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Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South-East Asia Studies
Assistant: Lisa Korte

Rema Hanna is the Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South-East Asia Studies and Chair of the International Development Area at the Harvard Kennedy School.  She serves as the Faculty Director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard University’s Center for International Development and is the co-Scientific Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South East Asia Office in Indonesia.  In addition, Professor Hanna is a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and an affiliate of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD). 

Her research revolves around improving the provision of public services in developing and emerging nations, particularly for the very poor.  She combines economic theory, qualitative field work, extensive data collection, and cutting-edge empirical analysis to offer insights into how governments function and how they can do better.  Part of her work focuses on how to improve overall service delivery, as well as understanding the impacts of corruption, bureaucratic absenteeism, and discrimination against disadvantaged minority groups on delivery outcomes.  She is particularly interested in how governments can improve and strengthen social protection, tax collection, and environmental safety. 

Her work has been published in leading economics journals, such as the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Journal of Political Economy, among others. 

In addition to her own research, Professor Hanna currently serves as co-Chair of the editorial board for the Review of Economics and Statistics and previously served as a co-Editor at the Journal of Human Resources.  She is also on the editorial board of VoxDev, a web platform that aims to provide analysis and evidence on a wide range of policy challenges, in a format that is accessible to a wide audience interested in development.

Prior to joining the Harvard Kennedy School, Hanna was an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics at New York University. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a B.S. from Cornell University with Honors and Distinction.


Executive Education Programs

Academic Journal/Scholarly Articles

HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series

Research Papers/Reports

Transparent Engagement

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School.

Outside Professional Activities For Rema Hanna

Scientific Co-Director, J-PAL South East Asia, Dec 2012 to present

Director, Evidence for Policy Design, Harvard University, July 2019 to present (Co-Director, January 2016 to July 2019)

Millennium Challenge Corporation, Economic Advisory Board, Oct 2019 to present

Center for Global Development, Non-Resident Fellow, Jan 2020 to present

Co-Chair, Review of Economic and Statistics, July 2019 to present

Vox Dev, Board, Oct 2018 to present

Associate Editor, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2017 to present



Phone: 617-496-1140
Assistant: Lisa Korte


Social Policy
Public Finance
Fairness & Justice
Environment & Energy
Development & Economic Growth
Poverty, Inequality & Opportunity

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Cambridge, MA 02138