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 (Forthcoming), Journal of Development Economics
with: Jared GarsJean-François HoudeMolly LipscombLaura Schechter
Working Paper Link (August 2022)

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
(Revise & Resubmit, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics)
Working Paper Link (February 2021)

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 sanitation technology, with decision spillovers being largest among households that don’t receive significant subsidies. There is no evidence that social mechanisms such as social pressure, learning from others, or reciprocity explain the spillovers. We do find evidence of a fourth, non-social, mechanism impacting decisions: increasing returns to scale. 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
(under review)
Working Paper Link (August 2022)

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

Linking producers to export markets can improve incomes and welfare, but accessing these markets requires meeting international quality standards. In partnership with two groundnut farming cooperatives in Senegal, we implement an intervention that aims to address individual and market level barriers to quality upgrading, by encouraging adoption of a quality-improving technology. We conduct a randomized experiment to test whether this intervention induces adoption of the technology and improvements in production quality. Producers randomly offered the intervention are significantly more likely to purchase and use the technology. In areas where quality is otherwise lower due to agro-climatic conditions, producers in the treatment group are significantly more likely to comply with international quality standards. At the market level, the presence of quality insensitive buyers distorts incentives and undermines the relational contracting arrangement between farmers and cooperatives. We find that producers in the treatment group increase output sales to the cooperative on average, but this increase may be insufficient in magnitude to sustain the intervention in the long run, providing cautionary evidence of the challenges of contract farming in settings with volatile spot markets.

Can smallholder extension transform African agriculture?
with: Maya Duru • Kim Siegal • Emilia Tjernström
Working Paper Link (NBER Working Paper No. 26054, July 2019, revised February 2021)

Agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa lags far behind all other regions of the world. A long list of policy experiments has yielded more evidence on what fails than on what works. We analyze a randomized control trial of a rare scaled-up success story: One Acre Fund’s small farmer program. Much like anti-poverty “graduation” interventions, the program aims to relax multiple constraints to productivity simultaneously. We show that participation causes statistically and economically significant increases in output, yields, and profits. In our preferred specification, maize production increases by 24% and profits by 16%. We find little evidence of heterogeneous treatment effects on yields, but observe some attenuation of impacts on total output and profits at the top end of the distribution.


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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