Areas of Expertise (6)
Early Childhood Development and Education
Paul Gertler is the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds appointments at the Haas School of Business and the School of Public Health. He is the Faculty Director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact, and he is also the Scientific Director of the Center for Effective Global Action. Gertler is an internationally recognized expert in impact evaluation. He was Chief Economist of the Human Development Network of the World Bank from 2004-2007 and the Founding Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) from 2009-2012. At the World Bank, he led an effort to institutionalize and scale up impact evaluation for learning what works in human development. At Berkeley he teaches courses in applied impact evaluation at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, as well as in an executive education program for policy-makers. He is the author of the best-selling textbook "Impact Evaluation in Practice" and the recently released second edition, published by The World Bank Press. He has been a Principal Investigator on a large number of at-scale multisite impact evaluations, including Mexico’s CCT program Progresa/Oportunidades and Rwanda’s Health Care Pay-for-Performance scheme. He has published results from impact evaluations extensively in both scientific and policy journals on early childhood development, education, fertility and contraceptive use, health, HIV-AIDS, energy and climate change, housing, job training, poverty alleviation, labor markets, and water and sanitation. He was awarded the Kenneth Arrow Award for best paper in health economics in 1996. He received his PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin in 1985, and, prior to UC Berkeley, he held academic appointments at Harvard University, RAND, and SUNY Stony Brook.
University of Wisconsin: PhD, Economics
University of Wisconsin: BA, Economics
Honors & Awards (6)
Honorary Doctorate, Erasmus University, The Netherlands
Committee on Teaching Excellence (CoTE) Award, UC Berkeley
Juan Jose Bobadilla Medal for Global Health
Research Medal, Global Development Network
Academic Leadership Award, National Institutes of Health
Kenneth Arrow Award, International Health Economics Association
Selected External Service & Affiliations (6)
- Member, American Economic Association
- Member, American Public Health Association
- Member, Econometric Society
- Member, Health Economics Research Organization
- Faculty Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
- Founding Member, International Health Economics Association
Positions Held (1)
At Haas since 1996
1996 – present, Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley 1996 – present, Professor, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley 2010 – present, Scientific Director, Center for Effective Global Action, UC Berkeley 2012 – 2013, Director, Clausen Center for International Economics and Policy, UC Berkeley 2010 – 2012, Founding Chair, Board of Directors, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), New Delhi, India 2000 – 2012, Director, Graduate Program in Health Management, UC Berkeley 2008 – 2011, Director, Institute of Business and Economics Research, UC Berkeley 2004 – 2006, Chief Economist, Human Development Network, The World Bank 1994 – 1996, Visiting Professor, Department of Economics, Harvard University 1988 – 1996, Senior Economist, RAND, Santa Monica, CA 1986 – 1988, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard University 1983 – 1986, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, SUNY Stony Brook 1978 – 1980, Analyst, Office of Health Economics, Department of Health, State of Wisconsin
Media Appearances (15)
A New Approach to Lending in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
National Bureau of Economic Research online
A new form of digital collateral is proving effective in helping low-income people around the world, according to research co-authored by Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact, and Cora Jane Flood Professor of Business Administration Catherine Wolfram. Digital collateral allows a person to borrow in order to buy an asset, such as a smartphone. If the borrower fails to make payments, the lender can lock the phone remotely until payments are resumed, which creates an incentive to repay.
Hard skills or soft skills for the youth?
World Bank Blogs online
A new study co-authored by Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact (IBSI); Assoc. Prof. Dana Carney; and Laura Chioda, IBSI's research director, looked at the results from two mini-MBA trainings for Ugandan students who were trained in both hard and soft skills. As it turned out, both skill sets created substantial economic impact.
How Debit Cards Are Helping Low-Income Households Save—and Benefiting Their Neighbors Too
Research co-authored by Prof. Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director for the Institute for Business & Social Impact, examined a Mexican policy that switched to using debit cards for cash assistance. The research found there were spillover benefits to small retailers and richer consumers that suggested that this type of policy to subsidize financial inclusion could be politically popular.
Promoting Parental Involvement in Schools
Research co-authored by Prof. Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact (IBSI), is shedding light on how to help parents support their children in school. The paper examines the effect of low-cost, group-based parental involvement interventions in Mexico using data from two randomized controlled trials. The first experiment provided financial resources to parent associations. The second experiment provided information to parents about how to support their children’s learning. They found that giving parents information can increase parental engagement in schools, change parenting behavior at home, and improve children’s behavior in school.
Announcing the winners of the Economic Impact of Digital Technologies request for proposals
Facebook Research online
Facebook received 189 proposals from 39 countries for its call for research on the economic impact of digital technology. Five were awarded, including a proposal by Prof. Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director of the Institute for Business and Social Impact and Prof. Ulrike Malmendier for a study on using digital sales and inventory technology to assess the creditworthiness of small- to medium-sized businesses. (Sean Higgins of Northwestern University will serve as principal investigator.)
Gender-Differentiated Credit Scoring: A Potential Game-Changer for Women
Financial Alliance for Women online
Although women tend to repay loans at higher rates than men, they have a harder time getting approved for loans and are offered worse terms than men with similar credit profiles. Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics, has been researching gender-differentiated credit algorithms to combat credit market biases. The goal is to create credit scores for previously unbanked women and test whether they can reduce the gender bias in access to credit.
Predicting global air conditioning demand, by nation
Energy Post online
In a new paper, my coauthors — Leo Biardeau, Paul Gertler, Catherine Wolfram — and I rank 219 countries and 1,692 cities based on what we call “air conditioning potential”. We find that India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Brazil, Bangladesh, and the Philippines all have more air conditioning potential than the United States.
Turning kids into entrepreneurs
After following 2,000 Ugandan students participating in an entrepreneurship training course for four years, Prof. Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and Scientific Director of the Center for Effective Global Action, found that the students were better able to deal with stress, had higher levels of conscientiousness and openness, and could communicate and negotiate better.
There’s an easy way to make lending fairer for women. Trouble is, it’s illegal.
MIT Technology Review online
Goldman Sachs defended itself in the Apple Card scandal by saying it did not consider gender when calculating creditworthiness. If it did, that could actually mitigate the problem.
New, Strong Evidence For Problem-Based Learning
Using randomized experimental trials, the gold standard in this type of research, economists Rosangela Bando, Emma Naslund-Hadley and Paul Gertler conducted ten field experiments in four countries (Argentina, Belize, Paraguay, and Peru) covering more than 17,000 students.
This Economist Reveals the Deadly Truth About the Trump Administration’s Assault on Breastfeeding
Mother Jones online
President Donald Trump’s delegation to the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly recently bullied smaller, less wealthy nations in an failed effort to crush a resolution urging mothers to breastfeed infants. In a recent paper, Prof. Paul Gertler and a team of colleagues compared infant mortality rates in regions that had access to infant formula with regions that didn’t. In 1981—the height of a controversy over Nestlé’s aggressive marketing of formula to mothers in poor countries—the “availability of formula” resulted in approximately 66,000 infant deaths in areas with bad water, they found.
Trump stance on breast-feeding and formula criticized by medical experts
New York Times online
Global health experts said the president’s stance suggested a lack of knowledge about the history of the marketing of powdered formula to developing countries, where there is a lack of clean water to mix with forumula. A recent study by Paul J. Gertler, Li Ka Shing Professor, found that 66,000 infants died in low- and middle-income countries in 1981 alone because of the availability of formula.
A groundbreaking study offers undeniable proof that the fight against inequality starts with moms
“If we want to attack poverty, the place to start is very early in life,” says Paul Gertler, an economist who studied the long-term effects of the Jamaica program.
Disney is offering a free education program — why women might benefit more than men
"Job training creates different expectations among men than women, according to a 2017 report from the World Bank, the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, the Universidad Nacional de La Plata in Argentina and the Inter-American Development Bank, a Washington, D.C.-based company that finances development in Latin America and the Caribbean."
Plant Trees To Save Energy
"In Mexico, a recent study from the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley predicts there will be near universal saturation of air conditioning in all warm areas within just a few decades."
Selected Papers & Publications (18)
How to Make Replication the NormNature
Paul Gertler, Sebastian Galiani, and Mauricio Romero
The Half-Life of Happiness: Hedonic Adaptation in the Subjective Well-Being of Poor Slum Dwellers to the Satisfaction of Basic Housing NeedsJournal of the European Economic Association
Sebastian Galiani, Paul J Gertler, and Raimundo Undurraga
Are There Synergies from Combining Hygiene and Sanitation Promotion Campaigns: Evidence from a Large-Scale Cluster-Randomized Trial in Rural TanzaniaPLoS ONE
Bertha Briceño, Aidan Coville, Paul Gertler, and Sebastian Martinez
Digital Financial Services Reduce Transaction Costs and Improve Financial InclusionAmerican Economic Association Papers and Proceedings
Pierre Bachas, Paul Gertler, Sean Higgins, and Enrique Seira
Long-Run Effects of Temporary Incentives on Medical Care ProductivityAmerican Economic Journal: Applied Economics
Pablo Celhay, Paul Gertler, Paula Giovagnoli, and Christel Vermeersch
Books or Laptops? The Cost-Effectiveness of Shifting from Printed to Digital Delivery of Educational ContentEconomics of Education Review
Paul Gertler, Rosangela Bando, Francisco Gallego, and Dario Romero
Shelter from the Storm: Upgrading Housing Infrastructure in Latin American SlumsJournal of Urban Economics
Sebastian Galiani, Paul J. Gertler, Raimundo Undurraga, Ryan Cooper, Sebastian Martinez, and Adam Ross
Physician Ownership of Complementary Medical ServicesJournal of Public Economics
Brian K. Chen, Paul J. Gertler, and Chun-Yuh Yang
Investing in the Foundation of Sustainable Development: Pathways to Scale for Early Childhood DevelopmentThe Lancet
L Richter, B Daelmand, J Lomdardi, J Heymann, F Lopez Boo, J Behrman, C Lu, J Lucas, R Perez-Escamilla, T Dua, Z Bhutta, K Stenberg, P Gertler, and G Darmstadt
Non-Contributory PensionsLabour Economics
Sebastian Galiani, Paul Gertler, and Rosangela Bando
The Demand for Energy-Using Assets Among the World’s Rising Middle ClassesAmerican Economic Review
Paul Gertler, Orie Shelef, Catherine Wolfram, and Alan Fuch
Contribution of Air Conditioning Adoption to Future Energy Use Under Global WarmingProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA
Lucas Davis and Paul Gertler
Using Provider Performance Incentives to Increase HIV Testing and Counseling Services in RwandaJournal of Health Economics
Damien de Walque, Paul J. Gertler, Sergio Bautista-Arredondo, Ada Kwan, Christel Vermeerschd, Jean de Dieu Bizimana , Agnès Binagwaho, and Jeanine Condo
Wealthy, Healthy and Wise: Does Money Compensate for Being Born into Difficult Conditions?Applied Economics Letters
Paul Gertler, James Manley, and Lia Fernald
Labor Market Returns to an Early Childhood Stimulation Intervention in JamaicaScience
Paul Gertler, James Heckman, Rodrigo Pinto, Arianna Zanolini, Christel Vermeersch, Susan Walker, Susan M. Chang, and Sally Grantham-McGregor
The Effect of India’s Total Sanitation Campaign on Defecation Behaviors and Child Health in Rural Madhya Pradesh: A Cluster Randomized Controlled TrialPLoS Med
Sumeet R. Patil, Benjamin F. Arnold, Alicia L. Salvatore, Bertha Briceno, Sandipan Ganguly, John M. Colford Jr., Paul J. Gertler
Cash for Coolers: Evaluating a Large-Scale Appliance Replacement Program in MexicoAmerican Economic Journal: Economic Policy
Lucas W. Davis, Alan Fuchs, and Paul Gertler
Financial Crisis and Productivity Evolution: Evidence from IndonesiaThe World Economy
Paul Gertler, Sharon Poczter, and Alexander D. Rothenberg