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Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics 2021: Global Unrest

June 21-25, 2021

Virtual: Zoom

Image of the ABCDE 2020 Demonstrators in Brazil
  • The Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE), organized by the World Bank’s Development Economics (DEC) Vice Presidency, is one of the world's best-known series of conferences for the presentation and discussion of new knowledge on development. The conference aims to promote the exchange of cutting-edge knowledge among researchers, policymakers, and development practitioners.

    The theme of ABCDE 2021 is "Global Unrest". It will be held completely online, using a Zoom platform. It will take place over 5 days, June 21–25, from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.

    The conference will feature an introductory keynote speech by Tim Besley (School Professor at the London School of Economics) and a concluding panel of policy makers, composed of Ibrahim Elbadawi (Managing Director of the Economic Research Forum and former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Republic of Sudan), Claudia López (Mayor of Bogota, Colombia), Erica Chenoweth (Professor at Harvard Kennedy School), Andres Velasco (Dean of the School of Public Policy at the London School of Economics), and Tarek Masoud (Professor at Harvard Kennedy School).

    It will also feature two groups of papers: Full presentations (40 minutes including discussion and Q&A) and short (or poster) presentations (15 minutes without discussion). All presentations will be plenary, that is, there will be no parallel sessions. The time and program are designed for a comprehensive and lively presentation of the most recent and important research on Global Unrest. The online format allows for more compact but also more numerous presentations.


  • Social unrest across regions is intensifying, from East Asia to Latin America, even as much of this unrest stems from frustrations experienced more locally — within regions and countries. The forms, sources, and intensity of this unrest vary considerably: in some places it is long-simmering concerns over rising economic inequality and lack of opportunities, in others it is more recent populist mobilization regarding social identity and civil rights, while still in others it is the performance and legitimacy of government itself. Perhaps paradoxically, this social discontent is occurring at a time when most national and global development indicators continue to show steady, if uneven, improvement. 

    Call for papers

    The ABCDE organizing committee issued a call for innovative papers that examine the drivers of global unrest, its similarities and differences with previous episodes of widespread civic discontent, whether and how such unrest can be addressed, and whether there may be common threads connecting these developments. Of interest are papers that explore these issues with respect to one or more of the following sub-themes:

    • Rising Inequality
    • Rising Aspirations
    • Unmet Expectations
    • Resistance to Authoritarianism
    • The Role of Social Media
    • The Use and Abuse of Evidence
    • Potential Links with the Coronavirus Pandemic  

    Papers that do not fit into these sub-themes, but are related to the main topic of the conference, are also welcome. Selected papers will be presented in the plenary sessions of the conference. 

    Submission of Papers

    The submission is now closed

  • Papers Selected for Full Presentation

    1. Title: Facebook Causes Protests
      Author (speaker): Leopoldo Fergusson (Universidad de los Andes)
      Co-author: Carlos A. Molina (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    2. Title: “The Political Economy Consequences of China's Export Slowdown
      Author (speaker): Davin Chor (Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth)
      Co-authors: Filipe R. Campante (Johns Hopkins University) and Bingjing Li (National University of Singapore)
    3. Title: “3G Internet and Confidence in Government
      Author (speaker): Sergei Guriev (Sciences Po, Paris)
      Co-authors: Nikita Melnikov (Princeton University) and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (Paris School of Economics)
    4. Title: “The Political Economy of State Employment and Instability in China
      Author (speaker):  Jaya Wen (Harvard Business School)
    5. Title: Terror and Tourism: The Economic Consequences of Media Coverage
      Author (speaker): Thiemo Fetzer (University of Warwick)
      Co-authors: Tim Besley (London School of Economics) and Hannes Mueller (Institute for Economic Analysis)
    6. Title: Opposition Media, State Censorship, and Political Accountability: Evidence from Chavez's Venezuela
      Author (speaker): Brian Knight (Brown University)
      Co-author: Ana Tribin (Central Bank of Colombia)
    7. Title: Can Development Programs Counter Insurgencies?: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan
      Author (speaker): Andrew Beath (World Bank)
      Co-authors: Fotini Christia (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Ruben Enikolopov (Barcelona Institute of Political Economy and Governance, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, New Economic School)
    8. Title: Ethnic Conflicts and the Informational Dividend of Democracy
      Author (speaker): Mathias Thoenig (University of Lausanne)
      Co-authors: Jeremy Lucchetti (University of Geneva) and Dominic Rohner (University of Lausanne)
    9. Title: Education and Conflict: Evidence from a Policy Experiment in Indonesia
      Author (speaker): Alessandro Saia (University of Lausanne)
      Co-author: Dominic Rohner (University of Lausanne)
    10. Title: Monitoring the Vote or Voting to Monitor? Evidence from Two Large Scale Field Experiments in Colombia
      Author (speaker): Mateo Montenegro (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
      Co-author: Natalia Garbiras-Diaz (University of California Berkeley)
    11. Title: Great Expectations: The Effect of the Gap between Expected and Actual Outcomes of Higher Education on Political Behavior
      Author (speaker): Loreto Cox (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
    12. Title: Obstacles on the Road to Palestinian Economic Growth
      Author (speaker): Roy van der Weide (World Bank)
      Co-authors: Bob Rijkers (World Bank), Brian Blankespoor (World Bank) and Alexei Abrahams (World Bank)
    13. Title: Institutional vulnerability, breakdown of trust: a model of social unrest in Chile
      Author (speaker): Andres Velasco (London School of Economics)
      Co-author: Robert Funk (Universidad de Chile)
    14. Title: Subjective Well-being and Peaceful Uprisings
      Author (speaker): Caroline Witte (Copenhagen Business School)
      Co-authors: Elena Ianchovichina (World Bank) and Martijn Burger (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

    Papers Selected for Short Presentations

    1. Title: “Public Investment under Autocracy and Social Unrest
      Author (speaker): Thorsten Janus (University of Wyoming)
      Co-author: Johnson Gwatipedza (University of Manchester)
    2. Title: Chile's Missing Students: Dictatorship, Higher Education and Social Mobility
      Author (speaker): Luis Martinez (University of Chicago)
      Co-authors: Maria Angelica Bautista (University of Chicago), Felipe Gonzalez (Pontifical Catholic University of Chile), Pablo Muñoz (University of California, Berkeley) and Mounu Prem (Universidad del Rosario)
    3. Title: What Drives the French Discontent?
      Author (speaker): Eva Davoine (World Bank)
    4. Title: Does Relative Deprivation Condition the Effects of Social Protection Programs on Political Attitudes? Experimental Evidence from Pakistan
      Author (speaker): Katrina Kosec (International Food Policy Research Institute)
      Co-author: Cecilia H. Mo (University of California, Berkeley)
    5. Title: Negative Economic Shocks and Militant Formation
      Author (speaker): Iris Malone (Stanford University)
    6. Title: Brothers or Invaders? How Crisis-Driven Migrants Shape Voting Behavior
      Author (speaker): Sandra Rozo (University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business)
      Co-author: Juan Vargas (Universidad del Rosario)
    7. Title: Perceptions of Distributive Justice in Latin America during a Period of Falling Inequality
      Author (speaker): Germán Reyes (Cornell University)
      Co-author: Leonardo Gasparini (Universidad Nacional de La Plata)
    8. Title: Export Incentives, Domestic Mobilisation and Labour Reforms
      Author (speaker): Alice Evans (King's College London)
    9. Title: Perceptions, Contagion and Civil Unrest
      Author (speaker): Daniel Lederman (World Bank)
      Co-author: Christophe Abi-Nassif (Middle East Institute) and Asif Mohammed Islam (World Bank)
    10. Title: Deployment of Public Resources, Service Delivery, and Stability: Evidence from Niger
      Author (speaker): Pascal Jaupart (World Bank)
      Co-authors: Alexandre Arrobbio (World Bank), Michel Maellberg (World Bank) and Soeren Henn (University of Chicago)
    11. Title: Why Does the Arab Spring Keep Coming Back?
      Author (speaker): Elena Ianchovichina (World Bank)
      Co-authors: Shantayanan Devarajan (School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University)
    12. Title: Measuring Social Unrest Using Media Reports
      Author (speaker): Philip Barrett (International Monetary Fund)
      Co-authors: Maximiliano Appendino (International Monetary Fund), Kate Nguyen (International Monetary Fund) and Jorge de Leon Miranda (Inter-American Development Bank)
  • Tim Besley

    Tim Besley

    London School of Economics and Political Science

    Tim Besley is School Professor of Economics and Political Science and W. Arthur Lewis Professor of Development Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He has served as an external member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee and in 2015 he became a founding member of the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission. Professor Besley was educated at Aylesbury Grammar School and Oxford University where he became a prize fellow of All Souls College. He taught subsequently at Princeton before being appointed Professor in the economics department at the LSE in 1995. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the British Academy, and the European Economic Association. He is also a foreign honorary member of the American Economic Association and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a past President of the International Economic Association, Econometric Society and European Economic Association as well as a past co-editor of the American Economic Review. In 2005, he won the Yrjö Jahnsson Award of the European Economics Association which is granted every other year to an economist aged under 45 who has made a significant contribution to economics in Europe. His research, which mostly has a policy focus, is in the areas of Development Economics, Public Economics and Political Economy. In 2018, he was knighted for services to economics and public policy.

  • Organizing Committee Chair


    Norman Loayza

    Lead Economist, Development Research Group

    Norman Loayza is a Lead Economist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank. He is currently leading the Asia hub of the Research Group, based in Malaysia. He was director of the World Development Report 2014, Risk and Opportunity: Managing Risk for Development. His research has dealt with various areas of economic and social development, including macroeconomic management, economic growth, microeconomic flexibility, private and public saving, financial depth and stability, natural disasters, and crime and violence. His advisory experience at the World Bank has also ranged across different topics in various regions and countries.

    Program Committee


    Rabah Arezki

    Chief Economist, Middle East and North Africa Region

    Rabah Arezki is the Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa Region (MNA) at the World Bank. Previously, Rabah Arezki was the Chief of the Commodities Unit in the Research Department at the International Monetary Fund. He also was a senior fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution, an external research associate at the University of Oxford, a resource person for the African Economic Research Consortium and a research fellow at the Economic Research Forum.

    Photo of Marta Reynal-Querol

    Marta Reynal-Querol

    Research Professor, London School of Economics

    Marta Reynal-Querol (PhD, London School of Economics) is ICREA Research Professor at UPF and Barcelona GSE Research Professor. She is also Research Fellow of the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Conflict Resolution and the European Journal of Political Economy, and member of the Council of the European Economic Association (EEA). She worked for the World Bank between 2001 and 2005. Professor Reynal has been the recipient of both a Starting Grant (2008) and a Consolidator Grant (2014) from the European Research Council (ERC). In 2011, she recieved the Banco Herrero Prize for the most outstanding Spanish economist under 40 years old.


    Mahvish Shaukat


    Mahvish Shaukat is an Economist in the Macroeconomics and Growth Team in the Development Research Group. Her research studies issues in governance, political economy, and public finance, with the goal of understanding how institutions and incentives shape state efficacy and citizen welfare. She received her PhD in economics from MIT in 2019.

Conference Details