Ideas + Practice

We believe that great ideas and strong institutions can promote a better world. Explore data and stories from our grantees, find the why and how behind our thought process, and see what we’re learning. Tell us what you think on Twitter or send us a message.


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Help us learn about active citizens and accountable government 

How can citizens around the world hold their governments accountable for high-quality public services like education, health care, and water?  There are no perfect answers to that complex question, but we have a hunch:  Our hypothesis is that, in combination, more information about how governments raise and spend money, active participation by people in the…

This is what demography looks like 

Editor’s note: Ruth Levine, director of the Hewlett Foundation’s Global Development and Population Program, delivered these remarks at the Population Association of America’s annual meeting in Chicago on April 28th. Among the attendees were Hewlett Foundation’s grantee organizations, including researchers and communications specialists from universities, think tanks, and other groups working on reproductive health, population dynamics, and women’s ...

RCTs for global development: What’s all the fighting about? 

Women learning about health issues in a village in Sahre Bocar, Senegal. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Reportage by Getty Images)  The positions are polarized. The debates are divisive. Arguments mischaracterize opponents’ views.  Am I talking about the U.S. presidential election?  Nope.  I’m talking about the repetitive, tendentious quarrels on the merits and disadvantages of random assignment methods to assess ...

Friday Note: The Incredible Shrinking Aid Budgets 

Policymakers diverting funds earmarked for long-term investments to pay for immediate political fire-fighting, then using accounting technicalities to conceal their budgetary sleight of hand. NGOs calling attention to the high-stakes shell game, only to see the government practices worsen the next year. This all sounds depressingly familiar, doesn’t it? What’s surprising is where it’s happening: ...

Friday Note: Mind the Gap Map 

If you’ve been around the international development business long enough, you’ve probably heard someone ask, “So, what do we know about what works?” Maybe it’s a parliamentarian, a minister, or the Administrator of USAID. Maybe it’s a reporter. Or maybe it’s a newly arrived junior member of a project team, hoping her middle-aged colleagues—who clearly ...
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