Development Economics

Our research embraces a wide range of development issues.  Members of the cluster are part of the Global Development Research Division (GDRD) at the University of Reading and conduct mainly applied research using a wide range of data including survey data, big data and archival data. We have published and supervised research students mainly in the following areas:

  1. Labour: We work on a range of labour market issues including gendered labour markets, wellbeing at work, migration, sex work, discrimination and child labour.
  2. Political Economy: We have a strong focus on the political economy of development including electoral politics, impact of media on political opinions, institutions and ethnic fragmentation.
  3. Big data: We conduct research on development planning using big data analytics to help with urban planning and resource allocation. We also use online prices to Data driven decision making.
  4. Environment: We are interested in a broad range of environmental issues in developing countries, from natural resources exploitation, including deforestation, to the impact of environmental policy, climate change and pollution on a variety of development outcomes.
  5. Intrahousehold allocation of resources. We look at the intrahousehold allocation of resources in relation to child health, schooling and labour. We explore the role of women within households and their bargaining power, wellbeing, and vulnerability to domestic violence.
  6. Firms. We analyse the performance of financial and non-financial firms in relation to environmental policy, infrastructure, political economy factors, competition and trade.

The cluster has strong research links with the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development and the Department of Geography and Environmental Science as well as the Walker Institute as part of a wider, cross-cutting, interdisciplinary Global Development Research Division within the University of Reading. Externally, we have links with the DSA, the World Bank, the International Association for Feminist Economics and UN-Wider, amongst others.

Research Insights

India’s terrible roads: how to build a world-class network and still reach net zero

Leading by example: Social networks and renewable energy technology adoption

Between unfreedoms: how caste was a major determining factor in deciding return migration of indentured workers

Garbage in, garbage out: the impact of e-waste dumping sites on early child health


  • Doctoral Researchers:
    • Akbar Dachlan: Deforestation and political economy in Indonesia (Supervisors: Stefania Lovo and Sam Rawlings)
    • Albert Chongo: Climate change adaption in Zambia (Supervisors: Stefania Lovo and Sophie Clot)
    • Alisher Makhkamov: Drivers of infant mortality in Uzbekistan  (supervisors: Sam Rawlings and Simonetta Longhi)
    • Elly Twineyo: Corruption and firm performance in Uganda (Supervisors: Sam Rawlings and Stefania Lovo)
    • Jisan Afrin: women’s empowerment, autonomy and gender relations (supervisors: Uma Kambhampati and Sam Rawlings)
    • Ifeatu Uzodinma: The role of rxposure to violent conflict and conflict displacement in shaping behaviour (preferences) in developing countries using (natural) field experiments. (Supervisors: Sophie Clot and Steven Bosworth)
    • Lillian Mookodi: Intergenerational Educational and Occupational Mobility in Botswana (Supervisors: Giovanni Razzu and Simonetta Longhi)
    • Okiemua Theresa Okoror: Intergenerational transmission of shocks (Supervisors: Stefania Lovo and Sam Rawlings)
    • Richa Saun: The Impact of Individual Parental Bilingualism on Children’s Vocabulary and Behavioural Development. (Supervisors: Neha Neha and Carl Singleton)
    • Sayantani Ghosh: Violence Against Women and Gender Bias in India: Understanding and Analysing the Dynamics Between the Two (Supervisors: Neha Neha and Joo-Young Jeon)
    • Sonia Jam Alam: climate change adaptation in Pakistan (supervisors: Uma Kambhampati, Neha Hui and Stefania Lovo)
    • Winnie C Muangi: Ready to graduate? Insights from Tanzania’s cash transfer program (Supervisors: Steven Bosworth and Sophie Clot)

Latest News and Activities

  • Workshop on Institutions and Norms In Economic Development: a focus on India. To take place on 22nd May 2024. Find out about the programme here.
  • Unfreedom and Capitalism: Online Workshop on Economic Contributions of Slavery and Indenture. Find out about the programme and the recordings of this workshop organised by Neha Hui on 18th September 2020 here.
  • Virtual Internal Seminar: Stefania Lovo presented the paper: “Renewable energy technology adoption and the diffusion of information and behaviour in social networks: Evidence from Rural China” (joint with Pan He and M. Veronesi) on 6th April 2020 at the Virtual Internal Seminar Series
  • Roundtable on Climate Change, Trade and Development: On 27th March 2020, Stefania Lovo provided a keynote introduction on the links between climate change, trade and development with a focus on how climate change is expected to shape agriculture production and international trade, on the adaptation role of trade and how free trade agreements can foster technology transfer and climate change commitments. The  presentation slides can be found here. The roundtable was organised and hosted virtually by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI, UK)
Previous news and activities
  • Internal Seminar: Sam Rawlings and Stefania Lovo presented the paper: “Garbage in, garbage out: the impact of e-waste dumping sites on early child health” on 16th March 2020 at the Internal Seminar Series
  • Internal Seminar: Neha Hui presented the paper: “Liberalism vs. individual liberty: Indentured labour in the 19th century” with Uma Kambhampati on 2nd March 2020 at the Internal Seminar Series
  • Workshop on food system dependencies: Stefania Lovo co-organised a workshop in collaboration with WWFUK and LSE Consulting on  “Dependencies of Food System Transformation in the Wider Economy and Society” on 2nd December 2019. The workshop featured Prof Sam Fankhauser (GRI, LSE), Dr Max Parra (ODI) and Dr Jeremy Brice (Sociology, LSE) as expert panelists.
  • Internal Seminar: Tho Pham presented the paper: “Central bank communication: More than words” on 28th October 2019 at the Interna Seminar Series.
  • Research Internship: James Gregory (past UG student, and current Masters student in the International Development Department) is working with Neha Hui on a project to compile a new historical data set of indentured labour migrants from the Indian Subcontinent to British Guiana in the period from 1880s to 1910. This data set, together with other historical data sets, will be used to analyse the role of caste in the decision of indentured workers on whether to return to India after their indenture period or to settle in British Guiana.
  • Ongoing grant: Neha Hui has received the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship for her project ‘Post Emancipation Indenture Labour Migration from India to British Colonies in the Caribbean’
  • Video: talk at RES Conference 2019 on Political Conflict and Domestic Violence , April 2019, by Neha Hui
  • Video: talk at RES Conference 2019 on Domestic Violence and Child Mortality, April 2019, (starts at minute 58:10) by Sam Rawlings
  • Policy article: Decentralisation of Environmental Regulations in India, Oct 2018, by Stefania Lovo
  • Policy article: Social media, sentiment and public opinions: Evidence from #Brexit and the #USElection, June 2018, by Tho Pham
  • Oped: How Domestic Violence Against Mothers Endangers Child Health, June 2017 by Sam Rawlings
  • News coverage: A BOT IN THE ECHO CHAMBER: Evidence that fake Brexit news spread by fake users helped to drive the two sides apart, April 2017, by Tho Pham

Research led teaching