Skip to Main Navigation

Filling the Large Knowledge Gap for Global Public Goods

Software developers at Andela, in Nairobi, Kenya on February 14, 2018

The KCP produces and disseminates foundational research, data, and analytics. Despite the long-term efforts in enhancing development finance for poverty reduction and shared prosperity, there remains a large gap in research and data on issues related to developing countries, which, unfortunately, has not been the trendiest topic for academia. KCP projects help inject fresh thinking, challenge conventional wisdom, chart new courses in the policy and practice of international development, and focus on systemic challenges and complex situations. Foundational analyses, including original research and flagships such as the World Development Reports, help inform policy debates and influence development thinking. Much of KCP’s outputs also constitute public goods. Since the benefits of such knowledge are widely accrued and shared, there is inherently a lack of incentive for any single institution to produce it. The KCP thus helps fill a critical gap in developing foundational, public good knowledge.

There is a large gap in research and data on issues related to developing countries, which has not been the trendiest topic for academia. For example, over the 20-year period 1985–2004, only four papers were published in the top 202 economics journals on Burundi, nine on Cambodia, and 27 on Mali. In the same timeframe, more than 36,000 papers were published on the United States.[1] New analysis spanning 2005 to 2017 shows that this lack of focus on developing countries has not changed much over the past decade. In this regard, the development issues in developing countries are the research focus of the KCP.

KCP research and data have brought fresh ideas and systematic thinking to a wide range of development topics, be it on economic growth, education, public sector reform, digitalization, or fragility. The KCP supported research that revealed the path to development through global value chains and trade, and designed a simple yet powerful tool for international trade analysis; the KCP helped construct indicators to measure and assess teacher quality in Sub-Saharan Africa and trigger a fundamental reorientation of the purpose of education and learning. KCP projects have supplied evidence on how well-designed early childhood development programs can pay big dividends, which subsequently prompted the global movement for a Human Capital Project. DEC research highlighted the link between governance and economic growth, and a KCP project helped curate the most comprehensive data set on governance indicators. The KCP contributed to providing extensive evidence on how digital technologies can effectively boost growth and used big data social network analysis to understand the behaviors of youth living in fragile, high-violence neighborhoods. The list goes on.

[1] Jishnu Das, Quy-Toan Do, Karen Shaines, and Sowmya Srikant, "U.S. and Them: The Geography of Academic Research,” Journal of Development Economics 105: 112–30, 2013.