kate.orkin[at]bsg.ox.ac.uk


I am a permanent faculty member in Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. I am an affiliate at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab and the Centre for the Study of African Economies.

My CV is here.

My work is in labour, public, behavioural and development economics. I create new public policy interventions with NGOs and governments which aim to reduce poverty or improve employment and earnings. I test these programmes in large-scale field experiments, producing both papers relevant to academic debates and findings which can be applied in policy and programme design.

One strand of research examines how information interventions alter beliefs about oneself and expectations about the future, and, in turn, economic choices and outcomes. Some work in draft or under review shows:

  • Giving unemployed youth information about their relative place in the skills distribution and enabling them to share this information credibly (on certified reports) with employers increases employment and wages.

  • Interventions to encourage women to visualise the future increase take-up of water chlorination and reduce child diarrhea.

  • Showing farmers motivational documentaries about successful people from similar backgrounds makes them more likely to save, adopt agricultural technologies, expand microenterprises and invest in children's education.

I'm currently writing up work examining the economic and social 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.

  • We also survey non-recipients to explore whether transfers reduce village-level inequality in income and wealth.

I also have some work in political economy.

  • I find providing information on the likely outcome of elections from polls affects voter beliefs, turnout, party choice and party evaluation.

  • I am currently studying the effect of unconditional cash transfers on group membership, civic participation and political attitudes.

More details are on the 'work in progress' page.

Media pieces on social protection and behavioural messaging during COVID19 are here.

I lead the Mind and Behaviour Research Group, a joint initiative of the Centre for the Study of African Economies and the Oxford Department of Psychiatry, hosted by the Blavatnik School. This is a network of economists, psychiatrists and psychologists applying psychology to inform the design of programmes which either reduce poverty or improve governance and service delivery in low- and middle-income countries. One of the group's aims is to develop and test scalable, high-impact interventions that can be used in programming and to support governments and NGOs in taking interventions to scale.

We hosted the BREAD conference on Behavioural Economics and Development from 5-7 February 2020 in Oxford.

We hosted a master class and workshop on Meta-analysis in Development Economics in July 2019. Videos and slides from all speakers are available on the site.