Dean Karlan


Position Title
Chief Economist, USAID

  • AMA Innovation Lab Principal Investigator

Dean Karlan's research focuses on microeconomic issues of poverty, typically employing experimental methodologies and behavioral economics insights to examine what works, what does not, and why to address social problems. His work spans many geographies and topics, including sustainable income generation for those in abject poverty, credit and savings markets for low income households, agriculture for smallholder farmers, small and medium entrepreneurship, weight loss and smoking cessation, and charitable giving.

Karlan has worked in over twenty countries around the world, including both low income countries and also the United States. He is the founder and former president of Innovations for Poverty Action. With Christopher Udry, he co-founded and co-directs the Global Poverty Research Lab at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Karlan was appointed Chief Economist at USAID in 2022. He received his Ph.D. in economics at M.I.T.