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Dean  Karlan

Dean Karlan

Behavioral Economist, Social Entrepreneur & Author

Biography

Dean Karlan is the Frederic Esser Nemmers Distinguished Professor of Economics and Finance, and co-director of the Global Poverty Research Lab at Northwestern University. His research focuses on development and behavioral economics. From 2005-2017 he was a professor of economics at Yale University, and from 2002-2005 he was a professor of economics at Princeton University. Read More >

As a social entrepreneur, in 2002 he founded and is currently President of Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit organization dedicated to discovering and promoting solutions to global poverty problems and working to scale-up successful ideas through implementation and dissemination to policymakers, practitioners, investors and donors. In 2007 Karlan co-founded stickK.com, a website that uses lessons from behavioral economics to help people reach personal goals. And in 2015, Karlan co-founded ImpactMatters, a nonprofit dedicated to providing donors ratings based on calculations of impact of nonprofit organizations. 

Karlan received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was awarded distinguished alumni awards from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business and the Duke University Talent Identification Program. 

Karlan has co-authored four books: More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty (2011); a principles textbook Economics (3rd edition, 2020); Failing in the Field (2016); The Goldilocks Challenge (2018).

His received a Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T. (2002), an M.B.A. and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago (1997), and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Virginia (1990). Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Innovations for Poverty Action and Commitment

Solving Global Poverty

Speech Topics

More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty

When it comes to global poverty, people are passionate and polarized. At one extreme: We just need to invest more resources. At the other: We’ve thrown billions down a sinkhole over the last 50 years and accomplished almost nothing. Read More >

In this speech based on his book of the same name, Dean Karlan presents a new approach that blazes an optimistic and realistic trail between these two extremes. Through careful integration of ideas from both behavioral and traditional economics, and rigorous evaluation and data collection, Karlan presents evidence from around the world on how to tackle poverty, explaining that sometimes the most popular ideas aren't the best. Karlan will explore evidence from microfinance, health, insurance, and agriculture, and will work to help see that, while good intentions are great, we need more than good intentions to do the best that we can in the fight against poverty. Read Less ^

Behavioral Economics & Consumer Behavior: How to Optimize Products, Services & Customer Satisfaction

There is huge debate in America on how to help consumers make better decisions, avoid foreclosure, and not be overindebted. This debate is for the poor, who find themselves using expensive payday loans and check cashers, as well as the middle class who just can't seem to get out of credit card debt. For corporate America, the question remains: how to balance offering "good" products to consumers while also helping consumers do better for themselves. Read More >

In this speech, keynote speaker Dean Karlan explains how behavioral economics can be used to solve this question. Behavioral economics can make us better, but it requires careful attention to the way we design products and the way we market them. Karlan describes how to think like consumers, for consumers, to help create loyal and financially healthy consumers. Read Less ^

Using Behavioral Economics to Help People Lead the Lives They Want to Lead

There is huge debate in America on how to help consumers make better decisions, avoid foreclosure, and not be overindebted. This debate is for the poor, who find themselves using expensive payday loans and check cashers, as well as the middle class who just can't seem to get out of credit card debt. For corporate America, the question remains: how to balance offering "good" products to consumers while also helping consumers do better for themselves. Read More >

In this speech, keynote speaker Dean Karlan explains how behavioral economics can be used to solve this question. Behavioral economics can make us better, but it requires careful attention to the way we design products and the way we market them. Karlan describes how to think like consumers, for consumers, to help create loyal and financially healthy consumers. Read Less ^

Books & Media

Books

More Than Good Intentions