Nancy Birdsall

New developing world’s middle class: does it matter?

Watch our #KAPTalks with Nancy Birdsall, head of Center for Global Development.

Tuesday 23.02.2016

History suggests that a large and secure middle class is a solid foundation on which to build and sustain an effective, democratic state. Can we hope, then, that the recent rise of new, large middle classes in some developing countries will be good for governance in those countries? How dependent are new middle classes on continuing growth? Who is “middle class” in the developing world? And under what conditions does a large-enough middle class have a benign effect on a country’s politics and policies? Finally: Should governments in the rich world, and institutions like the World Bank, aim to build and nurture the new middle classes, and if so how?

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Nancy Birdsall helped found the Center for Global Development in 2001 and has been its president ever since. The Center, based now in Washington DC and London, is an independent, nonpartisan think tank whose scholars focus on how the policies of rich countries and institutions impact people in developing nations across areas as diverse as aid, trade, migration, finance, health, education climate, gender and many more. Through rigorous research, CGD produces new, practical policy ideas to reduce global poverty and inequality. More details can be found at Prior to CGD, Nancy Birdsall spent two decades at the highest levels of international development research and finance, including as director of policy research at the World Bank and executive vice president of the Inter-American Development Bank, where she oversaw a $30 billion public and private loan portfolio. Her many publications include Cash on Delivery: A New Approach to Foreign Aid, and New Ideas on Development after the Financial Crisis, co-edited with Francis Fukuyama. She received her Ph.D in economics from Yale University and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

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