Pioneered by three young researchers—Prof. Heather Schofield, Prof. Frank Schilbach, and Prof. Gautam Rao—the Behavioral Development Lab focuses on integrating behavioral economics and development economics to understand the causes and consequences of poverty. The BDL, housed under LEAD (formerly IFMR LEAD), an action-oriented research center of IFMR Society with strategic oversight from Krea University and affiliated with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at South Asia (J-PAL SA), conducts numerous research projects at the intersection of development and behavioral economics. We believe that by understanding the lives of the poor, we can both improve our understanding of the drivers of poverty and promote more effective, efficient, and compassionate policies.
Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, we conduct randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to study the lives of the poor in various areas across India. We study behavioral mechanisms and develop interventions to solve economic puzzles in developing economies. Our lab-in-the-field approach enables us to identify causal effects, while also maintaining external validity, allowing our findings to be translated into action in the real world.
The lab is primarily based in Chennai, however, we also undertake projects in other locations, currently including Goa and Lucknow.