His research is on the measurement and analysis of poverty in all its dimensions, with particular emphasis on topics such as internal migration, urbanization, structural transformation, networks, informal insurance, early childhood development and measurement through surveys. As a development economist he places high value on personal presence in the field and on interactions with scholars from other disciplines, ranging from sociology and anthropology to demography and epidemiology.
Prior to joining the university De Weerdt served for 12 years as Research Director at Economic Development Initiatives (EDI), a research institution that he co-founded in Tanzania in 2002. During that time the company grew from a small two-person start-up to one of Africa’s most respected research houses with 40 core employees and frequently up to 100 additional project-based staff. As a spin-off from this work EDI designed a new-generation software package, called surveybe, which is being used worldwide to conduct surveys on handheld devices. By 2014, after 12 years of hard and exciting work building a thriving private sector firm in Africa, De Weerdt stepped down as its Research Director and devote himself more fully to academia.