I am a Postdoctoral Scholar and Lead Researcher with the Development Innovation Lab at the University of Chicago. I’m interested broadly in development economics, industrial organization, and applied econometrics. I completed my PhD in Agricultural & Applied Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Click here to download my full CV.

Research


Peer-Reviewed Publications
Privatization of public goods: Evidence from the sanitation sector in Senegal (2023), Journal of Development Economics
with: Jared GarsJean-François HoudeMolly LipscombLaura Schechter
Journal Link (open access)

Privatization of a public good (the management of sewage treatment centers in Dakar, Senegal) leads to an increase in the productivity of downstream sewage dumping companies and a decrease in downstream prices of the services they provide to households. We use the universe of legal dumping of sanitation waste from May 2009 to May 2018 to show that legal dumping increased substantially following privatization–on average an increase of 74%, or an increase of about 1640 trips to treatment centers each month. This is due to increased productivity of all trucks, not just those associated with the company managing the privatized treatment centers. Household-level survey data shows that downstream prices of legal sanitary dumping decreased by 5% following privatization, and DHS data shows that diarrhea rates among children under five decreased in Dakar relative to secondary cities in Senegal following privatization with no similar effect on respiratory illness as a placebo.

Measuring willingness to pay for reliable electricity: evidence from Senegal (2021), World Development
with: Agnieszka Postepska • Leopold Sarr
Journal Link (open access)

The reform of energy subsidies in Iran: The role of cash transfers (2015), Emerging Markets Finance and Trade
with: Djavad Salehi-Isfahani • Bryce Wilson Stucki
Journal Link


Working Papers
Spillovers without social interactions in urban sanitation
with: Molly LipscombLaura SchechterSiyao Jessica Zhu
(Revised & Resubmitted, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics)
Working Paper Link (October 2022)

We run a randomized controlled trial coupled with lab-in-the-field social network experiments in urban Dakar. Decision spillovers and health externalities play a large role in determining uptake of the sanitation technology, with decision spillovers being largest among households that don’t receive significant subsidies. There is no evidence that the spillovers are explained by social forces in general, nor that they are explained by specific social mechanisms such as learning from others, social pressure, or reciprocity. We do find evidence of a fourth, non-social, mechanism impacting decisions: increasing health benefits. As more neighbors adopt the sanitary technology, it becomes more worthwhile for other households to adopt as well.

Recognizing a good deal: short term subsidies and the dynamics of consumer choices
Working Paper Link (July 2022)

I study the dynamics of consumer choices in response to short-term subsidies. I exploit spatial variation in exposure to subsidies which induced consumers to use a matching platform for sanitation services in Dakar, Senegal. Using platform administrative data, I show that neighborhoods exposed to short-term subsidies are significantly more likely to use the platform after subsidies end, but this effect declines gradually to zero over time. Following a subsequent city-wide subsidy campaign, increased adoption re-emerges in previously-subsidized neighborhoods. I explore within-neighborhood spillovers as a mechanism and show that a substantial fraction of increased long-run adoption comes from new users.

Contracting and quality upgrading: evidence from an experiment in Senegal
with: Tanguy BernardOuambi Yameogo
Working Paper Link (September 2022)

Blog and podcast coverage : World Bank Development Impact BlogNOVAFRICA Development Economics Job Market Talks Podcast

We conduct a randomized experiment with groundnut producers in Senegal to address barriers to quality upgrading. We offer a bundled contract to encourage use of a new quality-improving technology. Producers randomly offered the contract are significantly more likely to purchase the technology. In areas where quality is otherwise lower due to agro-climatic conditions, producers are significantly more likely to comply with international standards. At the market level, the presence of quality insensitive buyers undermines the relational contracting arrangement between farmers and cooperatives. We find that producers increase output sales to cooperatives on average, but this increase is small in magnitude.

Relaxing multiple agricultural productivity constraints at scale
with: Maya Duru • Kim Siegal • Emilia Tjernström
(under review)
Working Paper Link (October 2022, previous version NBER Working Paper No. 26054, July 2019)

No single constraint can explain the stagnant agricultural productivity growth in sub-Saharan Africa. Most interventions that relax individual barriers to productivity have delivered disappointing results. We evaluate an at-scale program that targets several productivity constraints with a bundled intervention, using a randomized controlled trial in western Kenya. Program participation increases maize yields by 26%, total maize output by 24%, and profits by 17%. While we cannot directly test whether the program’s success is due to its bundled nature, we find patterns in the data that are consistent with this hypothesis.


Work in Progress
Credit for climate change: Promoting asset-collateralized loans for water tanks
Health, pro-sociality, and market rewards in agricultural quality decisions
Measurement error, validation data, and program evaluation
Using market mechanisms to increase the take-up of improved sanitation
with: Jared Gars • Shoshana Griffith • Jean-François HoudeMolly Lipscomb • Mbaye Mbeguere • Sarah Nehrling • Laura SchechterSiyao Jessica Zhu

Pricing complexity and consumer behavior: evidence from a lab experiment

Press Appearances

"The Poop Cartel," Planet Money (Episode 855, July 25, 2018); Goats and Soda / All Things Considered (July 27, 2018)




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