What constrains a particular country from growing? What is the best way to empower poor people to participate in markets, communities, or politics? How can social services work more effectively? How can sustainable development balance human needs with the capacity of the earth’s life support systems?

Citizens and governments around the world are facing these critical research questions which are motivated by the widening gaps in income, educational opportunities, healthcare access, clean environments and others between rich and poor countries. Seeking and applying answers to these questions is the focus of the Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University, a research hub that advances understanding of global development challenges.

CID has established these core research programs and themes:

Building State Capability
Researches strategies and tactics to build the capability of public organizations to execute and implement—which is at the core of the success or failure of many development initiatives.

Evidence for Policy Design
Works to improve citizen well-being by designing and enabling better policy. Uses cutting-edge economic theory and the best available empirical evidence to help policy actors deliver public services more effectively, efficiently, and sustainably.

Growth Lab
Works to understand the dynamics of growth and to translate those insights into more effective policymaking in developing countries. Places increased economic diversity and complexity at the center of the development story and uncovers how countries move into industries that offer increased productivity.


As a university-wide center, CID draws upon faculty, staff, and researchers from many schools and disciplines—from economics and public health to education and physics—engaging directly with governments and policy makers to inform policy decisions and increase prosperity in all regions of the globe.

Research is disseminated through a number of different and important channels: