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kate.orkin[at]merton.ox.ac.uk
Merton College, Merton Street
Oxford, OX1 4JD
United Kingdom




I am a Senior Research Fellow in Behavioural Economics at the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford
I work in applied microeconomics in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa using lab and field experiments. One strand of research examines how information interventions alter beliefs about oneself and expectations about the future, and, in turn, economic and political behaviour. Some work in progress shows:
  • Showing farmers in remote villages motivational documentaries about successful people from similar backgrounds makes them more likely to make future-oriented investments in their children's education, in agricultural technology, and in durable assets and livestock. 
  • Providing information on the likely outcome of elections from polls affects voter beliefs, turnout, party choice and party evaluation.
  • Giving unemployed youth information about their cognitive and non-cognitive skills increases efficacy of job search, employment and wages.


My new work examines the economic, social and political effects of unconditional cash transfer programmes. 
  • In 420 Kenyan villages, we explore, using a multi-arm randomised controlled trial, the effect of relaxing financial constraints (through an unconditional $1000 GiveDirectly cash transfer), psychological constraints (through a goal-setting intervention), and external and internal constraints simultaneously.
  • In partnership with a neighbouring cash transfer trial, we study whether transfers affect group membership, civic participation and political attitudes. 
  • We also survey non-recipients to explore whether transfers reduce village-level inequality in income and wealth.
  • And we examine how transfers and psychological interventions affect the structure and composition of social networks.