One future path in development economics

Johannes Haushofer writes to me:

The Busara Center for Behavioral Economics is a state-of-the-art facility for experimental studies in behavioral economics and other social sciences, located in Nairobi, Kenya, and hosted by Innovations for Poverty Action, Kenya (IPA-K). Busara is open to be used by researchers and students from universities and institutions around the world. The core of Busara is a pool of participants from the Nairobi slums, combined with a cluster of 20 networked computers with which researchers can investigate economic behavior and preferences (e.g. trust/ultimatum/dictator/public goods games, time/risk preferences, priming studies, auction and market experiments, etc.). A central feature of the computer setup is that all computers have touchscreen monitors; together with specially developed paradigms, this allows for the participation of not only computer-illiterate, but entirely illiterate populations. The lab also includes a 20-person waiting room, 4 individual survey cubicles for private interviews, laboratory space for saliva and blood sampling (a phlebotomist is available), and desk space for visiting researchers and students. The subject pool will reach 1000 members by the end of May 2012; available demographic information for each subject pool member includes age, ethnicity, education, martial status, number of children, cell phone number, and fingerprint. Participants are invited for studies by SMS; once in the lab, their identity is verified by fingerprint, and after the experiment they are paid through the mobile money system MPesa. The weekly capacity of the lab is 200 participants, and studies are run by a team of 5 full-time staff. The standard experimental software is z-Tree, although other software packages can be installed upon request.

For more information on running studies at Busara, visit our website at, or get in touch with Johannes Haushofer ([email protected]). We also invite you to find us on, where you will find a few pictures of the lab.


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