Policy Analysis on Growth and Employment (PAGE)
Looking back on PEP's 10-year flagship initiative to support locally-led, policy-engaged research across the Global South: 124 projects, 47 countries, and 560 local researchers
PAGE (Policy Analysis on Growth and Employment) was a global research and capacity-building initiative funded by the Department for International Development (DFID or UK Aid) of the United Kingdom from 2012 to 2020 and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada from 2012 to 2021.
PAGE has been successful in developing local capacity, which is at the core of our mission. Researchers based in developing countries have benefited from PEP's unique Grant Plus research support program to conduct high-quality and policy-engaged research projects.
In a series of open calls for proposals launched annually between 2012 and 2019, research teams were selected through a highly competitive process. While the calls were open to all developing countries, priority was given to applicants from low-income economies and fragile and conflict-affected states (LFCs).
Through this flagship initiative, which comprised three distinct phases (see below), PEP supported:
- 124 policy research projects,
- 560 local researchers (56% women)
- across 47 developing countries,
- including 59 (48%) projects in LFCs.
The results of these projects have been published as PEP working papers, policy briefs and findings. In addition, several studies from research projects supported by PEP under the PAGE initiative have also been published in several high-ranking scientific journals.
Over the succeeding phases of PAGE funding, PEP took advantage of the large scope of this initiative to experiment and introduce several new features to its (already) unique research support/capacity-building mechanism. Many of these new features focused on supporting researchers' engagement and communication with policy to increase findings uptake, culminating in PEP's current "research coproduction" model.
The statistics illustrated below and the many impact stories reported over the years demonstrate the program's success in fostering scientific quality and policy engagement.
Finally, PEP has drawn critical lessons from both the body of research generated through this initiative and the collaboration with national policy stakeholders. These lessons are outlined below (following impact), through a series of:
- Articles summarizing a number of common themes identified by research teams following the evaluation of their countries’ priority issues and
- Recommendations to support best practices for evidence-based policymaking in developing countries
Impact of PAGE
See also the related impact stories.
Emerging themes and findings
Under the broad theme of inclusive growth and employment, PEP established priority issues that are especially relevant to address specific knowledge gaps and policy needs for each of the annual PAGE calls for proposals.
The research teams identified a number of common themes following the evaluation of their respective countries’ priority issues. Several of these themes and related findings are summarized in the following articles:
- Female entrepreneurship hindered more by social and cultural constraints than access to finance
- Why youth become entrepreneurs
- Introducing a minimum wage can improve well-being
- How migration and remittances affect welfare and employment at home
- Managing the mining industry to help reduce poverty
- How cash transfers support vulnerable populations
- How informal sector workers protect themselves without access to social assistance
- A local, gender lens to define policy options for women’s employment in Africa, by Angela Hawke
- Gender perspective on productive employment in rural farm and non-farm sectors in Africa, by Rosebell Kagumire
Thanks to PEP's research support program, which provides guidance to researchers on policy engagement, these issues and findings have been incorporated into high-level policy debates in a number of developing countries.
Supporting best practices for evidence-informed policymaking (EIPM)
Through the innovative strategies and features developed as part of this program, PAGE ensured research findings directly impacted policy processes. These strategies and features, designed to strengthen capacity and facilitate collaboration between local researchers and government institutions for evidence-informed policy advice, included:
- Requirements to provide evidence (and detailed reports) of consultations with relevant policy stakeholders from the proposal stage and periodically throughout the project cycle.
- Workshops to review best practices for evidence-informed policy advice and communication.
- Mentorship and advisory support in policy engagement strategies.
- Support for the organization of national policy conferences
- And from 2019 (the final funding round):
- Develop a policy paper – i.e., presenting an analysis to position the PEP research and findings within the broader national policy contexts and decision frameworks.
- Coproduce research (mixed government-research teams conducted projects).
What we can learn from the (reported) impact on institutional practices
PEP grant recipients are required to complete periodic surveys based on a series of questionnaires addressing different aspects of project outcomes as part of the standard PEP monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system. These questionnaires cover capacity building, career impact, policy engagement, and influence on local institutions' decisions and practices.
As demonstrated in the impact statistics presented above, these reports show that the impact of PEP projects extends beyond the uptake of research findings to inform policy design and decisions. From the various impact stories PAGE project teams reported, we note a few specific trends in how PEP projects have influenced local institutions. These trends are driven by the teams' engagement or direct affiliation with the institutions' members.
- The appointment of local researchers to act as special advisors, either directly or through special government working groups or committees, to inform the development of specific policies/strategies or general decision processes.
- The request by several (both government and research) institutions for PEP project members to train their staff in the use of specific analytical techniques or, most recently, in the use of policy papers as a tool to convey policy advice or to advise general institutional practices related to EIPM.
- The decision made by several government agencies and think tanks within a country, working on a common issue, to develop new collaborative frameworks to facilitate the exchange, integration, and coproduction of knowledge.
As part of the last PAGE II funding round (2019-2021), PEP surveyed the members of supported projects, which included researchers and government officials, to assess the evidence-informed policymaking practices of their affiliated institutions. PEP combined information collected through these surveys with lessons learned from other initiatives aiming to strengthen EIPM processes within government institutions, as well as relevant literature, to produce a set of recommendations for institutions involved in developing and advising policy to improve the use of scientific evidence in decision-making.
These recommendations are presented in the following report:
Reporting lessons learned to help improve institutional practices for evidence-informed policymaking
The report is structured in three parts:
- Part 1 - Defining the general concepts and processes related to EIPM, including notions to which the subsequent sections refer.
- Part 2 - Reviewing specific lessons learned from the survey, experience and anecdotal information reported by the 14 PEP project teams supported under the 3rd PAGE II funding round.
- Part 3 - Providing a general overview of what has been identified, across all data and knowledge bases, as key challenges faced by government institutions to achieve or systemise the use of evidence in policy advisory processes. These are distinguished between the "operational" and the "decisional" level of the policymaking process, and solutions are proposed as "recommendations" for each category of challenges.
Generally, recommendations focus on two main strategies:
- To establish institutional procedures and mechanisms or structures, and
- Support and develop capacities for using scientific evidence to inform policy processes.