Jean Ensminger

Edie and Lew Wasserman Professor of Social Sciences
B.A., Cornell University, 1974; M.A., Northwestern University, 1976; Ph.D., 1984. Professor of Anthropology, Caltech, 2000-07; Chair, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 2002-06; Wasserman Professor, 2007-.

RESEARCH AREAS

Experimental Social Science; Political Economy; Political Science; Social Science History

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Corruption; Experimental Economics; Political Economy of Development; Sub-Saharan Africa; New Institutional Economics

PROFILE

Jean Ensminger is known for her work in the political economy of Africa. Her research sits at the interface of anthropology, economics, political science, and development, and she has conducted several decades of research in one African society (Making a Market: The Institutional Transformation of an African Society, Cambridge University Press). Her early work in the political economy of development used insights from new institutional economics and analyzed property rights, transaction costs, principal–agent relations, and the relationship between economic incentives and a range of social and economic behaviors.

During the past decade, Ensminger was co–principal investigator, with Joseph Henrich, of the Roots of Human Sociality Project, which used economic experiments in small-scale societies around the world to understand the coevolution of market institutions and pro-social norms of fairness, trust, cooperation, and norm enforcement. This work appeared in Science (2006 and 2010) and in two volumes, the most recent of which was published in 2014 (Experimenting with Social Norms: Fairness and Punishment in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Russell Sage Foundation).

Ensminger's current research focuses on corruption in development, including aid and the role of political decentralization. 

Ensminger taught for many years at Washington University in St. Louis before moving to Caltech in 2000. She is a past president of the Society for Economic Anthropology and served as chair of the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech from 2002 to 2006. In 2006–2007 she was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, and in 2011 she was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship recipient.

Selected Awards: 
2011-2012 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow
2006-2007 Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation
Selected Publications 
  • Ensminger, Jean and Joseph Henrich, eds.
    2014    Experimenting with Social Norms: Fairness and Punishment in Cross-Cultural Perspective. New York: The Russell Sage Foundation Press.
  • Ensminger, Jean and Joseph Henrich
    2014  Introduction, Project History, and Guide to the Volume (Chapter 1). In: Experimenting with Social Norms: Fairness and Punishment in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Jean Ensminger and Joseph Henrich, eds. New York: The Russell Sage Foundation Press.
  • Henrich, Joseph and Jean Ensminger
    2014  Theoretical Foundations: The Coevolution of Social Norms, Intrinsic Motivation, Markets, and the Institutions of Complex Societies (Chapter 2). In: Experimenting with Social Norms: Fairness and Punishment in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Jean Ensminger and Joseph Henrich, eds. New York: The Russell Sage Foundation Press.
  • Ensminger, Jean, Abigail Barr, and Joseph Henrich
    2014  Cross-Cultural Experimental Methods, Sites, and Variables (Chapter 3). In: Experimenting with Social Norms: Fairness and Punishment in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Jean Ensminger and Joseph Henrich, eds. New York: The Russell Sage Foundation Press.
  • Lesorogol, Carolyn and Jean Ensminger
    2014  Double-Blind Dictator Games in Africa and the United States: Differential Experimenter Effects (Chapter 5). In: Experimenting with Social Norms: Fairness and Punishment in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Jean Ensminger and Joseph Henrich, eds. New York: The Russell Sage Foundation Press.
  • Ensminger, Jean and Kathleen Cook
    2014  Pro-Sociality in Rural America: Evidence from Dictator, Ultimatum, Public Goods, and Trust Games (Chapter 18). In: Experimenting with Social Norms: Fairness and Punishment in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Jean Ensminger and Joseph Henrich, eds. New York: The Russell Sage Foundation Press.
  • Henrich, Joseph, Robert Boyd, Richard McElreath, Michael Gurven, Peter J. Richerson, Jean Ensminger, Michael Alvard, Abigail Barr, Clark Barrett, Alexander Bolyantz, Colin F. Camerer, Juan-Camilo Cardenas, Ernst Fehr, Herbert M. Gintis, Francisco Gil-White, Edwins Laban Gwako, Natalie Henrich, Kim Hill, Carolyn Lesorogol, John Q. Patton, Frank W. Marlowe, David P. Tracer, and John Ziker
    2012  Culture Does Account for Variation in Game Behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 109(2): E32-33.
  • Henrich, Joseph, Jean Ensminger, Richard McElreath, Abigail Barr, Clark Barrett, Alexander Bolyanatz, Juan Camilo Cardenas, Michael Gurven, Edwins Gwako, Natalie Henrich, Carolyn Lesorogol, Frank Marlowe, David Tracer, and John Ziker
    2010  Markets, Religion, Community Size and the Evolution of Fairness and Punishment. Science. March 327: 1480-1484.
  • Marlowe, F.W., J.C. Berbesque, A. Barr, A., C. Barrett, A. Bolyanatz, J. C. Cardenas, J. Ensminger, M. Gurven, E. Gwako, J. Henrich, N. Henrich, C. Lesorogol, R. McElreath, D. Tracer
    2008  More 'altruistic' punishment in larger societies. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biology. 274: 587-590.
  • Henrich, Joseph, Richard McElreath, Abigail Barr, Jean Ensminger, Clark Barrett, Alexander Bolyanatz, Juan Camilo Cardenas, Michael Gurven, Edwins Gwako, Natalie Henrich, Carolyn Lesorogol, Frank Marlowe, David Tracer, and John Ziker
    2006  Costly Punishment Across Human Societies. Science. June 312(23): 1767-1770.
  • Echkel, Catherine, Melayne Morgan McInnes, Sara Solnick, Jean Ensminger, Roland Fryer, Ronald Heiner, Gavin Samms, Katri Sieberg, and Rick Wilson
    2005  Bobbing for Widgets: Compensating Wage Differentials. The Journal of Economic Education 36(2): 129-138.
  • Ensminger, Jean, ed.
    2002    Theory in Economic Anthropology. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
  • Knight, Jack and Jean Ensminger
    1998  Conflict over Changing Social Norms. Chapter 5 in: The New Institutionalism in Economic Sociology. Mary Brinton and Victor Nee, eds. Pp. 105-126. New York, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Ensminger, Jean
    1996  Culture and Property Rights. Chapter 9 in: Rights to Nature, Susan Hanna, Carl Folke, and Karl-Goran Maler, eds. Pp. 179-203. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
  • Ensminger, Jean and Andrew Rutten
    1993  The Politics of Changing Property Rights: Dismantling a Commons from Within. Reprinted in The Political Economy of Customs and Cultures: Informal Solutions to the Commons Problem. Terry Anderson and Randy Simmons, eds. Pp. 85-108. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Ensminger, Jean
    1992    Making a Market: The Institutional Transformation of an African Society. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ensminger, Jean
    1991  Structural Transformation and Its Impact upon Orma Women Pastoralists. Chapter 12 in: Structural Adjustment and African Women Farmers. Christina Gladwin, ed. Pp. 281-300. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida Press.
  • Ensminger, Jean
    1987  Economic and Political Differentiation Among Galole Orma Women. Ethnos 52(1-2):28-49.
  • Barnes, Carolyn, Jean Ensminger, Philip O'Keefe, eds.
    1985    Wood, Energy and Households: Perspectives on Rural Kenya. Stockholm: The Beijer Institute and the Scandinavian Institute of African Studies.
  • Barnes, Carolyn and Jean Ensminger
    1985  Introduction. In Wood, Energy and Households: Perspectives on Rural Kenya. C. Barnes, J. Ensminger, and P. O'Keefe, eds. Pp. 1-13. Stockholm: The Beijer Institute and The Scandinavian Institute of African Studies.
  • Ensminger, Jean
    1985  Monetization of the Galole Orma Economy: Changes in the Use of Fuel and Woodstock. In Wood, Energy and Households: Perspectives on Rural Kenya. C. Barnes, J. Ensminger, and P. O'Keefe, eds. Pp. 124-140. Stockholm: The Beijer Institute and The Scandinavian Institute of African Studies.
  • Ensminger, Jean
    1984  Theoretical Perspectives on Pastoral Women: Feminist Critiques. Nomadic Peoples Number 16: 59-71.
  • Leakey, L.S.B.
    1977    The Southern Kikuyu Before 1903 (Volumes I-III). G. Beecher and J. Ensminger, eds. London: Academic Press.

MANUSCRIPTS UNDER REVIEW OR IN COMPLETE DRAFT

  • Ensminger, Jean
    Inside Corruption Networks: Following the Money in Community Driven Development.
  • Abigail Barr, Chris Wallace, Jean Ensminger, Joseph Henrich, Clark Barrett, Alexander Boyanatz, Juan Camilo Cardenas, Michael Gurven, Edwins Gwako, Carolyn Lesorogol, Frank Marlowe, Richard McElreath, David Tracer, and John Ziker.
    Homo Æqualis: A Cross-Society Experimental Analysis of Three Bargaining Games. Revise and resubmit at Quarterly Journal of Economics.
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