Bruce Wydick

Bruce Wydick



Areas of research specialization are in the use of econometric, experimental, and game-theoretic tools to analyze the impact of development programs. Professor Wydick's recent work examines the impact of development programs such as microfinance, child sponsorship, and in-kind donation of children's shoes, wheelchairs for the disabled, and clean wood-burning stoves. Other recent work studies the role of hope and aspirations in escaping poverty traps. His academic publications have appeared in the Journal of Political Economy, Economic Journal, Economica, Oxford Economic Papers, Journal of Development Economics, The World Bank Economic Review, Economic Development and Cultural Change, World Development, and other journals. Media coverage of his recent research has appeared in the BBC World Service, USA Today, Vox, The Guardian, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other media outlets. Professor Wydick writes a column on global poverty issues for Christianity Today and is a regular contributor to op-ed columns for San Francisco Bay Area newspapers. His book Games In Economic Development is published by Cambridge University Press, and his more recent novel about the lives of coffee growers in Guatemala was published in 2014 by Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins). His blog seeks to build bridges between the faith-based development community and academic researchers on issues related to poverty and globalization. Professor Wydick holds research affiliations with the Kellogg Institute of International Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the founder and co-director of Mayan Partners, a small non-profit organization working in the western highlands of Guatemala in the areas of education and community development, and he is faculty adviser for the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at USF.


  • Microfinance
  • Applied Econometrics
  • Education and Health Interventions
  • Psychology and Economics

Research Areas

  • Interrelationship between psychology and development economics
  • Development impact evaluations in health, education, and enterprise
  • Microfinance


  • UC Berkeley, Ph.D. Economics, 1996
  • UC Davis, MS Agricultural Economics, 1988
  • UC Davis, BS Agricultural Economics, 1986

Awards & Distinctions

  • 2020 Finalist, EACP Book of the Year Award for Faith and Culture, Shrewd Samaritan: Faith, Economics, and the Road to Loving our Global Neighbor.
  • 2016 University of San Francisco Distinguished Research Award.
  • 2014 Dean's Scholar Award (Social Sciences), University of San Francisco, joint with Juliet Spencer (Natural Sciences) and Jacqueline Taylor (Humanities).

Selected Publications

  • "Aspirational Hope, Dairy Farming Practices, and Milk Production: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Bolivia." (with Francesco Checchi, Robert Lensink, and Adriana Garcia). World Development 160 (December, 2022): 106087.
  • "Identifying Psychological Trauma Among Syrian Refugee Children for Early Intervention: Analyzing Digitized Drawings Using Machine Learning" (with Sarah Baird, Jennifer Muz, Rafael Panlilio, and Stephanie Smith). Journal of Development Economics, 156, May 2022.
  • "Can Hope Elevate Microfinance? Evidence from Oaxaca, Mexico" (with Irvin Rojas and Travis Lybbert) Oxford Economic Papers (January 2022), vol. 74, no. 1 pp. 236-64.
  • “Raising Achievement Among Microentrepreneurs: An Experiment Testing Goals, Incentives, and Support Groups in Medellin, Colombia" (with Alessandra Cassar, Paulina Aguinaga, Jennifer Graham, and Lauren Skora). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (May 2019), vol. 161, no. 5, pp.79-97.
  • “Keeping the Doctor Away: Experimental Evidence on Investment in Preventative Health Products" (with Jon Robinson-UC Santa Cruz, Jennifer Meredith-University of Washington, and Sarah Walker-University of Wisconsin), BREAD working paper #336, National Bureau of Economic Research working paper no. 19312. Journal of Development Economics (November 2013), vol. 105, pp.196-210.
  • "Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes" (with Paul Glewwe-University of Minnesota and Laine Rutledge-University of Washington).  Journal of Political Economy (April 2013), vol. 121, no.2, pp.393-426.