SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Research in action

We are one of the UK’s leading departments for the economics of development and growth. Our research is unique in its depth and range of regional coverage. A special feature our work is its orientation towards political economy as well as finance and development. The main user groups and beneficiaries of the research include:

  • international organizations (including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, UN)
  • governments of developing countries (including South Africa, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Vietnam)
  • governments of developed countries (such as UK, France, Argentina, Greece).

Influencing the policy agendas of international organizations

The work of Machiko Nissanke, Professor of Economics, on taxing foreign exchange transactions (the Tobin tax), provided input to the G-20 discussions on this issue; and her work on debt sustainability has been taken up by the IMF, the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Financial Ministerial Conference and the African Development Bank, and incorporated into UNCTAD, FAO and NGO research work on commodities. Estimates by Professor Massoud Karshenas of the impact on global poverty of the 2008 world financial crisis were taken up by UN organisations such as ILO, ITC and UNCTAD.

Working with the governments of developing countries

Professor Mushtaq Khan addressed and debated with the entire Ethiopian cabinet in June 2013 and the Ethiopian Prime Minister subsequently announced that this would be the beginning of an on-going relationship.  Professor Chris Bramall's work on the sources of Chinese growth led to him being asked to advise Vietnam's Ministry of Planning and Investment and members of Viet Nam's Central Committee on the formulation of their 2011-2020 National Socio-Economic Development Plan. Jan Toporowski, Professor of Economics and Finance, has worked with the Central Bank of Argentina on the design of monetary policy. 

Seminal contribution to South African economics

Professor Ben Fine's work on the sway of the minerals-energy complex over economic policy in South Africa has also had a powerful impact because of his involvement over many years with the African National Congress and South African trade unions. Since 2007, this research has helped to re-orientate South African government policy towards a more active promotion of manufacturing industry. Read more...

Reassessing the links between growth and governance

Professor Mushtaq Khan's research on the relationship between growth and governance demonstrates that stable property rights, the rule of law and democracy are often the consequence, rather than the cause, of development. His work has influenced UK and French government thinking, and policy formulation in poor countries such as Ethiopia and South Africa. It has persuaded even the World Bank to re-think its own approach to the meaning of good governance. Read more…

Informing European government policy

Professor Khan's work on growth and governance (see below) has been taken up by the French Development Agency (the Agence Française de Développement) and by DFID. Professor Costas Lapavitsas’ work on the financial crisis and the Euro has had direct impact on opposition policy in Greece regarding membership of the Euro, and on the response of Cyprus to the insolvency of many of its banks in 2013.