People Feature

James Walsh

DPhil in Economics

I am a DPhil student at the Blavatnik School of Government. I am a Fellow at Harvard (working with Fiery Cushman), a Research Officer at LSE (working with Paul Dolan), and a Research Associate in Economics at the Blavatnik School of Government (working with Paul Collier). I am interested in the social and psychological foundations of human agency. I am affiliated with the Centre for Experimental Social Science at Nuffield and the Centre for the Study of African Economies.

Before starting my DPhil, I was a member of the research team for the World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior. In 2015, I lectured in behavioral approaches to development economics at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Prior to joining the World Bank, I worked as a research assistant to Robert Putnam, with the Gross National Happiness Commission of the Royal Government of Bhutan, and with Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland. I have a BA in Economics and Political Science from Trinity College Dublin and a Master in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


  • How narrative frames affect behavior (with Thokozani Chikuni and Sonja Vogt)
  • Psychological capabilities: Helping students stay resilient in the face of setbacks (with Thokozani Chikuni, Salman Asim, and Sonja Vogt)
  • Self-Integrity, locus of control, and economic performance (with Carolina Meijia-Mantilla)
  • How stereotype content affects behavior (with Susan Fiske and Naomi Vaida)
  • Getting school financing to work (with Salman Asim)
James Walsh


Publications and working papers:

Hoff, Karla; Walsh, James. Forthcoming. "The Third Function of Law Is to Transform Cultural Categories" in Law, Economics and Conflict (edited by Kaushik Basu and Robert Hockett), Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. Working paper available here. (older version)

Travers, Henry; James Walsh; Sonja Vogt; Tom Clements; and E. J. Milner-Gulland. 2021. "Delivering behavioural change at scale: What conservation can learn from other fields." Biological Conservation 257.  Available here.

Hoff, Karla; Walsh, James. 2018. "The Whys of Social Exclusion: Insights from Behavioral Economics." The World Bank Research Observer33(1), pp.1-33. Available here.


Why social exclusion is hard to change: A behavioral perspective (Brookings: Future Development)

Behavioral economics and social justice: A perspective from poverty and equity (Let's Talk Development)

Bringing Behavioral economics to development (Brookings: Future Development)

Dysfunctional mental models, marginalization, and perverse legitimacy: Reflections from the WDR 2015 (Let's Talk Development)

Behavioural development economics: A new approach to policy interventions (VoxEU