Charles Kenny, Foreign Affairs

Charles Kenny

Foreign Affairs

Washington, DC, United States

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  • Unknown
  • Foreign Affairs
  • CGD
  • Vox
  • Quartz
  • The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN)

Past articles by Charles:

America Shouldn’t Copy China’s Belt and Road Initiative

The United States should avoid copying China's Belt and Road Initiative and invest in multilateral institutions, not infrastructure, writes Charles Kenny and Scott Morris. → Read More

Your World, Better: Global Progress And What You Can Do About It

Louis XIV (the Fourteenth) reigned over France for 72 years, from 1643 to 1715. Calling himself ‘The Sun King,’ he ruled with absolute authority over the most powerful country in Europe. As symbol of his dominance, he built the immense Palace of Versailles, home to more than 350 people and regular host to 6,000 courtiers. Its famed Hall of Mirrors was lit by 3,000 candles. The gardens had a zoo,… → Read More

A Dark Pandemic Year Could Still Portend a Brighter Future

Many indicators suggest that a decade that opened in tragedy could very well conclude on a far happier note. → Read More


What is the Role of Aid in Middle-Income Countries?

We develop screens and principles designed to maximise the impact of aid, especially in richer recipients. All else equal, a dollar spent in the poorest countries will have a larger impact on well-being than a dollar spent in richer countries, so ODA should be concentrated in those countries. → Read More

The Bogus Backlash to Globalization

Instead of apologizing for themselves, it is time for internationalists to take the fight to an aging minority of nativists and wall builders. → Read More


A radical proposal to fight poverty in the developing world: tax the poor more than the rich

No, really. → Read More


9 ways the world got a lot better in 2017

It seemed awful. But overall, it was a great year for humanity. → Read More


Fifteen Years Isn’t That Long: The SDGs and Holistic Development

Do the fifteen year targets of the SDGs stand in the way of their vision of integration and sustainability? If you wanted to achieve long term development progress, you’d probably focus on technology change, learning and innovation in policies, and improving institutional functioning. If you wanted to improve outcomes in fifteen years, you’d probably focus on throwing money at technical… → Read More


The (Sometime) Tyranny of (Somewhat) Arbitrary Income Lines

As Lant Pritchett reports, the World Bank has introduced two new poverty lines: $3.20 for lower middle income countries, and $5.50 for upper middle income countries. I’m with Lant that this is broadly a good thing. But the process by which the World Bank came up with its new poverty lines suggests it might be worth revisiting some of the pitfalls of income thresholds at the individual or… → Read More


Attitudes Toward Gays and Lesbians Are Changing in the Developing World Too

Improving rights for gays and lesbians is a critical human rights issue. Even where it is not illegal, gays and lesbians face violence, discrimination, and social stigma. But our research makes clear that in the developing world as a whole, both laws and attitudes are changing for the better, and that legal change is not only a positive step in itself, but it can also help shift attitudes too. → Read More

Stop blaming poor countries’ poverty on corruption—sometimes it’s just bad luck

There was a time when the predominant view worldwide as to why poor people and countries were poor involved the circumstances they were in—they lacked the money for the roads, factories, and power that would spur industrialization, or the education and healthcare that would make them productive. But, in the rich world at least, views... → Read More


Designing a Trust Fund to Incentivize More Women Peacekeepers

A few months ago, I wrote a note calling for financial incentives to increase the number of women in (military) peacekeeping operations from its current level of about 4 percent closer to the UN Security Council target of about 20 percent. This post includes some more thoughts about the idea, around what to use financial incentives for, and how to fund that. → Read More


(More) Comments, Please on My New Book on Aid, Donors, and Corruption

A year ago, I requested comments on a draft manuscript about corruption. Last week, we launched the resulting book: Results Not Receipts: Counting the Right Things in Aid and Corruption. I think the text was considerably improved by the comments process (and I hope the commenters agree). So I’m hoping the discussion can continue even though the book is now out. → Read More


Do Weak Governments Doom Developing Countries to Poverty?

When you read what economists have to say about development, it is easy to be disheartened about the prospects for poor countries. One big reason is that slow changing institutional factors are seen as key to development prospects. I’ve just published a CGD book that’s a little more optimistic: Results Not Receipts: Counting the Right Things in Aid and Corruption. → Read More


Safer Women, Safer World

Having more women peacekeepers is linked with large reductions insexual misconduct by peacekeepers and more sustainable peace. The UN could potentially raise the proportion of women peacekeepers to20 percent for around $75 million. A small multilateral trust fund would offer supplementary payments to troopcontributingcountries for each woman peacekeeper provided. → Read More

We can honour the sacrifice of our troops by deploying more women peacekeepers

Increasing the number of women peacekeepers would reduce misconduct and better ensure the peace → Read More

We can honour the sacrifice of our troops by deploying more women peacekeepers

Increasing the number of women peacekeepers would reduce misconduct and better ensure the peace → Read More

The data are in: Young people are increasingly less racist than old people

On May 7, Emmanuel Macron—centrist, pro-European, pro-immigrant—won the French presidential election runoff against the far-right populist Marine Le Pen. After victories by Donald Trump (who has said “laziness is a trait in blacks”) and for a Brexit campaign led by the UK Independence Party (amongst which’s backers 48% admit prejudice against people of other races), that... → Read More


Please, Can You Help Me Understand IDA's New Private Sector Window?

The World Bank’s soft lending arm for poorer countries, IDA, is busy rolling out a new $2.5 billion Private Sector Window. (See last year’s outline proposal for reference.) Bigger private sectors in IDA countries would be hugely welcome, so there is much to like in the broad thrust of the proposal, as suggested by Nancy Lee. But I’m left a little baffled by the details, and would love some… → Read More


A No More Tiers Formula to Clean Up Corruption

A bipartisan group of eight Senators led by Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) has just reintroduced a new version of a bill designed to identify and combat corruption overseas. The Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017 ties some potentially useful anti-corruption measures to a less-than-useful exercise in corruption ranking that will blunt their impact. That’s a shame,… → Read More