Professor of Economics
Chair of Economics Department
104 Hubbard Hall
Prof. Khan holds a First Class Honours B.Sc. degree in Economics, Sociology, and Statistics from the University of Surrey in England; an M.A. in Economics from McMaster University in Canada; and a Ph.D. in Economics from UCLA. She has been a visiting scholar at Boalt Hall School of Law (Berkeley), UCLA School of Law, Harvard University, the NBER, Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Australian National University, and Senior Fellow at the Lemelson Center.
She is a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Trustee of the Cliometric Society, and a former Fulbright Scholar. In 2004 she was awarded the prestigious Griliches Fellowship, which the National Bureau of Economic Research grants once every two years to an empirical economist. Her book, The Democratization of Invention: Patents and Copyrights in American Economic Development, 1790-1920 (Cambridge University Press, 2005), was awarded the Alice Hanson Jones Biennial Prize for an outstanding work in North American economic history.
Khan’s research examines issues in law and economic history, including intellectual property rights, and technological progress in Europe and the United States. She is currently working on a large-scale empirical project that analyzes the nature and consequences of institutions (such as legal rules and patent systems) for the paths of technological change and economic growth in the U.S. and the major European countries from 1750 through 1930. The project examines different incentive/reward systems such as prizes and patents, and the sources of variation in important innovations. She is working on two books, dealing with the “great inventors and inventions” of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the award of technological prizes and patenting across countries.
Another research area comprises the nexus between courts and commerce in frontier regions (including the issue of litigious plaintiffs and the role of wealth in outcomes in early American courts), the evolution of law between the period of the Articles of Confederation and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and the link between innovation and the enforcement of antitrust laws in the late 20th century. Her work has informed policy at such institutions as the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the British Commission on Intellectual Property Rights.
Prof. Khan is fond of jazz and rock music, Boston (the city), Expressionist art, black and white movies, biographies, and nineteenth-century novels. If she weren’t an economist, the difficult choice between restaurant reviewer and chef would be resolved by her taste for consumption rather than production.