The Structural Transformation and Economic Growth (STEG) invites applications for the second call for proposals for Ideas for Transformation (I4Ts) Grant.
Ideas for Transformation (I4Ts) are brief and largely non-technical essays (about 15 pages, double-spaced) utilising country-specific expertise to identify a specific policy distortion, market failure, or other similar opportunity to promote inclusive growth and development in a particular country or context. The idea would be to identify potential case studies that warrant further research. These might be specific and well-documented examples of a market failure or a policy problem – but ideally the cases should have broad relevance. For instance, an example of a local problem or issue will be more compelling if it can be taken as ‘typical’ of some broader set of cases.
STEG has identified six research themes and three cross-cutting issues that help to guide the initiative.
Research funded and promoted by STEG may focus on broad systemic patterns and processes of structural transformation and growth for low- and middle-income countries, in a comparative sense across time or space, or more narrowly defined topics related to one or more of the following six research themes:
- Data, Measurement, and Conceptual Framing: Although they do not treat this as a research theme, an important background activity of the STEG programme will be to develop further the data available for analysing structural transformation in developing countries. At present, relatively few countries have detailed sectoral data on real output, productivity levels, or growth rates.
- Firms, Frictions and Spillovers, and Industrial Policy: This theme would encompass both a micro literature that focuses on barriers to firm growth and productivity and an emerging macro literature that emphasises productivity spillovers across firms and sectors.
- Labour, Home Production, and Structural Transformation at the Level of Households: One of the most important aspects of structural transformation is a complex set of shifts in the locus of economic activity. Economists traditionally focus on a predominant movement from home production to market production, but recent research points to a more complex process in which both home production and market production undergo a continuing and intertwined transformation.
- Agricultural Productivity and Sectoral Gaps: Macro data show what appear to be large gaps in sectoral productivity, with agriculture a particularly unproductive sector in many developing countries. In an accounting sense, an important part of the income gap between rich and poor countries seems to arise from the fact that in poor countries, large fractions of the labour force work in agriculture, a sector where labour productivity is extremely low.
- Trade and Spatial Frictions: Trade, and economic integration more broadly, can be an important source of productivity gains and structural transformation. East Asian miracle economies of the past 60 years have all industrialised under heavy levels of trade. Classical gains from trade cause static efficiency gains in both production and consumption, and dynamically, trade can foster technology diffusion and capital accumulation. In a closed economy, the sectoral composition of output and employment depends on the preferences of domestic consumers and the productivity of different industries
- Political Economy and Public Investment: The dynamic changes of growth with structural transformation can create winners and losers as certain sectors and regions grow faster than others, and in some sectors and regions, resources like labour and income can decline, even in an absolute sense.
STEG is also focused around three cross-cutting issues that are simultaneously relevant to many areas of structural transformation, including the six research themes:
- Gender: Gender is relevant in almost all areas of structural transformation.
- Climate Change and the Environment: Climate change and the environment is becoming an increasingly significant challenge for lower income countries.
- Inequality and Inclusion: Inequality and inclusion are critical elements of the research around structural transformation. It is essential that the process of development benefits the most poor, vulnerable and marginalised groups as well as the wider population.
STEG is interested in I4T studies that address each of the following:
- Use of simple methods (suggestive empirics or narratives) to demonstrate the existence, relevance, and importance of a policy issue involving structural transformation.
- Suggest interesting candidate issues for high-level economic analysis or modelling using the tools of macro development. They hope for these essays to inspire further research (possibly collaborative, linking the authors of I4T submissions with other researchers or teams) that further evaluates the significance of the problem or opportunity that could assist in building the case for the proposed policy response.
- Propose policies that have a measure of specificity (e.g. not merely “trade liberalisation” or “improved education”), although sizable enough to have importance to structural transformation (e.g., not small-scale bureaucratic changes). While the suggested policy need not be at a large scale, the proposal should explain how the proposed topic might be contribute to effects at the macro level.
Successful applicants to the I4T call will receive funding of £1,000.
- I4Ts are designed to be contracted directly with individuals, rather than with institutions.
- Given the importance of local country-specific knowledge, they especially encourage applications from researchers based in low- and middle-income countries, including those in universities, think tanks, government agencies, and other institutions. STEG takes a particular interest in broadening the set of researchers interested in structural transformation and economic growth; in that spirit, they also particularly welcome submissions from early-career researchers and from women.
- STEG aims to issue funding decisions within two months of the deadline for receipt of proposals. An I4T is intended to be completed within 3 months. Please note that contracts should be signed within one month of the return of the final decision, which is also the expected project start date.
- Please note that a necessary criterion for funding of proposals is the relevance to policy in at least one low-income country, with a special interest in sub-Saharan Africa. Moving forward, they will adhere closely to the geography of interest.
For more information, visit https://steg.cepr.org/call-for-proposals/second-call-proposals-steg-ideas-transformation