Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture

Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture No. 2/07

Measuring the benefits of development research – a case study of food policy reforms in Bangladesh

Suresh C. Babu
International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA

William Reidhead
World Wildlife Fund, Geneva, Switzerland


While the importance of research-based policy reforms in poverty reduction efforts is increasing, so is the need for demonstrating the cost effectiveness of research. This is particularly so in an environment of declining foreign aid. This paper assesses the economics of development research, using a case study of the food policy reforms in Bangladesh. Through participatory methods, it estimates benefits of policy reform due to the research program. It delineates the pure benefits of research from the value added by policy outreach and advocacy. Results of the study show that the net contribution of research in bringing about policy reform and its impact could be as high as 40% and that research as part of the policy reform process can be highly cost-effective. The paper also presents a discussion of the institutional and participatory factors that facilitate the ready acceptance of the research outputs and suggests that such factors must be replicated in other research programs in order to maximize the relevance and impact of the development research.

Keywords: development research; policy reform; food policy; impact assessment; Bangladesh

JEL: Q 160

Vol. 46 (2007), No. 2: 159-182