Chris Blattman

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Christopher "Chris" Blattman is an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University, working at the intersection of international development, politics, economics, and policy.[1][2][3] He is also affiliated with Innovations for Poverty Action,[4] the Center for Global Development,[5] Yale Economic Growth Center, International Growth Centre, Households in Conflict Network, Experiments in Governance and Politics, and Scholars Strategy Network.[1]

Academic life[edit]

Blattman received a BA in Economics from the University of Waterloo. He completed a Master's in Public Administration and International Development (MPA/ID) from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley for thesis titled Essays on instability and development: War, violence, and natural resources under the supervision of Edward Miguel.[1][6] He was a faculty member at Yale University before moving to Columbia University in 2012, where he is an assistant professor of political science as of February 2014.[1]


Blattman's research focuses on the relationship between violence and poverty in African states, including child soldiers in Africa.[7]


Blattman has published on his website advice to students for emailing professors[8] as well as advice for prospective graduate students and post-docs seeking him as adviser,[9] both of which were commented upon in an Inside Higher Ed article.[10]

Along with Esther Duflo, Dean Karlan and others, he is a proponent of field experiments in the social sciences, though he has also advised against doing field experiments for one's dissertation.[11][12]



Blattman has been interviewed by the Georgetown Public Policy Review,[13] the New York Times Economix blog,[14] and Gadling.[15]

Citations in news and blog pieces[edit]

Blattman has been cited and quoted in a number of news and opinion pieces related to international development, such as a New York Times Magazine article about cash transfers and GiveDirectly[16][17] and a Slate Magazine article discussing a claim by Bill Gates that by 2035, the world would have no poor countries.[18]

Blattman's research on child soldiers was discussed by Lawrence MacDonald on the Center for Global Development blog.[7]

Blattman's blog posts on economic development have been cited by many other economists on their own blogs, including William Easterly[19][20] and Tyler Cowen.[21][22] The Freakonomics blog frequently hat tips Blattman for interesting research it blogs about, having discovered it via Blattman's blog.[23] Duncan Green's Oxfam blog From Poverty to Power frequently hat tips and occasionally critiques Blattman.[24]

Some blog posts of Blattman that have been widely cited and critiqued are a blog post on cash transfers[25][26] as well as blog posts discussing randomized controlled trials.[21][27][28]


Blattman accused the Freakonomics blog of plagiarism and improper attribution practices, leading to a lengthy email exchange between him and Stephen J. Dubner, which resulted in Blattman retracting some of the more serious accusations.[29][30][31]


  1. ^ a b c d Blattman, Chris. "About me". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Chris Blattman". School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Christopher J. Blattman". Department of Political Science, Columbia University. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Chris Blattman". Innovations for Poverty Action. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Chris Blattman". Center for Global Development. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Essays on instability and development : war, violence, and natural resources / by Christopher Blattman.". Oskicat Berkeley Library Catalog. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b MacDonald, Lawrence (May 4, 2010). "The Economics of Child Soldiering: Chris Blattman". Center for Global Development. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  8. ^ Blattman, Chris (November 8, 2010). "Students: How to email to your Professor, employer, and professional peers". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  9. ^ Blattman, Chris. "Columbia PhD and post-doc advising". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  10. ^ Flaherty, Colleen (September 16, 2013). "'If You Want to Be My Student'". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  11. ^ Blattman, Chris (July 14, 2011). "Aspiring PhD students: Should you become a field research assistant for an RCT?". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  12. ^ Blattman, Chris (February 12, 2013). "How to pick a dissertation project (and why it should not be a field experiment)". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Experimentation and Empowerment: An Interview with Columbia University’s Chris Blattman". Georgetown Public Policy Review. February 14, 2014. 
  14. ^ Lowrey, Annie (June 20, 2013). "Ending Poverty by Giving the Poor Money". New York Times Economix blog. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  15. ^ Hotfelder, Aron (August 20, 2008). "Talking Travel with global development researcher Chris Blattman". Gadling. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  16. ^ Goldstein, Jacob (August 13, 2013). "Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached?". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  17. ^ "GiveDirectly and Chris Blattman in New York Times and This American Life". Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  18. ^ Keating, Joshua (January 22, 2014). "Incomes in Africa Have Barely Budged for the Last 15 Years". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  19. ^ Easterly, William (June 15, 2012). "Yet another perspective on China: It’s History, Stupid". New York University Development Research Institute. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  20. ^ Easterly, William (August 9, 2010). "A Lecturer answers The Big Question". Aid Watch. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b Cowen, Tyler (January 9, 2009). "Chris Blattman on randomized control trials". Marginal Revolution (blog). Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  22. ^ Cowen, Tyler (December 14, 2009). "Chris Blattman on why aid seems to fail". Marginal Revolution. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Blattman (search results)". Freakonomics. 
  24. ^ Green, Duncan (September 7, 2010). "So do food price spikes cause riots or not?". From Poverty to Power, Oxfam blogs. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  25. ^ Blattman, Chris (May 23, 2013). "Dear governments: Want to help the poor and transform your economy? Give people cash.". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  26. ^ Maurer, Noel (May 26, 2013). "Chris Blattman is a genius". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  27. ^ Blattman, Chris (July 16, 2009). "On development experiments". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  28. ^ Karnofsky, Holden (July 20, 2009). "Development experiments (randomized controlled trials) as a counterpoint to marketing materials". GiveWell blog. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  29. ^ Blattman, Chris (January 27, 2010). "Do the big newspaper blogs plagiarize?". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  30. ^ Blattman, Chris (January 28, 2010). "More on yesterday’s cheap shot @freakonomics and @WSJIdeasMarket". Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  31. ^ Dubner, Stephen J. (March 20, 2012). "Freakonomics: What Went Right? Responding to Wrong-Headed Attacks". Freakonomics. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 

External links[edit]