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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 150 faculty, 65 scholars from low- and middle-income countries, and hundreds of graduate students–from across academic disciplines and across the globe–that produce rigorous evidence about what works to expand education, health, and economic opportunities for people living in poverty.


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:

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 creates 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 policy impact.

Our Motivation

Every year, more than $150 billion dollars of government aid—and billions more from private philanthropy—are spent worldwide to combat poverty, promote health, and preserve the natural environment in the face of climate change. Despite these hefty figures, we know that they amount to only a fraction of the funding needed to address these enormous tasks.

But there’s another problem that might be even more motivating: many of the scarce resources available for development go into inefficient, sometimes wasteful, programs and services that fail to meaningfully improve lives. While technology companies regularly invest 10-15% of their revenue in R&D, governments and multilaterals—which are essential in advancing welfare and human development—spend about 1% of their annual budgets to rigorously test policies and programs being rolled in low-income countries. CEGA was established to remedy this.

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:

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