The Country Analytic Support project’s economic performance assessments give USAID missions a concise and easy-to-read evaluation of economic growth performance in countries receiving USAID assistance.
The assessments provide a synthesis of indicators from a variety of publicly accessible sources, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the United Nations and the World Economic Forum, and uses international benchmarking to identify areas in which the country’s performance is particularly strong or weak.
Assessments cover 15 topics in three categories: an overview of the economy; the private sector enabling environment, and the pro-poor growth environment.
A lisst of all assessments can be found here.
The methodology used in the economic performance assessments is analogous to examining an automobile dashboard to see which gauges are signaling problems. Sometimes a blinking light has obvious implications—such as the need to fill the fuel tank. At other times, a mechanic may have to probe more deeply to assess the source of the trouble and determine the best course of action. (Sometimes, too, the problem is faulty wiring to the indicator—analogous here to faulty data.) Similarly, economic performance assessments are based on an examination of economic and social indicators to see which are signaling problems. Some “blinking” indicators have clear implications, while others may require further study to identify appropriate courses for programmatic action.
The analysis is organized around two mutually supportive goals: transformational growth and poverty reduction. Broad-based growth is the most powerful instrument for poverty reduction. At the same time, programs to reduce poverty and lessen inequality can help to underpin rapid and sustainable growth. These interactions can create a virtuous cycle of economic transformation and human development.
Transformational growth requires capital investment and rising productivity. These are achieved by establishing a strong enabling environment for private sector development, which involves multiple elements: macroeconomic stability; a sound legal and regulatory system, including secure contract and property rights; effective control of corruption; a sound and efficient financial system; openness to trade and investment; sustainable debt management; investment in education, health, and workforce skills; infrastructure development; and sustainable use of natural resources.
Pro-poor growth environment
In turn, the impact of growth on poverty depends on policies and programs that create opportunities for the poor. This is the pro-poor growth environment. Here, too, many elements are involved, including effective education and health systems, policies facilitating job creation, agricultural development (in countries where the poor depend predominantly on farming), dismantling barriers to micro and small enterprise development, and progress toward gender equity.
Economic performance assessments must be interpreted with care. A concise analysis of selected indicators cannot provide a definitive diagnosis of economic performance problems, nor simple answers to questions about programmatic priorities. The aim of the analysis is to spot signs of serious problems affecting economic growth, subject to limits of data availability and quality. The results should provide insight about potential paths for USAID intervention, to complement on-the-ground knowledge and further in-depth studies.
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