Foundations of Behavioural and Experimental Economics for Developing Countries

  • Summer schools
  • Academic Partnerships Office
  • LSE code LCS-EC204
  • Starting 2019
  • Location: Cape Town

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Video: Watch Dr Andre Hofmeyr discuss his exciting course!

Many of the problems of development in Africa can be attributed, in large part, to (reasonable) aversion to risk, fear of losses, and unwillingness to invest in projects that have higher returns but over longer horizons. 

Attitudes towards risk, delayed gratification and loss aversion may be exacerbated by the psychology of scarcity, which in the context of poverty is particularly severe for income-poor individuals,  leading to seemingly irrational and short-sighted behaviours.  Yet at the same time, despite severe poverty and inequality, social networks and exchange relationships are often characterised by high levels of interpersonal trust, reciprocity, and altruism. There is increasing evidence that social norms and norm-driven behaviour such as a preference for fairness, generosity or trust can often lead to significantly different outcomes than those predicted by economic theories. These observed behavioural responses apply widely in development problems, including health, resource conservation and climate adaptation, impulsive consumption, and micro-scale investment. 

In light of this context, this course re-orientates our approach towards development policy through the lens of psychology and behavioural choice theory. The course focuses on experiments in economics, including laboratory and field experiments, as well as key insights from the field of behavioural economics, and their application to policy making. Special emphasis will be placed on developing economy challenges, including that of inequality and identity. As such, this course will be of interest to participants interested in behavioural economics, institutions and development.

Click here to see the full course outline

Programme details


Assessment will be based on:

  • In-class experiment and general discussion (group exercise): 10% 
  • Class presentation: 20%
  • Grant proposal written assignment: 35%
  • Final exam: 35% 


Dr Andre Hofmeyr

Dr Andre Hofmeyr is a fellow of the Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk at Georgia State University and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Economics, UCT where he teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses in game theory and a postgraduate course in experimental economics. Andre’s research has focussed on the experimental elicitation and estimation of risk preferences and time preferences, the provision of public goods, experimental measures of discrimination, and addiction, with a specific focus on gambling behaviour and smoking behaviour. Andre is particularly interested in the use of economic experiments in the health domain and thinks it is important to go into the field, after running “clean beaker” experiments in the lab, to bolster external validity.

Professor Justine Burns

Professor Justine Burns is a professor in the School of Economics, the Director of the Research Unit in Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics (RUBEN), and a research associate of the Southern African Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU). Her research interests include behavioural and experimental economics, trust and social capital, discrimination, labour markets and social networks, and intergenerational mobility. Her experimental work has focused on the effects of socio-economic class, racial identity and income inequality on individual decision-making, group co-operation in the provision of public goods, the gender competitiveness gap, and the effect of intergenerational transfers on productivity. More recently, she has worked on a number of behavioural nudge pilot projects with the Western Cape government, in an attempt to apply principles of behavioural economics to enhance programme implementation.   

Professor Martine Visser

Professor Martine Visser is a professor in the School of Economics, University of Cape Town and holds a Ph.D. from Gothenburg University in Sweden. Martine is currently a Research Chair with the African Climate & Development Initiative (ACDI). Martine specializes in behavioural economic applications to climate change, natural resource use, health and poverty alleviation. She is interested in how social norms and preferences such as trust, cooperation and risk aversion impact on decision making. Martine mainly uses experimental methods (in the lab and in the field) combined with survey analysis and randomized control trials. Recent experimental and empirical studies have focused on cooperation and risk related to climate change, risky sexual behavior and social norms. She is also involved in several projects investigating the role of local governance and social institutions in the provision of basic services to the poor and its effects on subjective wellbeing.

Preparatory reading list

A full reading list and course pack will be provided to registered students approximately six weeks before the beginning of the programme.


In order to take this course applicants should usually be in the final/ penultimate year of an undergraduate degree, however applicants with relevant academic experience may also be considered. Contact us if you want more information.

Student feedback

This course is new for 2019.

Click here to read our alumni testimonials.

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