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CEGA’s mission is to improve lives through innovative research that inspires positive social change.

At CEGA, we believe that evidence should be used to make decisions about how development funding is spent. We are motivated by the fact that scarce public funding is often wasted on programs and services that fail to meet user needs. While technology companies regularly invest 10-20% of their revenue in R&D, governments and multilaterals–which are essential in advancing welfare and human development–spend less than 0.5% of their GDP on rigorous evaluation.


CEGA supports activities at all stages of the innovation-research-policy impact cycle


We identify research needs:

CEGA works with public, private, and nonprofit partners around the world to identify major problems facing people on the front lines of the fight against poverty for which evidence is scarce. With close ties to Silicon Valley, we embrace the transformative power of technology while recognizing that it is not a silver bullet.

We generate evidence:

Through competitive funding rounds, CEGA enables researchers to test promising ideas in the field, collecting outcome data directly from poor households, small businesses, and communities. We pride ourselves in developing and using innovative tools and methods to bring the most credible and rigorous evidence available to policy-makers.

We improve the quality of evidence:

CEGA strives to transform the way evidence is generated, and the way policy is practiced, by promoting high standards for research transparency and reproducibility and promoting the use of cutting-edge measurement tools and methods.

We facilitate policy impact:

Ultimately, CEGA strives to influence policy through our work. Central to this effort is our “Global Networks” program, which builds research capacity among low- and middle-income scholars and builds durable connections between researchers and policymakers in low-income regions. We further encourage close collaboration with decision-makers throughout the research process to maximize buy-in and ultimate policy impact.

Our Research Center

Headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley, CEGA’s large, interdisciplinary network–including a growing number of scholars from low- and middle-income countries–identifies and tests innovations designed to reduce poverty and promote development. Our researchers use rigorous methods as well as novel measurement tools–including wireless sensors, mobile data, and analytics–to evaluate complex programs, even when randomization is not feasible. Through careful matchmaking, competitive grantmaking, and research dissemination activities, CEGA ensures that the research we produce is relevant, timely, and actionable to policymakers.

CEGA researchers import ideas and techniques from other disciplines–like psychology and sociology–to help understand and solve complex economic challenges.


Where it began

In the early 2000s, a small group of economists at UC Berkeley–a progressive institution and the world’s leading public university–started talking about the need for new approaches to research on poverty and global development. They began applying empirical, quantitative methods to the study of inequality and economic development at a time when others were focused on issues like aggregate economic growth and productivity (which largely ignored people’s livelihoods, life experiences, and political participation). From the beginning, CEGA researchers have imported ideas and techniques from other disciplines – like psychology and sociology – to help understand and solve complex social and economic challenges.

We're proud of our partners:

UKaid from the British People-logo-white
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-logo_white
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