Economic Development and Poverty Reduction

Change for the better.

According to recent World Bank estimates, 10.7 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $1.90 a day. Like so many global challenges, persistent poverty won’t be solved by any single institution or single approach. Working across many disciplines—from big data to entrepreneurship, public policy to economics—the SIPA community is dedicated to helping the world’s most vulnerable achieve a better future.

Bringing the world to remote classrooms

What Can Be: Bridging the Digital Divide

In rural Peru, options for accessing the Internet are limited—and costly. How can students in these areas take advantage of digital education? One possible solution is Internet in a Box, a portable data terminal with enough memory to store the complete contents of Wikipedia in both Spanish and the regional language of Quechua.

Working with Peru’s ministry of education, teams of SIPA students traveled to the country’s mountains and to its remote Amazon region to see how this new technology might be used in real classroom settings. The findings are promising, and a new set of SIPA students will continue the study in future semesters.

Transforming lives and the tech industry

What Can Be: Transforming Lives Globally

Laboratoria, co-founded by Mariana Costa Checa MPA-DP ’13, is a social enterprise that strives to give Latin American women from low-income backgrounds access to careers in technology. Since its founding, more than 820 women have graduated from Laboratoria’s program and more than 80 percent work in technology, transforming their lives and the industry.

Speeding the adoption of new technologies

Professor Eric Verhoogen, the director of SIPA’s Center for Development and Economic Policy, has studied how new technology is adopted in developing countries. By examining how soccer balls are manufactured, he determined that workers are more receptive to changes when they also share in the benefits.


Countering childhood obesity

In an effort to fight childhood obesity, New York City public schools began giving students report cards on their weight. But merely labeling children as overweight doesn’t lead to changes, found Professor Douglas Almond, who studies issues related to infant and childhood health and education. To be effective, Almond and colleagues suggested a more constructive response including supportive services and information about effective weight management.


How do disasters affect poor people?

When disaster strikes, it is often poor people and underdeveloped countries that suffer the most. Professor John Mutter, a geophysicist who leads SIPA’s PhD program in sustainable development, is one of the world’s leading voices on the relationship between poverty and natural disasters in the developing world.