If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research interests

Comparative political economy, state-society relations, politics of social policy, agrarian change, politics of land, Ethiopia, Rwanda

Current research interests include:

  • The politics of social protection. As part of the Effective States and Inclusive Development research centre (ESID) I have been leading a research project on the politics of social protection in Africa. The first phase focused primarily on the decision making process leading to the adoption and evolution of social assistance and health insurance schemes in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia (see the project page here). In the second phase of work, we will be examining the politics of implementation, with a particular interest in the ways in which implementation is shaped by variation in state-society relations. Case studies will include: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda.
  • The political economy of land. My research on land to date has focused on Ethiopia, considering how the government has attempted to use land for multiple political, economic and social objectives and the tensions between these objectives in practice. This has led me to look at a range of issues related to land including, smallholder agricultural productivity and extension services, food security, commercial agricultural investments (here, here, here and here), land registration, gender in/equality in land access and ethnic federalism.
  • The politics of labour regulation.I am currently extending my work on the politics of social protection to examine the politics of labour regulation, focusing on the ways in which state capacity and the commitment of political elites shape labour law and patterns of compliance.
  • Ideas and state legitimacy. Through my work with ESID, I have been working on the role of ideas in political analysis, considering both how policy ideas travel between and take root in particular national contexts, but also how ideas shape perceptions of state legitimacy in contexts of rapid socioeconomic transformation.


I convene:

MGDI 60391 Politics and Governance of Development

I also teach on:

MGDI 31101 International Development

MGDI 60502 Development Fieldwork


Past employment

2014-16 Researcher, International Labour Organization (ILO)

2013-16 External Professor, University of Geneva

2013-14 Research Fellow, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

2006-08 Research Analyst, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

2004-06 Research Officer, ESRC Research Group on Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD), University of Bath


2013 PhD in International Development and Social Policy, University of Bath

2008 MRes in International Development, University of Bath

2004 MSc in International Development, University of Bath

2001 BSc (Hons), University of Bristol


I am interested in supervising PhD research on a range of topics related to the politics of development, in particular: the politics of land, agrarian transformation, the politics of social policy, state legitimacy, ideas in political analysis


Current PhD students:

Mohammed Ibrahim, Looking Beyond Proximate Benefits: Social Protection Implementation and Socio-Political Effects in Ghana (co-supervised with Sam Hickey)

Edward Ampratwum, How do localized forms of politics shape the implementation of social protection policy?  (co-supervised with Sam Hickey)

Sam Stratford, Understanding how political settlements shape the decision-making processes behind the planning and construction of dams: lessons from Ethiopia and Uganda (co-supervised with David Hulme)

Bethany Coleman, Sustainable development for whom? The politics of future hydropower in Tanzania (co-supervised with David Hulme)

Kate Pruce, Investigating the politics of global policy transfer: the case of cash transfers in Zambia (co-supervised with Sam Hickey)

Clare Cummings, Against the odds: understanding why and how effective reform happens in Nigeria (co-supervised with Sam Hickey)


My research focuses on the comparative political economy of development. Through most of my work I have used public policy as a lens for analysing state-society relations, both how politics shapes policymaking and how the implementation of policies, in turn, transforms state-society relations. This broad interest has led me to conduct research on a range of topics, including: land tenure and land use, agrarian transformation, agricultural production systems, social policy and social protection, and ideas in political analysis.

Most of my field research has been conducted in Ethiopia, though more recently I have done work in Rwanda and Uganda, and I retain an interest in Peru and Latin America more broadly from past fieldwork.

I welcome enquiries from potential PhD students working on issues related to my own work. See the 'Opportunities' tab.

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 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Work and Equalities Institute
  • Global Development Institute


Dive into the research topics where Thomas Lavers is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or