Our work in 2019-2023 – creating, strengthening, and sharing knowledge for development
Over the period 2019–23 UNU-WIDER research will focus on the interlinked development challenges of transforming economies, states, and societies. These transformations are central to the achievement of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Three key concerns will be integrated throughout the research programme — fragility and risk, empowerment, knowledge and capacity.
UNU-WIDER will mobilize research evidence for action through the ongoing processes in the UN and its member states. The institute continues to work with stakeholders to strengthen capacities for research, technical, and policy analysis, and facilitating the exchange of experiences and knowledge between countries and regions.
Transforming economies – at the core of any meaningful development strategy
This research theme is based on continuing need for large-scale changes in the structure of economic activity and employment opportunities, which must take place if absolute poverty is to be reduced alongside addressing economic and social inequalities. Economic transformation is also needed to deliver higher levels of income and market activity that are critically needed to improve the mobilization of domestic resources and establish a larger tax basis.
Research projects under this theme will include work on informality, productive job creation, especially in achieving gender equality and poverty reduction, and the opportunities but also challenges inherent in today’s global economy.
Transforming states – capable states are a precondition of achieving the SDGs
Capable and effective states are needed to work with the private sector to achieve higher and more environmentally sustainable rates of economic growth — via transformation of the economy’s structure. At the same time, the state has a key role to play in providing necessary public goods and in shaping the transformation of societies in ways that yield greater empowerment through proactive policies to help reduce marginalization of the poor and achieve greater gender equality.
Research in this theme will look at questions of public expenditure, tax incidence across income group and enterprise type, market failures and ways to correct or compensate for them (e.g., in financial products available to the poor) and in the management of natural resource wealth which now increasingly interacts with the climate change agenda (a dimension of risk and fragility).
Transforming societies - a complex task for every level of the polity
Societal transformation is, on the one hand, an outcome of strategy and policy choices. On the other hand, the characteristics of societies frame and impact on socioeconomic development as well. Increasing the capacities, resources, and confidence of individuals and their communities is a means to achieve the end of poverty and reduce gender and broader social inequalities. This is now a pressing concern in many societies, especially when high inequality is politically destabilizing — increasing state fragility — as well as hindering the transformation of economies.
Specific topics to be covered under this theme include empowerment (as a means to achieve social goals including the analysis and capacity strengthening for using instruments of empowerment and measuring and quantifying social goals), the role of social capital, migration, both internal and across borders.
129 active and previous projects
TransformationAsian transformations - an inquiry into the development of nations Asia Economic transformation Cross-country analysis
Development financeDecentralization and urban service delivery - implications for foreign aid Foreign aid Decentralization Public sector administration
Climate changeDUCC - development under climate change Climate change Development Climate uncertainty
Climate changeNew approaches to measuring poverty and vulnerability New Directions in Development Economics Poverty measurement Vulnerability
OtherAn energy social accounting matrix (SAM) for Vietnam Vietnam Social Accounting Matrix Green growth
OtherReconciling Africa’s growth, poverty and inequality trends: growth and poverty project (GAPP)
Despite decades of research and advances in data and methods, measuring poverty and reconciling this with patterns of economic growth remains a complex and contentious issue. UNU-WIDER’s Growth and Poverty Project (GAPP) re-examines Africa...Economic growth Poverty measurement Economic inequality
2018-192018 Nordic conference on development economics
The conference aims at bringing together Nordic and international scholars for the exchange of ideas and discussion of recent results within theoretical and applied development economics research.
2016-17Conference on Human capital and growth
Human capital has been identified not only as a key determinant of growth and poverty alleviation, but as critical for human development. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), have...
2016-17Conference on Responding to crises
The ‘Responding to crises’ conference aimed to improve knowledge about ongoing, unexpected, and future crises, and to discuss the options available for responses by governments, international agencies, NGOs, civil society and private...
2014-15Conference on Inequality - measurement, trends, impacts, and policies
Many low- and middle-income countries are achieving good rates of economic growth, but high inequality remains a priority concern. Some countries meanwhile have low growth, high inequality, and pervasive poverty―often linked to their fragility...
2012-13Conference on Inclusive growth in Africa - measurement, causes, and consequences
apid and sustained poverty reduction requires ‘inclusive growth’ that allows people to contribute to and benefit from the development process. Africa’s economic performance has improved considerably since the 1980s and early 1990s...
2008-09Reflections on transition - twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 was a defining moment in the transition of former socialist countries into market economies. To mark the twentieth anniversary of this historic event, UNU-WIDER is organising a two-day conference to...Transition to the Market
2008-09Role of elites in economic development
Their influence of elites in politics, government, business, and the media profoundly influences the direction of economic and social activities. In some countries, the preferences of elites are closely aligned with the national interest. Elsewhere...Development and Finance
2008-09Promoting entrepreneurial capacity
Entrepreneurship can play an important role in structural economic change and in improving wellbeing. Governments and international institutions are investing increasing resources to promote entrepreneurship. This project aims at a greater...Development and Finance Entrepreneurship Economic development
2006-07Country role models for development success
In the development literature, some countries are cited more often than others as examples of development success. These countries are believed to have policies and institutions that could be transferred, at least in part, to less successful...Development and Finance
2006-07Conference on Aid - principles, policies and performance
Aid is one of the most challenging development issues facing the international community. There is now a pressing need to evaluate performance to date, and the future for aid in light of recent events such as the post-Monterrey consensus to...Development and Finance Development aid Financing the MDGs
2006-07Health inequalities and development
The purpose of this project was to investigate issues related to health inequality. Although health is an important indicator of overall wellbeing, it is only recently that research has focused on health inequality. This project brings forth issues...Poverty Inequality and Well-being Health
2004-05Personal assets from a global perspective
The project aims to assemble data about the distribution and composition of personal assets in developing, transition, and developed countries and to study the implications of personal asset-holding for economic development. The most important asset...Poverty Inequality and Well-being Personal wealth
2004-05Jubilee conference - WIDER thinking ahead
About 200 participants attended the conference, more than 150 of them coming from outside Finland. The conference was open to younger researchers as well as established scholars. A list of participants is available on WIDER’s website...Development and Finance
2004-05Impact of globalization on the world's poor
Globalization offers new opportunities for accelerating development and poverty reduction. And there is much concern about the distribution of benefits; in particular whether the poor gain from globalization, and under what circumstances it may...Globalization and Trade Globalization Poverty
2002-03Conference on sharing global prosperity
Conferences: 6 September 2003 WIDER Conference on Sharing Global ProsperityDevelopment and Finance
2002-03Innovative sources for development finance
A joint project with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) in response to the UN General Assembly call for a rigorous study on ways to increase external finance for developing countries, particularly to meet the MDGs...Development and Finance
2000-01Debt relief conference
Conferences: 17 August 2001 WIDER Development Conference on Debt ReliefDevelopment and Finance
2000-01Growth and poverty conference
Conferences: 25 May 2001 WIDER Development Conference on Growth and PovertyPoverty Inequality and Well-being
2000-01Refugees, international migration and poverty
Fleeing poverty, violence and 'ethnic cleansing' millions of people leave their homes every year in search of safety and economic opportunities. In contrast to the migrations of the nineteenth century today's migrations often take place through...Globalization and Trade
1998-99Institutions, group behaviour and development
Institutions, such as firms, families, contracts, rules, regulations, values, and social norms, are fundamental for economic development. They influence both the level and the pace of economic growth, which can and frequently does trigger...Development and Finance
1998-99Development problems in natural resource-based growth models
In the top and bottom ranks of the GDP/c league, one finds countries which are completely devoid of natural resources, as well as others where the natural wealth of the country has played an important role in development. The evidence reviewed in...Globalization and Trade
1998-99Underdevelopment, transition & reconstruction (UTR) in SSA
The development prospects in SSA are particularly problematic in those countries which adopted Soviet style planning in the 1970s, i.e. Angola, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Somalia. The policies of these countries...Africa's Economic Development
1985-97Globalization, finance and growth
See publications for work connected to this project.
1985-97Building African capacity for policy simulation
With the introduction of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), governments in Africa and other developing countries have been under great pressure to devise effective policies that will reduce poverty and...Globalization Social and Human Development Africa
1985-97Income distribution and social structure during the transition
See publications for work connected to this project.Transition to the Market