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Stephen KnowlesBCom(Hons) PhD (Otago)

Tel: 64 3 479 8350
Room 619, 6th Floor, Otago Business School

Stephen has two main research interests: experimental economics and the empirical modelling of economic growth and development. His recent work using experimental economics has focused on the determinants of donations to international development charities and measuring trust.

His work on economic growth and development includes analysing the effects of gender inequalities in education and health on economic growth, the relationship between social capital and economic performance, the effects of government intervention on economic performance and the relationship between income inequality and economic growth. His teaching interests include the economics of developing countries and introductory microeconomics.

Selected publications

Take a look at Stephen's selected publications below:

Knowles, S. and Servatka, M. “Transaction costs, the opportunity cost of time and procrastination in charitable giving”, Journal of Public Economics, 125: 54-63 (2015).

Fielding, D. and Knowles, S. “Can you spare some change for charity? Experimental evidence on verbal cues and loose change effects in a Dictator Game”, Experimental Economics, 18: 718-730 (2015).

“Developing countries in need: Which characteristics appeal most to people when donating money?” (with P. Hansen, N. Kergozou and P. Thorsnes) , Journal of Development Studies 50, 1494-1509, 2014.

"Are survey measures of trust correlated with experimental trust? Evidence from Cameroon" (with A Etang and D Fielding) Journal of Development Studies, 48, 1813-1827, 2012.

"Giving to Africa and Perceptions of Poverty" (with A Etang and D Fielding) Journal of Economic Psychology, 33, 2012, 819-832.

"Does trust extend beyond the village? Experimental trust and social distance in Cameroon" (with A Etang and D Fielding) Experimental Economics 14 (1), 2011, 15-35.

"Dangerous interactions: Problems in interpreting tests of conditional aid effectiveness" (with D Fielding) The World Economy 34(6), 2011, 972-983.

"Which institutions are good for your health? The deep determinants of comparative cross-country health status", (with P.D. Owen), Journal of Development Studies 46(4). 2010. 701-723.

"Inequality and economic growth: the empirical relationship reconsidered in the light of comparable data", Journal of Development Studies, 41, 2005, 135-159.

"Total factor productivity, per capita income and social divergence", (with R.Q. Grafton and P.D. Owen), Economic Record, 80, 2004, 302-313.

"Government intervention and economic performance in East Asia", (with Arlene Garces-Ozanne), Economic Development and Cultural Change, 51, 2003, 451-477.

"Are educational gender gaps a brake on economic development? some cross-country empirical evidence", (with P Lorgelly and P D Owen), Oxford Economic Papers, 54, 2002, 118-149.

"Are the Penn World Tables data on government consumption and investment being misused?", Economics Letters, 71, 2001, 293-298.

"Education and health in an effective-labour empirical growth model", (with P D Owen), Economic Record, 73, 1997, 314-328.

"Health capital and cross-country variation in income per capita in the Mankiw-Romer-Weil model", (with P D Owen), Economics Letters, 48, 1995, 99-106.

Stephen's CV

Read Stephen Knowles' CV

Teaching responsibilities

Stephen's teaching responsibilities include:

Preferred areas of research supervision

Stephen is especially interested in supervising research students in the following areas

  • Measuring economic development and well being
  • Lab and field experiments, particularly on trust, altruism and charitable giving


Chan, N. W., Knowles, S., Peeters, R., & Wolk, L. (2024). Measuring strength of altruistic motives. Journal of the Economic Science Association. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s40881-024-00170-w Journal - Research Article

Knowles, S., Peeters, R., Smith, M., & Wesselbaum, D. (2023). Who behaves charitably? Evidence from a global study. Applied Economics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/00036846.2023.2288063 Journal - Research Article

Chan, N. W., Knowles, S., Peeters, R., & Wolk, L. (2023). Cost-(in)effective public good provision: An experimental exploration. Theory & Decision. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s11238-023-09956-6 Journal - Research Article

Fielding, D., Knowles, S., & Peeters, R. (2023). Timing of rebates and generosity. Journal of Behavioral & Experimental Economics, 107, 102115. doi: 10.1016/j.socec.2023.102115 Journal - Research Article

Crump, J. A., Vakaoti, P., Moore-Jones, M., Tan, L., Ergler, C. R., Fenton, E., Anderson, E. M. R., Bremer, P. J., Sharples, K. J., Walls, T., … Hadingham, J., Hill, P. C., & Knowles, S. (2023). Health nationalism in Aotearoa New Zealand during COVID-19: Problems for global health equity. Nature Medicine. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1038/s41591-023-02436-y Journal - Research Other

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