Department of Economics

Professor Deborah Johnston

Key information

Department of Economics Professorial Research Associate
BA MSc (Cantab), PhD (London)
Email address


Professor Deborah Johnston is  a Professor of Development Economics. She completed her BA and MPhil at Queens’ College Cambridge and her PhD in the Economics Dept at SOAS. Her academic work focuses on the intersection of poverty and other elements of wellbeing, such as nutritional status, health and education. She has mostly researched in countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Before joining academia in 2003, she worked internationally as an economist in a number of policy roles, with governments, NGOs and international organisations.

Research interests

  • Food, nutrition and agriculture
  • Rural poverty and labour markets. Land reform and development. Poverty, development and HIV/Aids.
  • Member of editorial board for Journal of Agrarian Change
  • Member of advisory board for SOAS Centre of Food Studies
  • Member of management committee for Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health
  • Co-investigator in Fair Trade, Employment and Poverty Reduction Project,, a four-year DFID funded project looking at the impact of Fairtrade on wage workers in tea, coffee and cutflower production in Uganda and Ethiopia
  • Other research projects:
    - WHO PMNCH ‘Strategy Briefs on Cross Sectoral Approaches to Women's and Children's Health: Agriculture/Food and Nutrition’, September 2013 – October 2013.  PI: Deborah Johnston.
    - DFID-funded – ‘Current and Planned Research on Agriculture for Improved Nutrition: A Mapping and a Gap Analysis’, March 2012 to July 2012. Principal Investigator: Dr. Corinna Hawkes (LCIRAH).  Co-investigators: (LCIRAH) Rachel Turner; Elaine Ferguson; Deborah Johnston; Bhavani Shankar; Jeff Waage.  University of Aberdeen: Farhana Haseen; Hilary Homans; Julia Hussein; Debbi Marais; Geraldine McNeill.
    - Foresight-funded – ‘Understanding and Improving the Relationship between Agriculture and Health’, June 2009-June 2010.  Principal Investigator: Prof Jeff Waage (LCIRAH/SOAS). Co-investigators: Alan Dangour; Sophie Hawkesworth, Deborah Johnston, Karen Lock, Nigel Poole, Jonathan Rushton, Ricardo Uauy.
    - British Academy Small Grant - 'Farmwork and food: understanding women's employment and the shift to purchased food in Ethiopia', May 2014 to Sept 2014.  PI: Deborah Johnston.
    - Danish Strategic Fund - 'Healthy and Affordable Protein for the African Middle-Class'.  WP6 April 2015-April 2017: Consumer preferences and communication of product health properties in the West African market. WP-leader: Deborah Johnston.
    - IFPRI/LCIRAH - 'Women’s time use, food consumption and nutrition - a mixed studies review'. May 2014-April 2015.  PI: Deborah Johnston.  Co-investigators: Elizabeth Hull (SOAS, LCIRAH), Suneetha Kadiyala (LCIRAH, LSHTM), Hazel Malapit (IFPRI, A4NH), Sara Stevano (LCIRAH, SOAS).


Contact Deborah