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Economic Development

We work with governments and public-sector institutions to design and deliver strategies that unleash growth and capture economic opportunity.

Advanced and emerging nations alike face major, albeit different, obstacles to stable and inclusive economic growth. Advanced economies strive for human-capital development, sustainable growth, and productivity improvement in the public sector. Developing economies must balance the benefits of economic progress against societal and individual costs.

Much progress has been made in the past century in raising individuals and societies out of poverty. Continuing this progress will require a significant and sustained global focus on economic development. And unlocking economic growth will require smart strategies for overcoming growth obstacles such as natural disasters and the effects of climate change.

What we do

We help governments and public-sector organizations design and implement large-scale strategies that promote economic development and inclusive growth. While more than 80 percent of our work is in emerging economies, we also help public-sector institutions in advanced economies solve complex development challenges. Examples of our work include the following:

  • helping define sector-specific growth strategies for resource-rich nations failing to meet their growth potential
  • architecting new employment-management systems, including strategies for worker training and placement
  • transforming labor agencies at the intersection of organizational design, operations, and IT
  • designing rural-development programs that aim to improve agricultural productivity, increase access to markets, build better infrastructure, and improve the standard of living for small farmers
  • creating sustainable pathways to low-carbon economies, including risk-mitigation measures that guard against the effects of climate change
  • expanding financial-services options and financial inclusion for lower-income households and businesses through new business models and partnerships
  • improving the efficiency and efficacy of aid flows for international development agencies
  • deploying rapid-response resources strategically in the aftermath of complex emergencies

Our impact

Recent examples of the impact of our work and the types of clients we serve include the following:

  • turning a Western European steel hub in decay into a modern IT and logistics hub, thereby reducing unemployment by 60 percent
  • helping an emerging economy in the Middle East develop a policy road map to shift from a low-cost labor model to a more productive economic structure focusing on high-value tasks
  • designing an inclusive growth and agricultural transformation strategy for a large nation in East Africa and establishing a delivery unit to implement the strategy
  • building global greenhouse-gas-abatement cost curves for 25 countries to identify growth opportunities in low-carbon initiatives
  • helping a North African government foster growth in small and midsize enterprises through state-of-the-art capability building
  • helping to create a financial-services network that distributes—through a chain of retail outlets—government transfer payments and financial services to millions of rural families

Selected tools and resources

Our practitioners leverage the extensive knowledge and expertise of the McKinsey Global Institute, the McKinsey Center for Government, our Social Sector Practice, and our Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice. In addition, our practitioners have access to proprietary research, tools, and approaches that have been successfully applied worldwide, including financial-inclusion cost-curve models, research on sector-specific value chains, and greenhouse-gas-abatement cost curves.

Featured experts

Jens Riese

Senior Partner, Munich

Impact story

Better governance and an operations overhaul transform a European labor agency

A performance-transformation program turned a labor agency into one of the country’s best governed, most effective, and most efficient public institutions.

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