International development economics – the study of developing countries – is part of the core research areas of some large European networks which rely on peer-based member co-optation, or consortiums. Despite the well-recognized expertise of these networks, their activities do not entirely match the prevailing social demand, as shown by the genuine interest stirred by the network’s initiative. The entity is designed to filling this gap by addressing issues related to development economics. The past two decades have witnessed a renewed interest in international development economics, as shown by the increasing number of doctoral theses in the field, its rising role in academic research, international publications and conferences. The latter are regularly organized by top-ranking American universities, usually coupled with job market activities.
The International Development Economics network is the initiative of the Centre of Studies and Research on International Development (CERDI) which is one of the few research centres focused on international development, covering both micro and macro-economic research areas. The network will extensively address topics related to international development economics, organized around the two main areas of micro and macroeconomics, as well as a third emerging field combining both environmental and natural resource economics.
The network will focus on issues pertaining to agricultural production. It also aims at covering research questions related to firm-level production activities in a context of weak institutional environment, as well as infrastructural and organizational failures. Questions pertaining to price incentives are important but need to be complemented with the analysis of infrastructural quality and transaction costs, the latter being primarily fuelled by rampant corruption and State inefficiency. By conditioning the ability to sell production locally but also internationally, these factors determine the degree of market integration. Production analysis is also relevant to the study of developing countries, where firms usually feature small-scaled and unsophisticated production systems and where the informal sector remains large.
The analysis of household spending will also be at the core of the network’s activities. Covered topics will include studies on the origin of shocks affecting income, as well as the impact of transitory fluctuations or permanent variations in income on expenditure/spending composition. The network’s research interests also lie in questions pertaining to nutrition, health and inequalities in children’s school attendance within the household.
The network will also proceed with ongoing research activities in the field of international migration, which generates substantial financial flows – remittances – whose volume have become comparable to official development assistance. The determinants and effects of international migration, its interactions with other features of globalization such as international trade and foreign direct investments will also be examined. Other research areas include the measurement and analysis of poverty and the impact of inequalities.
The network aims to contribute to current debates in a context of increased integration into the world economy. Over the last years, discussions on how to define fiscal rules have led to regained interest in fiscal policy. Levels of fiscal deficit and their interaction with inflation targeting are clearly on the development agenda. Research pertaining to these topics will determine the ability to nurture and sustain international solidarity and cooperation among nations.
Monetary and exchange rate policies are also part of the network’s research areas. In an open economy where inflation is to be kept at low levels, there is hardly room for an expansionary monetary policy. As for the exchange rate, it has little leverage in countries that have adopted a common foreign currency, such as dollarized economies or countries involved in a development process entailing monetary integration with a common currency. Furthermore, international trade, and especially export diversification, will also be at the core of the network’s activities.
Over the last years, academic research has primarily focused on the implications of capital account liberalization and the need for a regulatory framework within the context of global governance. These issues are indeed crucial, given the volume of capital flows and the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Yet, real economy is as much as important, especially questions pertaining to market share redistribution as well as international trade dynamics whose slowdown contributes to a deceleration of international growth. Organizing research along the common micro/macro lines has its own limits, especially when considering health economics, a field that could be apprehended through agents’ behaviour or public policies. These dimensions interact and cover sensitive topics such as expenditure financing and the ability of households to increase health expenditure.
Population growth, pressure on lands, limited agricultural productivity and exchange rate policies could explain the intensive deforestation witnessed by some low-income countries, as well as emerging economies such as Brazil. Research in sustainable development will cover, among others, topics pertaining to land inequalities in explaining deforestation, but also the economic, social and environmental aspects of biofuels, the economic impacts of climate change on agricultural production and migration, the environmental dimension of institutional arrangements related to primary commodity exploitation, especially in Africa, and the implementation of biodiversity protection policy through the creation of protected areas.
Members of the various research centres participating in the network have already experience in collaborating in research projects. The network aims at strengthening these ties so as to intensify intellectual cooperation and raise the quality and number of publications in the best journals in the field of international development. Consequently, the network will adopt a working agenda aiming at: Ensuring each year the organization of workshops dealing with issues of mutual interest. Ensuring the organisation of symposiums one every two years with the aim of bringing together the largest number of professionals and experts in the field of international development economics.