Kartini Shastry

Professor of Economics

Conducts research on economic development, including questions related to education, health, and savings behavior.

My research background is in the field of economic development, focusing primarily on questions of education, health, and savings behavior among poor households. This field seeks to understand why some countries are rich and others poor and how economic policies can be used to improve the well-being of individuals in developing countries. I am especially interested in the decisions these individuals make. One focus of my research relates to how household decisions, such as whether to enroll in school, responded to the growth in job opportunities for well-educated English-speaking workers in India in the 1990s. Another research direction studies whether financial education can be effective in improving the financial decisions people make, such as how much to save. I examine this question in very different contexts, such as required high school courses in the United States and mandatory workshops among employees of gold mines in South Africa.

I teach economics courses at all levels. I teach a principles course in microeconomics (ECON 101), an intermediate course in econometrics (ECON 203), and a seminar course on economic development (ECON 320). Econ 101 introduces students to the principles of microeconomic theory. The goal is to familiarize students with economic arguments used in policy debates and to help them make better economic decisions in their own lives. Econ 203 introduces students to the statistical methods that economists use to analyze data and test these theories. Finally, Econ 320 brings together theory and statistical methods to analyze important questions in the field of economic development. This course studies key aspects of life for poor households in the developing world, such as inequality, population growth, education, child labor, health, savings behavior, microcredit, and corruption. Students read current research in the field and examine empirical evidence on these topics.

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  • A.B., Brown University
  • A.M., Harvard University
  • Ph.D., Harvard University

Current and upcoming courses

This class introduces students to the research field of economic development. We will examine some of the big topics in economic development and how economists study them. For example, we will study key aspects of life for poor households in the developing world, such as fertility, education, and savings, through the lens of economic theory. We will consider interventions and policy options designed to improve outcomes and examine related empirical evidence. Students will study recent research in this area and, for the final project, propose a research project on a question of relevance in development economics.