Jessica Cohen

Jessica Cohen

Assistant Professor of Global Health

Department of Global Health and Population

Building 1, Room 1209
665 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Bio and Current Research

Dr. Jessica Lee Cohen is Assistant Professor of Global Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Burke Fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute. Her research applies the methods of program design, randomized trials, and impact evaluation to maternal and child health programs and policies in sub-Saharan Africa. She also has work on sustainable financing for public health programs and financing vehicles to reduce aid volatility.

Dr. Cohen is co-editor (with William Easterly) of the book “What Works in Development?: Thinking Big and Thinking Small.” She is also the co-founder of TAMTAM Africa, Inc. (Together Against Malaria), an NGO operating in East Africa since 2003 working on malaria prevention among pregnant women.

She has worked on a number of field trials in Africa related to appropriate treatment and diagnosis for malaria, technology adoption, messaging and behavior change and pharmaceutical supply chains.

  • Whether subsidies for over-the-counter malaria tests in African pharmacies can be used to encourage adoption of the tests and reduce over-treatment with malaria medicine (Kenya); Working Paper; Policy Brief; Project Details
  • The impact of specialized packaging and targeted messaging of antimalarials on adherence (Uganda); Project Details; Published Results from Pilot
  • The role of beliefs about malaria prevalence and of targeted messaging/behavior change campaigns on consumer demand for malaria testing and supplier pricing of malaria tests (Uganda); Project Details
  • Impact of subsidies for malaria medicine (the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria, AMFm) in the private sector on diffusion of the product through drug shops and on access to effective medication among households in remote areas.  Published results from: Tanzania; Tanzania; Uganda

Dr. Cohen’s work has been referenced in major national and international publications, including the The Economist, the Boston Globe, New York Times and Nature. She has advised the government of Zanzibar on its malaria control program and the Canadian International Development Agency on its child survival programs.

Dr. Cohen received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Wesleyan University and was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at MIT, where she received her doctorate in economics.


BA Wesleyan University, 2000

PhD (Economics) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007




Cohen J, Yadav P, Moucheraud C, Alphs S, Larson P, Arkedis J, Massaga J, Sabot O. 2013 “Do Factory Gate Subsidies on Artemisinin Combination Therapy for Malaria Increase Household Use? Evidence from a Repeated Cross-Sectional Study in Remote Regions of Tanzania”, PLoS One 8(7): e70713. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070713.

Fink G, Dickens W, Jordan M, Cohen J. 2013. “Access to Subsidized Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) and Malaria Treatment – Evidence from the First Year of the Affordable Medicines Facility – malaria (AMFm) Program in Six Districts in Uganda”. Health Policy and Planning, doi:10.1093/heapol/czt041.

Cohen J, Fink G, Berg K, Aber F, Jordan M, Maloney K, Dickens W. 2012. “Feasibility of Distributing Rapid Diagnostic Tests for Malaria in the Retail Sector: Evidence from an Implementation Study in Uganda.” PLoS One, 7(11): e48296. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048296

Yadav P, Cohen J, Alphs S, Arkedis J, Larson P, Massaga J, Sabot O. 2012. “Trends in Availability and Prices of Subsidized ACT Over the First Year of the AMFm: Evidence from Remote Regions of Tanzania”, Malaria Journal 11: 299. doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-299 [Link to Full Text]

Cohen J, Yavuz E, Morris A, Arkedis J and O Sabot. 2012. Do Patients Adhere to Over-the-Counter Artemisinin Combination Therapy for Malaria? Evidence from an Intervention Study in Uganda”, Malaria Journal  11:83 doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-83. [PDF; Link to Full Text]

Cohen J and Dickens W.“Adoption of Over-the-Counter Diagnostics in Africa: The Role of Subsidies, Beliefs, Externalities and Competition” The Value of Information: Methodological Frontiers and New Applications in Environment and Health, Laxminarayan R and Macauley MK eds, Springer Press, 2012.

Cohen J and Dupas P. Free Distribution of Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment [PDF] [Web Appendix] Quarterly Journal of Economics 125(1), pp. 1-45, February 2010.

O Sabot, J M Cohen, M Hsiang, J Kahn, S Basu, L Tang, B Zheng, Q Gao, L Zou, A Tatarsky, S Aboobakar, J Usas, S Barrett, J L Cohen, D Jamison, R Feachem. “The Costs and Financial Feasibility of Malaria Elimination”, Lancet, 376(9752), pp. 1604-1615, 2010. [Link to PubMed]

B Moonen, J M Cohen, A Tatem, J L Cohen, S Hay, O Sabot, D Smith. “A Framework for Assessing the Feasibility of Malaria Elimination, Malaria Journal, 9: 322, 2010.[Link to Full Text]

Cohen J and Easterly W, eds. What Works in Development? Thinking Big and Thinking Small. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2009. [Introduction by Cohen and Easterly] [Link to the book]

Dickens W and Cohen J. Instinct and Choice: The Implications of Behavioral Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology for Policy Analysis, in Nature and Nurture: The Complex Interplay of Genetic and Environmental Influences on Human Behavior, C. G. Coll, E. Bearer, and R. Lerner, eds. Erlbaum, 2004. [PDF] [Link to the Book]

Cohen J and Dickens W. A Foundation for Behavioral Economics, American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, 92(2), May, 2002. [PDF]

Cohen J, Dickens W and A Posen. Have the New Human Resource Management Practices Lowered the Unemployment Rate?, in The Roaring Nineties: Can Full Employment be Sustained? A. Krueger and R. Solow, eds. Russell Sage Foundation Press, 2002. [PDF] [Link to the Book]

Working Papers

Price Subsidies, Diagnostic Tests, and Targeting of Malaria Treatment: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial (with Pascaline Dupas and Simone Schaner); Version: March 15, 2012; Policy Brief

Malaria Elimination in Zanzibar: A Feasibility Assessment (with Bruno Moonen et al.), October 2009.

Causes and Consequences of Special Education Placement: Evidence from Chicago Public Schools

Financial Incentives for Special Education Placement: The Impact of SSI Benefit Expansion on Special Education Enrollment


Rationally and Effectively Combating Malaria Through Diagnostics