International Development

International Development is fundamentally concerned with differences in the quality of life between countries and what determines these differences. It is specifically concerned with so-called developing countries, those in which the quality of life is low by international standards. The quality of life is broadly defined to include achievements in income, health, education, security and other conditions that people value. This is consistent with Amartya Sen’s concept of development, which is the removal of un-freedoms that prevent people from exercising their reasoned agency.

The International Development theme looks at a number of international development issues. These include rich country efforts to support development in Pacific Island countries, the effectiveness of official development assistance, drivers of development gaps between Southeast Asian countries, inequality and growth, and multidimensional measures of well-being. These investigations have a strong empirical orientation and are best described as applied economics research.

The theme also embraces research into the nexus between religion and development, cultural heritage and development and development in difficult socio-political contexts. Researchers necessarily engage with broad themes in comparative contexts, including security, soft diplomacy, migration, gender and well-being.

We also have a number of projects focused on making connections with the Asia-Pacific region.

For further information contact Professor Mark McGillivray (Executive Leader)

View our projects below.


Our Projects


Developing new and effective ways to evaluate intervention in maternal health services in illiterate and innumerate communities in southern Lao PDR: a case study by Professor Liz Eckermann

Where women are neither literate or numerate, conventional measures of quality of life are unable to tap the impact of aid policies, practices and programs on their lives. In line with the OECD (2009) and other aid agencies initiatives to develop new paradigms to assess progress in societies (beyond GDP and mortality rates), we will work with the Lao Ministry of Health, Lao researchers, village communities and service providers to generate effective tools to assess the impact on women’s physical, mental, social and economic well-being of intervention programs designed to improve maternal and child health in southern Lao PDR.

Development in a Pariah State: An Investigation into Actor Roles, Approaches and Modalities in Myanmar 1990-2010

Dr Anthony Ware's project investigates international engagement with pariah states, by examining development in Myanmar 1990-2010. Very little has been written about development in pariah states, which are usually treated as a type of fragile state; however fragile state development principles do not apply in pariah states. This research examines how the type of agency, development approach or modality of action impact access to the humanitarian space, and whether these contributed to the expansion of the civil-political space in Myanmar leading to the current political reform. It therefore seeks to inform foreign policy by determining how engagement through international aid may make a significant contribution to facilitating reform in pariah states.

Researching maternal, neonatal and child health service use in rural and pastoralist Ethiopia:
A key informant research approach

Like many nations in sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia has both a high neonatal mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio and is unlikely to meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 by 2015. Dr Ruth Jackon's current project examines how Key Informant Research (KIR) in rural and pastoralist Ethiopia will identify facilitators and barriers to the use of maternal, neonatal and child health services. The methodology is informed by Participative Ethnographic Evaluation Research (PEER) and Key Informant Monitoring (KIM). Key Informant Research (KIR) training will provide research skills to Health Extension Workers (HEWs) and Non-government organisation (NGO) staff to enable them to develop research questions, collect data and participate in preliminary data analysis.

This will enable the identification of strategies that improve the identification of risk, enhance early referral, increase access, affordability and acceptability of skilled birthing services in rural and pastoralist Ethiopia.

Identifying the needs and priorities of children with disabilities in Vanuatu and PNG

Little is known about the needs and experiences of children with disabilities living in Vanuatu and PNG. The small amount of existing research available has not included data collected directly from the children themselves. Professor Matthew Clarke's current project seeks to establish a method of data collection to determine the self-reported needs and priorities of children living with disabilities in Vanuatu and PNG. The project involves a multi-staged capacity building approach between DPOs in both countries, Save the Children in both countries, and Deakin University researchers. The project emphasis data collection, as well as identification of actions to be taken to address findings.

Supporting Pacific Development

Pacific Island countries face huge development challenges. Regional poverty is increasing and most countries will fail to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals. The research project responds to this by looking at the extent to which 22 OECD Development Assistance Committee member countries support development in the Pacific through their efforts with respect to aid, trade, migration, private investment, security, the creation and dissemination of new technologies and environmental sustainability. It will develop a multidimensional index that will rank these 22 countries on the basis of these efforts. This index will be updated annually and widely disseminated. The index will be disseminated as the ADRI-Sustineo Pacific Index. This project is funded by the Australian Research Council and Sustineo Pty Ltd. The Chief Investigator of this project is Professor Mark McGillivray and the Partner Investigator is Adjunct Associate Professor David Carpenter. Other ADRI participants are Associate Professor Simon Feeny and Dr Sasi Iamsiraroj.

Towards Better Multidimensional Well-Being Measurement

Many new and insightful well-being conceptualisations and concepts have emerged from research over recent decades. Well-being is now widely regarded as multidimensional, enveloping diverse and behaviourally distinct dimensions. Empirical research has failed to keep up with this work, providing very crude and limited measures that struggle to adequately capture the vitality of well-being. The research project addresses this by further developing composite, multidimensional well-being measures and providing new guidance on their use. The outcome will be more incisive information on well-being achievement at national and sub-national levels that can better inform efforts to promote the good life. This project is funded by the Australian Research Council. The Chief Investigator of this project is Professor Mark McGillivray. A number of other soon-to-be appointed ADRI staff will also work on the project.

Reducing Infant and Child Mortality: Understanding Developing Country Performance

The fourth United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) is to reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the rates of child mortality. Economic growth is widely accepted as one of the key drivers in reducing mortality. Yet its impact varies greatly across countries, depending on the nature and pattern of growth. This project has two main objectives. The first is to provide a cross-country measure of the extent to which countries are more effective at reducing child and infant mortality rates than would be predicted by their economic growth rates. The second is to analyse the determinants of this measure. The Chief Investigators of this project are Associate Professor Simon Feeny and Professor Mark McGillivray

Narrowing the ASEAN Development Gap

There is widespread concern among ASEAN member nations of a widening development gap among its membership. These concerns have been heightened by the addition in the mid- to late-1990s of Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam to the ASEAN-6 group of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. This project defines and quantifies the development gap, identifies key drivers of it and provides a framework for monitoring it. It has a special focus on the potential of the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan to reduce the gap. The project will result in a book published by Routledge. Key project findings will be presented at the ASEAN 2013 Summit in Brunei. The project is funded by the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta and is being conducted in partnership with Sustineo Pty Ltd. ADRI project participants are Professor Mark McGillivray and Adjunct Associate Professor David Carpenter, Associate Professor Simon Feeny and Dr Sasi Iamsiroj.

Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

1st April 2014