Christopher B. Barrett


301G Warren Hall, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management
(607) 255-4489

Chris Barrett is Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management, and an International Professor of Agriculture, all at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, as well as a Professor in the Department of Economics and a Fellow of the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, as well as Deputy Dean and Dean of Academic Affairs at the College of Business, all at Cornell University. He has won several university, national and international awards for teaching, research and public outreach, and is an elected Fellow of both of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and of the African Association of Agricultural Economists.

Research Focus

In this world of plenty, almost half the world's 7+ billion people live on $2/day or less. More than half suffer malnutrition due to insufficient intake of calories, protein or critical micronutrients such as vitamin A, iodine and iron, or from obesity. More than one child in five lives in extreme poverty. While failing to provide for the most essential needs of a share of humankind, we also overexploit the natural resources on which future generations' well-being fundamentally depends.

My research, teaching and outreach explore why unnecessary injustice continues to disfigure the richest, most technologically advanced societies in history and what individuals and institutions can do to improve matters. There are three basic, interrelated thrusts to my work. The first concerns improving our understanding of the drivers of poverty and food insecurity, and how private and public policy can facilitate desirable structural transformation in low-income societies. The second considers issues of individual and market behavior under risk and uncertainty and how those can cause or prolong unnecessary human suffering. The third revolves around the interrelationship between poverty, food insecurity and environmental stress. These topics necessarily cross disciplinary lines, drawing me into stimulating interdisciplinary work with natural scientists and non-economist social scientists, from whom my students and I learn much.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Frequent resource person for national and international media, local and regional charitable groups and schools, the Congress and federal government and international agencies, and domestic and foreign businesses, on issues concerning international development assistance, food and nutrition policy, agricultural development, poverty reduction and humanitarian relief interventions, etc.

Teaching Focus

For most of us academics, our greatest long-term impact will most likely come through teaching and advising talented undergraduate and graduate students. I therefore put a premium on advising and teaching, at both graduate and undergraduate levels. At the graduate level, I teach a Ph.D. course on the Microeconomics of International Development and run a year-round Graduate Research Seminar in Development Microeconomics. Several of my ~60 graduate advisees have won major thesis research awards. At undergraduate level, I teach the Dyson School's only Writing in the Majors course, AEM 2000: Contemporary Controversies in the Global Economy, which exposes undergraduates to cutting edge, contentious issues in economics, challenging them to think about the normative dimensions of complex economic issues and how best to communicate their own views on these matters. This course, like the rest of my teaching, outreach and research program, reflects my enthusiasm for the role thoughtful people can play in reducing the unnecessary human suffering that continues to plague a world of plenty. Cornell students have the capacity to change their world for the better; I have the fortunate opportunity to, in some small measure, inform and encourage them in that direction.

Awards and Honors

  • Fellow (2010) African Association of Agricultural Economists
  • Fellow (2010) Agricultural and Applied Economics Association
  • Award for Outstanding Contribution to Applied Risk Analysis (2014) Agricultural and Applied Economics Association
  • Quality of Research Discovery Award (2014) Agricultural and Applied Economics Association
  • Quality of Research Discovery Award (2013) European Association of Agricultural Economics

Selected Publications

Journal Publications