Dean Karlan is a Professor of Economics and Finance at Northwestern University, and the Founder and President of Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit organization dedicated to discovering and promoting solutions to global poverty problems, and working to scale-up successful ideas through implementation and dissemination to policymakers, practitioners, investors and donors. In 2015, he co-founded ImpactMatters, a nonprofit dedicated to producing impact audits, which assesses whether an organization uses and produces appropriate evidence of impact.
His research focuses on microeconomic issues of poverty, typically employing experimental methodologies and behavioral economics insights to examine what works, what does not, and why in interventions in sustainable income generation for those in poverty, household and entrepreneurial finance, health behavior, and charitable giving. He works on issues for low-income households in both developing countries and the United States.
Karlan is on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the M.I.T. Jameel Poverty Action Lab. As a social entrepreneur, he is co-founder of stickK.com, a website that uses lessons from behavioral economics to help people reach personal goals, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, through commitment contracts on corporate wellness platforms. In 2011, Karlan co-authored More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty, and in 2016 he co-authored Failing in the Field.
Karlan received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was awarded distinguished alumni awards from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business and the Duke University Talent Identification Program. Previously, Karlan was the Samuel C Park, Jr Professor of Economics at Yale University, and Assistant Professor of Economics at Princeton University. Karlan received a Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T., an M.B.A. and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Virginia.