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2116B Symons Hall 7998 Regents Drive College Park, Maryland 20742-5535


  • Development Economics
  • Health Economics
  • Choice under Uncertainty
  • Social Learning
  • Rural Africa



Professor Leonard is an applied development economist with expertise in Africa and a focus on human capital services in the rural economies of developing countries. His research deals primarily with the delivery of health care in Africa, particularly the role of institutions in mitigating the adverse consequences of asymmetric information. This has led him to research in peer effects and social networks as well as the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the provision of public services---particularly services characterized as credence goods, such as those supplied by teachers and doctors, for example.

Prof Leonard’s extensive experience in Africa has led him to research on gender, utilizing the variety of cultural norms found on the continent as a window onto the role of culture in determining behavior, especially differences in behavior across genders. It turns out Africa has a lot to tell us about gender: see these pieces in The Guardian and The Verge.

Prof Leonard usually collects his own data, choosing field sites and research teams, and designing his own surveys and experiments. He has lived and worked in several African countries, including Cameroun, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania.


B.A.: 1989 Swarthmore College
Ph.D: 1997 University of California at Berkeley


    Working Papers:

    The papers listed below are part of his active research agenda.

    • Improving Health Outcomes By Choosing Better Doctors: Evidence of Social Learning about Doctor Quality from Rural Tanzania
    • Women's empowerment, sibling rivalry, and competitiveness: evidence from a lab experiment and a randomized control trial in Uganda [with Buehren, Niklas; Goldstein, Markus P.; Leonard, Kenneth; Montalvao, Joao; Vasilaky, Kathryn]


    Selected Publications:

    Leathers, H. D., Leonard, K. L.# The World Food Problem: Toward Understanding and Ending Undernutrition in the Developing World. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

    Buehren, N., Goldstein, M., Leonard, K. L., Montalvo, J.#, Vasilaky, K. (2021). Spillover Effects of Girls’ Empowerment on Brothers’ Competitiveness: Evidence from a Lab-in-the-Field Experiment in Uganda. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 70(2).

    2018. Brock, J.M., A. Lange, Leonard, K.L., Giving and Promising Gifts: Experimental Evidence on Reciprocity from the Field, Journal of Health Economics, 58: 188-201.

    2018. Flory, J., U. Gneezy, K.L. Leonard and J. List, Outgrowing the Gender Gap in Competitiveness, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 150: 256-276.

    2018. Vasilaky, K. and K.L. Leonard, As Good as the Networks They Keep: Expanding Farmer's Social Networks via Randomized Information Exchange in Rural Uganda, Economic Development and Cultural Change, 66(4): 755-792.

    2016. Brock, J.M., A. Lange and K.L. Leonard, Generosity and Prosocial Behavior in Healthcare Provision Evidence from the Laboratory and Field, Journal of Human Resources, 51 (1) : 133-162. 

    2015. Brock, J.M., Lange, A. and Leonard K.L. Esteem and social information: On determinants of prosocial behavior of clinicians in Tanzania, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 118: 85-94.

    2014. Leonard, K.L. `Active Patients' in Rural African Health Care: Implications for Research and Policy, Health Policy and Planning, 29 (1): 85-95.

    2010. Leonard, K.L. and M.C. Masatu, Using the Hawthorne Effect to examine the gap between a doctors best possible practice and actual practice, Journal of Development Economics, 93 (2): 226-243.

    2010. Leonard, K.L. and M.C. Masatu, Professionalism and the Know-Do Gap: Exploring Intrinsic Motivation among Health Workers in Tanzania, Health Economics, 19 (12): 1461-1477.