The STEG programme pursues a research agenda that aims to provide a better understanding of structural change, productivity and growth in low- and middle-income countries through providing grants via competitive calls. STEG will fund Small Research Grants (SRGs) and Larger Research Grants (LRGs), as well as PhD grants and Ideas for Transformation policy concept papers (I4T).

The objective of STEG is to fund cutting-edge, policy-oriented research that could be published in leading academic journals while simultaneously being relevant to the policy dialogue in low- and middle-income countries. The research agenda will evolve as STEG is implemented, but initially STEG will welcome grant applications that address the broad area of structural transformation and economic growth in low- and middle-income countries. 

Any comparison of low-income countries and developed economies immediately points to striking differences in their structural features. Relative to the advanced economies, the least developed are disproportionately rural and agrarian, more reliant on self-employment and small-scale subsistence production, and less integrated into local, national, and international markets. Economic growth is critical for sustained poverty reduction in low-income economies, but it will surely involve dramatic shifts in the structure of economic activity. A research programme which can inform policies for structural transformation must address a variety of issues and incorporate a variety of approaches.

STEG will therefore pursue a range of approaches that promise to produce credible research results that will be useful for policy making and to support research related to different aspects of structural transformation.

Research may focus on broad systemic patterns and processes of structural transformation and growth for low- and middle-income countries, in a comparative sense across time or space, or more narrowly on one or more of the following research themes:

We note that these are not exclusive lists of themes and topics. Other issues of strong relevance to structural transformation and growth will also be welcome; for example, the effects of demographic change, the role of skills and human capital, the growing relevance of the digital economy, public finance and its relation to long-term growth, and the importance of infrastructure investments and management.

We also encourage all proposals additionally to consider addressing one or more of the cross-cutting issues that are central to STEG’s research objectives. Research speaking to these issues will receive particular consideration:

  • Gender
  • Climate change and the environment
  • Inequality and inclusion