Research AreasEconomics for the Developing World

PERI's research on economics for the developing world explores how we might advance the mutually supportive goals of sustainable livelihood security, the consolidation of peace in war-torn societies, and democratization of economic power at the local, national and international levels.

Evidence to Solve the Calorie Consumption Puzzle

May 2015 -- Why is it that in India, average calorie intake has declined, even as consumption expenditures have increased? This so-called “calorie consumption puzzle” is a fundamental problem in India, given that the average body mass index rate is among the worst in the world. In this paper, Deepankar Basu and Amit Basole provide household-level evidence for one explanation: a food-budget squeeze. Using an instrumental variable empirical strategy, Basu and Basole show that rising costs of cooking fuel are causing poor Indians to have less of their overall food budget to spend on purchasing food itself.

>> Read Fueling Calorie Intake Decline: Household Level Evidence from Rural India

Macroeconomic Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa

April 2014 -- The current prevailing approach to macroeconomic policy in Africa might be described as trying to "do no harm" — i.e. gross mismanagement, such as unsustainable debts or rapid inflation. But this approach shortchanges African countries. The challenge is to replenish the economic toolkit available to African countries and allowing macroeconomic policy to play a more developmental role.

James Heintz, PERI Associate Director, writes in a chapter in The Industrial Policy Revolution II: Africa in the 21st Century about three areas of macroeconomic policy – real exchange rate, monetary policy, and fiscal policy – that have implications for industrial development in Africa.

>> Read further description, “How Macroeconomic Policy Can Support Economic Development in Sub-Saharan African Countries”

>> Purchase The Industrial Policy Revolution II: Africa in the 21st Century

Economic Reform is a Human Right

March 2014 -- In this article in The Nation, PERI Associate Director James Heintz and Radhika Balakrishnan argue that when we equate civil and political rights with the concept of “human rights,” we ignore the right to work, the right to health, the right to an adequate standard of living — those which provide powerful tools to assess and conduct economic policy. Economic and social rights were threatened by the global economic crisis, and provide the most compelling basis for an alternative set of policies.

>> Read “Economic Reform is a Human Right

The Broad Impacts of Unequal Access to Land

October 2013 -- Cem Oyvat explores the far-reaching impacts of inequality in access to land ownership, which extend beyond its immediate rural context to affect urban and national level of inequality. He finds that the inequality generated by unequal access to land ownership can persist for many decades. Oyvat’s conclusions are based on more than sixty countries for which he examines data, and underscore the importance of land reforms for laying the basis for broad-based and pro-poor growth.

>> Download “Agrarian Structures, Urbanization and Inequality”

Factoring Gender into Strategies for Growth

March 2013 -- James Heintz addresses the lack of attention that has been paid to gender in the policy frameworks, summits, and declarations of the G20. He finds that the G20 has not seriously considered the fact that sources of gender inequality interact with changes in the economic environment to produce distinct outcomes for women and men. He concludes that gender bias must be identified within the G20’s approach to economic governance if their commitment to inclusive growth is to be realized, and makes five concrete recommendations that would represent significant steps towards this goal.

>> Download "Missing Women: The G20, Gender Equality and Global Economic Governance"

Reflections on Development Economics: An Interview with Keith Griffin

January 2011 -- In an interview conducted by James Boyce for the journal Development and Change, Keith Griffin reflects on his career and the current state of development economics. Griffin is Distinguished Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of California, Riverside, and former President of Magdalen College, Oxford University. A prominent critic of orthodox economic development strategies, his books include Underdevelopment in Spanish America; The Political Economy of Agrarian Change; and Alternative Strategies for Economic Development. 

>> Download "Reflections"

Effective International Aid to Postconflict States

October 2010 -- In recent years, the core objective of development assistance to postconflict countries and fragile states has been building governance structures that secure public confidence through security, justice, economic well-being, and social services. Yet tensions persist between these objectives and the business-as-usual policies of international agencies. In this background paper for the World Bank’s World Development Report 2011, James K. Boyce and Shepard Forman consider how international aid can more effectively help build resilient states and durable peace. They discuss the need to strike a balance between prioritizing aid to ‘good performers’ to maximize economic growth, and providing aid to ‘poor performers’ to prevent conflict and build peace.

>> Download "Financing Peace: International and National Resources for Postconflict Countries and Fragile States"

Beyond Inflation Targeting

January 2010 - This volume, edited by Gerald Epstein and Erinc Yeldan, develops concrete, country-specific alternatives to inflation targeting, the dominant policy framework of central bank policy that focuses on keeping inflation in the low single digits to the virtual exclusion of other key goals. Chapters focus on alternative policy goals, such as employment creation, poverty reduction and sustainable development, and themes such as class attitudes toward inflation and unemployment and the gender impacts of restrictive monetary policy. The authors show that to reach policy goals beyond inflation control, central banks must look beyond traditional financial policy instruments.

>> Read more about Beyond Inflation Targeting

Peace and the Public Purse: Economic Policies for Postwar Statebuilding

In the aftermath of violent conflict, how do the economic challenges of statebuilding intersect with the political challenges of peacebuilding? How can the international community help lay the fiscal foundations for a sustainable state and a durable peace? In this edited volume, James Boyce, (Director of PERI’s Development, Peacebuilding, & the Environment Program), and Madalene O’Donnell  (United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations) lift the curtain that often has separated economic policy from peace implementation.

Drawing on recent experiences in war-torn societies such as Uganda, Cambodia, Bosnia, Guatemala, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, and Palestine, this book brings to life a key dimension of how peace and states are built.  

>> Order Peace & the Public Purse from Lynne Rienner Publishers