research institute for compassionate economics


Dean Spears

Executive Director

[email protected]

Dean’s research focuses on children’s health  and human capital, which these days often means height, sanitation, and social forces in Indian households and villages. He has also done research about population issues in social welfare and about decision-making, in particular decision-making by poor people and the social psychology of interaction between richer and poorer people. Dean has worked in El Salvador, India, and South Africa. His is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma and has an MA in International Studies from the University of Oklahoma. He has an MPA in Development Studies and a PhD in Economics from Princeton University.  He is currently a visiting economist at the Economic and Planning Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.

See his google scholar page here. You can view his CV here.



What fraction of sexual violence in India is within marriages?: Media coverage of research by Aashish Gupta

By Dean Spears, on September 5th, 2017

In most countries around the world, marital rape may be prosecuted (see box 11 on page 113 of this UN report).  But in India, marital rape is not classified as a crime.  Recently the Government of India filed an affidavitRead More..


Where India Goes in The Economist

By Dean Spears, on August 17th, 2017

The book and the SQUAT survey are both quoted in an article in the Asia section of this week's issue of The Economist: "Indian officials are humiliating people who defecate outdoors: Building lots of toilets does not guarantee they willRead More..


Where "Where India Goes" Goes

By Dean Spears, on August 7th, 2017

In homage to the people who posted photos of On What Matters on top of things, a post on Where India Goes has been the past few days.  I won't start by commenting on the "subtle art" of book curationRead More..


Where India Goes: Back in the Kindle store with free sample

By Dean Spears, on August 1st, 2017

Where India Goes is back in the Kindle store.  I know that some of you pre-ordered the book for Kindle, only to have it mysteriously canceled the other day when it was supposed to be delivered.  In fact, that happenedRead More..



The puzzle of open defecation in rural India: Evidence from a novel measure of caste attitudes in a nationally-representative survey

By Dean Spears, on November 15th, 2016

Uniquely widespread and persistent open defecation in rural India has emerged as an important policy challenge and puzzle about behavioral choice in economic development. One candidate explanation is the culture of purity and pollution that reinforces and has its originsRead More..


Caste and Life Satisfaction in Rural North India

By Dean Spears, on January 23rd, 2016

The article explores the association between caste and life association, an indicator to measure the subjective well-being of people. In addition to reporting the differences in life satisfaction across caste categories in rural North India, where the Dalits and OtherRead More..


Improving sanitation is a policy priority for children’s human capital in rural India: lessons from recent literature and the IHDS

By Dean Spears, on November 30th, 2015

The first part of this chapter reviews evidence from the literature of a large effect of open defecation on child height that can account for important international differences. The second part of the chapter presents new empirical results using theRead More..


Greene's Moral Tribes and Cooperation and Conflict in India

By Dean Spears, on November 29th, 2015

A review of Joshua Greene's recent book Moral Tribes, with special attention to the consequences of India's highly fragmented society for the trustworthiness of ethical intuition. Review published in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol - L No. 48, November 28,Read More..