Robert Townsend
Professor of Economics
at MIT
Distinguished Fellow


EducationUniversity of Minnesota, Ph.D. (1975).

Academic AppointmentsElizabeth & James Killian Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008 - ; Associate, The University of Chicago, 2018 - ; Affiliated Researcher, Y-RISE (Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale), 2018 - present; Founding Fellow, International Association for Applied Econometrics, 2018 - present; Member, Executive Committee, Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory, 2018 - present (President, 2017; First Vice-President, 2016).

Prior AppointmentsResearch Associate (Professor), The University of Chicago, 2008 - 2018; Charles E. Marriam Distinguished Service Professor, The University of Chicago, 1998 - 2008.

Recognition & AwardsFIRS Lifetime Achievement Award, 2017; Sir John Hicks Lecture for the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory, Cambridge, UK, 2015; Theodore W. Schultz Award, 2013; Frisch Medal, The Econometric Society, 2012 for the paper “A Structural Evaluation of a Large-Scale Quasi-Experimental Microfinance Initiative”; Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, 2012 - ; Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize, 2011; Frisch Medal, The Econometric Society, 1998 for the paper “Risk and Insurance in Village India”; Elected Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1994 - .

Research Field

Townsend analyzes the role and impact of economic organization and financial systems through applied general equilibrium models, contract theory, and the use of micro data.

Recent Work
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