Nash, M., Lavinia, T., and Teskey, G. (2020) 'Applying Political Economy Thinking to Sector Programming,' ABT Governance Briefing Note Series, (5).


This brief summarises how the Abt Associates Governance and Development Practice (GDP) has applied Political Economy Approaches (PEA) to education and health sector programming in 13 countries in Asia, the Pacific and Africa1; and the key findings from these undertakings. All analyses identified the major institutional, incentive and political settlement challenges affecting the health or education sector in the 13 countries. They also outlined the implications of these findings for each program’s choice of delivery modality, budget allocations and programming. Despite this variation, three high-level implications of state-level political economy for service delivery in all 13 countries emerged: (1) decisions regarding the allocation of public resources are often taken for private gain rather than public interest; (2) what may appear formally to be functional planning and delivery systems are used informally but deliberately to create rent-seeking opportunities for interest groups; (3) given the ‘embeddedness’ of these political economy characteristics, there are no short-term fixes for external partners.