Emily Gustafsson-Wright

Senior Fellow


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 current focus on effective delivery of social services, including education and health interventions, has consolidated her role as a global expert on innovative financing mechanisms, including payment by results, public-private partnerships, and impact investing.
She is the premier thought-leader and convener in the growing field of social and development impact bonds. She has written eight publications on this cutting-edge topic and is regularly invited to contribute to high-level global conversations on impact bonds and outcome-based financing. Her work also focuses on examining the challenges to scaling up early childhood development (ECD) and education in developing countries, including the constraints around financing, capacity and quality of services, knowledge gaps, and political support. Currently her focus is on the critical role of data in effective and efficient education investments. Most recently, she led an effort to establish quality data on the costs of ECD, which included leading a multi-agency working group, and developing the Standardized ECD Costing Tool (SECT), an instrument for collecting and analyzing cost data across the full spectrum of ECD interventions.
With over 20 years of experience in development, her previous professional experience includes working at the World Bank, the UNICEF Innocenti Research Center, and as senior researcher with the Amsterdam Institute for International Development (AIID). Gustafsson-Wright holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Tinbergen Institute at the University of Amsterdam, as well as a Master’s of Science in Applied Economics and Finance and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She is regularly cited in the media, including in the Economist, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times, and has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as contributed to several books in her field.