Yale Daily News

On Wednesday, the University announced the launch of its new research initiative, Inclusion Economics, which will work to promote greater inclusivity in developing nations.

The initiative is co-sponsored by the Economic Growth Center and the MacMillan Center at the University, and it is co-directed by economics professor Rohini Pande and Charity Troyer Moore, the director for South Asian economics research at the Yale MacMillan Center. Research collaborations with Inclusion Economics India Centre and Inclusion Economics Nepal, two international organizations, demonstrate the initiative’s involvement in South Asia — a region that the University seems to be focusing on in its global strategy.

“We sat down and asked, what is the common thread that’s running through the research that we do?” Moore said. “And it really was, we’re … trying to make sure those who are marginalized are included and that they have the voice to speak up for themselves in the economy and broader society.”

The mission behind Inclusion Economics is to address societal inequality, with a hope of strengthening the voices of the excluded. According to the MacMillan Center’s press release, the research initiative will work to inform the design of institutions in developing countries to help eliminate poverty through an approach which includes centralizing research efforts previously conducted at the University and across the world.

Research will be focused on three main areas: governance and social protection, environmental justice and building an inclusive society. Researchers and policymakers will engage in projects aligning with these interests, with an overall aim of answering questions surrounding developing countries. Projects, which range from women’s financial empowerment in rural India to inclusive democracy in Nepal, are wide-ranging and highly collaborative, and centered on a mission of achieving inclusivity. 

Although the initiative’s researchers are more familiar with analyzing situations through the lens of development economics, there is considerable emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration across fields such as political science, Moore said.

In one example of the type of work that the initiative hopes to formalize through its official launch at Yale, researchers created a series of surveys to track 5,000 of India’s migrant workers. The survey responses provided insight into the challenges workers have faced during the pandemic, as they balanced their search for economic opportunity away from rural areas and toward urban centers with the health risks of the virus. The researchers set an end goal of supporting a policy response to COVID-19.

“I think people are used to researchers … observing and commenting on policy and issues of inclusion,” Vestal McIntyre, the initiative’s communication lead, told the News. “One really distinctive thing about Inclusion Economics is that these researchers are ingrained in long term projects with government collaborators and other people in policy. It’s the type of research where you can really test something out and see and analyze the effects on people.” 

The University’s policy approach is a continuation of the research conducted by Pande at Harvard Kennedy School, where she co-founded Evidence for Policy Design, prior to when she joined Yale’s faculty. She began working with Moore eight years ago on a series of research policy engagements, where they spoke to senior civil servants in the Indian government and offered their research expertise as economists.

Today, much of the initiative’s work will be focused on attending lectures, analyzing data, leading policy roundtables for senior government officials and interacting with frontline workers and citizens in rural villages across South Asia, Moore said.

“We hope that Inclusion Economics will support Yale faculty working on these issues and provide Yale students opportunities to participate in research and programming on the role institutions can play in making development more inclusive,” Pande said in the press release.

Inclusion Economics plans to conduct in-person launch events in 2022, as COVID-19 travel restrictions permit.

William Porayouw covered Woodbridge Hall for the News and previously reported on international strategy at Yale. Originally from Redlands, California, he is an economics and global affairs major in Davenport College.