Research priorities

The IGC’s research focuses on sustainable growth policies in developing countries. Sustainable growth refers to countries developing their potential in an inclusive way that improves social, environmental, and economic well-being for all, including for future generations.

We are particularly interested in projects that address these issues through one of our four themes (outlined below), all of which play a crucial role in building resilience and promoting sustainable growth.

Firms, trade, and productivity – We seek to understand the sources of the productive potential of all firms within an economy, be it large formal firms, small informal firms, large commercial farms, or small-scale family farms. We will focus particularly on interventions and policies that reduce the barriers that prevent firms from developing their capabilities and from accessing domestic and international markets.

State effectiveness – This theme seeks to understand how an effective state can develop, and is capable of raising revenues, implementing essential economic policies, protecting citizens from shocks and providing key public goods, such as infrastructure and the rule of law, and providing basic stability against violence. We will focus on how the state can develop and use these capabilities to improve overall welfare and resilience and to promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

Cities – It is clear that the future of the developing world is urban, and that the productive potential of firms depends critically on the nature of urban areas. Cities play a central role in facilitating the externalities that are crucial to growth, but they are also breeding grounds for congestion, pollution, emissions and crime that limit growth. Understanding how to mitigate the downsides of urban density and maximise productive externalities will be crucial to reducing poverty and sustaining high rates of growth.

Energy and environment – No country can grow in the absence of cheap and reliable sources of energy. We will study the most effective sustainable ways to improve electricity access both in regions already covered by national grids and in rural areas yet to be connected. The increases in energy consumption necessary to support growth also creates externalities in the form of pollution and climate change which must be addressed if the benefits of growth are to be shared and sustained. Achieving a better balance between human activity and the natural environment without sacrificing economic growth represents a major challenge here. Today’s poor countries will have to emit much less carbon than rich countries did along their growth path, and new innovation will be essential to achieve this balance.

The research priorities for each of our partner countries can be found here: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia.

The commissioning boards will give preference to proposals that respond to the research questions identified in the thematic and country priorities, and to other questions that directly relate to these issues. We strongly encourage you to review these carefully as you put your ideas for research together, and then reach out to the relevant country team so they can review and provide feedback.

For a review of the literature on each of our four themes of research, see our ‘Evidence Papers’: state, firms, energy, and cities.