Estimating the SDGs' Demand for Innovation is a CGD Working Paper written with Dev Patel. How much innovation will be needed to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? We model shifts in the cross-country relationship between GDP per capita and achievement in key development indicators as “technological gains” and convergence to the best performers at a given income as “policy gains.” Assuming that the United Nations’ income growth projections for low- and middle-income countries are met, we estimate the residual demand for technology and policy innovation needed to meet several critical targets of the SDGs. Our results suggest that (i) best performers are considerably outperforming the average performance at a given income level, suggesting considerable progress could be achieved through policy change but that (ii) the targets set in the SDGs are unlikely to be met by 2030 without very rapid, ubiquitous technological progress alongside economic growth.
A paper by Dev Patel and me for CGD. This analysis examines the relationship between legal reform and social norms surrounding homosexuality. We document three main findings. First, about a fifth of the variation in individual preferences can be explained at a country level. Second, using a difference-in-differences strategy, legalizing homosexuality improves how individuals view the tone of their communities. Third, we provide further evidence supporting a legal origins argument by examining former colonies. Countries that were colonized by the British Empire have significantly worse legal rights for samesex couples than those under other colonial powers. We conclude that adopting legal reform can improve societal attitudes.