Political economy analysis

Political economy analysis (PEA) aims to situate development interventions within an understanding of the prevailing political and economic processes in society – specifically, the incentives, relationships, and distribution and contestation of power between different groups and individuals. Such an analysis can support more politically feasible and therefore more effective development strategies by setting realistic expectations of what can be achieved, over what timescale, and the risks involved. This topic guide provides pointers to some of the key literature on political economy analysis and evidence of its impact on aid effectiveness in different contexts. It includes examples of analyses at country, sector and programme level.

About this Topic Guide

This Topic Guide was written by Claire Mcloughlin (GSDRC, University of Birmingham) in 2009 and updated in 2014. The GSDRC appreciates the expert contributions of Gareth Williams (The Policy Practice) and Stefan Kossoff (DFID). The production of this guide was supported by the UK Government.

Suggested citation

Mcloughlin, C. (2014). Political economy analysis: Topic guide (2nd ed.) Birmingham, UK: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.