Growth Lab logoLed by Ricardo Hausmann, the Growth Lab at Harvard's Center for International Development works to understand the dynamics of growth and to translate those insights into more effective policymaking in developing countries. The Growth Lab places increased economic diversity and complexity at the center of the development story. Learn more about us.


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In response to COVID-19, Growth Lab Director Ricardo Hausman brought together a task force, including members of our academic and applied research teams, to support our project counterparts worldwide. This team worked quickly to understand the dynamics of the virus by connecting with experts across Harvard University.

Our team has shared new insights and offered strategic guidance on economic and epidemiological policy decisions with project counterparts in Albania, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Namibia, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. In addition, the team has been responding to requests from other governments around the world to share its learnings. Read more.




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Growth Lab faculty and fellows engage in theoretical and empirical research on the determinants of growth and its social, political, and environmental sustainability. Our four core research agendas:

Complexity Node

Economic Complexity & The Product Space

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Growth Diagnostics

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Inclusive Growth

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Skills & Human Capital

The Product Space


Recent Publications

Diagnosing Human Capital as a Binding Constraint to Growth: Tests, Symptoms and Prescriptions

Diagnosing Human Capital as a Binding Constraint to Growth: Tests, Symptoms and Prescriptions
Santos, M.A. & Hani, F., 2021. Diagnosing Human Capital as a Binding Constraint to Growth: Tests, Symptoms and Prescriptions. Cambridge University Press: Elements in the Economics of Emerging Markets. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The empirical literature on the contributions of human capital investments to economic growth shows mixed results. While evidence from OECD countries demonstrates that human capital accumulation is associated with growth accelerations, the substantial efforts of developing countries to improve access to and quality of education, as a means for skill accumulation, did not translate into higher income per capita. In this Element, we propose a framework, building on the principles of 'growth diagnostics', to enable practitioners to determine whether human capital investments are a priority for a country's growth strategy. We then discuss and exemplify different tests to diagnose human capital in a place, drawing on the Harvard Growth Lab's experience in different development context, and discuss various policy options to address skill shortages.


Cambridge Elements are a new concept in academic publishing and scholarly communication, combining the best features of books and journals. They consist of original, concise, authoritative, and peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific research, organised into focused series edited by leading scholars, and provide comprehensive coverage of the key topics in disciplines spanning the arts and sciences.

Regularly updated and conceived from the start for a digital environment, they provide a dynamic reference resource for graduate students, researchers, and practitioners.


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Estimating the drivers of urban economic complexity and their connection to economic performance

Estimating the drivers of urban economic complexity and their connection to economic performance
Gomez-Lievano, A. & Patterson-Lomba, O., 2021. Estimating the drivers of urban economic complexity and their connection to economic performance. Royal Society Open Science , 8 (9). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Estimating the capabilities, or inputs of production, that drive and constrain the economic development of urban areas has remained a challenging goal. We posit that capabilities are instantiated in the complexity and sophistication of urban activities, the know-how of individual workers, and the city-wide collective know-how. We derive a model that indicates how the value of these three quantities can be inferred from the probability that an individual in a city is employed in a given urban activity. We illustrate how to estimate empirically these variables using data on employment across industries and metropolitan statistical areas in the USA. We then show how the functional form of the probability function derived from our theory is statistically superior when compared with competing alternative models, and that it explains well-known results in the urban scaling and economic complexity literature. Finally, we show how the quantities are associated with metrics of economic performance, suggesting our theory can provide testable implications for why some cities are more prosperous than others.
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Colombian Diaspora Survey Results Dashboard

Grisanti, A., et al., 2021. Colombian Diaspora Survey Results Dashboard. Publisher's VersionAbstract
As part of the "Role of the Diaspora in the Internationalization of the Colombian Economy" project, Growth Lab researchers surveyed 11,500 members of the Colombian diaspora, located in well over 100 countries. They studied the migration journeys, the diaspora’s attachment to Colombia, the level of diaspora engagement and interest in engaging, the intentions to return back home, the interest in diaspora government policy, and the overall sentiment of the diaspora towards Colombia.
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What Economic Complexity Theory Can Tell Us about the EU’s Pandemic Recovery and Resilience Plans

Hausmann, R., et al., 2021. What Economic Complexity Theory Can Tell Us about the EU’s Pandemic Recovery and Resilience Plans. Growth Lab / European Politics and Policy.Abstract

A little over a year ago, the EU’s political leaders agreed on an unprecedented fiscal package – dubbed ‘Next Generation EU’ – to aid Europe’s recovery from the pandemic. Ricardo Hausmann, Miguel Angel Santos, Corrado Macchiarelli and Renato Giacon write that economic complexity theories can provide a useful tool for evaluating whether the recovery and resilience plans submitted by EU member states to receive this funding are well-designed. Assessing the case of Greece, they argue that investments should be tailored toward export-oriented sectors and aim to help close the country’s product complexity gap with other EU states. 

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Upcoming Events

2021 Nov 30

Seminar: Macroeconomic Policy in South Africa

8:30am to 10:00am


Zoom (registration information below)

On 30 November the Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) programme will host an online seminar on macroeconomic policy in South Africa. This presentation is based on the report Macroeconomic Risks after a Decade of Microeconomic Turbulence, South Africa (2007–2021) by Ricardo Hausmann, Federico Sturzenegger, Patricio Goldstein, Frank Muci, and Douglas Barrios.

Federico Sturzenegger will present the report, which analyzes the performance of macroeconomic policy in South Africa from 2007 to 2020 and outlines...

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See also: Event, Growth Lab
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2021 Dec 08

Development Talks: Confronting Post-COVID Macroeconomic Challenges in Namibia

12:00pm to 1:15pm


Zoom (registration information below)

The Growth Lab's "Development Talks" is a series of conversations with policymakers and academics working in international development. The seminar provides a platform for practitioners and researchers to discuss both the practice of development and analytical work centered on policy.

Speaker: Ipumbu W. Shiimi, Minister of Finance, Namibia

Moderator: Miguel Angel Santos, Director of Applied Research, Growth Lab

Please ...

Read more about Development Talks: Confronting Post-COVID Macroeconomic Challenges in Namibia
See also: Event, Growth Lab
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