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School of Environment, Education and Development

The politics of growth for all

The Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) research centre works with 16 countries across the globe, hand-in-hand with policymakers and think tanks, and benefits from close relationships with major organisations such as the World Bank and its funder, the Department for International Development.

ESID’s mission is to discover the kinds of politics that promote development, and more specifically, how politics can help to secure development for the majority and not just for the few.

Professor David Hulme, Chief Executive of ESID, explains the heart of the issue: "In many countries, economic growth is taking place and people are prospering," he says.

"However, when you look at different groups within those countries, there are actually large numbers of people who are not benefiting from economic growth. Indeed, in many countries, while economic growth is enriching some, it is also undermining the livelihoods and prospects of many others.

"We need to ensure that development is inclusive – all citizens need to share in the economic and social benefits of national prosperity."

One instance of this is Nigeria, says Professor Hulme: "The country’s economy has grown massively through oil production, but many citizens remain extremely poor.

"A narrow elite and middle class have benefitted, but for most people, the oil has turned out to be a 'resource curse'. An International Monetary Fund study of Nigeria found that between 1970 (the start of the oil boom) and 2000, Nigeria earned about $350 billion, but income per capita fell and inequality worsened sharply."

The politics of growth

The ESID team is looking at the problem from a new angle, taking in the wider contextual issues. "Most research has looked at what we do – what policies will promote development," explains Professor Hulme.

“We need to ensure that development is inclusive – all citizens need to share in the economic and social benefits of national prosperity.”

"But we ask a different question – how can we get to a position where governments will be motivated to select effective policies."

"We have to look more closely at what’s happening within countries, rather than at theoretical models of what we think is the best thing to do."

In seven years, ESID’s findings have made a real difference to policies and practices in developing countries, improving people’s lives and livelihoods. As a result, ESID - based at the University's Global Development Institute - has been awarded a further £3.1 million to extend its pioneering research until 2019.

This next phase of funding will enable ESID to broaden and deepen its research around state capacity and elite commitment and to explore new challenges surrounding the areas where it has so far generated the most powerful insights, including economic growth, natural resource governance and women’s empowerment.

Clearly proud of what’s been achieved so far, Professor Hulme adds: "For the past five years, ESID has been at the cutting edge of understanding how politics shape development and what this means for governments, civil societies and development partners.

"This award shows our research is more relevant than ever and we are very excited about the potential for the next phase."