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Paul J. Gertler - Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA, US

Paul J. Gertler Paul J. Gertler

Professor | Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics | Professor, School of Public Health | Faculty Director, Institute for Business & Social Impact | Scientific Director, Center for Effective Global Action | University of California, Berkeley



Areas of Expertise (6)

Health Economics

Financial Inclusion

Poverty Alleviation

Labor Markets

Early Childhood Development and Education

Impact Evaluation


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.






Investing in Young Children Globally: The Cost of Inaction Banking on Trust: How debit cards help the poor save more Paul Gertler: Rethinking Replication in Economics


Education (2)

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)

Pilot | Crypto wallet and remittance service for unbanked Venezuelan refugees

Medium  online


Venezuela is experiencing mass migration & extreme hyperinflation which means cross-border transactions have become a lifeline. Paul Gertler, Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact (IBSI) and Laura Chioda, IBSI's director of research, are working with Mercy Corps Ventures to support Valiucom's crypto wallet and remittance service for unbanked Venezuelan migrants & refugees to send money home.

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One Way to Tackle Extreme Poverty: Replace Dirt Floors

Bloomberg  online


Dirt floors bring a host of health problems that negatively impact families across the globe. Research by Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact, found that a combination of hard floors, pine walls, and tin roofs lead to a bigger drop in childhood incidence of diarrhea.

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Demand for air conditioning is set to surge by 2050

The Economist  online


There’s new research on air conditioning out from Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact; Lucas Davis, the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor; and Cora Jane Flood Professor of Business Administration Catherine Wolfram (on leave). They find that wider use of AC will save lives, but will disproportionately benefit those with higher incomes. Poorer people without AC are more likely to get ill or be less productive, and heat hinders learning. But the use of AC itself contributes to global warming, making life even hotter for everyone.

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A Covid-19 Silver Lining in Latin America: Millions of New Bank Accounts

The Wall Street Journal  online


Emergency cash stipends handed out by Latin American governments have translated into surplus cash and a huge number of new bank accounts, allowing people to start businesses in a region known for its large informal economy. “For Latin America in particular, both savings and credit are really a way of improving people’s lives,” said Paul Gertler, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Economics and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact at Haas.

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Testing financial innovations: Increasing loan repayment using digital collateral

VoxDev  online


Households in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have suffered from insufficient access to credit. New research co-authored by Prof. Paul Gertler, faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact, found that a new financing strategy based on "digital collateral" offers a way to provide secured lending that benefits lower income people. Consumers can make a small down payment to get a new smart phone, for example, and continue with small installments via a mobile payment system. If they stop paying, the lender can lock them out of the phone, making it inaccessible until they resume payments.

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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.

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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.

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How Debit Cards Are Helping Low-Income Households Save—and Benefiting Their Neighbors Too

Quirus  online


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.

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Promoting Parental Involvement in Schools

Future-Ed  online


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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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Turning kids into entrepreneurs

BBC  online


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.

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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.

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New, Strong Evidence For Problem-Based Learning

Forbes  online


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.

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Selected Papers & Publications (18)

How to Make Replication the Norm


Paul Gertler, Sebastian Galiani, and Mauricio Romero


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The Half-Life of Happiness: Hedonic Adaptation in the Subjective Well-Being of Poor Slum Dwellers to the Satisfaction of Basic Housing Needs

Journal of the European Economic Association

​Sebastian Galiani, Paul J Gertler, and Raimundo Undurraga


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Are There Synergies from Combining Hygiene and Sanitation Promotion Campaigns: Evidence from a Large-Scale Cluster-Randomized Trial in Rural Tanzania


Bertha Briceño, Aidan Coville, Paul Gertler, and Sebastian Martinez


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Digital Financial Services Reduce Transaction Costs and Improve Financial Inclusion

American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings​

Pierre Bachas, Paul Gertler, Sean Higgins, and Enrique Seira


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Long-Run Effects of Temporary Incentives on Medical Care Productivity

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Pablo Celhay, Paul Gertler, Paula Giovagnoli, and Christel Vermeersch


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Books or Laptops? The Cost-Effectiveness of Shifting from Printed to Digital Delivery of Educational Content

Economics of Education Review

Paul Gertler, Rosangela Bando, Francisco Gallego, and Dario Romero


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Shelter from the Storm: Upgrading Housing Infrastructure in Latin American Slums

​Journal of Urban Economics

Sebastian Galiani, Paul J. Gertler, Raimundo Undurraga, Ryan Cooper, Sebastian Martinez, and Adam Ross


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Physician Ownership of Complementary Medical Services

Journal of Public Economics

Brian K. Chen, Paul J. Gertler, and Chun-Yuh Yang


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Investing in the Foundation of Sustainable Development: Pathways to Scale for Early Childhood Development

The 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


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Non-Contributory Pensions

Labour Economics

Sebastian Galiani, Paul Gertler, and Rosangela Bando


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The Demand for Energy-Using Assets Among the World’s Rising Middle Classes

American Economic Review

Paul Gertler, Orie Shelef, Catherine Wolfram, and Alan Fuch


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Contribution of Air Conditioning Adoption to Future Energy Use Under Global Warming

​Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA

Lucas Davis and Paul Gertler


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Using Provider Performance Incentives to Increase HIV Testing and Counseling Services in Rwanda

Journal 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


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Wealthy, Healthy and Wise: Does Money Compensate for Being Born into Difficult Conditions?

Applied Economics Letters

Paul Gertler, James Manley, and Lia Fernald


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Labor Market Returns to an Early Childhood Stimulation Intervention in Jamaica


Paul Gertler, James Heckman, Rodrigo Pinto, Arianna Zanolini, Christel Vermeersch, Susan Walker, Susan M. Chang, and Sally Grantham-McGregor


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The Effect of India’s Total Sanitation Campaign on Defecation Behaviors and Child Health in Rural Madhya Pradesh: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial

​PLoS Med

Sumeet R. Patil, Benjamin F. Arnold, Alicia L. Salvatore, Bertha Briceno, Sandipan Ganguly, John M. Colford Jr., Paul J. Gertler


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Cash for Coolers: Evaluating a Large-Scale Appliance Replacement Program in Mexico

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy

Lucas W. Davis, Alan Fuchs, and Paul Gertler


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Financial Crisis and Productivity Evolution: Evidence from Indonesia

The World Economy

Paul Gertler, Sharon Poczter, and Alexander D. Rothenberg


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