Professor Rafael Di Tella received his first degree in Economics in 1990 from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina and his D.Phil in Economics from Oxford University in 1996. After a short stay in Argentina he joined Harvard Business School in July 1997, where he has taught Business History and Business, Government and the International Economy in the first year required curriculum, as well as a course on Institutions and Macroeconomics in the second year. Di Tella works on political economy, with a focus on institutional development. His research has concerned itself with the causes of illegal behavior, with applications to corruption and common crime. Another strand of work studies measures of happiness and how they can inform government policies on issues that range from the incidence of inequality to the inflation-unemployment tradeoff. His current research studies the role of beliefs in economic organization, including reversals of pro-market reform and, more generally, why doesn't capitalism flow to poor countries. His work has been published mainly in academic journals, including the Journal of Political Economy, the American Economic Review and the Review of Economic Studies.

He was an IZA Research Fellow from July 2006 until October 2016.