Menu Close

Plamen V Nikolov

Economist, Harvard University

I am an Affiliated Professor at The Harvard University Institute for Quantitative Social Science, The University of Chicago's Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group, a Research Fellow of the Global Labor Organization, and a Research Fellow of the IZA Institute of Labor Economics. Follow me on Twitter @pnikolov.

My expertise is in the design and execution of randomized control trials (RCTs) and cohort studies in resource-limited settings and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). I am a development economist whose research broadly focuses on human capital issues in LMICs. My research aims to understand the barriers that individuals, households, and governments face in accumulating or fostering various forms of human capital to shed light on how individual well-being and economic outcomes in LMICs can be improved. Using mainly experimental methods, I research in three major areas:

(1) Human Capital Accumulation (or depreciation) in LMICs,
(2) The Economics of Aging in LMICs, and
(3) Boosting Productivity, with emphasis on insights from behavioral economics, in LMICs.

In several ongoing (distinct) collaborations with The World Bank and BRAC, I am involved in field experimental interventions in South Asia and East Africa. I have collaborated on RCTs with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in sub-Saharan Africa (South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya), South Asia (Nepal, Bangladesh), and Asia (China). I obtain administrative data from policy-makers or governments for objective and detailed reports of key study variables. I also collect extensive primary data by developing and implementing surveys and executing incentivized economic games.


  • 2018–present
    Faculty Affiliate, IZA Institute of Labor Economics
  • 2015–present
    Faculty Affiliate, University of Chicago, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Group
  • 2015–2022
    Assistant Professor, State University of New York
  • 2013–2014
    Adjunct Instructor in Economics, Harvard University


  • 2014 
    Harvard University, PhD
  • 2008 
    Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced Intl Studies, Masters
  • 2004 
    American University in Cairo, Arabic Language Institute

Professional Memberships

  • American Economic Association