New Faculty Feature: Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy Cynthia Kinnan

August 8, 2013

Several new faculty members across a wide range of policy areas are joining Harvard Kennedy School this fall. We take this opportunity to introduce them to the HKS community.

Cynthia Kinnan is a visiting assistant professor of public policy. She is an assistant professor of economics at Northwestern University. Kinnan was selected as a participant in the 2010 Review of Economic Studies tour, where the leading PhD graduates in economics give a series of seminars in Europe. Kinnan holds a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Q: What brought you to the Kennedy School?

Kinnan:
What brought me here is the combination of a rigorous research environment and a focus on informing policy, and the chance to interact with the Kennedy School's impressive student body.

Q:
What are your primary areas of research?

Kinnan:
My research focuses on how households in developing countries use financial products and informal insurance networks to finance investments, save, and cope with risk. I'm particularly interested in the causes of "missing markets;" in the interaction between insurance, credit, and investment, and in microfinance. I currently have ongoing field projects in India, Nigeria and Tanzania and other projects in China and Thailand.

Q: What courses will you be teaching?

Kinnan:
I will be teaching API 110 Advanced Microeconomic Analysis II, in Spring 2014.

Q:
How can the work being done here at HKS help address some of the world’s most significant public policy challenges?

Kinnan: One very significant, and often overlooked, public policy challenge is implementation – many policies and technologies have wide support from academics but are not widely adopted (e.g., formal insurance for poor households, or higher capital requirements for banks). HKS's emphasis on engagement between academics, policymakers, and other stakeholders in helping to address this, for instance, Evidence for Policy Design's focus on policy-research engagement.

Q:
What are you currently reading?

Kinnan:
I'm reading “The Passage of Power,” by Robert Caro.

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Cynthia Kinnan is a visiting assistant professor of public policy

Cynthia Kinnan, visiting assistant professor of public policy

"What brought me here is the combination of a rigorous research environment and a focus on informing policy, and the chance to interact with the Kennedy School's impressive student body," says Kinnan.