I’m an economist and political scientist who studies conflict, crime, and poverty. I work in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and more recently in Chicago. I’m the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at The University of Chicago, in Harris Public Policy and The Pearson Institute. I’m an associate of the Political Science Department and a research associate at NBER.
- Office: Harris room 303C at 1155 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637
- My CV and Google Scholar profile
- My dull official bio
- How to contact me
- UChicago students can also sign up for my office hours
- Info for aspiring PhDs and existing UChicago PhDs who want to work with me
The questions I’m most passionate about: Why are some people and societies poor, violent and oppressive? What leads people into poverty, violence, and crime? What events and interventions lead them out?
Most of my work involves field studies, surveys, natural experiments, and field experiments. I also have a growing interest in how machine learning methods can help tackle violence and poverty.
I talk about some of my recent work on the EconTalk and NPR Planet Money podcasts. My research is at the tab above. And if you want to get a sense of the big questions that interest me, see the syllabus and slides for my course on Order & Violence. The subtitle for the class was “Why are some places poor, violent and oppressive and what (if anything) can you do about it?” I’m working on the book.
I have been at the University of Chicago since 2016. Before that, I was an Associate Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at Columbia University, and an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Economics at Yale. I have a PhD in Economics from UC Berkeley, a MPA/ID from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a BA in Economics from the University of Waterloo.
In my pre-academic life I was a business consultant and (believe it or not) an accountant for Deloitte & Touche. But the best jobs I ever held were (a) rock-climbing instructor, and (b) music store salesman. (I have become considerably less cool since that time.)
In the end, though, my work ethic and habits derive from two years cooking chicken at a vaguely militant KFC outlet. After a manager resembling Hulk Hogan forces you to clean grease traps, you can handle pretty much anything.
- Associate faculty, UChicago Department of Political Science
- Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
- Executive board member, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)
- Co-chair, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), Crime sector
- Lead Academic, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), Peace & Recovery Program
- Fellow, Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)
- Affiliate, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
- Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
- My blogging at The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage
- Non-Resident Fellow, Center for Global Development (CGD)
- Member, International Growth Center (IGC)
- Senior Affiliate, Households in Conflict Network (HiCN)
- Member, Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP)
- Member, Scholars Strategy Network (SSN)
- Executive Committee Member, Working Group on African Political Economy (WGAPE)