School of Economics


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Dr Zaki Wahhaj

Reader in Economics

School of Economics, Keynes College, B1.01



Zaki Wahhaj is Reader in Economics. He obtained a 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.

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Zaki's publications can also be found on RePEc, Orcid and ResearchGate.

Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Mahmud, M. and Wahhaj, Z. (2019). Charitable Giving or Signalling? Voluntary Contributions by Microcredit Borrowers in Pakistan. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization [Online] 158:394-415. Available at:
Wahhaj, Z. (2018). An economic model of early marriage. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization [Online] 152:147-176. Available at:
Asadullah, M. and Wahhaj, Z. (2018). Early Marriage, Social Networks and the Transmission of Norms. Economica [Online]. Available at:
Kazianga, H. and Wahhaj, Z. (2017). Intra-household Resource Allocation and Familial Ties. Journal of Development Economics [Online] 127:109-132. Available at:
Pal, S. and Wahhaj, Z. (2016). Fiscal Decentralisation, Local Institutions and Public Good Provision: Evidence from Indonesia. Journal of Comparative Economics [Online] 45:383-409. Available at:
Casini, P., Vandewalle, L. and Wahhaj, Z. (2015). Public Good Provision in Indian Rural Areas : The Returns to Collective Action by Microfinance Groups. World Bank Economic Review [Online] 1. Available at:
Platteau, J., Somville, V. and Wahhaj, Z. (2014). Elite capture through information distortion: A theoretical essay. Journal of Development Economics [Online] 106:250-263. Available at:
Platteau, J. and Wahhaj, Z. (2014). Strategic Interactions Between Modern Law and Custom. Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture [Online] 2:633-678. Available at:
Kazianga, H. and Wahhaj, Z. (2013). Gender, Social Norms, and Household Production in Burkina Faso. Economic Development and Cultural Change [Online] 61:539-576. Available at:
Baland, J., Somanathan, R. and Wahhaj, Z. (2013). Repayment incentives and the distribution of gains from group lending. Journal of Development Economics [Online] 105:131-139. Available at:
Ngo, T. and Wahhaj, Z. (2012). Microfinance and Gender Empowerment. Journal of Development Economics [Online] 99:1-12. Available at:
Aldashev, G. et al. (2012). Modern Law as a Magnet to Reform Custom. Economic Development and Cultural Change [Online]:795-828. Available at:
Aldashev, G. et al. (2012). Using the law to change the custom. Journal of Development Economics [Online] 97:182-200. Available at:
Aldashev, G., Platteau, J. and Wahhaj, Z. (2011). Colloquium Paper: Legal Reform in the Presence of a Living Custom: An Economic Approach. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Online] 108:21320. Available at:
Wahhaj, Z. (2010). Social norms and individual savings in the context of informal insurance. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization [Online] 76:511-530. Available at:
Crentsil, C., Gschwandtner, A. and Wahhaj, Z. (2018). The Effects of Risk and Ambiguity Aversion on Technology Adoption: Evidence from Aquaculture in Ghana. University of Kent. Available at:
Total publications in KAR: 16 [See all in KAR]


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Research interests

Zaki's main fields of research are 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 and 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

Since 2016, he is 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.

Up-to-date information about his research can be obtained from his webpage.

Zaki's RePEc page is

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Consultation hours


Click here for School of Economics staff consultation hours.

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PhD supervision

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

  • Dr Christian Crentsil, completed 2018
  • Dr Hamna Ahmed, completed 2017
  • Dr Francis Darko, completed 2017
  • Dr Mahreen Mahmud, completed 2016
  • Dr Nazia Mansoor, completed 2014
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Administrative roles

  • Non-Academic Impact Manager (joint with Professor Sophia Davidova)
  • PhD Job Market Placement Officer (joint with Dr Wei Jiang)
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School of Economics, Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NP

Undergraduate enquiries: +44 (0) 1227 827497, Postgraduate enquiries: +44 (0) 1227 827440 or email us

Last Updated: 08/01/2019