By Kartik Srivastava

group of people in open modern stairwell
Attendees connecting at Harvard Kennedy School during NEUDC 2023

Two months after attending my first North East Universities Development Consortium (NEUDC) conference hosted by Yale University, I was on a call with the stellar crew that organized NEUDC 2022, as Harvard’s Center for International Development (CID) would be hosting NEUDC 2023 on November 4-5, 2023 at Harvard Kennedy School. I was lucky to work on the organizing committee, representing a flourishing group of development economics graduate students affiliated with CID. 

NEUDC is a storied and permanent fixture on the development economics calendar.  The annual conference has taken place each year since 1967, with member universities taking turns opening their doors to hundreds of enthusiastic young development economists. I was both nervous and excited to see how we at CID would build on previous successful conferences to showcase the fantastic junior talent at the frontier of our discipline from across the world. 

All Hands on Deck for NEUDC 2023

The scale and ambition of NEUDC became apparent very quickly. To pull this conference off would require a relentless push from a small but determined team at CID; a dedicated core group of faculty organizers across Harvard’s economics department, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Kennedy School; 73 faculty members from NEUDC institutions who graciously agreed to review 750 papers; 39 student volunteers who gave up a rare sunny Cambridge fall weekend; and dedicated staff at HKS who replenished coffee (what seemed like every fifteen minutes), prepared and set up meals, and attended to any AV concerns.  The conference would draw close to 300 people representing over 30 countries, over 130 organizations, almost 100 faculty, 140 PhD students, 30 postdoctoral fellows, and more than a dozen practitioners.

A Showcase of the Diversity of Development Economics 

CID received over 750 paper submissions (an NEUDC record!) and 136 papers were ultimately selected for presentation based on reviews from faculty members at NEUDC member schools. During the conference, 30 sessions ran parallel in six rooms, covering topics ranging from early childhood education to intimate partner violence and safety. The papers were based on research in over 40 countries, covering a wide array of methodologies. All papers and the full list of presenters and discussants can be found here

750 Papers Submitted for Consideration
136 Papers Selected for Presentation
40 Countries Represented in the Research Papers

New for NEUDC 2023 – CID Development Perspectives 

The planning committee for NEUDC 2023 decided to try something new at the conference with the introduction of “CID Development Perspectives” - presentations by senior faculty held concurrently throughout the day. These sessions provided a rare opportunity to hear directly from academic experts on the latest research in international development and interact with leading academics. Professor Michael Kremer, recipient of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019, and Professor Shawn Cole opened the new feature to the conference with a discussion on Development Economics Research and Public Policy: The Case of Agriculture, followed by a strong slate of presentations such as Professor David Yang's discussion of the Political Economy of AI and Implications for the Developing World and Publishing in Economics with Andrew Foster (JPE), Rema Hanna (AER), Ben Olken (AEJ-Applied), Tavneet Suri (ReStat), and Melissa Dell (JPE). See the full list of faculty presentations.

Looking Ahead

NEUDC 2023 was a powerful showcase for the strength and promise of the field of development economics. From job market papers by PhD students to talks from leading experts on the frontier of the field, NEUDC participants explored the diversity of the discipline and the exciting prospects for research that lays ahead.   

As a PhD student, I am heartened by the wide breadth of topics and regions represented at NEUDC and energized by the prospect of joining this welcoming community of scholars in development economics. Putting this conference together was a substantial commitment of time and effort, but I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to contribute in small part to the persistent success of this annual event. I am eager to participate in the 2024 iteration of NEUDC and look forward to witnessing first-hand the impact this next generation of scholars will have on the world. 

All papers and the full list of presenters and discussants at NEUDC 2023 can be found here.

If you are looking for more #NEUDC2023 coverage, check out CID’s LinkedIn and Twitter/X accounts for photos of the event and snapshots of the presentations. The Center for Global Development also covered the conference in their post "What's the Latest Research in Development Economics? A Roundup from NEUDC 2023." 

Kartik Srivastava is a fourth-year PhD student at Harvard Kennedy School, focusing on development and labor economics. Kartik’s work looks at job search and matching frictions in the context of segmentation and social stratification, and the determinants of rural public service delivery in developing countries.  

Image Credits

Matt Teuton, Martha Stewart

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