Emily Gustafsson-Wright

Emily Gustafsson-Wright

Emily Gustafsson-Wright is a senior fellow at the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. She specializes in applied microeconomic and policy research within the fields of education and health in developing country contexts. Her research on effective delivery of social services has consolidated her role as a global expert on innovative financing mechanisms including payment by results, public-private partnerships, and impact investing. She is known globally as a thought leader in the growing field of social and development impact bonds, having written over a dozen publications on this cutting-edge topic, and she is regularly invited to contribute to high-level global conversations to share her research.

Her work also focuses on examining the challenges to scaling up education and early childhood development (ECD) in developing countries, including the constraints around financing, capacity and quality of services, knowledge gaps, and political support. Furthering her work in the efforts to establish quality data on the costs of education and ECD, she led the development of the Standardized ECD Costing Tool (SECT) and its successor, the Childhood Cost Calculator (C3), a free, user-friendly tool for cost analysis of programs and interventions for children and youth across all sectors including education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, social protection, and governance.

With over 20 years of experience in development, her previous professional experience includes working at the World Bank, the UNICEF Innocenti Research Center, and the Amsterdam Institute for International Development (AIID). She holds a doctoral degree in economics from the Tinbergen Institute at the University of Amsterdam, as well as a Master of Science in applied economics and finance and a Bachelor of Arts in global economics from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Gustafsson-Wright is regularly cited in the media including in the Economist, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. She has also published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and contributed to several books in her field. Currently, she is a member of the steering committee for USAID’s Education Finance Network, sits on the international advisory committee for the NORRAG IFE-2 Leave No One Behind project, and serves on the advisory board for the impact task force with Bridges Outcomes Partnerships and on the advisory council of OutcomesX.

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Global education
    • Global health
    • Early childhood development
    • Development financing
  • Past Positions

    • Senior Researcher, Amsterdam Institute for International Development (AIID)
    • Guest Researcher, Brookings Institution
    • Consultant, World Bank's Human Development Network
    • Consultant, Innocenti Research Center, UNICEF
  • Education

    • Ph.D. in Economics, University of Amsterdam, The Tinbergen Institute, October 2007
    • Master of Science in Applied Economics and Finance, University of California, Santa Cruz, June 1999
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