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January + February

Happy new year and welcome to the January + February 2021 research newsletter from the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. We hope you are all well and keeping safe.

The London School of Economics and Political Science, including the Department of International Development, has moved online. Please continue to engage as we really appreciate your support during these unprecedented times. 

This bi-monthly newsletter gives subscribers the usual run-down of news and updates from research programmes in the Department. It also includes sub-sections for recent articles, blogs and publications. 

Please send any comments to


Political Economies of Energy Transition - book launch

On Tuesday 26 January the Grantham Research Centre on Climate Change and the Environment and the Department of International Development at LSE hosted the launch of ID Head of Department Professor Kathryn Hochstetler's book, Political Economies of Energy Transition: Wind and Solar Power in Brazil and South Africa. Speakers at this event included Dr Jonas Meckling, Professor Ken Shadlen, Professor Robert Falkner as well as the author.You can watch the talk back here.

Dr Leone on school closures in the FT

Dr Tiziana Leone spoke to the Financial Times about school closures and the move to teaching online across UK and Europe following the surge in coronavirus cases. “The messaging that schools are open and children do not get sick means people don’t understand the real danger for children — that they are massive vectors” - Dr Tiziana Leone 

Professor Shadlen guest edits a special issue of the Journal of International Business Policy

Professor Ken Shadlen was guest editor (with Suma Athreye and Lucia Piscitello) for a special issue of the Journal of International Business Policy, 'Twenty-five years since TRIPS: Patent policy and international business'. The special issue was published in December 2020.

Citing Africa, Season 2: knowledge and technology in shaping economic and social development

Episodes from this podcast series explore digital technologies and data in agriculture and health, public investment in higher education, and the way in which certain ideas and biases become hegemonic within international organisations working in African countries. Each episode features students from LSE International Development’s 2020 cohort. 

LSE's Decolonisation Hub

The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa has launched the 'Decolonisation Hub', a platform to address anti-racism and decolonisation through collaboration and support of colleagues across LSE. The hub will host resources, publications, and updates from the FLCA, LSE and organisations worldwide.

The Cutting Edge Issues in Development Thinking & Practice series is back 

Our exciting lecture series ‘Cutting Edge Issues in Development Thinking and Practice’ is back for Lent Term. This year, we moved the series online, which has meant we can host speakers from around the world, and also stream the series online to our YouTube Channel, opening up further to a global audience. Speakers this term include: Ha-Joon Chang, Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Yuen Yuen Ang, Kate Raworth and Amina Mohammed. 

Wellcome Award MSc in Health and International Development scholarship programme

The Wellcome Award MSc in Health and International Development scholarship programme is now in its final year and will award a full scholarship to one student for 2021. Started in 2019 and funded by the Wellcome Trust, these scholarships support the very best students seeking a career in health-related social science research.  

LSE ID Alum wins APCG-Ralph Bunche Award

LSE International Development Alum, Dr Nicolai Schulz has been awarded the APCG-Ralph Bunche Award for best graduate student paper presented on African politics. The APCG promotes recognition within professional associations of the theoretical and methodological contributions to the discipline of political scientists whose research and professional interests centre largely or in part upon sub-Saharan Africa.


In light of coronavirus, all department events have moved online. For updates, please check our events page. You can also check out our recordings from past events.

Cutting edge issues in development thinking & practice series 

The guest lecture series takes place every Friday from 4pm-6pm (GMT) 
Speakers for the rest of the term are:

  • Akosua Adomako Ampofo (29 February)
  • Yuen Yuen Ang (5 February)
  • Kate Raworth (12 February)
  • Amina Mohamed (19 February)

Find the full series schedule here. Don't forget you can stream upcoming lectures and watch back past lectures via the Department's YouTube Channel


Coded bias panel discussion: Digital bias, diversity and development 

Thursday 11 February 2021 5pm-6.30pm (GMT)
Panel-led discussion on issues of digital bias in contemporary development processes. Chaired by Dr Kate Meagher. Register here


Why don't we get the pharmaceutical industry we deserve? And what we can do about it

Wednesday 17 February 2021 1.30pm-3.30pm (GMT) 

An event to launch That High Design of Purest Gold: A Critical History of the Pharmaceutical Industry, 1880-2020 by Graham Dutfield. Speakers include LSE ID's Professor Shdlen. Register here


Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic of Inequality to Build a Green, Inclusive, and Resilient Recovery

Tuesday 09 March 2021 2pm-3pm (GMT)
Join World Bank Group President David Malpass as he discusses what is needed to build a green, inclusive, and resilient recovery from the pandemic. Register here


Highlights from the International Development at LSE Blog and other LSE Blogs. 

Where has the world made progress in HIV Policy?
LSE alum, Renu Singh argues that closing the science-policy gap is key to combatting HIV/AIDS for the purpose of bringing best practices to scale and improving health, and shows how new data from the HIV Policy Lab is helping to lead the way forward.

Reconciling catch-up industrialisation with de-growth
In this article, LSE ID alum Tobias Wuttke argues that a fundamental debate in development studies must be about reconciling catch-up industrialisation with the insights of de-growth and ecological economics. 

You’ve got your Qualification and you want to change the world. Congrats. Now what?
Professor Duncan Green's advice for recent LSE graduates.

Improved governance in emerging markets – the case of China
In this short article, LSE ID alum, Sebastian Petric argues that for a functioning society, institutions for governance are crucial.

12 Days of Global Health: Power and the reproduction of global inequalities
Professor Ken Shadlen discusses the global politics of vaccine allocation, and how universal vaccination is stymied by global power asymmetries.

Frank Shefrin’s influence on the shifting paradigm of the World Food Programme
From its inception, the World Food Programme, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020, changed the paradigm for international development. This post provides recollections on the paradigm shift by the late Canadian economist Frank Shefrin, one of the program’s founders. 

Jerry Rawlings is dead, but he still looms large in Ghanaian politics
LSE ID alum and freelance writer, Noble Kofi Nazzah looks at the life and legacy of Jerry Rawlings, Ghana’s former President and founder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). 



Latest publications and working papers from the Department. 


Women's access to market opportunities in South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa

Naila Kabeer
LSE International Development (2021)

According to the opening statement of the 2004 ILO report on global trends in women’s employment: “One of the most striking phenomena of recent times has been the increasing proportion of women in the labour force, enabling women in many regions to use their potential in the labour market and to achieve economic independence”. Although women continued to have lower rates of labour force participation than men in much of the world, there had been a gradual reduction in the gender gap in participation rates. 


Regulating Humanitarian Governance: Humanitarianism and the ‘Risk Society’

Stuart Gordon
Politics and Governance (2020)

This research advances the critical literature of humanitarian governance by demonstrating how ‘risk management’ is reproduced within the governance and regulatory structures of humanitarian institutions and, crucially, how it distorts patterns of emergency assistance coverage. Focusing on the impact of post-disciplinary forms of control, it reveals how humanitarian resources are disciplined by banks’ responses to regulatory changes initiated by the adoption of counter-terrorist financing legislation designed to counter flows of money to terrorists. This has resulted in the systematic shedding of NGO customers and the routine blocking of their international transactions—known as derisking. In an effort to limit this, NGOs have adopted a ‘precautionary approach’ to managing risk in their own activities, limiting their ability to reach some of the most vulnerable populations and curtailing innovation. Furthermore, the impact of this on the governance and structure of the humanitarian system has spread beyond contexts of conflict into situations more conventionally labelled as natural disasters such as drought, enabling the exercise of new techniques of power over significant parts of the humanitarian system.


Priorities, Partners, Politics

Tine Hanrieder
Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations (2020)

The World Health Organization (WHO) is once more asked to reinvent itself and become more effective. This essay discusses recurrent reform proposals directed at the WHO which, in different ways, ask it to find a strategic focus and thereby its niche in the crowded global health arena. Looking back at decades of reform endeavors at the WHO, it exposes the contradictions and unresolved normative conflicts with regard to the WHO’s priorities. Ultimately, the WHO’s effectiveness hinges on Member State support for public authority in global health, and thus the political commitment to protect it against capture by special interests.


Covid-19 lockdowns, income distribution, and food security: An analysis for South Africa

Stephanie Levy 
Global Food Security (2020)

Absent vaccines and pharmaceutical interventions, the only tool available to mitigate its demographic effects is some measure of physical distancing, to reduce contagion by breaking social and economic contacts. Policy makers must balance the positive health effects of strong distancing measures, such as lockdowns, against their economic costs, especially the burdens imposed on low income and food insecure households. The distancing measures deployed by South Africa impose large economic costs and have negative implications for the factor distribution of income. Labor with low education levels are much more strongly affected than labor with secondary or tertiary education. As a result, households with low levels of educational attainment and high dependence on labor income would experience an enormous real income shock that would clearly jeopardize the food security of these households. However, in South Africa, total incomes for low income households are significantly insulated by government transfer payments. From public health, income distribution and food security perspectives, the remarkably rapid and severe shocks imposed because of Covid-19 illustrate the value of having in place transfer policies that support vulnerable households in the event of ‘black swan’ type shocks.


Ethnic favouritism in Kenyan education reconsidered: when a picture is worth more than a thousand regressions

Elliott Green
The Journal of Modern African Studies 

Does a leader's ethnicity affect the regional distribution of basic services such as education in Africa? Several influential studies have argued in the affirmative, by using educational attainment levels to show that children who share the ethnicity of the president during their school-aged years have higher attainment than their peers. In this paper we revisit this empirical evidence and show that it rests on problematic assumptions. Some models commonly used to test for favouritism do not take adequate account of educational convergence and once this is properly accounted for the results are found to be unstable. Using Kenya as a test case, we argue that there is no conclusive evidence of ethnic favouritism in primary or secondary education, but rather a process of educational convergence among the country's larger ethnic groups. This evidence matters, as it shapes how we understand the ethnic calculus of politicians.


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