Research at UNU-WIDER
The triple challenge facing societies today of structural transformation, inclusion and sustainability is the focus of UNU-WIDER's work programme 2014-2018. These are seen as key challenges to human development that will shape policy and research needs over the foreseeable future.
These three development challenges overlap and interact. Inclusion cannot be delivered by social protection alone; it requires the transformation of the productive side of economies together with the associated livelihoods. Transformation that fails to achieve inclusion may yield growth but not human development in its widest sense. Ultimately, both rest on the achievement of sustainability.
Transformation is a necessary condition of economic development, including efforts to reduce poverty and inequality. Transformation requires that economic growth reallocates resources towards more productive sectors, and in so doing, creates decent livelihoods for the poor and new opportunities for an emerging middle-class.
Despite past successes in Asia and Latin America, transformation has slowed in some countries and has yet to materialize in Africa. Promoting economic transformation will therefore be crucial for the success of any future development agenda.
Inequality is a key challenge and not only holds implications for economic growth and redistribution, but also translates into power asymmetries that can endanger democratization and human rights, engender conflict, and embed social exclusion so that chronic poverty persists.
Questions of inequality and inclusiveness are generating a broad range of public policy concerns at global and national levels. Promoting inclusion will require policy interventions that create decent jobs as well as provide safety nets for the poor and vulnerable.
Decision makers in developing countries face the complex task of achieving development in the context of increasing environmental stress and diminished stocks of natural resources. Sustainability is a multifaceted programme theme with environmental, social, and economic dimensions. Fundamental policy and investment decisions in energy, water resources, infrastructure, and agriculture interact strongly with environmental issues at the global, regional, and national levels.
Cutting across the entire research programme are three high-priority concerns: Africa's inclusive growth, gender equity, and aid effectiveness.
124 active and previous projects
TransformationTowards inclusive development in Myanmar Inclusive growth Economic reform Industrial policy
InclusionSOUTHMOD - simulating tax and benefit policies for development Taxation Social protection Income distribution
InclusionSAPI - Social Assistance, Politics, and Institutions database
Since the turn of the century, social assistance has emerged as a leading institution in the fight against poverty and vulnerability in the developing world. Large-scale programmes providing direct transfers to households in poverty have transformed...
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