David Guilkey

Boshamer Distinguished Professor


David K. Guilkey is an applied econometrician with a microeconomics focus. Much of his work has used large survey data sets, both cross sectional and longitudinal, that involve limited dependent variables and the presence of endogenous right-hand-side variables. His international work in health and family planning has concentrated on issues such as the determinants of contraceptive method choice and fertility, the determinants and consequences of health care usage, and the determinants of breast-feeding by mothers. Some of this work involved the use of the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey that he helped initiate along with John S. Akin and Barry M. Popkin. Much of his current work has focused on the evaluation of the impact of public programs on contraceptive use and fertility in both developed and developing countries. Some of his work addresses methodological problems for correctly estimating program impact when faced with two potential complications:  relying on respondent recall of program exposure variables and problems related to program targeting.  Relying on a respondent’s recall of a family planning message, for example, may cause bias since more highly motivated individuals may be both more likely to recall hearing a message and act on the message. The other widespread problem that occurs in the evaluation of program impact is that programs are frequently targeted to certain populations. For example, family planning programs have sometimes been implemented first in areas of a country where the program implementers feel that the population is receptive to family planning. In other cases, programs may be targeted to underserved areas. In either case, methods that do not control for program placement can lead to biased measures of program impact. Guilkey has contributed to both the theoretical and empirical literatures on both of these topics.

He has worked with a number of public and private agencies. Some of his early work was US based and included evaluations of the food stamp and WIC (women, infants, and children) programs for the Department of Agriculture.  In the late 1980’s he was a consultant on a World Bank project that looked at the determinants of contraceptive method choice in Tunisia, Zimbabwe, and Columbia.  Guilkey also served as Deputy Director of the USAID-funded EVALUATION project, which was a $22m project to strengthen the evaluation of USAID population and family planning programs globally.  As part of this project, he led the evaluation of the USAID funded project to support the family planning in Tanzania. He has also been an investigator on a large number of National Institute of Health (NIH) grants and much of the research connected with the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey was funded by NIH.  His most recent work for NIH has been in collaboration with CPC fellows Barry M. Popkin and Penny Gordon-Larsen where a structural equations modeling approach was used to measure the impact of physical activity on obesity, and ultimately health, in several different settings.  He is currently Project Director of a $22.8m Gates Foundation project that is evaluating family planning programs in India, Kenya, Senegal, and Nigeria using longitudinal data sets designed by the project and a co-investigator in a $1.8m grant from the Gates Foundation to examine the sustainability of Gates’ family planning programs in Nigeria.