Programming for Growth

Development assistance is intended to foster conditions in which people prosper and governments provide essential services to all citizens without reliance on foreign aid.

The fundamental condition is economic growth.

This series of 10 briefing notes, produced by Nathan Associates Inc. for USAID’s EGAT Bureau, examines the value and effectiveness of economic growth programs. Each note (see links at the left) draws on a review of the literature and on program documents, taking into account controversies surrounding foreign aid and weakness in empirical evidence. The main conclusions of the series are as follows:

  • Economic growth programs are vital. Sustained growth is the most powerful way to reduce  poverty and advance human development. Rapid growth can raise living standards in one generation, and even moderate growth has enormous cumulative effects on well-being over time. Economic growth also improves food security, reduces risk of conflict, and enhances economic and personal freedom.
  • USAID’s economic growth programs have been very successful. Project documents and evaluation studies provide compelling evidence that the programs have improved policies and institutions, stimulated private sector development, and spurred broadly based development in many countries—benefiting millions of people and yielding high returns on the aid dollar.
  • For the greatest impact on poverty and well-being, support for economic growth programs should be balanced with support for programs that aid the poor directly .
  • To build institutional knowledge and improve program design, data collection and program evaluation must be systematic and rigorous.

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