26 April 2011

The FAO candidates speak: what do you think?

Last week José Graziano da Silva, one of the FAO DG candidates (and the third to directly respond to the original blog), kindly emailed me to let me know that FAO has now posted the 4 page statements that each of the 6 shortlisted canidates for Director General presented to FAO members last week.

See the Guardian's Poverty Matters Blog for my assessment of their statements.

Please read the statements and share your own assessments--the FAO Council needs all the input it can get.

21 April 2011

The IMF leadership renewal process: hypocrisy trumps democracy

It would have been so good if David Cameron, when commenting on Gordon Brown's suitability for the position of Managing Director of the IMF on the BBC, had said "whoever is best qualified to get the IMF job should have it, regardless of nationality".

Instead he said he thought Gordon Brown was not the most competent and that the leadership should probably rest with the emerging nations. He is entitled to these opinions of course, but should he really be airing them in public at this time?

The UK Prime Minister is not alone in this stance--this political approach (e.g. which "country" gets it, a political interpretation of past performance etc.) is the norm. Despite all the talk about transparency, accountability, evidence and results based management, smoke filled rooms still hold sway when it comes to appointing people to these jobs.

Of course these posts are highly political, but all top posts--public and private--are. And in this job, more than most, the consequences of incompetence are wide ranging and signifcant: finance is a confidence game and livelihoods are at stake.

So, please Mr Cameron, next time you are interviewed on the BBC say "each IMF member should be allowed to nominate one candidate for the leadership position--not necessarily from their own country. A short list should be drawn up in relation to publicly posted job and person descriptions. The short listed candidates should have the opportunity to say what they intend to do and why they are the best candidate--backed up by evidence. That presentation should be available on YouTube for all to see. Citizens of the world should then be able to pressure their member governments for their preferred candidates."

The decisions of the MD of the IMF affect all of us--just ask those who have lost their jobs in the last 2 years.

We should all have a say in who the next IMF MD should be, and that should be based on evidence, not influence.

20 April 2011

Switch: How to change things when change is hard

Recently, Ruth Levine at USAID told me to read Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, and I usually do what Ruth says. I’m glad I read it. It lays out a simple model of change.

The book argues that most people think change (at the individual, organisational and societal levels) happens in this order: ANALYZE-THINK-CHANGE.

This model works well where “parameters are known, assumptions are minimal and the future is not fuzzy”. This model may serve well if you want to shave off 5 minutes from your daily commute, but not if you want to understand changes where parameters are not known and the future is fuzzy. In development this is the kind of change we deal with 99.9% of the time. In this world, they argue that change mode is: SEE-FEEL-CHANGE. Evidence makes you feel something, and it hits you at the emotional level.

How to influence this model of change? Think of a rider, an elephant and a path.

The rider is our rational side. The elephant is our emotional side. The rider has the reins and seems to be in control, but is in fact perched precariously on top of the elephant and when the two disagrees, the elephant will win. The rider has strengths (long term thinking, going beyond the emotion) but also weaknesses (overanalysing and over-thinking). The elephant too has strengths (energy when roused, passion, drive) and weaknesses (lazy, looking for the quick payoff over the long term gains). The path is the situation, a situation that can be shaped to make change more or less likely, no matter what the rider and the elephant think.

The keys are to direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path.

Directing the rider is about “finding the bright spots”, the flashes of successes that show others that things can success (e.g. the nutrition clinic that succeeds where others using the same basic model, fail—what epidemiologists call positive deviance), about having actionable goals (e.g. “buy 1% milk” vs “eat a healthy diet”), and describe a compelling change (e.g. a breast cancer clinic where all the specialists are under one roof).

Motivating the elephant is about finding the feeling (e.g. piling all the 424 different kinds of work gloves bought by a large manufacturing company in front of its managers to convince them to rationalise purchasing); shrinking the change (i.e. generating small wins that generate momentum because they bestow hope); and grow your people (e.g. the high school teacher who changed expectations of her students by switching from a grading system of A-D, F to A-C and NY, where NY =not yet).

Shaping the path is about tweaking the environment (e.g. shrinking your plates if you want to eat less or locking students out of a class if they are late); building habits (e.g. of brevity by having stand up meetings); and rallying the herd (e.g. creating free spaces where reformers can ready themselves for collective action without being observed by the dominant group). The Fundamental Attribution Error—our deep-seated tendency to ignore the situational forces that shape other people’s behaviour—is what we are trying to overcome here: the notion that people behave the way they do only because of the way they are rather than the situation they are in.

Of the people instigating the changes highlighted in the book, few are CEOS. They were not powerful or in charge of budgets and policies, but were people who saw that things could be better and persevered and succeeded.

I liked the authors’ previous book “Made to Stick” about communicating messages and knowledge, and this one is nearly as good. For those of you who are a bit allergic to American optimism (I'm not one of them) the tone may annoy you a little, and for those of you who study how change happens, the book (a quick 300 pages) may be too superficial, but as someone who regularly struggles with these issues, I found it thought provoking. You can find out more at www.switchthebook.com/resources

13 April 2011

The New Old Politics of US Aid

I just returned from a quick trip to the US where the debate about the shape of the FY 2010-11 budget is in full swing, despite being 6 months into the financial year.

Fuelled by 50 or so Tea Party members of the House of Representatives, which the Republicans now control, the budget will be cut by $38.5 billion, the biggest ever annual cut. It looks like the USAID budget (about $24 billion) might take a 30% cut. Now the QDDR, the recent review of US development and diplomacy, is not only about money, but the budget cuts will likely make aid reform more difficult, not less.

Given that US citizens make over $40 billion in private contributions to US aid organizations, why is the US government, and particularly Congress, so resistant to aid spending? Much of the resistance is down to long running challenges.

First, bad messaging is certainly one contributor: US aid spending is only about 0.25% of gross national income—well down the DAC league tables, and aid spending is less than 1% of the budget despite a sizable chunk of the US citizenry (and some congressional members) thinking the number is around 20%.

Second, the military superpower stance of the US is also a problem for aid, because non-humanitarian aid gets drawn into the security frame. So for aid to be justified to a large segment of the right it has to contribute to the security mission. If one can make the case that aid prevents conflict and maintains (pro-development) stability, this might not be so restrictive, but then again if a country is pro-development, it will likely be less prone to such conflict.

Third, some parts of the aid spend have a harder time connecting on a human level. Global health is easier to sell to the US public than is hunger reduction—perhaps because of the relatively high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s.

But most importantly, USAID is increasingly caught up in an ideological backlash against the deficit generation of the Bush years. The belief that small government is good government obviously holds sway at the moment in the House of Representatives.

When the cuts come, it would be nice to think they will be driven by evidence of what works and what does not. But the new evaluation policy of USAID (which the World Bank is using as a basis for its own emergent policy) has only been in place for a few months, and there are precious few extant evaluations of USAID investments to guide decisions.

And where is the President Obama in all this? Absent, according to some key development thinkers in the US. The President needs to be on the front foot in this debate, making the case for foreign aid. The fact that he is not reflects an emerging style of letting Congress battle things out before a Presidential swoop, but, ironically, it is also one indication of the small size of the aid budget--a budget line item that is only going to get less and less important in the run up to next year’s election.

11 April 2011

The aid in Spain falls mainly within development’s frame

OK, so it’s a bit of a laboured blog heading, but behind it is an interesting paper by an IDS Visiting Fellow Manuel del al Iglesia-Caruncho, “The Politics and Policy of Aid in Spain”.
The paper analyses the evolution of aid in Spain over the past 6-7 years. After much inertia, the 2004-08 period saw a real upturn in Spain’s aid programme, with the author playing a key role as the Director of the Cabinet of the Secretary of State for International Cooperation.
During that period, Spanish aid doubled. As a percent of Gross National Income, aid was at similar levels to the UK. The increase was driven by the Spanish electorate’s backlash against the Iraq war and the Americanisation of Spain’s approach to aid. The Socialist party, in opposition, strove to exploit this gap, especially with young people, with Zapatero playing a key role. In addition to the sharp increase in aid flows, the percent to social infrastructure and health increased substantially. Also, the percent of ODA flowing through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—the intellectual centre of gravity of the aid effort—increased from 20% to 50% from 2004-2008.
The evolution is particularly interesting at this time, for at least two reasons. First, Spain is teetering–Spain, Greece and Iceland were the only Eurozone economies to shrink last year--and while the IMF says it does not think Spain is another Portugal, the pressure to cut aid is immense. Which path will Spain take? Reduce the number of countries it focuses on (still a very large number)? Will it focus less on social infrastructure and more on trade and commerce? Will it spend less through multilaterals and more on bilateral trade promotion? Will it spread ODA among more ministries as pre-2004 to help out other government departments suffering cuts? These choices will all affect aid effectiveness.
Second, there are parallels with USAID and its recently completed Quadrennial Development and Diplomacy Review (QDDR). The headline here is that the QDDR is being promoted as a blueprint for elevating and joining up “American civilian power” –across government and civil society. Some commentators are skeptical of the ability of the US government to pull together this disparate set of organizations into one, and accuse the QDDR of making function follow form, rather than the other way around. (A breaking headline is that the State Department is facing the prospect of a 30% cut in funding as a result of the budget deal struck in Washington last week. Negotiations are on-going but the prospects look bleak.)
So the US is trying to join up its disparate organizations to better deliver development and diplomacy, while Spain has achieved this in the last 6 years by increasing the percent of ODA captured by the core development institution within government—something the US does not seem set to do.
Needless to say, we don’t know much about what the most effective institutional set up is for delivering aid. Perhaps there is no one model, but the lack of research and evidence in this area is striking.

Social Protection 2.0?

Social protection (SP), as we know it, has been around for about 10 years now.

Led by programmes like Opportunidades in Mexico, Bolsa Familia in Brazil and the Productive Safety Net Programme in Ethiopia, the first-wave programmes have established themselves as effective, and, in some cases, cost-effective in reducing the probability of being poor.

But right now, it seems we are in the midst of a collective breather. Everyone is taking stock. The European Report on Development has just released its report on social protection and inclusion, the World Bank has launched its new consultation on its strategic approach to social protection (building resilience and opportunity) and DFID has just published a comprehensive evidence paper on cash transfers.

So, what should the next 10 years of social protection bring? There is a real temptation to hang lots of things on the social protection Christmas tree--whether adaptation to climate change (adaptive social protection), economic growth (promotion and graduation), or social transformation (transformative social protection).

It is curious that, so far, the ”social” in social protection has been given so little attention. The original use of the term might come from Opportunidades, which focused strongly on longer-term non-income aspects of wellbeing such as nutrition, health, education and women’s power. But “society” (“big” or otherwise) is not really present in social protection debates. Should social protection be geared towards changing the rules of the game, which, if changed, would mean that SP is less needed in the first place? Can it be designed and implemented to reduce inequality? To reduce exclusion? To promote justice? To support democracy? This is the topic of a 3 day international conference hosted by IDS this week on Social Protection for Social Justice.

Most of the big money in social protection is going into cash-transfer type programmes, but much of this “social” agenda lies elsewhere: minimum wages, unionization, employment laws and lifecycle social welfare programmes. But most of the centre-right political capital (and the cash) is going to cash transfer programmes, so what can they do? It’s important to note that cash transfers, especially conditional ones, are effective at giving infants a good head start in terms of cognitive development--but this is just one dimension of equality of opportunity.

Can rights, justice, democracy, inclusion and equality be promoted with cash transfers to households? It will not be easy. Cash-based public works schemes may be good at building structures in one year, but institutions are constructed from rules and norms, not cement, stones and wood and often take decades. Could straight cash transfers to households could be delivered more inclusively? Maybe, but the currently-used community wealth ranking methods seem a good way to develop awareness and debate about what “need” is in any given context, whether or not the allocation process is distorted by local elites.

So instead of linking all cash transfers to households, why not apply some conditionalities at the community, district, or municipality levels? For example, cash would be transferred only if there was a commitment at this level to things like participatory budgeting, securing land rights, the use of social audits, community scorecards and performance thresholds for justice systems. The cash would be split between households (to generate demand) and the community level (to generate interest at that level). The risk of distortion (e.g. communities fiddling the books to get the cash) would have to be addressed, as would the quality of services. In addition, this would not be especially amenable to current evaluation methods.

But if cash transfers and social protection are going to leave an enduring legacy, they need to achieve these kinds of social and political development outcomes. Aspiring to achieve them would be a good first step in transforming Social Protection 1.0 to version 2.0.

08 April 2011

FAO DG: Response from second candidate, Franz Fischler

Here is an email from Franz Fischler, the second candidate for the FAO DG who has kindly responded to my blog in early February.

Give us your verdict in the comments box at the end of this blog.

Personally I find that there is not much to argue with in his letter (as with Mohamad, Saeed Noori Naeini's letter below). Dr Fischler's letter, like Dr. Naeini's stresses the information, standards and forum functions of FAO as well as capacity development.

They both highlight the need for reform processes. Dr Naeini commits to only seeking one term. Neither is strong on a vision for FAO, or how FAO would be different after 6 years of their leadership. It would be good to hear more from them on this.

And it would be good to hear from the other 4!

From Dr. Fischler
: "Dear Mr. Haddad, Thank you for drawing the attention to such an important issue on how the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with its mandate, which is a matter of international concern, should act in the future and how it should select its top management.
I fully share your views that FAO provides essential global public goods, especially in the field of knowledge, information standard setting and being a neutral forum for all Members on an equal setting.

The future Director-General of FAO will need to make a point of attracting attention of the international community when it comes to one of the most acute problems, the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition, which furthermore, is increasingly threatening our economic and social stability.

Attracting attention and being aware of this complex problem certainly will not be enough - we need to act quickly so that we achieve measurable impacts. Therefore new competent leadership is needed dedicated to FAO´s mandate and equipped with political and international experience.
The new management will need to focus on regaining the full trust of all its partners and stakeholders into this International Organization.

Since the time when FAO was created, both the political and the economic environment have changed; we are now facing a globalized world with complex challenges (price volatility, climate change, increasing limited availability of natural resources etc.).

In addition we are aware that more [are] playing in the field of FAO´s mandate and resources are getting more and more scarce. Therefore it is absolutely essential that FAO focuses on its strengths, on what it does best, on its "Unique Selling Proposition" (USP), its competitive edge and allocates its resources accordingly. Constructive partnerships and collaboration are essential, especially with the Rome based agencies! FAO should concentrate on its core sectors – Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Policy and on its core tasks – Food security, combating climate change, standard setting, the sustainable use of natural resources and the rural economies.
FAO needs to enable itself to transfer its excellent knowledge to the most in need by helping those countries to beef up their agricultural production capacity in a sustainable manner in order to achieve their own food security.

Knowledge has no longer to be seen in isolation but in combination with extension and transfer to the people in need. Collaboration with Universities, research institutions, civil society organisations, NGO’s and others has to be enhanced and the experts working in the field must become change managers functioning like a catalyst.

I truly believe that FAO needs dedicated leadership with technical, political and managerial experience, someone who has proven himself able to make a change, to strengthen the livelihood in rural areas and of course, someone who has a strong commitment to meet the needs of the developing countries

You can contact his campaign via his PA, Anna Waldhoer, anna.waldhoer@franzfischler.info

Recall that another candidate, Mohamad Saeed Noori Naeini, replied to my initiating blog in the Guardian's Poverty Matters blog (Feb 25, 2011)

From Dr. Naeini:
"I am among the six candidates for Director-General of FAO, and I very much share your concern for the hungry and poor, the crises facing our planet and the weakest members of our society, such as climate change and extreme inequality.

I think you will find that this concern is also evident from my summary curriculum vitae and Platform for election, which are being posted on the internet. The Guardian posting has helped to place FAO and its important election a little closer to the public attention it warrants.

However, it also shows a lack of understanding of the role of FAO and its Director-General and exaggerates the direct power of an Organization which has a smaller budget than the agricultural department of all but the very smallest and the very least developed countries.
FAO’s power lies in facilitating others to act. From my curriculum vitae and platform you will find my previous leading role in the reform of FAO and my commitment to driving forward that reform.

The strength of FAO lies in three main areas, all of which I am committed to reinvigorating.
The first of these underpins the other two and it is the provision of neutral factual information to support debate. It is for example, FAO data which has tracked the volatility and absolute level of of food prices and food supplies. FAO also synthesises and draws on analysis performed, not only by itself, but by many others. Then: - FAO provides a forum to keep issues on the global public agenda and to work towards global and regional solutions to those problems. The Organization is probably unique among the UN agencies in the extent to which it has involved NGOs and civil society in such fora.

In my former capacity as Chair of FAO’s Council, I take some credit for this and am committed to further extending such inclusiveness. Populist personal visibility might be served by a Director-General who stood on a soap box, rather than one who facilitated debate and ensured the information, analysis and opinions were available to support dialogue; But the global and regional consensus needed to achieve solutions to the world’s problems would certainly not be aided by polemics;
and - FAO supports the development of national capacity (society as a whole government and non-government) and of regional organizations to develop their own solutions to their problems. It does this itself, or by mobilizing others: quietly undertaking training; providing analysis of issues specific to the country or region including on such problems as people’s access to food, land tenure, water and fishing rights, pesticide safety, access to forests and climate change, etc., etc.; by facilitating inclusive and neutral fora for discussion at national level; and by assisting the move of important issues up national agendas.

It is in this that an FAO Director-General must lead, and if elected, I will lead, not afraid to give my view on the issues of the day or take controversial stands if this can contribute to solutions but also not as a populist playing to the gallery.

In order for FAO to be more effective in this way, I have strongly committed to a programme of internal reform.

You also pour scorn on FAO’s election process. No process is perfect but through the reform FAO’s has further been improved. Any country can propose a candidate. Candidates must submit to rounds of questioning in FAO’s governing bodies and the record is available to the public and representatives of NGOs and Civil Society are present during the questioning.

The ballot is one country one vote. Thus the poor countries are more than balanced against the rich.
It is my sincere hope through this election, the best candidate to lead FAO will be selected. I have pledged at the outset to, if elected, serve only one term as Director-General. I will thus not be using the office to seek re-election but will be in a strong position to drive forward both FAO’s internal reform and, more importantly, its facilitation for the world, to address its problems in a way which keeps the needs of the poor and hungry always to fore."

Aid, corruption and freedom

A couple of weeks ago I referred in this blog to some analysis that Andy Sumner and I were doing with some colleagues at IDS. The preliminary results can be found here at the Global Dashboard blog.

The headlines:

* Over the next 4 years DFID bilateral aid will be spent in contexts that are rated more corrupt and less free.

* But the increases are not dramatic: DFID was already working in such contexts.

* For corruption, in South Asia, the % of bilateral aid spent in countries rated as very corrupt (Transparency International score of 2.9 or less) increases from 72% in 2010-11 to 80% in 2014-15. For Sub-Saharan Africa the corresponding increase is from 80% to 83%.

* For freedoms, in South Asia the % of bilateral aid spent in countries rated by Freedom House as "Free" goes down from 29% in 2010-11 to 21% in 2014-15, although the percent going to "Not Free" also goes down from 28% to 18% as the percent going to "Partly Free" countries increases from 43% to 62%. For Sub-Saharan Africa the % to Not Free countries increases from 44% to 48%, the % to Free decreases from 7% to 5% and the % to Part Free decreases from 49% to 47%.

These trends are not dramatic, although they are worsening (unless the indices change in the next 4 years). But the 2010-11 levels are perhaps surprising. In other words, DFID and others should already be thinking about how their operations can at least not contribute to a worsening of lack of freedoms and corruption and more positively how they can contribute to voice and choice.

This is why the accountability to taxpayer efforts must crowd in (not crowd out) efforts to increase accountability to citizens in recipient countries of how aid is used. We can't let corruption and lack of freedom be the elephant in the aid room.

04 April 2011

New IDS Mixtapes

The IDS Bulletin has just launched its own playlist function.
We will be mixing and matching articles over the years to create our own "mixtapes" on contemporary issues, providing some historical context, and highlighting where ideas and issues have evolved over the years and--more interestingly perhaps--where they have not.
The articles are free to download. The first issue is on impact and aid effectiveness. The articles are listed below. We will do several of these every year.
I find the last three papers particularly interesting as they all--in one way or another--focus on capacity to collect, analyse and act on the information gathered. The coming wave of systematic reviews and impact evaluations run the risk of overloading policymakers and practitioners if their capacity--at the individual, organisational and institutional levels--are not enhanced. Drinking from a fire hydrant is one expression that comes to mind.
More resources have to be devoted to developing effective consumers of this information. That means building in core time for "thinking days", looking afresh at short-courses, and allocating M & E resources to the users of the evaluation data in addition to the generators of it. It also means focusing more M & E attention on capacity development itself, which is a bit of a soft underbelly when it comes to accountable ODA expenditure.

Impact and Aid Effectiveness: Mapping the Issues and Their Consequences

  • A Revolution Whose Time Has Come? The Win-Win of Quantitative Participatory Approaches and Methods. IDS Bulletin Volume 41, Issue 6, November 2010. Robert Chambers
  • Impact of Microfinance on Rural Households in the Philippines. IDS Bulletin Volume 39, Issue 1, March 2008. Toshio Kondo, Aniceto Orbeta, Clarence Dingcong and Christine Infantado
  • You Can Get It If You Really Want': Impact Evaluation Experience of the Office of Evaluation and Oversight of the Inter-American Development Bank. IDS Bulletin Volume 39, Issue 1, March 2008. Inder Jit Ruprah
  • The Role of Evaluation in Accountability in Donor-Funded Projects. IDS Bulletin Volume 31, Issue 1, January 2000. Adebiyi Edun Micro-Credit Programme Evaluation: A Critical Review. IDS Bulletin Volume 29, Issue 4, October 1998. Shahidur R. Khandker
  • Macroeconomic Evaluation of Programme Aid: A Conceptual Framework. IDS Bulletin Volume 27, Issue 4, October 1996. Howard White Measurement of Poverty and Poverty of Measurement. IDS Bulletin Volume 25, Issue 2, April 1994. Martin Greeley
  • Developing Effective Study Programmes for Public Administrators. IDS Bulletin Volume 8, Issue 4, May 2009. Ron Goslin
  • Improving the Effectiveness of Evaluation in Rural Development Projects. IDS Bulletin Volume 8, Issue 1, July 1976. B. H. Kinsey
  • Managing Rural Development. IDS Bulletin, Volume 6, Issue 1, September 1974. Robert Chambers.

Has feminism trumped egalitarianism?

On April 1, April Fools Day in the UK, we Brits like to indulge in a bit of teasing and tomfoolery. On April 1, David Willets, the Higher Education Minister, was quoted as saying "The feminist revolution in its first round effects was probably the key factor [inhibiting social mobility]. Feminism trumped egalitarianism. It is not that I am against feminism, it’s just that is probably the single biggest factor.”

April Fool, surely, I thought. Either because it cannot be true or because he surely was risking too much politically to say it. It turns out that it was not an April Fool's statement. In fact the Minister has made the same claim several times over the past 5 years.

So, what do the studies say? I went to two reliable sources: the Sutton Trust and the Business, Innovation and Skills Department of the UK Government (BIS). I found two studies--one for the Trust from 2007 and a 2011 one for BIS--in which an old flat mate of mine rom Coventry, Prof. Steve Machin of UCL, is a key author (he is also the Research Director of the Centre of Economic Performance at the LSE, and an editor of the Economic Journal).
The studies look at the strength of the relationship between parental background and income and the outcomes of their children in these domains. How easily can bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds move up the income and class distributions and how far back to less bright children fall even when from advantaged backgrounds?
The studies seem to conclude:

1. The big decline in social mobility in the UK was between children born in 1958 and children born in 1970. The outcomes for the kids born in 1958 were less likely to be determined by parental characteristics than for kids born in 1970.

2. From kids born after 1970, social mobility, while existing, seems to have been largely static.

3. Using income based definitions of mobility (how tightly wedded are parental incomes to incomes earned by their children when adults?) it is much more difficult to increase mobility in economies where income inequality is high.

4. it may be more cost-efficient to increase mobility by focusing on those just above the very bottom of the income distribution rather than those at the very bottom.

5. Early investments inmobility have the potential to be more effective than those later in life, but should not preclude the latter.

6. investment in non-cognitive skills (e.g. from time management and teamwork to leadership skills, and from self-awareness to self-control) may be more effective than investing in cognitive skills, at least for adults

7. interventions that affect key decisions of children and students rather than their skills may be more effective at promoting mobility.

Nowhere in the analyses can I find women's labour force participation (the Willets argument is that the new education and employment opportunities which opened up in the 1960's were taken up by middle class women) listed as a factor in the decline of mobility in the 1960s, although to be fair, an article by David Goodhart in 2008 in Prospect does mention this thesis (but does not cite the evidence for it).

What does this have to do with international development? We are worried about income (and social) mobility in development: from chronic poverty to intergenerational transmission of lifechances via poor nutrition, these issues matter. If we want income growth to reduce poverty and social protection to promote wealth creation we will care about these issues and if governments want to stay in power without the use of force they will care about policies that widen social, educational and employment opportunities.

As with many public policy issues over the coming years, we will see a convergence of learning between rich, emerging and still poor countries. We need to be better able to learn across these research divides. Research funders who are not constrained by an ODA mandate--such as the ESRC and the Wellcome Trust in the UK--should promote research programmes that cut across these artificial income divides to uncover new learning opportunities for all--women and men.