Joe Kaboski In Uganda

The Building Inclusive Growth (BIG) Lab is a research center in the Department of Economics at the University of Notre Dame, bringing some of the world’s best researchers together to develop innovative, long-lasting solutions to help vulnerable populations in developing countries. With over 700 million people living on less than $2.15/day, global poverty remains a great economic and moral challenge. Inclusive economic growth in low-income countries is the most powerful way to reduce global poverty and ensure that the benefits are widely shared — including among women, children, the poor, rural populations, and ethnic minorities. Yet many barriers to inclusive growth remain.

The Lab’s research follows Pope Francis’ call to “eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor” (Evangelii Gaudium, 187). Historically, the vast majority of successful poverty alleviation efforts have come from macro-scale, economy-wide development that moves whole societies out of poverty by addressing causes rather than symptoms of underdevelopment. Macroeconomic growth has proven to have a more lasting impact than foreign aid and social service programs, but even rapid growth may not benefit all segments of society.

At the BIG Lab, we are committed to creating a world where everyone is free from the constraints of poverty, with a special emphasis on policies that can transform economies to address extreme poverty. Our faculty, researchers, and students work to advance the field of development economics and promote evidence-based approaches to economic growth. Through our efforts, we aim to create sustainable and equitable economic development, where the benefits of growth are shared by all members of society, rather than just a select few.

We conduct fieldwork and research, train the next generation of development economists in key research skills, and organize workshops and conferences where experts can share and disseminate new ideas. Our research aims to combine technical and academic rigor with cultural awareness, and solidarity with communities and local actors fighting poverty on the ground. 

The BIG Lab pursues these goals through the following programs:

  • Supporting research and fieldwork for faculty and students
  • Pre-doctoral research assistant positions
  • Development Data Boot Camp for undergraduates
  • New Frontiers course for Ph.D. students
  • Development Economics Lunch Workshop

Where we work


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The BIG lab is grateful for the generous support of Joseph ’71 and Deborah Loughrey, Structural Transformation and Economic Growth (STEG), and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

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