photo: James Foster

James E. Foster

Professor of Economics and International Affairs
Suite 502
Address: Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW
Phone: 202-994-8195
Fax: 202-994-5477

Areas of Expertise

Development economics, inequality and poverty, economic theory and policy


James E. Foster is Professor of Economics and International Affairs at The George Washington University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Cornell University, holds a Doctorate Honoris Causa, from Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo (Mexico), and is an Honorary Member of the SCR, Magdalen College, Oxford.

Professor Foster's research focuses on welfare economics — using economic tools to evaluate and enhance the wellbeing of people. His joint 1984 Econometrica paper is one of the most cited papers on poverty; it introduced the FGT Index, which has been used in thousands of studies and was the basis for targeting the Progresa/Oportunidades program in México. Other research includes work on economic inequality with Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen; on poverty and inclusive growth with Miguel Szekely, Former Undersecretary of Education in México; on multidimensional poverty with Sabina Alkire, Director of Oxford's Poverty and Human Development Initiative; and on literacy with Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist of the World Bank. Foster recently visited Harvard University where he co-taught a doctoral seminar on Welfare Economics with Professor Sen, and currently teaches a course on Game Theory and Strategic Thinking with Professor Basu in the Elliott School.

Prof. Foster is on sabbatical for the 2014–2015 Academic Year


Ph.D., Cornell University

Classes Taught

ECON 2151 Economic Development

ECON 8352 Development Economics II

IAFF 2040Basic Topics in International Affairs: Game Theory and Strategic Thinking