Dr David Smerdon

Senior Lecturer

School of Economics
Faculty of Business, Economics and Law


Dr David Smerdon is a Senior Lecturer (equivalent to Assistant Professor) in the School of Economics. He primarily works in behavioral and development economics. His research involves theory and modelling, experiments in the lab and field, and microeconometric analysis in order to investigate topics at the intersection of these fields.

David earned his PhD from the Tinbergen Institute and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) as a General Sir John Monash scholar, and afterwards worked as a PODER fellow at Bocconi University in Milan. His research often involves collaboration with non-academic partners, ranging from aid agencies and NGOs like US AID and Save the Children, to tech companies like Chess.com.

Prior to his academic career, David spent three years working for the Australian Department of Treasury as a policy analyst. David is also a chess Grandmaster and has represented Australia at seven chess Olympiads. Combining his passions, David occasionally conducts niche research in chess economics on topics such as gender inequality, cheating, and the life cycle of cognitive performance, supported by organisations such as the World Chess Federation (FIDE) and Chessable.

Research Interests

  • Behavioural Economics
  • Development Economics
  • Migration
  • Game theory
  • Cultural Economics

Research Impacts

David's research motivation is focussed on policy-relevant issues, particularly those where behavioural economics can be applied to social policy. Examples of recent projects include:

  • The social impact of refugee resettlement in Australia
  • Policy solutions to eradicate female genital mutilation in Somalia
  • Predicting when and how harmful social norms can be broken down
  • Understanding the relationship between income inequality and trust within societies
  • The relationship between gendered preferences and cross-country differences in gender equality in competitive environments


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam


  • Butterworth, Jade, Smerdon, David, Baumeister, Roy and von Hippel, William (2023). Cooperation in the time of COVID. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 17456916231178719. doi: 10.1177/17456916231178719

  • Smerdon, D., Meyer, C. B., Reizniece-Ozola, D., Rodrigo-Yanguas, M. and Sorokina, A. (2023). Report: 2023 FIDE Gender Equality in Chess Index (GECI). Lausanne, Switzerland; Brisbane, QLD, Australia: FIDE; The University of Queensland. doi: 10.14264/9bb291f

  • Smerdon, David (2022). The effect of masks on cognitive performance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119 (49) e2206528119, 1-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2206528119

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  • Doctor Philosophy

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Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision