Research Areas

Firms, Farms and Labour

CSAE’s research programme on private sector development focuses on understanding the behaviour of firms, farms and workers, with a view to improving policies for growth.  This programme embraces a variety of techniques in applied microeconometrics, with a broad aim of understanding market-related institutions in developing countries.

Macroeconomics and Growth

One strand of this programme tackles the challenges of macroeconomic management in Africa, often in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Working with African policymakers, the CSAE has been instrumental in editing a series of volumes on the economic challenges in particular countries – most recently a book focusing on Tanzania was published. Another strand looks at fundamental assumptions about growth, and its geographical and sectoral dimensions. Should Africa industrialize? What is the role of agriculture? Is urbanization an engine of growth on the continent? Answers to questions such as these often go against the grain, offering an important antidote to common simplistic narratives about African development.

Politics and Institutions

This programme studies politics and the functioning of government and other institutions, and how this impacts on development in Africa. Issues addressed include deepening democracy by boosting voter turnout in Southern Africa, to the functioning of the civil service in Ghana, and the management of infrastructure investment.

Welfare and Behaviour

We combine insights from psychology and economics to try to understand and improve the lives of poor people, mainly working with social enterprises and NGOs, such as Give Directly in Kenya. Ongoing and recently completed work in this area includes work on intrahousehold bargaining in developing countries, and a series of large programmes to improve the effectiveness of NGO cash transfer interventions by boosting aspirations of the poor by exposing recipients to videos of successful role models in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Governing African Transitions

This programme looks at the current realities of economic, social, and political governance challenges for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), particularly in terms of decision-making and implementation. It is funded by the Oxford Martin School and brings together researchers from six departments and several disciplines across the University of Oxford. The programme is led by Professor Stefan Dercon from the CSAE at the Department of Economics and the Blavatnik School of Government; and Professor Ricardo Soares de Oliveira at the Department of Politics and International Relations.