Reshmaan Hussam photo

Reshmaan N. Hussam

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Hellman Faculty Fellow

Reshmaan Hussam is an assistant professor of business administration in the Business, Government and International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School, a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and a faculty affiliate at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD).

Professor Hussam’s research explores questions at the intersection of development and behavioral economics, with research in three areas: migration, health, and finance.  Her most recent work engages refugee populations including the Rohingya in Bangladesh, examining the psychosocial value of employment in contexts of mass unemployment, the role of home in migration decisionmaking, and refugee preferences for repatriation, integration, and resettlement. 

Professor Hussam’s recent work with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh found that employment confers significant psychosocial benefits beyond the impacts of cash alone. In this study, 745 individuals participated in part-time work over a two-month period. The study found significant positive benefits of employment including (but not limited to):

  • Reduced depression, with a 20% reduction in the frequency of suicidal thoughts
  • Improved cognitive ability 
  • An increased willingness to take risks

Consistent with these findings, Professor Hussam's work also found that 66% of those who participated in the employment program were willing to work without payment, indicating that the participants felt and saw benefits of being employed beyond the financial reward.

The results of Professor Hussam’s work has implications for social protection policies for the unemployed in low income countries and refugee populations globally.

Hear more from Professor Hussam about her work with Rohingya refugees.

What can Rohingya Refugees Teach Us About the Meaning of Work?