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, Affiliated Professor at the Jameel-Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and 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 has worked on a number of field trials in Africa related to prevention, treatment and diagnosis of malaria, technology adoption, messaging and behavior change and pharmaceutical supply chains. Ongoing work in malaria explores how perceptions of malaria risk influence malaria treatment seeking and prevention. Current field work in Kenya (with Margaret McConnell), supported by a Gates Grand Challenges award, uses behavioral economic insights to explore new approaches to increasing demand for high quality maternal care. She has other ongoing field work applying behavioral economic findings to improve program design in the areas of postpartum contraception (in Kenya) and nutrition (in Ethiopia).

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.

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 is a member of the WHO Global Malaria Program’s Technical Expert Group on Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation, 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


Jessica Cohen CV November 2015

Antimalarial Medication Subsidies and the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria

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.

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]

Adherence to Antimalarial Medication

Cohen J, Yavuz E, Saran I. 2014. “The Impact of Packaging and Messaging on Adherence to Antimalarial Treatment: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Uganda.” Working Paper

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]

Malaria Diagnostic Testing (Rapid Diagnostic Tests)

Cohen J, Fink G, Maloney K, Berg K, Jordan M, Svoronos T, Aber F, Dickens W. 2015. “Malaria testing and treatment in Uganda: evaluating the impact of the introduction and use of rapid diagnostic tests in drug shops.” Bulletin of the WHO, forthcoming. Appendix A

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.

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

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.

Malaria Prevention (Bed Nets)

Mosquito Nets: The Price of Prevention” (Media on Bed Nets Work)

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.

Impact Evaluation

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]

Malaria Elimination

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]

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

Behavioral Economics

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]

Older Work in Labor Economics and the Economics of Education

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]

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

The Impact of SSI Benefit Expansion on Special Education Enrollment


Rationally and Effectively Combating Malaria Through Diagnostics

How Pricing Affects Malaria Treatment