About me

Chris Blattman

I’m the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at The University of Chicago, in the Harris School of Public Policy, as well as a research associate at NBER. My office is in room 303C of the Harris School, at 1155 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637.

The questions I’m most passionate about: Why are some societies poor, violent and oppressive? What leads people into poverty, violence, and crime? What events and interventions lead them out? I mainly study these questions in Africa and Latin America. Recently I started working closer to home on Chicago’s South Side. 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.

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