Rachel Kranton James B. Duke Professor of Economics

Rachel Kranton studies how institutions and the social setting affect economic outcomes.  She develops theories of networks and has introduced identity into economic thinking. Rachel Kranton is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the Econometric Society, a fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory, and was awarded a Chaire Blaise Pascal. She is currently a professor in Duke University’s Department of Economics and serving as Dean of Social Sciences in Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

She earned her Ph.D. in Economics at the University California, Berkeley in 1993.  She has taught at the University of Maryland and she joined Duke’s faculty in 2007. She has been awarded fellowships at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She has received grants from the National Science Foundation and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in the Social Interactions, Identity, and Well-Being program.

Rachel Kranton’s research contributes to many fields including microeconomics, economic development, and industrial organization.

In Identity Economics (Princeton U Press 2010), Rachel Kranton and collaborator George Akerlof, introduce a general framework to study social norms and identity in economics. Building on fifteen years of research, the book studies not only race and gender, but also identity in schools and the workplace.  Current work with Duke colleagues Seth Sanders and Scott Huettel considers identity and allocation of income in group settings.

In the economics of networks, Rachel Kranton develops formal models of strategic interaction in different economic settings.  Her work draws on empirical findings and integrates new mathematical tools to uncover how network structures influence economic outcomes.  Along with collaborators Francis Bloch, Yann BramoulléGabrielle Demange, Deborah Minehart, she has studied buyer-seller networks, risk-sharing networks, rumors in networks, and strategic interaction on networks.

Rachel Kranton has a long-standing interest in development economics and institutions. She focuses on the costs and benefits of networks and informal exchange, which is economic activity mediated by social relationships rather than markets. Along with Anand Swamy, she has studied the historical impact of legal and other reforms on economic activity.