The past year, we have witnessed widening economic and social disparities and inequities and increasing concentration of poverty exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Brookings experts within the Global Economy and Development program continued to identify opportunities to ensure a more equitable future for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Building on Global’s mission to offer innovative and tangible policy solutions for local, national, and global policymakers, we reflect on some of the past year’s research and convenings. They include strengthening the global financial safety net, promoting good quality jobs in the face of the “Great Resignation,” assessing the future of multilateralism and global governance, reversing COVID-19’s impact on extreme poverty, inspiring the next generation of women leaders, addressing America’s crisis of despair, transforming and improving education systems, harnessing technology for inclusive growth, developing climate policy for sustainable development, and more.
This list is not comprehensive, and we encourage you to catch up on all the latest Global research here and stay on top of the cutting-edge work from our Africa Growth Initiative, Center for Sustainable Development, and Center for Universal Education.
Assessing and ensuring a resilient post-COVID-19 recovery
- How the G-20 can strengthen the global financial safety net. Ahead of the G-20 summit in Rome, Brahima S. Coulibaly and Eswar Prasad proposed a new insurance mechanism to broaden and depoliticize access to foreign liquidity during major global shocks like COVID-19.
- Key strategies to accelerate Africa’s post-COVID recovery. Louise Fox and Landry Signé outlined two strategies for a resilient recovery from COVID-19 in Africa.
- The latest update of the Brookings-Financial Times Tracking Indexes for the Global Economic Recovery (TIGER) shows growth momentum weakening across the world, particularly in the two major engines of global growth—the U.S. and China. Aryan Khanna and Eswar Prasad detailed the risks.
Harnessing technology for inclusive growth and development
- The Future of Money. Eswar Prasad examined how financial changes like the end of cash and the rise of cryptocurrencies are transforming economies in ways both good and bad.
- Strengthening international cooperation on AI. With the prospect of an estimated boost of 16 percent—or $13 trillion in U.S. currency—to global output by 2030, countries have engaged in an unprecedented push to promote artificial intelligence (AI) uptake across industry, consumer markets, and government services. Joshua Meltzer and co-authors outlined the international cooperation that has resulted and areas where more cooperation may be beneficial.
Promoting good quality jobs
- 6 job quality metrics every company should know. What can employers do in the face of the “Great Resignation”? Focus on job quality, says Marcela Escobari. In a new report, she provided simple, evidence-based outcome metrics that promote good quality jobs and may help companies retain workers.
- Immigration as an engine for reviving the middle class in midsized cities. As millions of Americans opt out of low-paid work, Dany Bahar and Greg Wright highlighted a solution to this and many other challenges facing the American economy: immigration.
Supporting inclusive and sustainable development
- Long-run impacts of COVID-19 on extreme poverty. Global poverty had been declining before COVID-19, but the pandemic interrupted this progress. Homi Kharas and Meagan Dooley provided updated poverty estimates for 2030 and identified ways to reverse the trends.
- Making USAID a premier development agency. George Ingram outlined the steps needed to elevate the U.S. contribution to global development.
- Inspiring the next generation of women leaders. To celebrate International Women’s Day, Aloysius Uche Ordu asked eminent women to reflect on the challenges facing young women and to share their thoughts on how we can more effectively encourage and empower young women to become leaders.
- Getting the world unstuck on the sustainable development goals. From poverty to climate change, the world appears to be stuck on how to address the biggest issues of our time. On the “17 Rooms podcast” hosts John McArthur and Zia Khan spoke with thought leaders and practitioners as they work to drive progress on the 17 sustainable development goals established by the United Nations.
- The “City Playbook for Advancing the SDGs” compiled a series of how-to briefs and case studies on advancing sustainable development and social progress locally. These short, digestible, and practical briefs are written by city government officials for other city officials, based on their direct experience.
- The hacker, the tax haven, and what $200 million in offshore deposits can tell us about the fight against illicit wealth. “The offshore world doesn’t just enable the rich to reduce their tax bill, it amplifies inequality around the world.“ Matthew Collin used data from a leak at Cayman National Bank and Trust to start answering questions about who stores their money in tax havens and how that should alter approaches to fighting dirty money.
Building back better
- Building back better: The promise of the American Rescue Plan for education. Helen Hadani and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek wrote that the American Rescue Plan can be an opportunity to envision a system that helps all children thrive by building back better.
- America’s crisis of despair: A federal task force for economic recovery and societal well-being. Carol Graham made the case for the Biden administration to create a federal task force for economic recovery and societal well-being.
- Will Biden deliver for rural America? The promise of the American Rescue Plan. While still early, the administration is off to a good start, pursuing concrete actions that could translate into investments useful to everyday people and local efforts, Anthony F. Pipa and Natalie Geismar wrote in a brief.
- Harnessing private capital and tying funding to results to build back better. Emily Gustafsson-Wright and Sarah Osborne outlined three concrete policy measures that would expand outcome-based financing for social services and environmental challenges.
- Small Business Green Recovery Fund to power U.S. climate transition. Addisu Lashitew proposed a $50 billion “Small Business Green Recovery Fund” for the Biden Administration to simultaneously advance racial equity and inclusion, revitalize American industry, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Transforming and improving education systems
- Building skills for life: How to expand and improve computer science education. Emiliana Vegas, Michael Hansen, and Brian Fowler made the case for expanding computer science education in primary and secondary schools around the world, outlined the key challenges standing in the way, and offered transferable lessons with the aim that all students—regardless of income level, race, or sex—can one day build foundational skills necessary for thriving in the 21st century.
- Collaborating to transform and improve education systems. Schools with strong family engagement are 10 times more likely to improve student learning outcomes. Rebecca Winthrop, Adam Barton, Mahsa Ershadi, and Lauren Ziegler shared strategies from around the world and hands-on tools to improve family-school engagement.
- Adapting education innovation in the time of COVID. Brad Olsen explored the ripple effects of education adaptations during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they might inform the scaling of education projects.
- Putting scaling principles into practice: Resources to expand and sustain impact in education. Jenny Perlman Robinson, Molly Curtiss Wyss, and Patrick Hannahan developed a suite of tools to provide concrete, practical guidance to scale projects in education.
Developing climate policy and action for sustainable inclusive growth and development
- Our last, best chance on climate. “If we do not take action now against climate change, the damage could be even greater and more lasting than the effects of the pandemic.” Amar Bhattacharya and Nicholas Stern outlined policies to accelerate the transition to net-zero emissions and climate-resilient growth.
- The key to global climate success. Prospects for achieving a carbon-neutral world by 2050 are improving, Kemal Derviş and Sebastian Strauss explained, but it is becoming increasingly clear that emerging markets and developing economies could be the difference between limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and significantly exceeding this threshold.
- Enlightened climate policy for Africa. Africa bears the least responsibility for the world’s climate crisis but faces its most severe consequences. With this in mind, Aloysius Uche Ordu, Arunma Oteh, and Jeanine Mabunda Lioko proposed a four-point agenda to power the continent’s economic growth while preventing the worst consequences of climate change.
Renewing multilateralism and international cooperation
- Global governance after COVID-19. Kemal Derviş and Sebastian Strauss shared the results of a new survey exploring attitudes toward multilateralism—and found reason for hope for a renewed multilateral system.
- Developing a roadmap for USMCA success. A little over a year into the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), its members must focus on to achieve a more competitive, sustainable, and inclusive North American economy.