Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

The politics of growth: transformative ideas in economics

Time (GMT +00) 12:00 13:30

Contributing chair

Tim Kelsall @TimKelsall1 - Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)


Kunal Sen @kunalsen5 -  Joint Research Director, Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) Research Centre, University of Manchester

Rachel Glennerster @rglenner - Chief Economist, Department for International Development (DFID)

Yuen Yuen Ang @yuenyuenang - Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan 

Dirk Willem te Velde@DWteVelde - Principal Research Fellow, ODI



Why do some countries enjoy steady and sustained growth, others, periods of boom and bust, while others hardly experience growth at all? The answer to this question affects the rise and fall of nations and the life chances of billions of people—yet until recently economists have failed to answer it.

This event brings together ground-breaking researchers providing new approaches to this important conundrum. Among them are Kunal Sen and Yuen Yuen Ang, whose recent work offer radical explanations for how some states have achieved transformative growth, as well as innovative ideas for how others might emulate them.

Building on a combination of their findings plus landmark research from other distinguished economists, the event will kick-start a discussion on the politics of growth. In so doing, it seeks to provide actionable levers and policy recommendations for countries seeking to grow, transform, and escape the poverty trap.


Tim Kelsall is a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute in London who specialises in political economy analysis and political anthropology, and has interests in governance, democracy, transitional justice, economic growth, education, and health. He has worked in several developing countries, including Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Cambodia. He recently co-authored a chapter with Seiha Heng on unbalanced growth and hybrid political settlements in Cambodia in Deals and Development: The Political Dynamics of Growth Episodes. He holds a BA from the University of Oxford and an MA and PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Kunal Sen is Professor of Development Economics and Policy and Joint Research Director, Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) Research Centre at the University of Manchester. Prior to joining the University of Manchester, he was a member of faculty in the University of East Anglia in the UK, Massey University in New Zealand, the Australian National University, and the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in India. Kunal's principal areas of research are economic growth, macroeconomics, international trade, and the analysis of poverty and social exclusion. In November 2017 he published Deals and Development: The Political Dynamics of Growth Episodes. Co-edited by Lant Pritchett and Eric Werker, this book provides a novel framework for understanding how growth episodes emerge and when growth is maintained for a sustained period.

Rachel Glennerster is the Chief Economist of the UK's Department for International Development - a position she has held since January 2018. She was previously the Executive Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research includes randomised evaluations of education, health, microfinance, community driven development, agriculture, women's empowerment and governance in Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. She helped establish Deworm the World which now deworms over 150 million children a year and is coauthor of 'Strong Medicine: Creating Incentives for Pharmaceutical Research on Neglected Diseases, and Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide.' She holds a PhD in economics from Birkbeck College, University of London.

Yuen Yuen Ang is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. Her research and teaching lies at the intersection of global development, China’s political economy, and adaptive processes of change. Her book, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (Cornell University Press, Series in Political Economy, 2016) lays the foundation for her research agenda. Winner of 2017 Peter Katzenstein Book Prize, it was described by the prize committee as “a field-shifting move to non-linear complex processes.” Elsewhere, Foreign Affairs named it among the “Best of Books 2017.”  Prior to joining Michigan, Yuen Yuen was on the faculty of Columbia University SIPA, teaching political and economic development. She received her PhD from Stanford University.

Dirk Willem te Velde is a Principal Research Fellow and head of the International Economic Development Group. He is the director of Supporting Economic Transformation and a Research Leader for the DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme. He has published widely on trade, investment and economic transformation. He has advised country governments and parliaments in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, and donor agencies such as DFID, European Commission, UN and the World Bank. He was also Team Leader for the European Report on Development (ERD) 2015 on Combining Finance and Policies to Implement a Transformative Post-2015 Agenda.

203 Blackfriars Road London