Short Bio

Nicholas Wilson is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at Reed College.  He has spent the past three years serving an appointment as Fellow on The White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team.

His research focuses on fundamental puzzles about human behavior in the context of health, development, and behavioral economics.  These include “how do individuals respond to improvements in health technology?” and “why do individuals invest so little in preventive health inputs?”.  The majority of his research projects are randomized controlled experiments or quasi-experimental projects using geo-spatial data.  The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the University of Chicago Population Center, and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) have funded his work.  He is a co-recipient of the 2019 Kuznets Prize.

Prior to joining Reed College, he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and an Assistant Professor of Economics at Williams College. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Brown University, MA in Economics from Brown University, MPA in International Development from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and BA in Economics from Reed College.

He has worked as a consultant for UNAIDS, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, and the World Bank.  His research collaborators include the Centre for HIV and AIDS Prevention Studies (CHAPS), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Network of Zambian People Living with HIV (NZP+), Population Services International (PSI), the Republic of Zambia Central Statistical Office (CSO), the Republic of Zambia Ministry of Health (MoH), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States Department of Defense (DOD), the United States General Services Administration (GSA), and the United States Social Security Administration (SSA).

Selected News Coverage

2019 Kuznets Prize Winner.

[Link to paper:]

The Economist.

Read more about The White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team here:


Link to dramatized video illustrative of Dr. Wilson's work: [Note: postcard distribution was randomized in actual experiment.]

Link to short United Nations interview with Dr. Lucas illustrative of Dr. Wilson's work:

Link to longer presentation at First NOVAFRICA Conference: Economic Development in Africa: (lecture begins around 32:28)

Link to short interview on an alien's perspective on the era of modern economic growth: