Yale University announces a policy-engaged research initiative promoting inclusive institutions, economies, and societies

February 23, 2022

Yale University today officially announced the launch of a new research initiative to promote inclusive institutions, economies, and societies. 

Inclusion Economics (IE) at Yale University will work to inform the design of institutions in developing countries that will include the excluded and allow the poorest to make a permanent escape from poverty. With an initial focus on South Asia, IE’s work will focus on innovative data collection, cutting-edge research, close engagement with policymakers, and communication of data-driven insights to strengthen the democratic voice of the poor. 

The initiative aims to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration with researchers from across the University. Its presence in South Asia through network organizations will allow Yale to make a broader impact in the region while furthering the University’s strategic international goals. 

Inclusion Economics staff already provide administrative, grant-management, and communications support to affiliates, host an internship program for Yale undergraduates, and co-sponsor the Yale Development Dialogues and other events. The group plans to conduct in-person launch events in 2022, as Covid-19 travel restrictions allow. 

"In an age of growing inequality, it is clear that economic growth is not a tide that lifts all boats,” said Rohini Pande Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics who co-directs the initiative. “Our work is guided by the insight that inclusion must be intentional and occurs when institutions distribute power equitably, rather than along traditional lines that reinforce exclusion and bias." 

"We hope that Inclusion Economics will support Yale faculty working on these issues and provide Yale students opportunities to participate in research and programming on the role institutions can play in making development more inclusive," Pande added. 

Inclusion Economics currently spearheads research and engages policymakers in three broad areas: governance and social protection, environmental justice in an era of climate change, and building an inclusive society. Examples of ongoing IE work include:

  • Women’s financial empowerment in rural India: This large-scale policy experiment showed that providing poor women with direct deposit of wages along with a basic account training leads them to work more outside the home and liberalizes their beliefs about women’s ability to work. Read more. 
  • Inclusive democracy in Nepal: A study on Nepal’s post-revolution political system suggested that the participation of rebel groups in the country’s first democratic local elections in 2017 increased ethnic diversity of the electorate, led to the selection of more educated candidates, and improved policy outcomes. Read more. 
  • The economics of Covid-19 among India’s migrant workers: Surveys tracking roughly 5,000 migrants who returned to their home villages with the onset of the pandemic provided insights into their well-being and how policy could support this vulnerable group. Read more. 
  • Data and policy innovations to reduce India’s air pollution: In collaboration with environmental officials in two Indian states, researchers are piloting the world’s first emissions trading system for particulate matter. The results may guide the design of carbon markets for developing countries. Read more.
  • Understanding social trust and inclusion: At Yale, Inclusion Economics is working with faculty with aligned research interests, currently supporting Assistant Professor of Political Science Salma Mousa in new research exploring how best to build social trust between refugees and natives in Lebanon, men and women in Pakistan, and local governments and citizens in Lebanon.

Inclusion Economics at Yale University is a collaboration of the Economic Growth Center (EGC) and the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, working closely with Inclusion Economics India Centre and Inclusion Economics Nepal at Governance Lab – as well as colleagues at other universities. The initiative builds on a number of multi-year studies and policy engagements that began at Evidence for Policy Design at Harvard Kennedy School, as well as new projects. It is directed by Professor Pande and Charity Troyer Moore, Director for South Asia Economics Research at Yale MacMillan. 

“On any given day, Inclusion Economics staff may be attending academic lectures, analyzing data, leading policy roundtables for senior government officials, or interacting with frontline workers and citizens in rural villages across South Asia,” Charity Troyer Moore said of the group’s day-to-day activities. “We believe answering big questions on inclusion requires not only academic expertise and rigorous research, but also the willingness to directly learn from those we seek to understand and benefit.”

“We are thrilled to co-host Inclusion Economics at Yale MacMillan,” said Steven Wilkinson, Henry R. Luce Director, Yale MacMillan, “because not only is the team dedicated to working across disciplines to collaboratively tackle some of the world’s critical questions, but also because their work engages regional conversations and expertise. This depth in critical scholarship is matched by their commitment to engaging key decision-makers in the research results to ultimately build more inclusive societies.”

Full details about Inclusion Economics at Yale University can be found on the website: ie.yale.edu  

Media Inquiries:
Vestal McIntyre

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