Development and Socio-Economic Policies

Satellite map of Myanmar
Night-time luminosity or the lack thereof in Myanmar 2012 (own graph on basis of data from US Navy)

Research Profile

In the policy world, there is a hard to overcome but increasingly obsolete distinction between rich countries and the developing world. This distinction has led to bifurcations in policy and academic research. An example is the breach between studying international means to fighting poverty and inequality and domestic means to fighting poverty and inequality. At the Brandt School we question the logic of ‘them and us’ and aim at combining perspectives, looking for coherence and incoherence between the domestic and international level.

In this specialization we look at how national social policy links up with international efforts of reducing poverty through development aid. We identify trade-offs in policy design of anti-poverty measures (e.g. read more here and here). Similar, we look at how aid and domestic social policies deal with new and growing spatial inequalities in countries such as Myanmar (find out more here and here).

‘Development’ itself is a contested but still dominant concept having a strong and particular resonance with economics. In the specialization, we broaden the perspective by looking at the political and social context of socio-economic policies: how do they arise and what effects do they have beyond the narrow scope of economic growth? In a similar vein, we highlight the fact that knowledge exchange is not a North-to-South one-way lane. Policy learning happens in many directions, though often somewhat underacknowledged.

We also look at specific policy design issues in domestic attempts to reduce poverty and inequality ranging from taxation to social and labour market policies. For instance, there are chronic policy problems in the field in many different regions (e.g. the recent re-nationalizations of private pension systems in Latin America and Eastern Europe. More specifically, we investigate a particular type of policy failure in these areas: instability and boom-and-bust cycles. Why do hopes and expectations in policy interventions sometimes overshoot? Why do good ideas such as microfinance implode after a short time?

Finally, we are interested in addressing new challenges to the welfare regime across the globe. How do social and labour policies respond to international and national migration. What does digitalization and automation do to established systems of social protection and how does it shape new or innovative policies (read more about our Research Project PolDigWork here).





Awuni, E.T., & Kemmerling, A. (2023). Taking Gerschenkron to the Field: Attitudes toward Digitalization Hopes and Fears about the Future of Work in Ghana. Telecommunications Policy, 102680.

Fumagalli, M. & Kemmerling, A. (2022). Development aid and domestic regional inequality: the case of Myanmar. Eurasian Geography and Economics. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Busemeyer, M., Kemmerling, A., Marx, P. & van Kersbergen, K. (2022). Digitalization and the welfare state.  Oxford University Press.

Kemmerling, A., Richter, S., & Robiatti, R. (Eds.) (2020). Populism and a new age of international fragility: seeking policy innovations 40 years after the Brandt Report. Erfurt: Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt.

Duman, A. & Kemmerling, A. (2019). Do you feel like an insider? Job security and preferences for Flexibilization across Europe. Social Policy and Administration.

Angeles, R. & Kemmerling, A. (2019). How redistributive institutions affect pay inequality and heterogeneity among top managers. Socio-Economic Review.

Kemmerling, A., Häusermann, S., & Rueda, D. (2019). Special Issue on New Labour Market Divides. Political Science Research Methods. 

Häusermann, S., Kemmerling, A., & Rueda, D. (2019). How Labor Market Inequality Transforms Mass Politics. Political Science Research and Methods, 8(2), 344-355.

Busemeyer, M., & Kemmerling, A. (2020). Dualization, stratification, liberalization, or what? An attempt to clarify the conceptual underpinnings of the dualization debate. Political Science Research and Methods, 8(2), 375-379.

Berens, S., & Kemmerling, A. (2019). Labor Divides, Informality,and Regulation: The Public Opinion on Labor Law in Latin America. Journal of Politics in Latin America, 11(1), 23-48.

Kemmerling, A., & Neugart, M. (2019). Redistributive pensions in the developing world. Review of Development Economics, 23(2), 702-726.

Howlett, M., & Kemmerling, A. (2017). Calibrating climate change policies: the causes and consequences of sustained under-reaction. Journal of Environmental Planning and Policy Special Issue, 19(6), 625-637.

Kemmerling, A. (2017). Left Without a Choice? Why Left Politicians Accept VAT as a Source of Revenue. Socio-Economic Review, 15(4), 776-796. Received SER Annual Best Paper Award 2017.

Bodenstein, T., & Kemmerling, A. (2016). European Aid and Trade in African Public Opinion. Development Policy Research, 35(4), 567-586.

Meseguer, C., & Kemmerling, A. (2016). What do you fear? Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Latin America. International Migration Review, 52(1), 236-272.

Kemmerling, A. (2016). The End of Work or Work Without End? Journal of Public Policy, 36(1), 109-138.

Kemmerling, A., & Bodenstein, T. (2015). A Paradox of Redistribution in International Aid? World Development, 76, 359-369.

Kemmerling, A., & Stephan, A. (2015). The Comparative Political Economy of Regional Transport Infrastructure Investment in Europe. Journal of Comparative Economics, 43(1), 227-239.

Kemmerling, A. (2009). Taxing Workers on Low Wages: The Political Origins and Economic Consequences of Taxing Low Wages. Edward Elgar (Ed.).


On March 9th the new research project @PolDigWork – Politics and the Future of Work in Middle-Income Countries held its first workshop in one of the partner countries: Mexico.

The Research Area Development and Socio-Economic Policies at the Brandt School is looking for a Scientific Project Assistant/PhD Student (f/m/d) and Scientific Coordinator/Postdoctoral Researcher (f/m/d) for the Project PolDigWork on Politics and the…

Brandt School MPP Program Coordinator Christian Tischmeyer was part of a research team in 2019 which published a paper on “Citizen Assessments of Clientelistic Practices in South Africa”. The publication builds on current literature on the…

A new article published in the journal Eurasian Geography and Economics entiteled "Development Aid and Domestic Regional Inequality: the Case of Myanmar" written by Matteo Fumagalli and Achim Kemmerling (Willy Brandt School of Public Policy).

Not only the war in Ukraine, but also recent examples like Myanmar and Afghanistan, have shown that critical independent universities are seriously threatened by autocracy and dictatorship. More and more voices are calling for ways to protect…

Prof. Achim Kemmerling contributes to the edited volume "Global Taxation: How Modern Taxes conquered the World" with a chapter on "Social Security Contributions and the Fiscal Origins of the Welfare State".

In a new blog post, Prof. Achim Kemmerling explains why tax systems are notoriously difficult to understand. The blog post and the original article on which it is base unveil the political roots of this complexity and also highlight some of the…

As part of Prof. Dr. Andreas Goldthau's Advanced Research and Writing Seminar at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Prof. Dr. Marco Bünte held a guest lecture on Tutelary Regimes in Comparative Politics & The Case of Myanmar on November 18th,…