Rebecca Thornton

Co-Graduate Program director - Economics
Professor - Economics

Contact Information

Mailing Address:  One Bear Place #98003
Waco, TX  76706
Office Location:  Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation 320.12

Office Hours

FALL 2023
By appointment

Educational Background

  • PHD - Economics, Harvard University
  • PHD - Political Science, Harvard University

Work Experience

  • Associate Professor, University of Illinois (July 15, 2015 - August 1, 2022)
  • Assistant Professor, University of Illinois (July 15, 2008 - July 15, 2015)
  • NIA Post Doctoral Fellow, University of Michigan (August 15, 2006 - July 15, 2008)

Professional Memberships

  • Association of Christian Economists (2022 - 2025)
  • American Economic Association (2006 - 2025)
  • Population Association of America (2006 - 2025)


Rebecca Thornton is a Professor in the Department of Economics in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. Prior to that she was an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Economics and Population Studies Center. Dr. Thornton’s research focuses on health, education, and the status of women in developing countries. Across these topics, her work addresses core issues within Economics, including the role of subjective beliefs in decision-making and how social networks influence behavior and beliefs. Dr. Thornton has been the principal or co-investigator on studies in India, Jordan, Malawi, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Uganda. These studies have involved collecting longitudinal data and conducting field experiments to understand important development issues such as HIV prevention, family planning uptake, enrollment in health insurance, effects of merit-based scholarships, and effective ways to improve early grade literacy.

Her work has received national and international recognition with papers published in top general interest and field journals. She has received funding from agencies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ESRC-DFID, the International Growth Centre, and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie). Dr. Thornton is an affiliate with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and BREAD (Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development) and received her Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government, a joint degree in Economics and Public Policy, from the J.F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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