Empirical Studies of the Economics of Urban Poverty Reduction (2008)

This initiative has concluded its research.

The eighth Initiative grant, launched in 2008, was led by Professors Rohini Pande of the Harvard Kennedy School and Erica Field of the Department of Economics. Their project, “Empirical Studies of the Economics of Urban Poverty Reduction,” examined how markets and institutions in urban areas of the developing world affect the prospects of the poor and the problem of ghettoization, with associated negative consequences for health, economic mobility, and social stability. The research team sought to provide rigorous empirical evidence on how improved housing and credit access influences the economic outcomes of the urban poor, with their empirical work having important theoretical implications. Related projects were led by Professor Amitabh Chandra of the Harvard Kennedy School on measuring the extent of antibiotic resistance in urban slums in India, relating this to differences in doctor quality; Nancy Qian, a Scholar of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies and Professor Lakshmi Iyer of the Harvard Business School on urban housing reform in China, providing a counterpart to the housing studies focused in India; and Professor Nathan Nunn of the Department of Economics on identifying the economic forces underlying the spatial distribution of industry across Indian cities. The projects were linked to an ongoing empirical research program in urban poverty reduction at Harvard, including the development of graduate-level courses cross-listed between the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences the Harvard Kennedy School to foster learning environments integrating doctoral students and faculty working in the area of development and urban economics.

Principal Investigators

Rohini Pande

Faculty Associate. Mohammed Kamal Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.

Erica M. Field

Faculty Associate. Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Harvard University.