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Digital Inclusion and Governance Lab

The Digital Inclusion & Governance Lab is a research lab at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute. DIG Lab undertakes rigorous, policy-relevant research on the impact of digital technologies on society, politics, and the economy.

DIG Lab researchers employ a range of methodological tools, from randomized-controlled trials to textual analysis, combined with novel data collection, to better understand how to increase digital inclusion and leverage digital tools to maximize societal benefits.

Project Leaders

Professor Phil Roessler
Professor Fiona Shen-Bayh

Focus Areas
  • Bridging the digital divide  As far and fast as the digital tech revolution has spread globally, key disparities in access and use persist. One of the most stubborn is the mobile gender gap. DIG Lab researchers working in Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda are fielding the first-of-its-kind experiments targeting the smartphone gender gap — demonstrating the substantial economic costs of this digital divide and how to effectively address it.
  • Digitization, text-as-data, and governance  Recent transformations in digital technologies and the increasing availability of digital data globally have created unprecedented opportunities to analyze governance in the Global South. One of the greatest innovations in recent years is the digitization of government archives, which provide researchers from around the world direct access to text records that might otherwise have been costly to find or inaccessible. Such data present the opportunity to enhance understanding of the most pressing challenges confronting autocratic regimes and emerging democracies, including questions of government performance, legislative output, and judicial decision-making.
  • Interoperable payments and financial inclusion — In many emerging economies one of the key benefits of owning a mobile phone is its use for sending and receiving money. The next frontier in digital financial services is the deployment of interoperable payment systems, which enable seamless, instantaneous transactions and hold great promise to accelerate economic growth, financial inclusion, and revenue mobilization. Working with Innovations for Poverty Action and a team of global researchers, the DIG Lab is studying the impact of interoperable payment systems in Pakistan, Tanzania, and beyond.

Professor Phil Roessler
Professor Fiona Shen-Bayh

Student Opportunities

Students are integral contributors to the DIG Lab, assisting with project design, implementation, analysis, and write-up. See here for one student perspective. The DIG Lab hosted two GRI Summer Fellows in 2021. Please subscribe to the Global Research Institute Digest to learn about future opportunities, or contact the project leaders directly to express one’s interest.


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Innovations for Poverty Action, Institute for Public Opinion Research (IPOR), Girls Empowerment Network, REPOA