International Growth Centre
The International Growth Centre (IGC) is a research institute based jointly at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Oxford University that provides advice on economic growth to governments of developing countries. The IGC is initiated and funded by the Department for International Development and launched in March 2008.
The IGC has country programmes in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, India (with offices in Delhi and Bihar), Mozambique Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and supports over 200 individual research projects on issues of agriculture, climate change and natural resources, finance, firm capabilities, governance and political economy, human capital, infrastructure and urbanisation, macroeconomics, state capacity, and trade. The IGC is directed by Robin Burgess, who is a Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics.
The IGC is directed by a Steering Group comprising Robin Burgess, Paul Collier, Tim Besley, Chang-Tai Tsieh, Anthony Venables, Adnan Khan, Mike Cole and Jo Underwood of the IGC. The IGC spans a London hub, country offices in partner countries, a group of 10 research programmes with participation from academics, a network of policy stakeholders in the developing world and a range of public, civil society and private sector partners.
The IGC has delivered policy research to a number of developing countries. Peter Blair Henry contributed to shaping the macroeconomic framework for Ghana’s 2010 budget, and Anthony Venables has contributed to oil revenue legislation management in Ghana. Christopher Adam, Pantaleo Kessy, Johnson Nyella and Stephen A. O’Connell provided a new money demand model which contributed to the development of inflation-targeting by the Bank of Tanzania. In a study part-funded by IGC, Nick Bloom, Benn Eifert, Aprajit Mahajan, David McKenzie and John Roberts examined the impact of the quality of management on firm productivity in India. John Sutton has produced detailed mappings of industry in Ethiopia  and Ghana.
IGC scholars include Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer, Nicholas Stern, Torsten Persson, Nick Bloom, Chris Blattman, Mark R. Rosenzweig, John Van Reenen, James D. Fearon, Daron Acemoğlu, Dilip Mukherjee, Taryn Dinkleman, Raj Chetty, Andres Rodriguez-Clare and Eswar Prasad.
For each partner country, the IGC supports a team of resident and visiting economists who respond to specific policy demands from countries on issues of economic growth. This covers applied economic analysis, long-term research and policy engagement activities, as well as rapid responses to pressing policy questions. IGC country teams are often based in the offices of think tanks or government bodies.
The Bangladesh programme is formulating a strategy to respond to long-standing policy questions, such as governance, non-traditional export prospects beyond garments, rationalisation of the tax system, poverty alleviation (including the impact of microcredit), and improvements in social indicators. The program is also looking at short- to medium-term work on climate change, urbanisation under intense population density and skill formation in a rapidly expanding labour force. The IGC-Bangladesh office is hosted by the Economic Research Group in Dhaka.
The Ethiopia programme addresses agricultural innovation, the functioning of rural input and output markets, the structure of the rural finance system, the interaction of the agriculture sector with the rest of the economy, industrial policy and other areas. The IGC-Ethiopia office is housed at the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI), which is directed by the Chief Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister. Professor John Sutton has written a book, "An Enterprise Map of Ethiopia", on industrial capacity.
The Ghana programme focuses on macroeconomic stability, agriculture sector restructuring, private sector development, education and skills acquisition, and natural resource management. Specific policy questions include management of inflation, agricultural finance and credit constraints, and the returns to education. The IGC-Ghana office is hosted by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER).The IGC-Ghana programme works in collaboration with the Economic Advisory Council, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the Bank of Ghana, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and the National Development Planning Commission.
The India Central programme was launched with a conference in Delhi in April 2010 that brought together government officials and legislators, academics and NGO representatives. There are now 18 country projects under three themes of human capital, macroeconomics, and infrastructure and urbanisation, providing analysis on a range of topics including macroeconomic churning and distributional take-off, clusters in Indian manufacturing, foreign institutional investment and financial vulnerability, and the impact of increased regulatory enforcement on industrial pollution.
The Bihar programme focuses on state capacity, structural transformation and flood management in the context of the growth experience in Bihar. Specific contributions include work on fiscal consolidation and debt management, accountability of local government service delivery, and streamlining the investment process to improve the business climate. To understand the high rates of growth recently observed, studies have been planned to first understand the growth experience and to analyse the determinants of growth in the state. The IGC-Bihar team will also contribute policy options on the targeting of flood relief and a study on the effects of floods on growth, as well as convening an interdisciplinary group of flood management experts. The IGC-Bihar office is hosted by the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI). IGC-Bihar’s work on the growth experience and flood management analysis was also undertaken on the advice of the Chief Minister and senior functionaries like the Development Commissioner and Finance Secretary. Outputs of the IGC programme in Bihar have been reflected in fiscal policy-making and is being used to prepare Bihar's Fourteenth Finance Commission.
The Mozambique programme was established in September 2010 and strong relationships have not only shaped the work programme but have also provided early examples of contributions to policy-thinking. The IGC has already made a significant contribution to the National Development Plane and has supported work on agricultural productivity.
The Pakistan programme is focused on four broad themes: macroeconomic management and new growth initiatives, state capabilities and service delivery, firm capabilities and inclusive growth. The IGC strategy in Pakistan was designed with extensive consultation with policy-makers in the Federal Government, the State (Central) Bank of Pakistan, the Governments of Sindh and Punjab Provinces and other key stakeholders. The programme has delivered a number of papers for the Planning Commission, to support the 'New Development Approach'. The IGC has undertaken critical research on tax reform, political violence and public procurement policies.
The Rwanda programme focuses on the areas of trade, agriculture, urbanisation, and macroeconomics/finance. Early work in the Rwanda programme has contributed to official strategies for increasing exports based on an analysis of trade performance, and for growth in SMEs.
The Sierra Leone programme focuses on technical training, export diversification and the financial sector. The broad purpose of the country programme is to support implementation of the 'Agenda for Change' - the second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. The IGC has advised the government on the implementation of the country's National Export Strategy, technical and vocational training, as well as financial sector reform.
The South Sudan programme responds to the dynamic changes characterising the newest country in the world. The IGC is responding to the government's express interest in the analysis of near-term policy based upon lessons from international experience with post-conflict countries.
TheTanzania programme is focused on macroeconomic management, public finance, poverty reduction, regional trade and infrastructure, firm capabilities, and agriculture. Specific research and analytical work covers fiscal policy issues, the challenge of jobless growth, money demand, food and fuel prices and inflation dynamics, dollarization, spatial price dispersion and market integration, and other areas. The IGC-Tanzania office is hosted by the Bank of Tanzania and the programme has published studies including work by Anthony Atkinson and Maria Anna Lugo (Oxford University) on growth, poverty and income distribution in Tanzania, a report on differences between sources of government expenditure on education and health by Maria Anna Lugo, money demand by Christopher S. Adam (Oxford University), Pantaleo J. Kessy (Bank of Tanzania), Johnson J. Nyella (Bank of Tanzania) and Stephen A. O'Connell (Swarthmore College), and fiscal policy, by David Bevan.
The Uganda programme focuses on macroeconomic management, regional integration, urbanisation, agriculture and education. The country office is hosted by the research department of the Bank of Uganda.
The Zambia programme concentrates on efficient tax collection, infrastructure investment and the development of the tradeables sector. Zambia is one of the IGC's newest partners. The focal point is the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, but relationships have also been established with the Bank of Zambia and State House, which play a key role in developing, leading and implementing growth-related policies. As well as the work on the taxation of mineral extraction in Zambia, the IGC is also research the best ways to use mineral wealth to create jobs and promote growth.
The IGC has developed ten research programmes that respond to policy priorities in the world’s poorest countries: agriculture; climate change, environment and natural resources; finance; firm capabilities; human capital;infrastructure and urbanisation; macroeconomics; governance, accountability and political economy; state capabilities; and trade.
The IGC portfolio of research consists of over 200 research projects, with one fifth of projects including local researchers based in IGC partner countries. The portfolio includes researchers from seven of the top ten economics departments of the world's academic institutions. In addition to the projects under the ten research themes, the IGC has been proactive in setting the agenda for research on fragile and post-conflict states.
The agriculture programme, led by Christopher Udry (Yale University) and Tavneet Suri (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is investigating four interlinked forces affecting the spatial distribution of agricultural production and its growth potential. Trade policy, such as protectionist measures related to biofuels, is one. Climate change and the shift in comparative advantage towards high latitude areas is another. The returns to technological development and its beneficiaries will be also critical, as will issues regarding the general market environment such as determinants of input and output prices and relevant labour market implications.
The climate change, environment and natural resources programme, led by Douglas Almond (Columbia University) and Michael Greenstone (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), investigates the trade-off between growth and environmental protection, and attempts to set a novel agenda for stimulating low-carbon growth. Managing natural resources including oil and mineral deposits is one policy priority. Research is also needed on how to best to draw developing countries into a global system aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the national level, designing optimal environmental tax and subsidy policies is critical. Furthermore, the programme supports research on how to mitigate the effects of climate changes.
The finance programme, led by Greg Fischer (LSE) and Colin Mayer (Oxford University) investigates financial markets and resource allocation in developing countries. Household risk management, and the impact of financial access for the poor, are other areas, along with micro-finance and the implications of its various designs. A large fraction of the research makes use of the growing expertise in randomised interventions.
The firm capabilities programme, led by Chris Woodruff (Warwick University) and Luis Garicano (LSE), investigates the existence of and reasons for heterogeneity in productivity between different firms in different countries, to understand the causes of the productivity shortfall of some firms in developing countries and to find ways of boosting competitiveness in the manufacturing sector. The programme will create a new repository of data on the role of firms in economic development, and will support novel research into the sources of heterogeneity in performance between firms in different countries. Work published by this programme including a study by Nicholas Bloom at Stanford University on how management affects firm productivity in a sample if Indian textile firms.
The political economy programme, led by Eliana La Ferrara (Bocconi University) and Gerard Padro i Miquel (LSE)investigates economic performance under different political regimes in developing countries. A large volume of research deals with corruption and illicit behaviour. Conflict and post-conflict management also significant attention.
The human capital programme, led by Steve Machin and Imran Rasul (University College London) focuses on investments in human capital, measurement of the private and social returns to investments in human capital, the accumulation of human capital over the life cycle, and the organisation of health and education systems. Published outputs include a study on how infant foods certification can imporive child nutrition in Ghana, by William Masters at Tufts University.
The infrastructure and urbanisation programme, led by Enrico Moretti (University of California, Berkeley) looks at how large-scale investments in physical capital drive growth. Agglomeration economies are key to explaining the spatial distribution of production and living. Urban areas tend to have the highest per-worker productivity and generate most economic output. While this is partly explained by the presence of natural advantages that constrain specific production to specific locations, it is clear that natural advantages alone cannot account for the observed degree of agglomeration. A better sense of agglomeration economies and their underlying mechanisms will allow researchers to provide estimates of the extent to which the current spatial distribution of economic activity in a given country could be modified.
The macroeconomics programme, led by Silvana Tenreyro (LSE), evaluates the impact of monetary and fiscal policy on economic growth to identify the sources and propagation mechanisms of economic fluctuations in developing economies and to propose policy responses to mitigate their effects. By understanding the sources of economic volatility and its economic effects, this programme is developing suitable policy responses to short-term fluctuations.
The state capabilities programme, led by Oriana Bandiera and Henrik Kleven (LSE), contributes to the strengthening of public sector capacity through the design of policy measures to improve revenue collection, the creation of incentives for public sector employees, and the delivery of public goods and services. Research on taxation will focus on individuals, family firms, and multinationals. Some research involves randomised interventions in collaboration with local tax authorities.
The trade programme, led by Andres Rodriguez-Clare (Penn State) and Eric Verhoogen (Columbia University) researches the relationships between international integration, learning and innovation in order to inform policies to help developing countries derive maximum benefit from their engagement with the world economy. Theories of trade emphasise reallocations of resources in response to changes in trade costs, but trade also appears to affect growth through dynamic mechanisms other than static resource reallocation. An alternative possibility is that international trade affects growth primarily through its impact on the accumulation of knowledge about how to produce existing products at lower cost or higher quality, how to produce new products, what a country is good at producing, where to find suppliers or buyers, or about what customers want. The programme aims to support research investigating such mechanisms and help to develop a coherent understanding of the dynamic learning effects of trade.
The IGC has institutional partnerships with the African Economic Research Consortium, BRAC, Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development, Centre for Economic Policy Research, European Development Research Network, Global Development Network, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, Microeconomics of Growth Network and the South Asia Network of Economic research Institutes (SANEI).
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