GSDRC provides applied knowledge services on demand and online. Our expertise is in issues of governance, social development, humanitarian response and conflict. Our specialist research team supports a range of international development agencies, synthesising the latest evidence and expert thinking to inform policy and practice.

Image: Families in Tong Ping displaced persons settlement, South Sudan, January 2014 (Photo: Anita Kattakhuzy / Oxfam).

New Topic Guide:
Public Sector Institutional Reform

The public sector is the single most important investment instrument for the state, and improving the way it is managed is critical for development outcomes including service delivery, social protection and private sector regulation. Public sector governance reform involves institutional reform – changing the rules and norms that govern public sector activity. How can policymakers and practitioners support institutional reform to improve the performance of the state? This Topic Guide synthesises the evidence, debates and lessons that emerge from the literature.

Latest Document Summaries

Income inequality in Latin America: Recent decline and prospects for its further reduction

Author: Giovanni Cornia (2015)
Size: 30 pages (776KB)

The paper reviews the extent of the income inequality decline that took place in Latin America in 2002-10 and then focuses on the factors that may explain such decline. These include a lowered skill premium following an expansion of secondary education among the poor, and the adoption of more equalising tax, labour market subsidies and macro policies by a growing number of progressive governments. The hypotheses discussed were tested on the basis of the Income Distribution in Latin America (IDLA) dataset that includes data for 18 countries for the years 1990-2009.

Service characteristics and engagement with citizens

Author: Richard Batley and Joseph Wales (2015)
Size: 16 pages (684KB)

This briefing note provides guidance on how different services can offer differing opportunities and challenges for improving service performance through increased accountability and citizen engagement. It illustrates an approach to identifying these opportunities, using examples from two services: curative health care and urban networked water supply. This approach can be used to map where, when and how social accountability mechanisms may be effective in improving service performance.