Behavioral Economics of Poverty and Development


Units: 12


This course will introduce students to the study of economic development and poverty alleviation, with a special focus on recent insights from the intersection of psychology and economics. We will primarily focus on the health, microfinance, agriculture, and education sectors in developing countries. The course will have a methodological component largely centered on using experiments to evaluate interventions and policies that apply to households, small firms, and farms. While we will cover standard economic approaches, we will give extra attention to how a behavioral lens can help in both understanding development issues (e.g. barriers to household risk management) and in designing effective interventions (e.g. the timing of fertilizer sales).

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, you should:

- Gain a broad understanding of where behavioral science can provide insights for development policy and interventions.

- Be able to evaluate the evidence for an NGO or social enterprise's claims of impact.

- Be able to critically evaluate the research design, methods, and findings of the empirical literature.

- Learn to give a short presentation of a research proposal.

- Write a brief research proposal.