RF-Southern Leaderrship First-Hand Experience, Relevance and Coverage in Development Economics Research. Are we studying all topics that really matters?


There is an old joke. A person lost his keys somewhere in the park, but only looks on the floor under a lamppost because the light is better there. Are we, development economists, looking for the keys to inclusive and sustainable development all over the park, or only under the lamppost? We believe that giving more voice and power in Development Economics fora to researchers located in the developing world would increase the chances of looking “all over the park”. The mechanism explaining this positive effect is, according to our hypothesis, that researchers located in the developing world have first-hand experience with development problems; and this is a valuable input to determine which topics are relevant and/or understudied. This project aims at providing empirical evidence. One way to frame our objective is to test whether research published in Development Economics journals [which is mostly produced by Northern researchers] covers all relevant topics, or only those “under the lamppost”; and if the space given to each topic is adequate given its relevance. These are difficult questions to answer because defining “relevance” requires tacking a particular normative position. This project will develop alternative definitions of “relevance” (see next section) and compare them with the actual distribution of topics covered in Development Economics Journals.


Project leader: Ana Lucia Kassouf

Project researchers: Lucas Ronconi

Journal publication

No journal publications.

Working Papers

No working papers.

Policy Briefs

No policy briefs.

Final report

No final reports.


No proposals.

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