Development Economics Center

Using the tools of economics to identify, test, refine, and scale innovations with the potential to benefit millions of people

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Development Economics Research Fund

Associated Scholars


Michael Kremer

University Professor in Economics and the College and the Harris School of Public Policy, Director of the Development Innovation Lab

Christopher Blattman

Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies, Harris School of Public Policy; Deputy Director of BFI Development Economics Center

Chang-Tai Hsieh

Phyllis and Irwin Winkelried Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago Booth School of Business; Deputy Director of BFI Development Economics Center

Working Papers

Working Paper·Jan 30, 2024

Digital Information Provision and Behavior Change: Lessons from Six Experiments in East Africa

Raissa Fabregas, Michael Kremer, Matthew Lowes, Robert On, Giulia Zane
Mobile phone-based informational programs are widely used worldwide, though there is little consensus on how effective they are at changing behavior. We present causal evidence on the effects of six agricultural information programs delivered through text messages in Kenya and...
Topics: Development Economics, Technology & Innovation
Working Paper·Jan 16, 2024

Quantifying the Social Value of a Universal COVID-19 Vaccine and Incentivizing Its Development

Rachel Glennerster, Thomas Kelly, Claire McMahon, Christopher Snyder
A booster of the COVID-19 vaccine targeting the prevailing Omicron variant did not become available in the United States until a year after the variant was first detected. This pattern of developing, testing, and distributing a variant-specific booster may become...
Topics: COVID-19
Working Paper·Sep 20, 2023

Private Actions in the Presence of Externalities: The Health Impacts of Reducing Air Pollution Peaks but not Ambient Exposure

Susanna B. Berkouwer, Joshua Dean
Extensive research has documented that elevated air pollution increases mortality and morbidity, with estimates reaching 8 million deaths per year. Many of the world’s one billion urban poor face both high ambient concentrations and even higher transient peaks. Should government...
Topics: Development Economics, Energy & Environment, Health care


Research Brief·Oct 27, 2023

Dictatorship, Higher Education and Social Mobility • Higher Education and Mortality: Legacies of an Authoritarian College Contraction • The Intergenerational Transmission of Higher Education: Evidence from the 1973 Coup in Chile

Maria Angélica Bautista, Felipe González, Luis Martínez, Pablo Muñoz and Mounu Prem
Following the coup of 1973 that brought military dictatorship to Chile under Augusto Pinochet’s rule, enrollment in higher education fell (owing to reduced government spending), with negative effects on those missing out; Broadly, those who were affected experienced an increase...
Topics: Development Economics
Research Brief·Oct 3, 2023

Private Actions in the Presence of Externalities: The Health Impacts of Reducing Air Pollution Peaks but not Ambient Exposure

Joshua Dean and Susanna B. Berkouwer
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is “the single biggest environmental threat to human health.” The Global Burden of Disease study estimates that it is responsible for 7–9 million premature deaths annually, or 10-15% of all deaths. While...
Topics: Development Economics, Energy & Environment, Health care
Research Brief·May 26, 2023

Gang Rule: Understanding and Countering Criminal Governance

Christopher Blattman, Gustavo Duncan, Benjamin Lessing and Santiago Tobón
Criminal organizations are pervasive. In many cities globally, gangs serve critical functions by enforcing social order and property rights, often despite the presence of strong governments. Such conditions present a puzzle to researchers and policymakers who expect gang activity to...
Topics: Development Economics


News·Dec 2, 2023

Innovation Commission Recommends Scaling Innovations in Agriculture to Improve Food Security and Fight Climate Change

Dubai, December 2, 2023 – Michael Kremer, 2019 economics Nobel laureate, joined Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and COP28 Food Systems Lead, and Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, during...
Topics: Development Economics
News·Oct 17, 2023

Innovation Commission promotes improved weather forecasts for farmers during COP28 Reception on World Food Day

ROME, October 17, 2023 – On World Food Day, the Innovation Commission called for investments to procure and deliver improved weather forecasts to farmers during a COP28 reception hosted by the UAE Embassy in Rome. As the climate changes, farmers’...
Topics: Development Economics


The Development Innovation Lab uses the tools of economics to develop innovations with the potential to benefit millions of people in low- and middle-income countries. We bring researchers in different fields together with governments, firms and non-profit organizations to identify, test, refine and scale innovations.
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The Innovation Commission for Climate Change, Food Security and Agriculture brings together former heads of state and cabinet ministers as well as leaders of international organizations and the private sector to identify high return investments in innovation for climate mitigation and adaptation in agriculture and food security and propose institutional mechanisms to take them to scale.
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The Market Shaping Accelerator supports governments, multilateral institutions and philanthropies to harness the energy and creativity of the private sector to develop innovations to solve global challenges.
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The Weiss Fund for Research in Development Economics supports research by students and ladder faculty working in development economics, broadly defined, funding projects that address a wide range of issues affecting less developed countries.
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