Our research

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The CDES' research explores economic and social issues in the developing world, and those concerning the environment and sustainability more broadly.

Our expertise extends across areas including inequality, poverty and growth, climate shocks and water, gender and education, corruption and conflict, and program evaluation and experimental methods.

We are delighted to report that according to a ranking by The Australian newspaper, Monash is recognised as the leading institution in Australia for development economics. We also congratulate Professor Gary Magee, Deputy Director (Research) of the Monash Business School who has provided consistent support and guidance to the CDES and to development economics more broadly for being recognised as field leader in two different fields, economic history as well as history, and our colleague in the Department of Economics, Associate Professor Erte Xiao for being recognised as field leader in game theory and decision sciences.

Below is a sample of the projects our members have been working on.

New measures for global poverty
How do we erase poverty? A new book, Household Behaviour, Prices and Welfare – A collection of Essays including Selected Empirical Studies, written by Professor Ranjan Ray takes a look at recent developments in the analysis of household behaviour on prices and how we measure poverty, taking a fresh look at an age-old problem.
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The impact of domestic violence on women's entrepreneurship
Dr Abu Zafar Shahriar and co-researcher have found that women who experienced domestic violence are less likely to start a business with microcredit due to a greater fear of failure and sense of inadequacy.
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Overcoming our irrational biases
Gender biases in leadership, the effectiveness of affirmative action policies, and how individuals judge their leaders are just some of the issues behavioural economist Professor Lata Gangadharan has been investigating.
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Observing the Russian election
Associate Professors Paul Raschky and Simon Angus have extended their unique global research project to monitoring internet quality during the 2018 Russian Presidential elections.
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'Nice rice' dishes up more food, profits and sustainability
Associate Professor Asad Islam and co-researchers have demonstrated the dramatic potential of the SRI method to increase yields and incomes for farmers in Bangladesh.
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How do we best measure poverty?
Associate Professor Gaurav Datt is leading a World Bank team working with the statistical authorities in Myanmar and the Philippines to develop broader measures of poverty for those nations.
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Disability in Indonesia: What can we learn from the data?
Following the introduction of a law protecting the rights of people with disabilities in Indonesia, Professor Lisa Cameron and Dr Diana Contreras Suarez examined the nation's disability data.
Read their report

Mapping Hurricane Irma’s impact using real-time internet activity
Dr Simon Angus and Associate Professor Paul Raschky have used internet activity data to map the impact of Hurricane Irma on ICT infrastructure in the Caribbean and Florida.
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Has the World Bank got a problem with its poverty figures?
New research by Professor Ranjan Ray and co-researchers suggests the World Bank’s poverty calculations lack transparency, replicability and robustness despite a recent high-profile review of its poverty measures.
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Too hot to work? Or too sick to grow?
Professor Jakob Madsen’s research into the cognitive development of children provides new insight into why tropical countries tend to have lower average IQs and economic growth rates.
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New insight into Indigenous child disadvantage
Following the release of the 2017 Closing the Gap report, Professor Ranjan Ray employs a novel, multidimensional approach to provide new insight into Indigenous child disadvantage in Australia.
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Protecting female workers in foreign nations
Professor Lisa Cameron studied a program aimed at educating women in Indonesia about the importance of choosing their overseas employment agency carefully. Watch her explain here.
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The (mis)use of Chinese aid in Africa
Associate Professor Paul Raschky investigated China's approach to foreign aid and its implications for aid outcomes in Africa. He explains the project and his findings in this short video.
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Sanitation is a key cause of child deaths and economic loss
Professor Lisa Cameron recently conducted research into sanitation programs in Indonesia. Watch her explain why sanitation is an important issue.
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Conditional cash transfers, preferences and educational aspirations
Dr Diana Contreras Suarez and Professor Lisa Cameron have examined how conditional cash transfer programs affect parental behaviour in Colombia.
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The Kuznets Curve
In light of Professor Thomas Piketty's guest lecture in Melbourne, Professor Sisira Jayasuriya discusses Piketty's assertion that the Kuznets Curve, which charts the rise and fall of inequality as an economy grows, is "dead".
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Poverty and growth in India
As major economies grapple with rising inequality, Associate Professor Gaurav Datt explores how India's striking transformation from rural to urban economy has redefined the relationship between economic growth and poverty.
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Testing Piketty's Third Law
In connection with Professor Thomas Piketty's guest lecture in Melbourne, Professor Jakob Madsen analyses Piketty's argument that rising income inequality amid western economies will continue throughout the 21st Century.
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Can SRI techniques help Bangladeshi farmers increase their yields?
The first controlled System of Rice Intensification (SRI) trial in the world is achieving promising results. Associate Professor Asad Islam explains how here.
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Night-time brilliance lights up political patronage
Associate Professor Paul Raschky used NASA satellite data to find that the birthplaces of countries' political leaders get preferential economic treatment. Watch how here.
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How can we improve educational outcomes in Bangladesh?
Associate Professor Asad Islam has found that simple parental interventions improve children's school performance in rural Bangladesh. Watch him explain how here.
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Will poverty survive the age of big data?
Dr Simon Angus recently explored big data’s potential to end the knowledge scarcity that poverty thrives on in a TED-style talk for the Monash Studio Series. Watch Dr Angus’ talk here.
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Portliness amidst poverty: evidence from India
Professor Pushkar Maitra was recently invited to discuss the growing problem of obesity in India on the Australia India Institute Podcast. Listen to Professor Maitra's reflections here.
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China’s exchange rate: too hot, too cold or just right?
In research published in the European Economic Review, Dr Qingyuan Du contends that the apparent undervaluation of China’s exchange rate could have been a consequence of its imbalanced sex ratio.
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The (mis)use of Chinese aid in Africa
In research noted in The Economist, Associate Professor Paul Raschky and team find African political leaders’ birth regions receive a disproportionate amount of Chinese aid.
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