Paulo Santos

Assoc Professor


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Paulo is a Lecturer in Economics at Monash University. His research interests are at the intersection of economics and sociology and also of economics and natural resource management - and in using insights from these different areas into understanding why poverty is persistent.

More than 70% of the differences in income or life expectancy across the world are due to circumstances beyond one's control: the place where we are born or our parent's wealth. I want to understand why these differences still persist and what can be done to change it. 

As most economists, I care about how markets work. I'm particularly interested in understanding how markets are formed, how agents overcome problems of trust and asymmetric information. In my work I have looked at how networks are formed as one way of incorporating the idea of social embeddedness of economic relations, initially developed by sociologists and anthropologists, and how social context shapes transaction costs and allows the economy to function and how does it shape the depth and inclusiveness of markets. One small step from this work, I'm naturally interested in the importance of identity (and discrimination) as an additional explanation for why some people remain poor.

Natural resources and the territory are the other side of my interests: land use changes and deforestation, water management, technology adoption are all important determinants of the asset base that determines how people participate in the economy and in society of developing countries. They are also important areas of policy intervention, and one where the ability to talk with non-social scientists seems most needed.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or