Development economics and policy

Three development economists formerly employed by the Department of Economics at The University of Manchester could unambiguously be described as founders of the discipline, namely: W. Arthur Lewis, Hans Singer and Kurt Mandelbaum (aka Kurt Martin).

Other eminent economists from Manchester, such as Sir John Hicks, Harry Johnson and Alan Prest, also made significant contributions in the field that we know of today as development economics, and H W Arndt, the most famous historian of the idea of economic development, was here too.

(See Leeson, P. F. and Nixson, F. I. (2004) Development economics in the Department of Economics at The University of Manchester Journal of Economic Studies. Glasgow Vol. 31, Iss. 1; p. 6 for a more detailed history).

Current research

Research within the Development Economics and Policy Research Group embraces a wide range of development issues. Members of the group have published and supervised research students in the following areas:

  • Growth, distribution and poverty
  • Trade/industrial policy and development
  • The economics of transnational corporations
  • Indigenous technological capabilities in LDCs
  • Fiscal and monetary policy in LDCs
  • Transitional economies
  • Privatisation and development
  • Foreign aid (allocation and effectiveness)
  • Analysis of the labour market in China
  • Poverty and vulnerability (theoretical and empirical)
  • Multi-dimensional poverty, nutrition, and poverty dynamics
  • Impact evaluations of poverty alleviation policies/ microfinance
  • Information asymmetries in LDC contexts
  • Intra-household resource allocation
  • Corruption
  • Conflict

Members of the group have particular expertise in the economies of China, India, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa and the transitional economies of Asia.

Any enquiries relating to the Development Economics and Policy Group can be addressed to Dr Katsushi Imai (

Development economics staff

  • Indranil Dutta (Senior Lecturer and UG Director)
    Indranil’s research lies in the area of quantitative development economics and applied welfare economics. Broadly, he is interested in understanding issues related to well-being, deprivation and distribution. Within this, he is particularly interested in measurement issues related to indicators of well-being and deprivation and the political economy issues associated with poverty and inequality. See Indranil’s recent publications.
  • Katsushi Imai (Senior Lecturer, DE Research Area Group Leader, and Director of MSc Development Economics and Policy)
    Katsushi is interested in clarifying the risk-coping mechanism of poor households or individuals in rural areas of developing countries and its effect on their welfare or poverty over time. Another research interest of his is to evaluate anti-poverty interventions or microfinance by applying various micro-econometric models to large household data sets. See Katsushi’s recent publications.
  • Alessia Isopi (Lecturer)
    Alessia is interested in development economics, in particular, the applications of theoretical models of asymmetries in information or experimental economics to developing countries. She has also worked on foreign aid, such as the analysis of aid allocation or donors’ selectivity on aid modality. See Alessia’s recent publications.
  • Adam Ozanne (Senior Lecturer and BA (Econ) Director (SoSS))
    Adam’s research in the past has focussed on agricultural production economics, agri-environmental policy and asymmetric information, agricultural development and the adoption of new technology in less developed countries, and the neglect of power in neoclassical economics. He is currently working on papers on the neglect of power in neoclassical economics, the role of brokers in grain markets in Ethiopia, and poverty and vulnerability in rural China. See Adam’s recent publications.
  • Xiaobing Wang (Lecturer and DE Teaching Area Group Leader)
    Xiaobing’s interests include growth and development, the economics of China, and labour. He is interested in theoretical investigations of structural change and development, dual economy models, the Chinese economy. He has also worked on empirical issues related to labour market segmentation and integration in China, inequality and the urban-rural divide in China, and the welfare of those in rural China. See Xiaobing’s recent publications.
  • Nick Weaver (Director of MA Economics and Development Studies Stream on the BA (Econ) degree and Teaching Fellow)
    Nick's interests are wide-ranging. He is interested in applied development economics, political economy, statistics and data analysis and the teaching of development studies, economics and statistics and is currently "thinking about" researching into whether some of the classics of development offer any insights for those studying technical change.

Current PhD students

Joint development economics seminar organised by the Global Development Institute and Economics

There are workshop programmes in development economics and policy (run jointly with GDI) where members of staff, PhD students and invited academics present their research.

Development economics working papers

Members of the Development Economics and Policy Group regularly publish current research in the Manchester Economics Discussion Paper Series and the Global Development Institute Working Paper Series.

Teaching development economics

Members of the Development Economics and Policy Group are committed to the teaching of Development Economics and are responsible for teaching on a variety of programs at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Selected research grants

  • Two internal grant applications have been successful:
    1. (1) The Faculty SIRF (Strategic Investment Research Fund) open competition (Faculty of Humanities, The University of Manchester)
      Title: "The Effects of Urbanisation, Rural Diversification and Migration on Rural and Urban Poverty Dynamics and Vulnerability in China" (Katsushi Imai, Xiaobing Wang and Wenya Cheng with Prof Cecilia Wong at Planning, Prof Albert Park (HKUST) and Dr Jing You (Renmin University of China)). Amount: £14,873.60. Period: 1st February 2014 - 31st January 2015.
    2. (2) The University of Manchester Research Institute (UMRI) - Pump Priming Programme (The University of Manchester)
      Title: "The Faculty of Humanities’ Special Seminar Series on the Multidisciplinary Impact Evaluation of International Development (organised by GDI (SEED) and Economics DA (SoSS))" (Katsushi Imai with Prof David Hulme (GDI), Prof Kunal Sen (GDI) and Dr Ralitza Dimova (GDI)). Amount: £11,210.00. Period: 15th January 2014 - 15th July 2014.
  • Katsushi Imai is working on a Global Challenges Research funded project, DAMS 2.0: Design and assessment of resilient and sustainable interventions in water-energy-food-environment Mega-Systems. As the world is moving into an unprecedented era of dam-building, with more than 3,700 large dams currently planned or under construction. These building projects have the potential to contribute significantly to the economic and social changes that underpin global Sustainable Development Goals. However, past experiences show that poorly designed and planned dam projects conversely may have large negative impacts on the poor, and exacerbate political instability and environmental degradation. This proposal seeks to create the knowledge base, capacity and capability for a better future. 

    Find out more on the FutureDAMS website.

Development economists at Manchester outside the School of Social Sciences

There are a large number of development economists at Manchester who are associated with other schools and institutes within the University. In particular, members of the group work alongside other development economists from the Global Development Institute (GDI).