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CEGA’s mission is to improve the lives of people living in poverty by generating insights and tools for decision-makers backed by rigorous, inclusive, and transparent research.

The Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) is a hub for research, training and innovation headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley. We generate insights that leaders can use to improve policies, programs, and people’s lives. Our academic network includes more than 160 faculty, 65 scholars from low- and middle-income countries, and hundreds of graduate students — from across academic disciplines and around the world — to produce rigorous evidence about what works to expand education, health, and economic opportunities for people living in poverty.

CEGA Annual Report

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


We identify research needs

Leaders are hungry for better data and evidence to inform their decisions. Too often, they must make important choices without fully understanding the realities of people’s lives or how to design approaches for maximum impact. CEGA works with leaders in government, private philanthropy, technology companies, and nonprofit organizations to identify where rigorous research about social and economic development programs is needed.

We generate evidence

CEGA supports research that leverages the most relevant and useful data, methods, and partnerships available to answer critical policy questions. 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 improves the quality and credibility of the data, evidence, tools, and analytical methods used to drive large-scale societal impact by promoting high standards for research transparency and reproducibility and promoting the use of cutting-edge measurement tools and methods — transforming the way that evidence is generated.

We make the evidence ecosystem more inclusive

CEGA advances diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in our work and across the evidence-informed policy ecosystem by elevating low- and middle-income country scholars, women, and underrepresented groups and building scholars’ skills and capabilities to produce policy-relevant evidence and communications.

We effectively deliver evidence, tools, and insights

CEGA ensures that the evidence, insights, and tools we generate are effectively delivered (and put to use) by leaders by promoting meaningful collaboration between researchers and policymakers and sharing research with key decision-makers.

Our Motivation

Every year, governments, NGOs, and philanthropists around the world invest billions of dollars in interventions and programs designed to reduce poverty. Good intentions aside, how do they know if their investments are working?

While private companies regularly invest 10 to 15 percent of their revenue in research and development, social sector actors spend far less to rigorously test their policies and programs. This leaves policymakers to make highly consequential decisions without rigorous evidence about what worked—or didn’t work—in the past and what is most likely to drive intended outcomes in the future.

CEGA was established to generate more empirical research about the impacts of economic and social development programs, and to make sure those insights inform policymaker decisions. Central to CEGA’s approach is bringing ideas and techniques from a diverse set of academic disciplines—economics, psychology, computer science, engineering and more—and including more people with first-hand experience with the problems and solutions our work addresses.

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

Where we 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:

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