Research Overview

My fundamental research objective is to help reduce unnecessary human suffering manifest in ill health, malnutrition, poverty, vulnerability to manmade and natural disasters, and the degradation of the natural resources that support many poor people’s future well-being. In this world of plenty, almost half the world's nearly-eight billion people live on five dollars a day or less. Between one third and one half suffer undernutrition due to insufficient intake of critical micro- or macro-nutrients. Almost one child in five lives in acute poverty, a disturbing fact to this father of five. Natural disasters appear to be growing in frequency and intensity, and affecting more people than ever, especially the poorest people in the world’s most remote places. Market and government failures too often coexist with community breakdown. These challenges disproportionately afflict rural populations in Africa and Asia, so my group’s work focuses mainly on those regions and sub-populations. But we have an interest in tackling the economics of social injustice wherever it occurs and increasingly work in the United States as well. In summary, my research and teaching tries to explore why avoidable injustice and suffering continue to disfigure a rich, technologically advanced world and what individuals, communities and institutions can do to improve matters.

Because university professors do little directly to contribute to this objective, my approaches are indirect, through (i) teaching and mentoring students, (ii) outreach to community groups, governments, international organizations, media, non-profits, and private firms, and (iii) rigorous scholarship to inform my teaching, outreach and other researchers’ discoveries. My research group’s work emphasizes empirical research in development microeconomics, with significant threads of agricultural, environmental and resource economics mixed in, and significant collaboration with scholars from a wide range of biophysical and social science disciplines. We undertake a good deal of primary, field-based research, but also employ secondary data where appropriate. We make all of our work and data publicly available and seek peer review of everything we do as a means of quality control. Links to published journal articlesbooks and book chaptersworking papers, and data sets are available on other pages on this site.

The main threads of the group’s research revolve around:

Current Projects

Most of the group’s research relies on external funding from various agencies. Current research projects include:

Past major research projects include:

Published Papers

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Working Papers

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