Economy and Finance

The global economy is rapidly changing. Economic power is increasingly shifting from North America and Europe to China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies. At the same time, poverty remains endemic in many parts of the developing world. Global challenges such as climate change and resource scarcity are shaping the way countries manage their own economies and interact with others.

Accountant counting a bundle of 100 Yuan bank notes.Credit: Mark Henley / Panos

The impacts of the financial crisis are being felt around the world, placing global financial systems under increased scrutiny and raising questions about regulation and reform.

Sustainable and equitable economic growth is more important than ever. Achieving this requires countries to reach out to broader markets through trade, and to create the right domestic environment to stimulate investment and innovation. They also need to ensure that external relationships contribute as much as possible to domestic growth and development, and that the benefits of development are shared fairly.

IDS works on a range of issues concerning economy and finance, including:

  • Trade and growth – we are analysing trends in global trade and regionalisation of the global economy using quantitative analysis and economic modelling.
  • Sustainability and the green economy – we are seeking to understand how investment in low-carbon technologies can help countries grow sustainably, and how this investment could be increased.
  • Finance and infrastructure – we are examining the impact of Development Finance Institutions support for Private Participation in Infrastructure on economic growth and poverty reduction.
  • Private capital flows – we are mapping changes in capital flows, and linking this to development impacts.
  • Climate change finance – we are exploring how to mobilise and distribute finance that helps countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.
  • Environmental taxation – we are exploring the links between environmental taxation and international development outcomes.
  • Business innovation and branding – we are examining how businesses in China and Brazil are growing their innovation and branding capabilities.

Assessing the Tobin Tax

The current financial crisis has stirred up an old debate about whether it might make sense to impose a Tobin Tax, either on foreign exchange transactions or on all financial transactions. More details

BRICS Economic Engagement Footprint Study

This project investigated the nature of economic relations between the BRICS and Africa, in order to quantify the development footprint, focusing on various elements such as trade, investment. finance, ODA and migration. The current phase aims to look at development finance and the role of BRICS development banks. More details

Business from the BRICS

The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of business from the BRICS countries in the field of international development cooperation. More details

Codes and Standards and Development Finance

Using case studies of Brazil and India, this work looked at the impact on development finance of compliance with international codes and standards. More details

Evidence and Lessons from Latin America (ELLA)

Evidence and Lessons from Latin America' (ELLA) is a knowledge sharing and learning programme, that seeks to improve knowledge of Latin America's development among African and Asian policymakers, practitioners and researchers - on selected economic, environmental and governance issues. More details

Handbook of Financialization

Financialization has become the go-to term for scholarship that studies the vastly expanded role of finance in contemporary politics, economy and society. The goal of this handbook is to provide a comprehensive overview of the scholarship on financialization as it stands today, almost twenty years after the concept was first embraced by social scientists More details

International Architecture for Economic Shock Financing

This project examined the international architecture of economic shock financing and provided some recommendations for a better shock financing architecture. More details

Linking Participation and Economic Advancement

In this project, IDS will draw upon and expand its rich experience at the forefront of thinking about participation in development, and our emerging work at the intersection of participation and markets. We will co-create along with the Economic Advancement Program (EAP) at the Open Society Foundations (OSF), a deeper understanding of participation in economic advancement in general, as well as how EAP can bring participatory approaches into its own practice. More details

Political Economy of Low Carbon Investment in China and India

This project investigates whether and how coalitions of public, private and civic actors influence low carbon investment. More details

Research on the Poverty Impact of Market and Enabling Business Environment Programmes in Kenya

To what extent does private sector development work in Kenya contribute to a reduction in poverty and inequality? This review aims to assess the evidence base for DFID Kenya’s Wealth Creation Pillar programming. More details

UNU-WIDER Symposium on Taxation & Revenue Mobilisation in Developing Countries consultancy

Bruno Martorano will be conducting research on the topic of ‘Tax Changes and Inequality in Latin America, 1990-2010’ More details

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Non-IDS publication

Welfare Spending and Political Conflict in Latin America, 1970-2010

World Development 107 (2018)

In this article we study an age-old question in political economy: does government spending on welfare ensure peace? This question was at the heart of the European Welfare State model of the early 20th century, and remains relevant today in face of rising inequalities and political conflict. More details

Tax reform for low income countries

Tax Reform for Low Income Countries: Five Ideas for Simplifying Tax Systems to Fit Local Realities

ICTD Research in Brief 17 (2018)

There is no silver bullet to strengthen the tax systems of low-income countries. Dramatic changes in tax systems and tax collection are rare. Successful improvements more often involve a great deal of hard and steady work, and the gradual construction of popular trust and (grudging) support for reform. There remains, however, space for ‘organising ideas’ that can help identify potentially underexplored and underexploited opportunities for reform. More details

Norms, Networks, Power, and Control: Understanding Informal Payments and Brokerage in Crossborder Trade in Sierra Leone

Norms, Networks, Power, and Control: Understanding Informal Payments and Brokerage in Crossborder Trade in Sierra Leone

ICTD Research in Brief 20 (2018)

This ICTD Research in Brief is a two-page summary of ICTD Working Paper 74 by Vanessa van den Boogaard, Wilson Prichard and Samuel Jibao. This series is aimed at policy makers, tax administrators, fellow researchers and anyone else who is big on interest and short on time. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Relevance of Circular Economy Practices to the Sustainable Development Goals

This paper identifies the extent to which circular economy (CE) practices are relevant for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More details

IDS publications on international development research

Systematic reviews of cost-effectiveness in low and middle income countries: a review of reviews

We investigate whether systematic reviews of cost-effectiveness analyses of interventions in low and middle income countries are feasible and useful. To this aim, we systematically review systematic reviews of cost-effectiveness studies and systematic reviews of effectiveness studies. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Static Analysis of Technical and Economic Energy-Saving Potential in the Residential Sector of Xiamen City

Based on a household energy use survey, this paper explores the technical and economic potential of residential energy savings in a Chinese city, Xiamen. The survey adopted a similar questionnaire used by the U.S. EIA's Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), covering the end-uses of cooking, water heating, plug-in appliances, lighting and space cooling. More details

Does Intimate Partner Violence Decline as Women’s Empowerment Becomes Normative? Perspectives of Bangladeshi Women.

World Development 101 (2018)

The aim of this study is to clarify the relationship between women’s empowerment and IPV in a setting where gender roles are rapidly changing and IPV rates are high. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability Centre logo

The Many Circuits of a Circular Economy

STEPS Working Papers 94 (2017)

Rapid urbanisation in India has led to the development of large urban agglomerations. These urban agglomerations, with dense concentration of population and economic activity, cause significant environmental stresses. More details

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Public–Private Cooperation for Secure and Inclusive Rural Economies

IDS Policy Briefing 146 (2017)

How do public–private collaborations enable secure and inclusive rural economies? Alongside private sector investment, government provision of infrastructure, research and extension services and support for farmer organisations remains crucial. More details

This is the from cover to Digital and Technology Briefing 1, 'Decent Work in a Digital Age'.

Decent Work in a Digital World

IDS Digital and Technology Briefing 1 (2017)

Advances in digital technology and artificial intelligence are transforming the future of work. Self-driving trucks are due to be tested on UK roads in 2018 and are already being piloted in the US where around three million truck drivers and 8.7 million other people are employed in trucking-related jobs. More details

A teaser image for BMJ Global Health Journals.

Universal Health Coverage, Economic Slowdown and System Resilience: Africa’s Policy Dilemma

BMJ Global Health 2.3 (2017)

Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) has become a dominant policy reoccupation within the global health community. For Africa, progress towards UHC involves ambitious goals for expanding access to a range of effective health services, a substantial increase in health expenditure, and establishing a greater reliance on prepayment and pooling mechanisms to finance healthcare. More details

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Small Firms as a Blind Spot in Greek Austerity Economics

IDS Working Paper 491 (2017)

This paper offers an interpretation of the Greek crisis focusing on the role of small firms. Most accounts of the crisis stress austerity resulting from macroeconomic conditions imposed from the outside. The paper argues that this is reductionist and ignores that the origin of the crisis lies in internal structural problems. More details

Front cover of report Market systems development in the
cities of rapidly urbanising countries

Market Systems Development in the Cities of Rapidly Urbanising Countries

The aim of this paper is to offer guidelines for those in the market systems community interested in working in urban settings, by exploring the key features that makes cities unique and the implications these features have for programmes using a market systems approach. More details

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The Political Economy of Economic Empowerment: Bringing Politics and Society Back In

IDS Working Paper 484 (2017)

Economic empowerment programmes designed to mitigate inequalities are increasingly becoming an important part of the portfolio for governments in low-income countries. More details

A teaser image for Wiley journals based around development and change

A Narrative Analysis of the Political Economy Shaping Policy on Child Undernutrition in India

Development and Change 48.2 (2017)

This article examines two narratives on the subject of child undernutrition in India espoused by competing sides of the policy elite. It argues that undertaking narrative policy analysis in a structured fashion helps to elucidate a clearer sense of the underlying positions within this important area of development discourse. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Book Review: Isabelle Guérin, Marc Labie and Jean-Michel Servet (2015): The Crises of Microcredit

Journal of International Development 29.2 (2017)

An edited book by Isabelle Guérin, Marc Labie and Jean-Michel Servet shines the spotlight on numerous smaller crises and collapses that have plagued microcredit in many countries over the past two decades, some of which went unnoticed beyond narrow expert circles. More details

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Evaluation and Impact Investing: A Review of Methodologies to Assess Social Impact

IDS Evidence Report 222 (2017)

This report highlights the paradox within impact investing: the prioritisation of ‘social impact’ without prioritising ‘impact evidence’. The growth of metrics, ratings and certification-based approaches has sought to address this gap but this only goes so far, and there is a need for a more evaluative approach to assessing impact. More details

STEPS Working Paper 91 Teaser

The political economy of state-led transformations in pro-poor low carbon energy: A case study of solar PV in Kenya

STEPS Working Paper 91 (2017)

International efforts to achieve goals such as universal energy access and climate change mitigation are expected to stimulate billions of dollars of private financial flows to developing countries for clean (energy) technology transfer investments. More details

Agricultural Economics 48 3 Front Cover

The Influence of Proximity to Market on Bean Producer Prices in Nicaragua

Agricultural Economics 48.4 (2017)

Transport costs are an important determinant of smallholder welfare in developing countries. In particular, transport costs influence the prices that smallholders receive for their produce. We propose a simple way of quantifying this influence. More details

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Participatory impact investing: concepts and definitions

02 Jul 2018
By Peter O'Flynn, Grace Lyn Higdon

Participatory impact investing: whose voices count?

21 May 2018
By Grace Lyn Higdon, Peter O'Flynn

Approaching Markets in Rapidly Growing Cities

20 Jul 2017
By Maria del Mar Maestre Morales, Gordon McGranahan, Eric Kasper
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