get from New York to Washington for a personal emergency. An airline told you that the projected time of departure for your one-hour flight was 2pm this afternoon. Of course, there is some uncertainty about this. The unstated promise of the airline is that this uncertainty will be kept within familiar[…..]

Posted in Data and statistics | 15 Comments

Martin Ravallion comments on “We must know how many are suffering, so let’s make up numbers”

The following is a response from Martin Ravallion, director of the Development Research Group of the World Bank, on last week’s Aid Watch post, We must know how many are suffering, so let’s make up numbers. Pull your head out of the sand Bill Easterly! Faced with all these perceived “impossibilities,” Easterly and Freschi would[…..]

Posted in Data and statistics | Tagged , | 5 Comments

IMF and World Bank Take On Istanbul: A Links Round-up

– Zoellick speech on the eve of Istanbul: Current upheaval = French revolution, Africa’s growth potential = Europe’s with Marshall Plan. Earth-shaking changes: “Bretton Woods is being overhauled before our eyes.” – Impartial observers like Nancy Birdsall noticed more “the timidity of planned reforms” like glacial reform on quota/voting power at the IMF and the[…..]

Posted in In the news, Poverty, Technology | Comments Off on IMF and World Bank Take On Istanbul: A Links Round-up

Paul Romer on Charter Cities: All That’s Holding Us Back is a Failure of Imagination

Paul Romer, an economist and expert on economic growth, is the man behind the concept of Charter Cities. In this interview, we asked him about his objectives, the odds of achieving international consensus, and economic policy-making and voting rights in the proposed Charter Cities. Q: Describe briefly your Charter Cities idea. A: The concept of[…..]

Posted in Grand plans and aid targets | 9 Comments

Set a Big Goal. Give All to Meet It. This is Stupid.

The first two sentences come out of thousands of commencement addresses, not to mention inspirational foreign aid addresses. But they’re bad advice. Social entrepreneurs in foreign aid might learn from private sector entrepreneurs, who don’t stick to fixed goals. A University of Illinois graduate moved to Silicon Valley with a great goal (perhaps inspired by[…..]

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Big ideas, Books and book reviews, Entrepreneurship | Tagged , | 8 Comments
  • About Aid Watch

    The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.

    "Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking." - H.L. Mencken

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