Go Back

Photo of Sara Lowes

Sara Lowes

Sara Lowes examines the role of institutions and culture in economic development and their implications for development policy. Sara uses a variety of research methods, combining fieldwork, the collection of archival data, and insights from the psychology, history, and anthropology. Her research seeks to understand the origin of various institutional and cultural arrangements, the relationship between institutions and culture, and their impacts on economic development. In recent work she examines how historical exposure to extractive institutions affects present day development by undermining village institutions and changing pro-social norms; how matrilineal relative to patrilineal kinship systems affect spousal cooperation and outcomes for women and children; and how the under-utilization of health services in parts of sub-Saharan Africa can be partially explained by historical medical campaigns conducted by the French military. Her research suggests that accounting for social structure, history, and local institutions has important implications for the efficacy of policy. She has on-going research projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Theodore H. Ashford Dissertation Fellow

Relevant Publications

S. Lowes, N. Nunn, J. A. Robinson and J. Weigel, “The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence from the Kuba Kingdom,” Econometrica 85 (4): 1065-1091, 2017.

S. Lowes, N. Nunn, J. A. Robinson and J. Weigel, “Understanding Ethnic Identity in Africa: Evidence from the Implicit Association Test (IAT).” American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 105 (5): 340-45, 2015.



CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar Institutions, Organizations & Growth


Bocconi UniversityEconomics Department


Ph.D., Political Economy and Government Harvard University

B.A. Middlebury College



No Assets Found

Sorry, we did not find any assets matching these filters.