Steven Durlauf’s research spans many topics in microeconomics and macroeconomics. His most important substantive contributions involve the areas of poverty, inequality and economic growth. Much of his research has attempted to integrate sociological ideas into economic analysis. His major methodological contributions include both economic theory and econometrics. He helped pioneer the application of statistical mechanics techniques to the modeling of socioeconomic behavior and has also developed identification analyses for the empirical analogs of these models. Other research has focused on techniques for monetary policy evaluation.
Durlauf is also known as a critic of the use of the concept of social capital by economists and other social scientists and has also challenged the ways that agent-based modeling and complexity theory have been employed by social and natural scientists to study socioeconomic phenomena.