Transforming economies, states, and societies
At its core, development is about the well-being of people. But it is also about creating societies which provide fundamental rights and just social political outcomes. Sustainable and inclusive development requires transformative changes across three fundamental areas: in the structures of economies, in the state, and institutions that govern social and market interactions and broader developmental processes, and in society itself. These transformations are central to the achievement of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The 2019–23 UNU-WIDER work programme focuses on the interlinked development challenges of transforming economies, states, and societies and maps them against SDGs 5, 8, 10, 16, 17. By mobilizing research evidence for action through the ongoing processes in the UN and its member states, the institute continues to work with stakeholders to strengthen capacities for research, technical, and policy analysis, and facilitate exchange of experiences and knowledge towards bold and collaborative development solutions for countries and regions around the world.
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158 active and previous projects
Transforming economiesStructural transformation — old and new paths to economic development Structural transformation Economic development
Transforming societiesUNU-WIDER Winter School on tax policy research Capacity development Tax administration data SDG17
Transforming societiesThe impact of inequality on growth, human development, and governance @EQUAL Economic inequality
Transforming statesBuilding up efficient and fair tax systems – lessons based on administrative tax data Taxation Administrative data Tax compliance
Transforming statesEffects of aid on social protection systems in sub-Saharan Africa Foreign aid Development aid Aid effectiveness
TransformationAsian transformations - an inquiry into the development of nations Asia Economic transformation Cross-country analysis
2018-19Conference on transforming economies – for better jobs
The creation of productive jobs for both men and women are essential preconditions for the achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on decent work and gender equality. The conference engages current debates around the future of work in the...
2018-192018 Nordic conference on development economics
The conference aims at bringing together Nordic and international scholars for the exchange of ideas and discussion of recent results within theoretical and applied development economics research.
2016-17Conference on migration and mobility – new frontiers for research and policy
Migration and mobility are key facets of our increasingly globalized world, posing challenges but also offering opportunities. For migrants, this may include economic and social mobility, as well as improved physical security and an escape from...
2016-17Conference on human capital and growth
Human capital has been identified not only as a key determinant of growth and poverty alleviation, but as critical for human development. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), have...
2016-17Conference on responding to crises
The ‘Responding to crises’ conference aimed to improve knowledge about ongoing, unexpected, and future crises, and to discuss the options available for responses by governments, international agencies, NGOs, civil society and private...
2014-15Post-2015 development agenda
2014-15Conference on inequality - measurement, trends, impacts, and policies
Many low- and middle-income countries are achieving good rates of economic growth, but high inequality remains a priority concern. Some countries meanwhile have low growth, high inequality, and pervasive poverty―often linked to their fragility...
2012-13Experimental and non-experimental methods to study government performance: contributions and limits
In recent years, field experiments using randomized trials have gained increasing popularity in the field of development economics. In particular, scholars have argued strongly for their use as the best means of identifying ‘what works’...Field experiments Non-experimental methods Governance
2012-13Conference on inclusive growth in Africa - measurement, causes, and consequences
apid and sustained poverty reduction requires ‘inclusive growth’ that allows people to contribute to and benefit from the development process. Africa’s economic performance has improved considerably since the 1980s and early 1990s...
2012-13Building state capability through Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA)
As a sub-component of the Research and Communication on Foreign Aid (ReCom) programme, the PDIA project feeds into the themes: governance and fragility & social sectors. An integral part of development is the expansion of capability of the state...Foreign aid Development Social sectors
2008-09South-South development cooperation Globalization and Trade Development financing Capital flows
2008-09Reflections on transition - twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 was a defining moment in the transition of former socialist countries into market economies. To mark the twentieth anniversary of this historic event, UNU-WIDER is organising a two-day conference to...Transition to the Market
2008-09Role of elites in economic development
Their influence of elites in politics, government, business, and the media profoundly influences the direction of economic and social activities. In some countries, the preferences of elites are closely aligned with the national interest. Elsewhere...Development and Finance
2006-07Country role models for development success
In the development literature, some countries are cited more often than others as examples of development success. These countries are believed to have policies and institutions that could be transferred, at least in part, to less successful...Development and Finance
2006-07Conference on aid - principles, policies and performance
Aid is one of the most challenging development issues facing the international community. There is now a pressing need to evaluate performance to date, and the future for aid in light of recent events such as the post-Monterrey consensus to...Development and Finance Development aid Financing the MDGs
2006-07Health inequalities and development
The purpose of this project was to investigate issues related to health inequality. Although health is an important indicator of overall wellbeing, it is only recently that research has focused on health inequality. This project brings forth issues...Poverty Inequality and Well-being Health
2004-05Personal assets from a global perspective
The project aims to assemble data about the distribution and composition of personal assets in developing, transition, and developed countries and to study the implications of personal asset-holding for economic development. The most important asset...Poverty Inequality and Well-being Personal wealth
2004-05Jubilee conference - WIDER thinking ahead
About 200 participants attended the conference, more than 150 of them coming from outside Finland. The conference was open to younger researchers as well as established scholars. A list of participants is available on WIDER’s website...Development and Finance
2004-05Impact of globalization on the world's poor
Globalization offers new opportunities for accelerating development and poverty reduction. And there is much concern about the distribution of benefits; in particular whether the poor gain from globalization, and under what circumstances it may...Globalization and Trade Globalization Poverty
2002-03Conference on sharing global prosperity
Conferences: 6 September 2003 WIDER Conference on Sharing Global ProsperityDevelopment and Finance
2002-03Innovative sources for development finance
A joint project with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) in response to the UN General Assembly call for a rigorous study on ways to increase external finance for developing countries, particularly to meet the MDGs...Development and Finance
2000-01Debt relief conference
Conferences: 17 August 2001 WIDER Development Conference on Debt ReliefDevelopment and Finance
2000-01Growth and poverty conference
Conferences: 25 May 2001 WIDER Development Conference on Growth and PovertyPoverty Inequality and Well-being
2000-01Refugees, international migration and poverty
Fleeing poverty, violence and 'ethnic cleansing' millions of people leave their homes every year in search of safety and economic opportunities. In contrast to the migrations of the nineteenth century today's migrations often take place through...Globalization and Trade
1998-99Institutions, group behaviour and development
Institutions, such as firms, families, contracts, rules, regulations, values, and social norms, are fundamental for economic development. They influence both the level and the pace of economic growth, which can and frequently does trigger...Development and Finance
1998-99Development problems in natural resource-based growth models
In the top and bottom ranks of the GDP/c league, one finds countries which are completely devoid of natural resources, as well as others where the natural wealth of the country has played an important role in development. The evidence reviewed in...Globalization and Trade
1998-99Underdevelopment, transition & reconstruction (UTR) in SSA
The development prospects in SSA are particularly problematic in those countries which adopted Soviet style planning in the 1970s, i.e. Angola, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Somalia. The policies of these countries...Africa's Economic Development
1985-97Globalization, finance and growth
See publications for work connected to this project.
1985-97Building African capacity for policy simulation
With the introduction of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), governments in Africa and other developing countries have been under great pressure to devise effective policies that will reduce poverty and...Globalization Social and Human Development Africa
1985-97Income distribution and social structure during the transition
See publications for work connected to this project.Transition to the Market