Dr Christopher Ksoll
Christopher Ksoll joined NRI in July 2020 as Associate Professor in Behavioural Sciences. He is an expert on the potential and constraints of information and communications technology (ICT) in labor markets, agricultural settings and in education, as well as experimental and quasi-experimental methods. Concurrently with his appointment at NRI, Chris is also a senior researcher at Mathematica in Oakland, US, where he has been leading evaluations of large-scale agriculture and energy projects in Africa since 2016. Prior to joining Mathematica, Chris was an Assistant Professor of International Development at the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada; a Research Officer at the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford; and a Research Fellow at Nuffield College and the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford. Chris completed his PhD at Yale University.
Chris’ research studies individual and household behaviour and impacts of at-scale development projects and pilot projects in the areas of education, labor markets and agriculture. Chris was the principal investigator of a multicountry interdisciplinary research project evaluating the use of ICT in adult education programs in the United States, Niger, and India. He has directed impact evaluations of electronic whiteboard-assisted learning in Senegal and satellite-transmitted English, math, and girls’ empowerment classes in Ghana. He also led an evaluation of village savings and loan associations in Malawi and was the co-principal investigator of an evaluation of a job market information platform in India. He is currently leading Mathematica’s evaluations of two large-scale (>100M USD) agriculture development and irrigation projects in Niger and Burkina Faso, and is the principal investigator on the evaluation of a large-scale electricity infrastructure rehabilitation project in Benin.
Chris is a development and labor economist whose academic research interests lie primarily in developing countries, in the areas of education, labor markets and agriculture. His research combines economic theory with panel data surveys, field experiments, natural experiments and lab-in-the-field experiments to investigate and test hypotheses about the constraints, opportunities and decision-making that might have led to observed patterns of behavior. The objective of his research is to improve outcomes for individuals and households. Much of his research also studies the (potentially) transformative effects of information and communications technology in developing countries.
Because the answers to the questions Chris is asking often cannot be answered with existing sources of data, he have gained extensive experience in managing large-scale data collection projects (and large team collaborations): from applying to grants, questionnaire design, interacting with teams and collaborators in NGOs and government, to developing organizational structures for data-collection. Chris’ research is mostly collaborative because field work is so time intensive and he enjoys working in teams.
Evaluation of the Benin Power Compact (2018 - ) – Principal Investigator
Addressing frequent outages and voltage fluctuation, the Benin Power Compact - funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Government of Benin - is investing in rehabilitating five urban electricity networks in Benin, including through the construction of electricity substations, upgrading of lines and building up a nation electricity distribution control center. This mixed-method evaluation of the Benin Power Compact, conducted by Mathematica, will include using high-frequency data from grid monitors, smart meters and mobile phone surveys to conduct interrupted time-series and event study analyses of the various generation and distribution activities.
Evaluation of the Niger Irrigation and Market Access project (2019 – ) – Principal Investigator
To address low agricultural productivity and food insecurity in Niger, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Government of Niger are investing in four complementary activities, 1) irrigating land (or rehabilitating irrigation infrastructure) in two regions in Niger, 2) upgrading rural roads, 3) training farmers, and 4) promoting policy reform. This mixed methods evaluation, conducted by Mathematica, will provide a comprehensive process and performance evaluation of these investments. On the methodological side, we are collaborating with NASA and RTI International to pilot using remote sensing and drone technology to improve MCC’s economic assessments of their irrigation infrastructure investments.
Evaluation of the Burkina Faso Agricultural Development Project (2016 - ) – Principal Investigator
To address low agricultural productivity and variable harvests, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Government of Burkina Faso implemented the Agriculture Development Project (ADP) between 2008 and 2013. The ADP comprised of investments in irrigation infrastructure, farmer training and value chain development. The primary focus of this evaluation, conducted by Mathematica, is a comprehensive mixed-method evaluation of the 100M Di irrigated perimeter, including assessing effects on the well-being of beneficiaries and the sustainability of the investments. The evaluation also estimates the impacts of winning land on this perimeter through the Di Lottery, one of the largest stakes lotteries in a development aid project as the cost of construction per lottery winner amounted to over 50,000 US$. Due to escalating insecurity in the Boucle du Mouhoun region in which the Di perimeter was located, the data collection for the final evaluation was interrupted mid-way in April 2020. Given the concurrent risks associated with COVID-19, the remainder of the data collection was conducted as distributed computer assisted telephone interviews (CATI).
Information and communication technology in adult literacy classes: Effectiveness and empowerment impacts from three continents (2013 – 2018) – Principal Investigator
With funding from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), this project assesses the effectiveness of ICT-based adult literacy programs and their empowerment impacts from three continents. This project is a collaboration with Jenny Aker, Tufts University; Ashwini Deshpande, Ashoka University; Alain Desrochers, University of Ottawa; Annemie Maertens, University of Sussex; Abu Shonchoy, Florida International University.
- Aker, Jenny C. and Ksoll, Christopher (2020) Can ABC Lead to Sustained 123? The Medium-Term Effects of a Technology-Enhanced Adult Education Program. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 68 (3). pp. 1081-1102. ISSN 0013-0079 (Print), 1539-2988 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1086/700558 )
- Aker, Jenny C. and Ksoll, Christopher (2019) Call me educated: Evidence from a mobile phone experiment in Niger. Economics of Education Review, 72. pp. 239-257. ISSN 0272-7757 (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2019.05.001)
- Deshpande, Ashwini , Desrochers, Alain , Ksoll, Christopher, Shonchoy, Abu S. (2017) The Impact of a Computer-based Adult Literacy Program on Literacy and Numeracy: Evidence from India. World Development, 96. pp. 451-473. ISSN 0305-750X (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.03.029)
- Ksoll, Christopher, Lilleør, Helene Bie, Lønborg, Jonas Helth and Rasmussen, Ole Dahl (2015) Impact of Village Savings and Loan Associations: Evidence from a cluster randomized trial. Journal of Development Economics, 120. pp. 70-85. ISSN 0304-3878 (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdeveco.2015.12.003)
- Aker, Jenny C. and Ksoll, Christopher (2015) Can mobile phones improve agricultural outcomes? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Niger. Food Policy, 60. pp. 44-51. ISSN 0306-9192 (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2015.03.006)
- Aker, Jenny C., Ksoll, Christopher and Lybbert, Travis (2012) Can Mobile Phones Improve Learning? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Niger. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(4), 94-120. (doi: https://doi.org/10.1257/app.4.4.94)
- National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (SES-0418096) 2004–2005
- Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2004 – 2005
- Cusanuswerk Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (German Federal Funds), 2005 – 2006
- Associate Member, Nuffield College, Oxford University, 2011 – 2014
- Member of the Chapter 11 Social Sciences Discussion Group on Non-Clinical Interventional Research for Canadian Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, 2nd edition (TCPS 2).
- Organizing Committee, Research in Economic Development (RECODE) conference, University of Ottawa, October, 2013
- Organizing Committee, Workshop on “Research and Education Policy in Secondary Schools”, Accra, Ghana. October, 2013
- Selection Committee, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) Conference, Oxford University, 2010, 2011
- Academic advisor, Cell-Ed, 2011-2014