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Research priorities

The IGC supports research focused on four themes:

State: This theme investigates how to improve the capacity of the public sector in developing countries to effectively deliver public goods and services that support economic growth. This includes issues such as governance and public sector management, public finance and taxation, political economy, and conflict.

Firms: This theme aims to generate knowledge related to firm capabilities and job creation. This work covers all types of firms: large, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and farms, in both formal and informal sectors. Research topics include the determinants of firm productivity and policies to stimulate trade.

Cities: This theme explores what makes cities effective centres of economic prosperity, addressing both the drivers of and constraints to growth. Issues include the economics of agglomeration, improving infrastructure and service provision, building affordable housing markets, and migration.

Energy: This theme focuses on the significant role that access to reliable energy plays in shaping the growth paths of developing countries. Topics include improving access to and quality of energy services for households and firms, rural electrification, energy efficiency, and the effects of energy consumption on health and the environment.

For more detailed information on research priorities by theme and country, please use the filters below. All applicants are strongly encouraged to view the global priorities, as well as those related to the country/s they are interested in.

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Research Theme

  • Renewable sources of energy in the power generation

    In order to meet the energy requirements to maintain the economic growth momentum – approximately GDP 7%, there is need to understand the optimal combination of renewable and non-renewable sources of energy generation. Development of a framework for long term energy security to support sustainable growth is needed.

  • Issues of urban governance

    In Bangladesh, till date economic growth is closely correlated with urbanization – urban dwellers constitute about 28 percent of the total population of the country, but their contribution to GDP is more than 45 percent (Bangladesh 7th Five year Plan). Thus economic growth is closely correlated with urbanization. The sustained high rate of urban population growth implies that by 2015 about 30% of the country’s population will live in urban areas. This poses considerable demand on Bangladesh’s cities and towns to provide sufficient housing, infrastructure and urban services to its residents and to firms to successfully maximize the agglomeration.

  • Managing migration to cities, promoting decentralised urbanisation and supporting employment and livelihoods

    Lack of adequate housing for Bangladesh’s large urban population is a key problem in all of the cities and secondary towns in Bangladesh. Housing deficit in urban areas grew from 1.13 million units in 2001 to 4.6 million units in 2010 (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics). The deficit is projected to reach 8.5 million units in 2021 if investment in the housing sector does not keep pace with the population growth projection.

  • Strategies for clustering of settlements/firms to maximize agglomeration effects

    Bangladesh has high population density in urban areas. Models on cluster and agglomeration behaviour of firms will provide boost to economic growth.

  • Innovative ideas to reduce traffic congestion and pollution (air, water, solid waste) in urban areas

    Rapid unplanned urbanization resulted in significant increase in transport demand which in turn has led to rapid growth in the number of motorized and non-motorized vehicles. Lack of adequate urban roads has given rise to extreme traffic congestion and pollution in the main cities adversely affecting growth and welfare.

  • Mitigation and adaptation strategies to reduce adverse climate change impacts

    Bangladesh situated in the lower Gangetic delta is highly vulnerable to climatic changes. Migration due to climatic changes along the coastal belt, delayed monsoon, rise in temperature in urban areas etc. have started to be manifest all over the country.

  • Developing power trading markets within Bangladesh and among South Asian countries

    In recent years, the expansion of generation capacity along with expansion of transmission and distribution networks helped achieve considerable progress for power sector –to 13280 MW in Oct 2016 (BPDB).


    Notwithstanding this progress, there are major areas of concern in the power and primary energy sector. Framework to initiate intra-agency and cross border power trade will be helpful. Similarly improving efficiency in power generation through unbundling of the different components of power production – generation, transmission and distribution will help attract public–private partnership investments in the sector.

  • Skills development

    In order for Bangladesh to exploit the demographic dividends fully, it requires models for skills development to address the skills mismatch in the labour market, ways to build skilled mid manager level workforce for manufacturing and services sector and ways to increase in the export of higher skilled labour.

  • Scaling up of micro and small enterprises through technology, marketing and credit support

    The larger-sized “microenterprise loans” currently account for about 8 percent of borrowers and about 30 percent of annual loan disbursements by the microfinance institutions in Bangladesh. Lending modalities that are suited to the needs of microenterprise and SMEs are necessary for further expansion of the sector.

  • Trade policy reforms

    Impact of trade and industrial policies in to support competitiveness, labour productivity and skills, access to finance, export diversification etc. and overall growth of the manufacturing sector.

  • Mobile banking

    Mobile money platform has assisted in increasing financial inclusion in Bangladesh. Promoting interoperability and competition among mobile money operators and understanding the macro-economic impact of mobile cash transfers is needed.

  • Improving public service delivery

    Increasing the efficiency of business processes in the public sector, adoption of technology and innovation to reduce delays in service delivery. Reduce rent seeking behaviour through adoption of technology.


    Access to Information (a2i) – an innovation lab, has been established in the Prime Minister’s Office of the government. a2i aims to apply behaviour change methodologies and leverage rapid expansion of technologies to transform public service delivery mechanisms.

  • Tax reform and broadening the tax base in Bangladesh

    Increasing the tax to GDP ratio in Bangladesh from approximately 10 percent in fiscal year 2016 to the government’s target of 14 percent by FY2020 is key objective of fiscal policy to ensure adequate levels of public sector investments and expenditure for economic growth and development.