Structural Transformation and Economic Growth



Structural Transformation and Economic Growth (STEG) is a new research initiative that aims to provide a better understanding of structural change, productivity and growth in low- and middle-income countries. STEG’s research will help developing country governments, NGOs and the private sector to design and implement strategies, policies and programmes that better facilitate productivity gains, structural change, and both sustained and sustainable growth. STEG is a five-year programme of academic research budgeted at £12 million, with the potential for a follow-on programme that would cover an additional four years with a budget of £10 million. STEG is implemented by a consortium led by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, and including Oxford University, the University of Notre Damethe African Center for Economic Transformation, the Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale, and Groningen Growth and Development Centre of the University of Groningen

STEG aims to increase the number of researchers working on structural transformation of low- and middle-income countries; and to increase the quantity, quality and relevance of their research. It will also invest resources in the collection of new data and improving the accessibility of existing data. STEG is also committed to ensuring the effective uptake of its research by policymakers in low income countries, FCDO, and a range of other key development actors. STEG will use balanced evidence products, as well as a wide range of other communications channels, to take stock of existing knowledge and to communicate the new knowledge created by STEG to these stakeholders. 

Douglas Gollin (Oxford and CEPR) and Joe Kaboski (Notre Dame and CEPR) are responsible for the scientific direction of the programme. The research agenda will evolve as STEG is implemented, but initially will be organized around the following themes. 

  • Data, measurement, and conceptual framing 

  • Firms, frictions and spillovers, and industrial policy 

  • Labour, home production, and structural transformation at the level of households 

  • Agricultural productivity and sectoral gaps 

  • Trade and spatial frictions 

  • Political economy and public investment 

STEG will commission research both through open calls and through research undertaken by the consortium itself. Small Research Grants (SRGs) have a budget of between £10,000 and £25,000 with a duration of 12 months. There will be 12 calls for SRGs, with a around 100 projects funded. Larger Research Grants (LRGs) will average £100,000 with a duration of 24 months, and our initial plans involve four calls for LRGs with a total of 20 projects funded. 

Ensuring effective research uptake will also be a priority for STEG. During the first year of the project STEG will commission a set of five synthesis / overview papers. These papers, which we term “pathfinding” papers, will summarize key policy questions; synthesize the findings of relevant academic literature; identify important evidence gaps and open research questions; and elucidate the links to the various research themes and cross-cutting issues. They will be commissioned quickly so that drafts are available for STEG’s initial stakeholder meetings and so contribute to the intellectual agenda for these meetings. We intend that the first of these papers would be available in late summer 2020. The papers will then be revised and presented at STEG’s first annual conference, which will take place in early 2021. They will then be peer reviewed and released as STEG Working Papers.