Greetings from Brasilia, Brazil! This summer I will be interning at the International Policy Center for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) an affiliate research center of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Brazil. At the University of Texas at Austin I am pursuing a Masters of Global Policy Studies at the LBJ School as well as a Masters of Arts at the Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS). My research interests fall mostly in the areas of social policy and social policy innovation.
This summer I am working with the Social Protection and Cash Transfers Unit in the IPC-IG. The Social Protection and Cash Transfers Unit is comprised of a small group of economists and demographers responsible for ongoing analysis of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs in the developing world. Before moving on, here is a quick background on Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs: Over the last ten years CCTs have been highly praised and noted for their ability to reduce poverty and inequality throughout the developing world. As of 2009 nearly all countries in Latin America have adopted targeted and conditional social spending programs. The transfers are conditioned on program participant activities such as school enrollment or health visits. By combining monthly cash transfers with conditions that encourage investment in human capital, CCTs are believed to be programs capable of ameliorating the incidence of poverty (i.e. current levels) and breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
The Social Protection and Cash Transfers Unit conducts a diverse range of research with respect to Conditional Cash Transfers. One area of their efforts has been policy knowledge sharing with developing countries. This summer the center has been asked to help prepare for the roll out of a cash transfer and social monitoring program in Yemen. As the team prepares for a country visit in September, we are busy working on the design of a baseline household survey that will track program participation and be leveraged for future impact assessments.
In addition to the Yemen survey design project, I am working closely with one of the research directors on the creation of an inclusive growth index for a paper the center is planning to publish in the near future. Inclusive growth begins with the perspective that broader participation in economic growth tends to lead more equitable development outcomes. The index will categorize all countries in the world according to five “inclusive growth profiles.” We will be examining inclusive growth by considering macroeconomic performance, social protection coverage, state-institutional capacity, environmental performance and human development/empowerment indicators.
I am very excited for my summer work with the IPC-IG. Already in my first few weeks it has been amazing to see how classroom experiences at the University of Texas translate into on the job (internship) competencies. This has been particularly true with the computer program STATA. Many of my daily tasks and work with the Inclusive Growth Index require some knowledge of this program. Having exposure to it in some earlier coursework has really facilitated my learning and contributions thus far.
More to come from Brasilia!