Christopher Cotton is a Professor of Economics at Queen’s University where he holds the Jarislowsky-Deutsch Chair in Economic & Financial Policy. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Economics, and is a faculty member for the CPIA professional program and the MPA and PMPA programs within the Queen’s School of Policy Studies, He is also a cross-appointed member of the Translational Medicine Graduate Faculty in the Queen’s School of Medicine, where he helps supervise students working at the intersection of health and economics.
Prof. Cotton focuses on applying rigorous research methods from economics to gain insights into pressing public policy questions. He has also worked extensively on the evaluation of education and health policies and international development projects, and is a leading international expert on lobbying, political influence and campaign finance reform, as well as the funding of social sector projects and programs. His research publishes in top scientific journals such as the American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Labor Economics, and Management Science, and has included seminal papers on several topics.
Much of Prof. Cotton’s research and service encourages the incorporation of better evidence into policy decisions. He serves as the Director of the John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy, a research institute that focuses on supporting and promoting policy-relevant research at Queen’s. He is also the Director of Research at Limestone Analytics, and one of the lead developers behind the new CPIA program at Queen’s, which teaches professionals at NGOs, governments, and international development agencies how to effectively incorporate evidence and evaluation into the design and financing of their projects. Prof. Cotton regularly provides advice to governments and NGOs about the potential impact of different policies and the best methods for evaluating projects. He has been involved with the design and evaluation of several major international development projects involving nutrition and education, and is currently overseeing the evaluation of a large Girls Education Challenge project in Zimbabwe funded by the Department for International Development UK. He holds a SSHRC grant to study how donors choose between projects and causes.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof. Cotton began to focus much of his research and policy efforts to better understand the economic and social costs of the pandemic. He was appointed to the Royal Society of Canada COVID-19 working group on Economic Recovery and Global Canada’s COVID Strategic Choices Group. He is also the co-PI on a major NSERC grant and the economic modeling lead on a major Canada Digital Technology Supercluster grant, both of which involve bringing together economic and epidemiological models to build capacity for the evaluation of future outbreaks and pandemics.
Prof. Cotton is also an enthusiastic teacher and adviser. He advises many Ph.D. and M.A. students, and won the department’s award for undergraduate teaching.