Personal profile

Academic Background

My first degree in economics was from the Department of Economics, Addis Ababa University; my master's and DPhil (PhD) studies were both at Oxford University (the first at Queen's and the second at St. Antony's colleges).

At the completion of my undergraduate studies, I was recruited by the Department of Economics at Addis Ababa University and worked there between 1986 and 1997.  While at the department, I lectured on Principles of Economics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and History of Economic Thought and coordinated many courses in addition to administrative tasks.

Just at the completion of my DPhil studies, I was employed as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Bath in an ESRC research project entitled Wellbeing in Developing Countries (WeD).  My main responsibilities at WeD included: participating in a multi-disciplinary project specifically by focusing on contributions from development economics; co-ordinating a multi-purpose household survey; co-editing a Newsletter and supervising a PhD student.  I moved to the School of International Development (DEV) at the UEA in July 2004. 

CV and Experience

Click here to download Bereket's CV.


I’m a professor of behavioural development economics at the School of International Development (DEV), University of East Anglia (UEA).  I joined the School in July 2004 after completing my DPhil (PhD) studies at the University of Oxford in 2003 and working as a post-doc in Bath for more than a year.

My main research interests revolve around understanding individual behaviour and how that affects welfare in developing countries.  As such, one of the focuses of my research is on intra-household allocations; while earlier research mainly used econometric analysis of household data, my current work combines this with behavioural economics using data from experimental games in developing countries including Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Uganda.  This research project was funded by an ESRC-DFID grant and involved an inter-disciplinary group of sociologists, anthropologists and economists (for recent research outputs from this project please look at the ‘Research’ web page).

A second area of my research concentrates on understanding social preferences, such as inequality aversion and envy; this project is funded by ESRC.  Specifically, using money-burning experimental games the effect of social preferences on agricultural innovation in Ethiopia is be analysed (for the flagship working paper that came out of this research, please look at the ‘Research’ web page).

Third, I’m involved in a European Union funded inter-disciplinary research project that uses an experimental payment-for-environment service (PES) scheme to conserve the Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda.  How cooperation between villagers affects the implementation of a PES will be examined, among other methods, using different versions of public good games.

In addition to these three main areas, I’ve done research on child health especially using anthropometric measurements, poverty and inequality, land distribution, market structures, household energy demand in developing countries, fisheries economics and mixed research methods (qualitative-quantitative analysis) (a list of outputs on these areas of research can be found in the ‘Research’ web page).  I’m developing a long-term research interest in using insights from psychology – specifically personality psychology – to understand intra-household allocations

Key Research Interests

Main: behavioural development economics; household models and intra-household relationships; social preferences (specifically envy); Others: qualitative-quantitative methods; growth diagnostics; child health; literacy; poverty; common property resources; land tenure; energy (particularly household energy); subjective well-being; household surveys; Geographical focus: Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda

Research Groups:  Behavioural and Experimental Development Economics; Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science; Health Policy and Practice

Recent activities

I was a former principal investigator of a large DFID-ESRC research project on “The experimental investigation of allocation norms across contexts and the implications for household models and development policies”.  Cecile Jackson, Alistair Munro, Nitya Rao, Marcel Tarazona and Arjan Verschoor are the other research team members.  The project run between 2007 and 2010 and is an experimental study of intra-household allocations in three developing countries – Ethiopia, India and Nigeria – following a pilot study conducted in Uganda.  Experimental games, data from household surveys, sociological and anthropological data are used to understand intra-household allocations in different context of developing countries (look at the ‘Research and other publications’ below for some of the outputs from this research project).

“Money burning, envy and development: An experimental case study in Ethiopia” is the second research project I was involved in recently (2008-10).  This was funded by an ESRC grant and was conducted in collaboration with Professor Daniel Zizzo (Newcastle University).  The role of envy and similar social preferences like inequality aversion on agricultural innovations was examined by using experimental games in conjunction with survey and qualitative data. The flagship working paper from this research project is listed in the ‘Research and other publications’ section below.

Currently, I'm involved in a European Union research project entitled “Reconciling Biodiversity and Development through Direct Payments for Conservation (ReDirect)”, with Adrian Martin, Nicole Gross-Camp and Shawn McGuire all from the School of International Development (UEA).  This project examines the feasibility of payments for environmental services (PES) among communities bordering the Nyungwe national park in Rwanda by introducing experimental PES over a period of time.  This will be one of the first research undertakings that examine the effectiveness of PES in a rigorous experimental method.  The project runs between 2008 and 2012.

 I’m currently working on

  • the effect of fuel prices on fisheries with Kirsten Abernethy (World Fish), Edward Allison (World Fish) and Nick Dulvy (Simon Fraser University);
  • literacy using data from Mozambique with Bryan Maddox and Lucio Esposito from the School of International Development;
  • growth diagnostics in West African countries with the African Development Bank.

I’m writing an introductory development microeconomics textbook.  This textbook attempts to innovatively integrate conventional microeconomics with insights from behavioural and institutional economics laying out a better framework to understand development problems.

Here is a list of recent presentations:

Present the paper “Envy and agriculture innovation: An experimental case study from Ethiopia” at the Royal Economic Society (RES) annual conference, Royal Holloway, University of London, 18-20 April 2011, London

Presented the paper “Intra-household efficiency: An experimental study from Ethiopia” with Marcela Tarazona, Alistair Munro and Arjan Verschoor at Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) annual conference, Oxford University, Oxford, 20-22 March 2011

Keynote presentation on “Of love and deadly sins: Experimental games in development research”, Young Researchers Forum, the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE), 11 March 2011, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh

Keynote presentation on “Intra-household allocation and bargain power”, workshop on “Women’s Bargaining Power and Economic Development”, Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University, 4 February 2011

 “The lion’s share: An experimental analysis of polygamy in northern Nigeria”, authored with Alistair Munro, Marcela Tarazona, and Arjan Verschoor and presented by Alistair Munro at the Allied Social Science Associations Conference, American Economic Association, January 6-9, 2011, Denver, CO, USA

Organised a session on “Energy Use in Fisheries: Improving Efficiency and Technological Innovations from a Global Perspective” with Kirsten Abernethy (University of East Anglia), Nick Dulvy (Simon Fraser University) and Edward Allison (World Fish) at a conference organised by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 14-17 November 2010, Seattle, WA

Presented with Kirsten Abernethy the paper “High fuel prices in temperate and tropical fisheries: Are the impacts the same?” at a conference organised by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 14-17 November 2010, Seattle, WA

Presented the paper “Intra-household economic models and personality: Challenging homo anonymous”, presented at the 15th European Conference on Personality (ECP15), Brno, Czech Republic, 20-24 July 2010

Presented the paper “Growing up in rural Ethiopia: Do children left behind catch-up?” at the Eighth European Conference on Health Economics (ECHE2010), Helsinki, Finland, 7- 10 July 2010

Presented the paper “Social preferences and agricultural innovation in Africa: An experimental case study from Ethiopia”, with Daniel Zizzo, annual conference of the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), Oxford University, Oxford, 21- 23 March 2010

Presented the paper “Literacy practices and schooling: Case study from Mozambique” authored with Lucio Esposito and Bryan Maddox at the International Conference on Literacy Inequalities, 1 – 3 September 2009, University of East Anglia, Norwich UK

Made a presentation on “Sustainability, Energy and the Urban Poor in Africa: The Case of Ethiopia”, 19 June 2009, at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Invited and made a keynote presentation on “Sustainability and Development: Institutions, Social Preferences and Markets” at the ICLEI World Congress Researcher Symposium Thursday, 18 June 2009, Shaw Conference Centre, Salon 4 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Presented a paper “Growing-up in rural Ethiopia: A dynamic systems GMM approach to child growth” at the Seventh International Conference on the Ethiopian Economy, Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA), 25 - 27 June 2009, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Attended the CREED-CeDEx-CBESS 2009 Meeting on behavioural economics 12-13 June 2009, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Presentation on “Publications: Publish or Perish!” on DSA Annual Postgraduate Students Workshop, 3 June 2009, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Invited and attended “Sustainable development and natural resources: What issues to work on, and how?”, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), China Regional Advisory Panel Meeting hosted by the College of Humanities and Rural Development, China Agricultural University, 3 September 2008, Beijing, China

Invited and attended, “Research impacts and influence workshop”, ESRC-DFID, 30 May 2008, Medical Research Council, London, UK

Invited as panellist to DAC/POVNET of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) workshop on “Reducing Poverty and Promoting pro-Poor Growth: China’s Experience in Rural Poverty Reduction at Home and in Africa”, 21 February 2008, Paris

“Interactions between short- and long-term anthropometric health outcomes among children in rural Ethiopia”, paper presented at the Sixth World Congress on Health Economics, International Health Economics Association (iHEA), 8-11 July 2007, Copenhagen, Denmark

“Subjective well-being, disability and adaptation: A case study from rural Ethiopia”, co-authored with Marcel Fafchamps presented at the Global Poverty Research Group (GPRG) and Brooks World Poverty Institute (BWPI) Conference, University of Manchester, Manchester, 2-4 July 2007

“Community wealth-ranking and household surveys: An integrative approach”, paper presented at the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) Conference 2007 on Economic Development in Africa, 18-20 March 2007, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

Earlier research

1.      Managing four rounds of the Ethiopian Rural Household Surveys (ERHS) between 1994 and 1997:  These surveys were conducted by the Department of Economics of Addis Ababa University in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), Oxford University and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).  Further rounds of the ERHS have been conducted creating an invaluable panel household survey data unique not only for Ethiopia but for Africa.  The data have been used in many PhD theses (including mine), masters dissertations and journal articles and papers.  Some of the data collected by these surveys are publicly available at the CSAE web site.

2.      I also managed an urban household survey covering seven main urban centres of Ethiopia in 1995 in collaboration with the Agricultural Economics Department of Michigan State University.  This survey was part of the Food Security Project funded by USAID.

3.      Energy, particularly household energy use, is an area on which I've worked for a relatively long time.  Most of my energy-related research is done within AFREPREN.  I've served as Steering Committee member for around a decade in addition to working as co-ordinator of different theme groups.  My main research focused on household energy use in urban areas of Ethiopia.

4.      I was holding a research grant from the AERC on "Poverty, income distribution and labour market issues in Africa" between 2003 and 2005 with Arne Bigsten and Abebe Shimeles.

5.      A research grant held with Abebe Shimeles from the Foundation for Advanced Studies in International Development (FASID) through the AERC in 2001-02.  The research focused on poverty and institutions.

Areas of Expertise

Development economics; allocations within households (eg gender, issues inside households); behavioural and experimental development economics; envy and agricultural innovations; impact evaluation; poverty and income distribution; payment for environmental services (PES); child health in developing countries; distribution of land; household energy; Africa, esp. Ethiopia.

Teaching Interests

During the last few academic years, I taught eight different modules – serving as a convenor/organizer for five of them.  Two of the units – Economics for Development 1 & 2 – are introductory undergraduate economics courses.  In the first, students are introduced to basic issues in development, both micro and macro.  In the second, principles of microeconomics with particular focus on development issues are covered.  This unit introduces students to standard microeconomics of development as well as insights from behavioural and institutional economics.  I was also involved in teaching a module on development issues of Sub-Saharan Africa.  The remaining five modules are at graduate level.  Econometric Methods for Development introduces graduate students to the use of econometrics.  Research Techniques and Analysis covers both quantitative and qualitative methods.  The module ‘Food Systems and Rural Development’ focuses at current global food systems and food security issues with particular reference to developing countries.  Environmental Economics covers environmental and ecological issues with a specific focus on development related problems.  Rural Policy focuses on the challenges developing countries face in improving living standards of rural areas.
So far, I've supervised 16 successful master’s dissertations in the last five academic years (2004-09); the dissertations, among others, covered various topics including energy, corruption, intra-household allocation, food security, privatisation, street children, wellbeing measures and post-conflict stabilisation in different regions of the world.

I am currently supervising the following PhD students:

Kevin Crooks, ‘Social Behaviour and Agricultural Innovations Adoption: The Case of Jamaica’

Kalu Ibe Kalu, ‘Do Financial Incentives Make a Difference to the Performance of Public Sector Workers in Nigeria’

John Sawdon, ‘Economic Analysis of Climate Change Mitigation Policies in Rapidly Developing Countries: Vietnam Case Study’

Jesus Resendiz Silva, ‘Electricity, Privatisation, Politics and Regulation in the Mexican Economy’

The following students successfully completed their studies:

Alessandro De Matteis, ‘Food for All or Food Aid for All? What Rationale for Food Aid in the 21st Century?’ PhD

Kirsten Abernethy, ‘Why do Fishers Fish Where They Fish?’, PhD

Elizabeth Manda, ‘The Role of Information Systems in Agricultural Marketing in Malawi’ PhD

Lucio Esposito, ‘Essays in Poverty Measurement’ PhD

Fortune Laurence, ‘Industrial Development and Issues in the Footwear Industry of Nigeria’ MPhil

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or