The Center for Economic Research in Pakistan seeks to bridge the gap between academic research and policy making in Pakistan by building meaningful engagements between the two that not only further scholarship but also help inform better policy design. Using established and frontier scientific research techniques to collect and analyze data we believe that decision makers can create and implement sound economic and social policies.
Our work currently looks at five key thematic areas in Pakistan: Firms and Organizations, Social Policy and Public Goods, Governance and Institutions, Macro Policy and Finance and Public Finance. We collaborate with governments, policymakers, civil society, and NGOs to promote the use of rigorous research methodology, accountability, and evidence-based decision-making.
In order to inform policymakers and promote accountability, our approach focuses on two main areas of economic development practice: Policy Research and Capacity Building.
CERP and its network affiliates have a long history of conducting rigorous empirical research in Pakistan. With numerous peer-reviewed publications in top tiered economic and policy journals, CERP’s research fellows constitute by far the most impressive publication credentials of any group that is working on Pakistan. Leveraging this rich academic base, CERP aims to build on its expertise and partner with government and local organizations to rigorously inform policy debate. Evidence based decision making is at the core of CERP’s research agenda which it aims to institutionalize in the public sphere of Pakistan. It hopes to do so by creating research engagements that allow for meaningful and sustained collaborations between policy actors and researchers that can generate both feasible policy design and frontier scholarship.
Some of our previous research has examined the evolution of the educational market-place through the LEAPS study, the challenges faced by the Pakistani financial sector, how to improve human-resource deployment in the bureaucracy through performance pay (tax department), and governance of public services. This work has had great impact not only in informing the policy debate but actually changing policy for the better.
CERP believes that an essential means to create the space for empirically driven policy is to build local capacity. This involves both working with current and future local scholars to further their technical skills but also pedagogical engagements with policy and civil society actors that not only seek to understand their challenges but also provide them with the frontier knowledge in the field of policy design and evaluation.
As part of these goals, CERP is part of the CLEAR global family, a multi-donor funded World Bank initiative, housed at the Independent Evaluations Group (IEG) in DC. CERP aims to build regional capacity through three key channels:
Providing rigorous training in Monitoring and Evaluation and Performance Budgeting to government departments, NGOs, and research organizations working in Pakistan. In 2011-12, CERP successfully trained over 100 participants comprising of senior and mid-level government officials, professionals, and civil society actors. Courses ranged from more technical ones designed for data specialists to higher level executive courses catering to the strategic decision-making for heads of organizations.
Engaging with stakeholders, through thematic policy briefs, roundtables and dialogues. CERP features it’s research in more accessible policy brief and op-ed formats in public and media outlets. It also aims to hold a range of policy dialogues with the aims of bringing together partner government organizations, researchers, policy makers, experts, and donors to generate debate on current issues, identify gaps, and plan evaluations to improve performance indicators.
Giving support to various governmental, non-governmental and international organizations and departments on identifying key research questions and providing support with research design. CERP researchers believe high quality work that seeks to inform policy can only be conducted by establishing a direct relationship between researchers and policy actors. As a result of this CERP seeks to build meaningful and longer term relations which each of these policy counterparts.
CERP was established with the aim of filling the gap of evidence based policy planning in Pakistan. Despite substantial resources devoted to the development process, Pakistan suffers from a dearth of cutting-edge knowledge and expertise that can help design better policy and evaluate the success of countless development efforts that are being undertaken. As a result, policy makers often do not have the knowledge needed to identify policy missteps and this increases the likelihood of misusing limited resources. CERP’s founding members, who have a history of conducting rigorous and internationally recognized empirical research in Pakistan decided to come together and form an organization that will focus specifically on generating such knowledge, disseminating it to inform policy, and partnering from the outset with policy actors to ensure theoretically and empirically informed policy design. CERP was also envisioned to act as a primary research networking resource for academics interested in Pakistan-related economic research and with idea generation, sharing research outputs, setting up new projects, and helping researchers partner with various stakeholders.
Initiated in 2008 by economists at Harvard University, University of Chicago, Pomona College and Lahore University of Management Sciences, CERP has since expanded both in size and scope. The organization currently enjoys an inspirational and rapidly growing roster of over 60 internationally recognized economists and social scientists working on numerous research projects in collaboration with the government of Pakistan, National School of Public Policy, and several international organizations. Partnerships with various government departments have included those with Ministries of Education, Excise & Taxation, Planning and Development and the State Bank of Pakistan. CERP continues to partner with international organizations like Jameel Abdul Latif Poverty Action Lab (MIT), Innovations for Poverty Action (Yale), Evidence for Policy Design at the Center for International Development (Harvard), The World Bank, the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (Harvard). In addition, projects have received support from the Department for International Development (DFID), The World Bank, The National Science Foundation and various international and local foundations on numerous projects.
Who Are We?
The Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) is a non-profit research center in Pakistan that promotes the use of rigorous quantitative research and actively engages with policy counterparts to answer key questions in public policy. CERP was founded in 2008 by renowned Pakistani economists based at the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School, University of Chicago, Pomona College and Lahore University of Management Sciences. With its central offices in Lahore, CERP is incorporated as a non-profit organization under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance, 1984.
How was CERP founded?
CERP was established with the aim of filling the gap of evidence based policy planning in Pakistan. Despite substantial resources devoted to the development process, Pakistan suffers from a dearth of cutting-edge knowledge and expertise that can help design better policy and evaluate the success of countless development efforts that are being undertaken. As a result, policy makers often do not have the knowledge needed to identify policy missteps and this increases the likelihood of misusing limited resources. CERP’s founding members, who have a history of conducting rigorous and internationally recognized empirical research in Pakistan, decided to come together and form an organization that will focus specifically on generating such knowledge, disseminating it to inform policy, and partnering from the outset with policy actors to ensure theoretically and empirically informed policy design. CERP was also envisioned to act as a primary research networking resource for academics interested in Pakistan-related economic research and with idea generation, sharing research outputs, setting up new policy research projects, build critically needed local capacity and helping researchers partner with various stakeholders.
CERP initially started with a research vision where the idea was to do academic research. However, CERP founders quickly realized that if they were to make a real impact in terms of how policy happens, they needed to marry research with policy making. The central ethos of CERP now is researcher-policy maker engagement. Its bigger vision is to catalyze evidence-based policy making in Pakistan.
CERP’s approach to collaboration and research
In a country like Pakistan, where a lot of policy work involves limited budgets and resources, it is important that chances of success with every policy that is formulated are maximized. Instead of adopting a ‘one size fits all approach’, we need to build a process. CERP works towards creating an environment where researchers and policy makers come together as early as the stage of problem discovery and work together through identifying pressing policy problems, diagnosing underlying causes, designing high-potential and feasible policy solutions, testing those solutions through implementation and rigorous evaluation and finally refining them through continuous monitoring and feedback. We call this the Smart Policy Design process.
What does CERP offer?
There is tremendous amount of evidence collected in Pakistan, but little emphasis is put on analyzing it and bringing that evidence into decision-making which is often informed by anecdotes. CERP brings to the table an emphasis on generating evidence which feeds into government, non-governmental, and private sector, influencing the design of high-impact reforms. At CERP, we believe in building partnerships between researchers and their policy counterparts. We believe in sharing information and experiential knowledge to build a sense of what works best in development.
People at CERP
Apart from CERP’s Directors, its cutting-edge research is driven by an inspirational network of over 60 Research Fellows who are based in top academic and policy institutions around the world. CERP fellows are internationally recognized economists, public policy experts and social scientists who bring a broad range of research experience in political and social economy, governance, education, public finance and development economics. CERP’s research team in Pakistan is a group of young researchers and development professionals driven to catalyze the culture of evidence based policy making in Pakistan.