Jonathan Morduch is a professor of public policy and economics at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. He is the executive director of the NYU Financial Access Initiative. Morduch’s research focuses on global poverty and finance. Morduch is co-author of The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty (2017); Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day (2009); The Economics of Microfinance (2010); and Economics (2016), an introductory economics text. He has taught on the economics faculty at Harvard, and has held visiting positions at Stanford, Princeton, Hitotsubashi, and the University of Tokyo. Morduch received a BA from Brown and a PhD in Economics from Harvard. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Free University of Brussels in 2008 for his work on microfinance.
International aid agencies are re-positioning themselves as providers of "knowledge" for policymakers in poor countries. The shift to becoming "Knowledge Banks" has profound implications for international development policy- and for Japan's role as an emerging voice in development discourse. The strategy has great promise when "knowledge" is uncontested, but tensions can emerge quickly with differences of opinion about priorities and the reliability of evidence. The first part of the proposed project uses formal economic theory to investigate the nature and limits of "Knowledge Banks." The second part investigates hypotheses in practice by analyzing spending trends together with reports and other communications of major aid agencies. Experts in the US and Japan and practitioners in Bangladesh and Indonesia will be interviewed to assess how knowledge about policy is generated, distributed, and ultimately used - and how conflicts of perspective arise and are mediated.