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.