Isabelle Cohen

Assistant Professor

Isabelle Cohen joined the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance in 2021. Her work focuses on institutional capacity constraints in developing countries, including taxation under low enforcement capacity, digital identification, and gender norms (particularly child marriage). Much of my research uses large-scale randomized control trials, with ongoing projects in countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Uganda. She is an affiliate at the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at UW and the Center for Effective Global Action at UC Berkeley, as well as an invited researcher at J-PAL Africa’s Digital Identification and Finance initiative.

Isabelle holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.P.P. from the College of William & Mary, and a B.A. in International Relations from the College of William & Mary. Prior to beginning her doctorate, Isabelle worked as a Research Manager at the Centre for Microfinance at IFMR Lead in Tamil Nadu, India.

Cohen. 2024. “Technology and the State: Building Capacity to Tax via Text.” Journal of Public Economics.

Cohen. 2024. “Documenting Decentralization: Empirical Evidence on Administrative Unit Proliferation from Uganda.” World Bank Economic Review.

Walcott, Cohen and Ferris. 2023. “When who matters: interviewer effects and survey modality.” Evaluation Review.

Cohen. 2023. “Crowd in or crowd out? The subnational fiscal response to aid.” World Development, 164: 106180.

Carlson et al. 2022. “How Do Disadvantaged Groups Seek Information about Free Services? A Randomized Control Trial of Alternative Communication Technologies.” Public Administration Review, 82(4).

Chong et al. 2016. “Iron Deficiency and Schooling Attainment in Peru.” American Economic Journal – Applied Economics, 8(4).

Cohen, Isabelle, Maryam Abubakar and Daniel Perlman. 2024. “Pathways to Choice: A Bundled Intervention against Child Marriage.” (CEGA Working Paper Series)

Selected Research in Progress

Cohen, Isabelle and Emma Riley. 2024. “The demand for digital identification amongst small enterprise owners in Uganda” (Accepted at the Journal of Development Economics via pre-results review)

Cohen, Isabelle and Denise Ferris. 2021. “Take Up and Impact of Digital Repayment in Microfinance.” (Project ongoing, Pre-trial registration)

Cohen et al. 2021. “Teacher Rotation and Student Outcomes: Experimental Evidence from Uganda.” (Project ongoing, Pre-trial registration)

Research & News Highlights