Personal profile


David Lawson has an internationally recognized scientific and applied track record in poverty and poverty dynamics and gender, with a focus on household shocks (rainfall and environment), and social protection in developing and transitional countries. He has occupied a number of leading expert,  advisory and policy roles over the last twenty years -  including World Health Organisation - expert panel member on health equity; OECD’s Social Institutions and Gender (SIGI) index - advisory group, Pivotal (Melinda French Gates Foundation) - invited expert on gendered time poverty, and UNICEF projects Lesotho’s child grants program and climate challenges urbanisation.. He has undertaken several secondments, including having been economic advisor for several developing country governments (Ethiopia, Lesotho and Uganda), World Bank (PREM, Development Data Group), and was most recently global coordinator/lead advisor to the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs (DESA)/Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) DA13 program response to Covid-19: “Strengthening Social Protection for Pandemic Response”, and co-authored the latest African Women’s Report: Digital Finance Ecosystems: Pathways to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Africa. He has led Nordic Africa’s Institute NAI)/Government of Sweden programs on “Ensuring African Women’s Access to Justice” and "What Works for the Poorest: Programmes and Policies”,


He has a consistent track record of research grant achievements, that include: ESRC and British Academy-funded ‘Ensuring Access to Justice’ project; GLM/LIC research project 'Gender and Employment in Central Asia', and most recent book publications include a Routledge Development Economics Textbook “Cash Transfers for Poverty Reduction: An International Operational Guide” (2024). lead editor of “Gender, Poverty and Access to Justice” (2020), the “What Works for the Poorest” (2010,2017,2020)  book series and “Health, Inequality and Development: Achieving Better Health in Developing Countries” (2011).


Profile: ACIB, BA (Economics) MA (Economic Development and Policy Analysis) PhD (Economics) University of Nottingham, FHEA


Professional Positions (Since 2010)

2018 -   Nordic Africa Institute - Senior Researcher,

2015-16, Pivotal Ventures - Invited Expert 

2011-12, OECD, Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) - Invited Expert

2009-11, World Health Organisation (WHO), Scientific Resource Group (SRG) on Equity Analysis and Research - Panel Expert.

2009-11, Herbert Simon Institute (HSI), Manchester Business School (MBS), University of Manchester - Fellow.


Research interests

Applied development economics and public policy, utilising microeconometric, ‘Q-squared’ (quantitative and qualitative) and project management methods to analyse and provide policy solutions across several SDG's but in particular, those relating to (extreme) poverty, health (inequalities) and gender issues. Most recently this work has involved secondments with The Government of Sweden, co-ordinating Covid-19 responses,  focused on conceptualising and measuring extreme poverty through the use of unintended panels, exploring the impact of cash transfers and other programs  - producing a project management textbook, and policies (“What Works for the Poorest”) on extreme poverty/welfare. Current research projects/outputs focus on carbon-based payments, the intertemporal analysis of income decomposition, gender empowerment (indexed social norms) violence and employment effects, access to justice, and the impact of climate hazards and urbanisation on child welfare and extreme poverty.

Other research

Selected Research Projects: (since 2010)

Ensuring Access to Justice for Poverty Reduction (2018-2021), Government of Sweden/Nordic Africa Institute 

Engendering Access to Justice for Development in sub-Saharan Africa (2018-19), ESRC/IAA

Gender and Employment Effects of Structural Reforms on the Very Poorest in Developing Countries - Impact and Access to Justice (2012-14-16), British Academy, UoM.

Gender and Employment in Central Asia (2012-15) German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Germany - IZA/DFID G|L|M, LIC Programme (430,000 euros).

Community Based System (CoBaSys) (2010-13) Community Based HIV/AIDS Impact Solutions in Southern SSA.  EU/ACP (1.1m euros).

Financial Crisis, Development and the Changing Shape of the Global Economy(2010), Co-convenor of this Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC) 2nd Annual Development Economics Conference.

Future Directions for Norwegian Development Finance (2010), NORAD

Gender-Based Inequality and Violence: Implications for Health and Poverty - A Cross-country Analysis for sub-Saharan Africa (2007-8-10), British Academy, University of Nottingham.





Further information

Country Experience

Bangladesh, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, St Kitts and Nevis, Swaziland, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda.


Completed PhD Students

Ibrahim Kasirye (2009-2012), Agriculture and Gender in Developing Countries: The Case for Uganda

Gordon Abekah-Nkrumah (2011-2013), “Determinants of Utilisation of Maternal Healthcare Services in Ghana”

Lawrence Ado-Kofie (2012-2014), “The Distributional Impact of Economic Growth on Non-Income Dimension of Poverty in Ghana”

Alma Kudebayeva (2013-2015), “Measurement and Determinants of Poverty in Kazakhstan during the boom of 2000’s: Alternative Approaches”

Olabimton Adebowale (2015-2017), “Microfinance and Its Impact on The Dynamics of Poverty: A Case Study of Nigeria

Peter Agamile (2015-2019), “Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Welfare Changes in Uganda”

Mohammad Asad-Uz-Zaman (2017-2022) (team), “Government Expenditure Composition, Economic Growth and Human Development in Bangladesh”.

Magaly Duarte Urquart (2018-2022) (team), “Essays on Public Debt and Policy in Latin America and the Caribbean and Paraguay”.

Yidian Meng (2019-23), “The Impact of Gender Roles on the Labour Market in China"

Md Moslah (2020-23), "Creation of Social Capital and Health: from the Perspective of Extreme Poor Women in Bangladesh"

Namira Samir (2021-24), "Credit, Capabilities and the Market"



Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

External positions

Senior Researcher, Nordic Africa Institute

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Global Development Institute


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