Christopher Cotton

Department of Economics
Queen’s University

I am a Professor in the Department of Economics at Queen’s University, where I hold the Jarislowsky-Deutsch Chair in Economic & Financial Policy and am the Director of the John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy.

My research applies game theory, experimental economics and empirical methods to answer a range of policy questions. Some of the questions on which I’ve worked and am currently working include:

  • How do special interest groups influence policy outcomes? What is the impact of campaign finance reform on policy outcomes?
  • How does evidence influence funding allocation and policy decisions? Are there unexpected adverse effects of better evaluation and better evidence?
  • Does innovative financing such as impact bonds and results-based financing lead to better social programs and international development projects?
  • How do investors and donors choose where to put their money when multiple projects vie for funding?
  • How does education policy influence the incentives of institutions and students? How do policies and education programs influence learning outcomes?
  • Do international development interventions work? What can we do to help them work better?

In addition to my academic research, I am proud of the work I do with several NGOs and governments agencies. I regularly provide advice, analysis and capacity building in the areas of campaign finance reform, evidence-based decision making, innovative financing, and the monitoring and evaluation of international development projects and social projects. Currently, I am the Lead External Evaluator for a major DFID UK Girls’ Education Challenge project in Zimbabwe, I oversee the evaluation of World Vision’s Youth Ready training program in El Salvador and Honduras, and I serve as a senior project finance and education expert on USAID Learning, Evaluation and Analysis Project (LEAP III). I am the Principal Economist and an owner at Limestone Analytics, which provides guidance regarding results based financing and evaluation services to leading NGOs and governments. More detail on some of this work and how it relates to my academic research can be found on my ongoing projects page.

I am one of the developers behind the new Certified Professional Impact Analyst (CPIA) program at Queen’s, which teaches social sector and international development professionals how to incorporate evidence and rigorous evaluation into the design and financing of their projects. I am also overseeing the development of a training program for USAID education staff about public and private sector finance in developing countries.