Portrait of Professor Zaki Wahhaj

Professor Zaki Wahhaj

Professor of Economics
Co-Director of the Development Economics Research Centre


Zaki Wahhaj is a Professor of Economics. He obtained his BSc in Economics with Mathematics from Yale University, and a PhD in Economics from MIT. Following his PhD, he spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Research in Economic Development (CRED) at the University of Namur, Belgium, and three years as lecturer in development economics at the Department of International Development (ODID), University of Oxford. He joined the University of Kent in 2012 and became a Professor of Economics in 2022.

Research interests

Zaki's main fields of research are in economic development and applied theory. His current research deals, broadly, with the themes of social norms and household decision-making in developing countries, including work on: 

  • extended family networks
  • risk-sharing and formal insurance
  • microfinance
  • the impact of formal law on customary practices
  • issues relating to early marriage and female education.

During the period 2013-16, Zaki was a principal investigator in a three-year research project on 'The Role of Secondary Schooling and Gender Norms in the Long-term Opportunities and Choices of Rural Bangladeshi Women', funded by the Australian Development Research Awards Scheme. Further information about the project can be obtained from www.integgra.org.

Since 2016, he has been a principal investigator (together with Harounan Kazianga) on a project on 'Enhancing Access to Weather Index Agricultural Insurance in Burkina Faso', funded by the International Initiative on Impact Evaluation, in partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action.

Zaki is Co-Director of the Development Economics Research Group at Kent (DeReCK).  

His RePEc page is http://econpapers.repec.org/RAS/pwa344.htm



Zaki is presently looking to supervise PhD students in the following research areas:

  • intra-household decision-making
  • social norms
  • microfinance
  • informal and formal insurance
  • social networks
  • health and education in developing countries.

Current students

Past students


Administrative roles

  • Non-Academic Impact Manager (joint with Sophia Davidova)
  • PhD Job Market Placement Co-ordinator (joint with Wei Jiang)
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