Carol Graham

Carol Graham

Senior Fellow – Economic Studies

Carol Graham is a senior fellow in the Economic Studies program at Brookings, a College Park Professor at the University of Maryland, and a senior scientist at Gallup.

Her books include: “The Power of Hope: How Wellbeing Science Can Save us from Despair” (Princeton, 2023); “Happiness for All? Unequal Lives and Hopes in Pursuit of the American Dream” (Princeton University Press, 2017); “The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-Being” (Brookings, 2011; published in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and paperback); “Happiness around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires” (Oxford University Press, 2009; published in Chinese, Portuguese and paperback); “Happiness and Hardship: Opportunity and Insecurity in New Market Economies” (with Stefano Pettinato, Brookings, 2002; published in Spanish); “Private Markets for Public Goods: Raising the Stakes in Economic Reform” (Brookings, 1998); “Safety Nets, Politics and the Poor: Transitions to Market Economies” (Brookings, 1994); “Peru’s APRA” (Rienner, 1992); “Improving the Odds: Political Strategies for Institutional Reform in Latin America” (co-author, IDB, 1999); and “A Half Penny on the Dollar: The Future of Development Aid,” with Michael O’Hanlon (Brookings, 1997). She is the editor, with Eduardo Lora, of “Paradox and Perceptions: Quality of Life in Latin America” (Brookings, 2009); with Susan Collins, of the “Brookings Trade Forum 2004: Globalization, Poverty, and Inequality” (Brookings, 2006); and, with Nancy Birdsall, of “New Markets, New Opportunities? Economic and Social Mobility in a Changing World” (Brookings, 1999), and “Beyond Trade-Offs: Market Reforms and Equitable Growth in Latin America” (Brookings/IDB, 1988).

Graham is the author of numerous articles in journals including Science, Social Science and Medicine, the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Journal of Population Economics, Economica, Perspectives in Psychological Science, the World Bank Research Observer, Health Affairs, Health Economics, the Journal of Socio-Economics, World Economics, Foreign Affairs, the Journal of Development Studies, the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, World Development, and the Journal of Happiness Studies. She has also authored numerous chapters in edited volumes, including the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. She is senior editor of Behavioral Science and Policy, and an associate editor at the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization and on the editorial boards of numerous other economic journals. She served on a National Academy of Sciences panel on well-being metrics and policy in 2012-13, a Pioneer Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2017, and a Lifetime Distinguished Scholar award from the International Society of Quality of Life Studies in 2018.

Graham served as vice president and director of Governance Studies at Brookings from 2002-2004 and interim vice president and director of the Economic Studies program in 2023. She has also served as a Special Advisor to the Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. She has been a consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, United Nations Development Program, and the Harvard Institute for International Development, helping to design safety net programs in Latin America, Africa, and Eastern Europe. She has testified in Congress several times and has appeared on NBC News, National Public Radio, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and CNN among others. Graham has also written in the Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, the Financial Times and the Washington Post. Reviews of her work on well-being have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, the Financial Times, the New York Review of Books, Science, and the Journal of Economic Literature, among others.

Her research has received support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the World Bank, and the Tinker, Hewlett, and Templeton Foundations among others. She held a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship in 1997-98, during which time she served as Special Adviser to the Executive Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank. Graham, born in Lima, Peru, has an A.B. from Princeton University, an M.A. from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a Ph.D. from Oxford University. She is the mother of three children.

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Developing economies
    • inequality
    • Latin America
    • market reforms: poverty
    • subjective well-being
  • Current Positions

    • College Park Professor, University of Maryland School of Public Policy
    • Senior Scientist, The Gallup Organization
  • Past Positions

    • Vice President and Director, Governance Studies, Brookings
    • Visiting Professor, Department of Economics, Johns Hopkins University
    • Special Advisor to the Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
    • Special Advisor to the Executive Vice President, Inter-American Development Bank
    • Visiting Fellow, World Bank
    • Assistant Professor, Duke University
  • Education

    • Ph.D., Oxford University, 1989
    • M.A., School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, 1986
    • A.B., Princeton University, 1984
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