The Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics is proud to support several affiliated research Centers.
The Becker Friedman Institute for Economics advances inquiry that illuminates our choices, our economy, our society, and our future. The institute’s conferences, visiting scholars program, research initiatives, and programs for young scholars are designed to inspire, refine, and disseminate research. A collaboration of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Department of Economics, the Law School, and the Harris School of Public Policy, the institute bridges these disciplines to capitalize on shared perspectives. Located in Saieh Hall for Economics, the institute is an intellectual destination for the world’s best minds, bringing together economists and scholars across disciplines for conversations and collaborations that spark and sharpen new ideas. BFI's programs foster research in the distinctive Chicago economics approach, exemplified in the enduring work of our namesakes, Milton Friedman and Gary S. Becker. They shared the belief that economics is a powerful tool for understanding the world. Following that belief, we prepare and support innovative scholars who apply economic analysis to our most challenging social and policy issues.
The Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD) is part of the Social Sciences Division and directed by Professor James Heckman, umbrellas multiple research areas and research initiatives which encompass rigorous empirical research to determine effective human capital policies and program design. CEHD initiatives include: the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group, the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development, the Heckman Equation, the Research Network on the Determinants of Life Course Capabilities and Outcomes, and the Asian Family in Transition. CEHD's research goes beyond early childhood; it focuses on the economics of human development. This integrated developmental approach involves an understanding across the life course, and includes early childhood and adolescence, inequality and intergenerational mobility, employment, health and crime. This analysis incorporates the study of the development of cognitive skills, abilities, and health capacities.
The Development Innovation Lab (DIL) was established at The University of Chicago by Michael Kremer in Fall 2020. Along with The Weiss Fund for Research in Development Economics and the existing work of the Development Economics Initiative of the Becker Friedman Institute (BFI), it is part of the University’s new Development Economics Center. DIL uses the tools of economics to develop innovations with the potential to benefit millions of people in low- and middle-income countries. Since its founding, DIL has expanded to a team of more than 30 researchers from various fields who work together with governments, firms, and non-profit organizations to identify, test, refine, and scale innovations.
The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) contributes solutions using a unique approach that translates cutting-edge research into real-world impacts through strategic outreach, and training for the next generation of global energy leaders. This is the global energy challenge: How can we ensure that people around the world, today and in the future, have access to reliable, affordable energy needed for human development without putting our health, environment and climate at risk? EPIC is confronting this challenge using a cross-cutting approach that links the University of Chicago’s renowned economists with leading thinkers in policy and law, business, big data, engineering and natural and physical sciences throughout the University and at partner institutes such as the Marine Biological Lab and Argonne National Lab. By leveraging these University partners and harnessing top talent with varied expertise, EPIC is tackling the world’s toughest energy problems.
The Center for Radical Innovation for Social Change (RISC) is an innovation lab for social change at the University of Chicago. Driven by curiosity, unfettered by orthodoxy, and grounded in the sciences of human behavior, RISC is investigating bold new ways to tackle the world’s biggest problems. At the Center for RISC, the mission is to generate breakthrough solutions to the world’s most difficult social problems. The Center for RISC is the brainchild of Steven Levitt, professor of economics at the University of Chicago and co-author of Freakonomics. The Center for RISC is not an academic group or research lab. Instead, it investigates today’s social issues by combining unconventional perspectives with empirical data, generating radical solutions with real-world relevance. They then test and scale those solutions through a mix of partnerships with academics, nonprofits, government agencies, international organizations, and private corporations.
The TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health at the University of Chicago develops and scales interventions that place parents and caregivers at the center of their children’s education. Our approach harnesses technology, works across systems, and informs how to bring best practices and interventions that work to scale.
The University of Chicago and Universidad del CEMA (UCEMA) have concluded an agreement to jointly operate the Joint Initiative for Latin American Experimental Economics in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Initiative will be co-directed by John List, Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics of the University of Chicago and Julio J. Elías, Director of the master’s Program in Economics at UCEMA. The main objective of the Initiative is to design field experiments to offer new perspectives in various areas of economic research for Latin American countries, such as education, private provision of public goods, social preferences, and environmental economics. The Initiative will be based at UCEMA (building Av. Córdoba 637), where it will receive visiting researchers from the Experimental Economics group of the University of Chicago and invited researchers from other universities working on related topics in Latin America.
The dominant theory in economics for centuries in the Western world has been the free market system, yet the ability of competitive markets to provide quality care has been a central point of recent debate. Extensive government regulation, though well-intentioned, adversely affects the overall health of Americans, inhibits medical innovation, and demands enormous tax-payer investment. The Initiative on Enabling Choice and Competition in Healthcare delivers cutting edge research on the efficiencies of competitiveness in the healthcare sector to demonstrate that free market forces can and do work to provide innovative, equitable, and high-quality care.
Human beings are social animals. Our social environments shape almost every choice we make, from everyday actions to big decisions with long-lasting consequences. What occupation we pursue, how we invest our money, whether and whom we marry, whom we vote for—each of these are deeply influenced by the people around us and the norms of our society, just as our actions, in turn, shape these norms.
Understanding this interplay is key to understanding the most important political, social, and economic issues of our time, from political polarization to educational inequities to gender gaps in labor markets.
At The Normal Lab, we believe economics research—and the policies and solutions it inspires—must consider the interplay between individuals and their social environments.
The field of economics has generated powerful insights which have fundamentally shaped the our world, but because of its emphasis on mathematical rigor, some key concepts can be clouded by complexity. In this course, we set aside the math to explore big economic ideas and questions such as: what does it mean to think like an economist, how can we use economic thinking to make the world a better place, and how does economic thinking sometimes get you into trouble.
Professors John A. List and Steve Levitt set out to design an accessible, engaging curriculum to introduce the principles of economics to students across the University; the response was extraordinary, and it became one of the most popular courses in the catalog. Now, we're working to adapt the course and bring the power of economics to everyone, everywhere.