People Feature

James Walsh

DPhil in Economics

I am a DPhil student at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. I am interested in the social and psychological foundations of human agency. I am affiliated with the Centre for Experimental Social Science at Nuffield, Centre for the Study of African Economies, and the Institute of Sociology at the University of Bern.

I have worked with the World Bank since 2013 and in addition to my academic work, I provide support to the World Bank's Behavioral Science Unit (eMBeD) on projects in Lebanon and Iraq. I spend most of my time engaging in diagnostic work to understand policy problems, creating behavioral interventions to solve those policy problems, and designing field experiments to test the effectiveness of those interventions. 

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 Sonja Vogt)
  • Psychological capabilities: Helping students stay resilient in the face of setbacks (with Ashley Pople 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. 2018. The Whys of Social Exclusion: Insights from Behavioral Economics. The World Bank Research Observer33(1), pp.1-33. Available here.

Hoff, Karla; Walsh, James. 2019. The Third Function of Law Is to Transform Cultural Categories (English). Policy Research working paper; no. WPS 8954. Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group. 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