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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

  • Minimizing the external costs of energy consumption

    Large increases in energy consumption in developing countries have led to negative side effects, including increased pollution and environmental degradation. These pollutants can be very harmful to peoples’ health and welfare, but there is often low willingness to invest in reducing these negative externalities. The IGC would like to explore the effects of energy consumption on health, welfare, pollution and climate change, as well as the regulatory structures and evidence-based policy strategies that can be effective in promoting investments to reduce these effects.

  • Energy efficiency measures and technologies

    There is often underinvestment in energy efficiency measures and technologies, despite their potential social and private gains. Of particular interest are the best methods to encourage investments in efficient energy, and the barriers and challenges to large scale renewable energy growth.

  • Increasing access and quality of energy services in developing countries

    This research area addresses the linked questions of how to build demand for reliable electricity services and how to incentivize better service from the supply side. The IGC is especially interested in research that focuses on improving grid services. We are also interested in examining cost-effective off-grid solutions including mini-grids for rural households and firms, including how these measures can support longer-term solutions and how uptake of electricity can be encouraged once connections are established. In particular, we support research that explores ways to incentivize industrial and domestic consumers to pay for the energy they use, in order to help generate revenues for improving quality and expanding access. Understanding pricing and the willingness to pay for reliable access is critical here. We want to examine how energy policy can be designed to reduce non-payment and to prevent electricity losses and theft. This may include strategies to shift social norms and expectations around payment, either with carrots (service quality, easier payment modes) or sticks (disconnections).