The research of the Development Economics Group focuses on the nature of institutions, drivers of institutional change, and implications of institutional change for poverty alleviation and sustainable economic development.

The institutional framework encompasses both formal and informal 'rules of the game' and ranges from volatile governance measures to more inert cultural variables (including gender roles). This institutional focus is applied to fields such as the organization of commodity chains, natural resource management (e.g. land and water management and renewable energy use by farm households), origins and consequences of violent conflicts, and arrangements on risk sharing. In all these fields, the approach to develop theories and models that capture the incentives of individual agents as well as the resulting aggregate performance, and testing these models empirically.

The primary geographical focus is on sub-Saharan Africa and China. Increasingly, research is done in other Asian countries and in Latin America as well. High rates of poverty and food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa and disappointing growth performances over the past few decades implies that research in these regions is highly relevant.

Research themes