Research Themes

Our research is grouped into four broad themes that encompass key issues in development.

Development economics has been a long-standing research strength of the department, with innovative work ranging from rural poverty and enterprise technology, through macroeconomic policy and aid strategy, to international trade and foreign investment. This work is characterised by an emphasis on the testing of analytical models on primary empirical data.

The integration of global markets now permits free movement of capital, goods and services, but the same is not true of people. Migration in its various forms has become a central feature of international development in its economic, political, legal, social and cultural dimensions. Oxford now leads the world in research on this vital subject.

Human development – beyond per capita income, through health and education, to enabling productive, creative and autonomous lives – has long been a core theme for the department and our present strength and reputation in this field is due mainly to two research groups: the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and Young Lives.

Research on development requires a critical approach to the state and dominant institutions, focussing on how power is created and exercised, and the resistance of excluded groups. This essential political process involves conflict as much as cooperation, where security (and insecurity), historical identity, urban transformation and environmental sustainability are central issues.