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Molly Lipscomb



University of Virginia                                                                           Phone:  (303)956-6682

Batten School of Public Policy                                                            Fax:       (434)243-2318

Garrett Hall                                                                                

235 McCormick Road                                                                

Charlottesville, VA 22904                                                                                              


Academic Positions:


University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

              Director, Center for Social Innovation, Batten School July 2021-

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Batten School August 2018-

              Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Batten School, August 2012-2018

              (secondary) Department of Economics, August 2012-


University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Assistant Professor of Economics, Department of Economics and Econometrics, July 2009-2012

Faculty Fellow, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, August 2009-2012

Faculty Fellow, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, May 2010-2012

Faculty Fellow, Eck Institute for Global Health, February 2011-2012


Other Professional Appointments:

Co-Editor, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, September, 2022-

Co-Editor, Sanitation special issue of Journal of Development Economics, 2023


Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

              Visiting Scholar, Department of Economics, January 2016-June 2016




Ph.D. in Economics, May 2009, University of Colorado at Boulder

M.A. in Economics, May 2005, University of Colorado at Boulder

BA in Economics, May 1999, Claremont McKenna College

With honors, Magna Cum Laude, Minor in Political Science


"Privatization of public goods:  Evidence from the sanitation sector in Senegal."  with Joshua Deutschmann, Jared Gars, Jean-François Houde, and Laura Schechter. Journal of Development Economics, forthcoming.


“Timing to the Statement:  Understanding Fluctuations in Consumer Credit Use,” with Sumit Agarwal and Amit Bubna, 2020.  Management Science.


“The Impact of Land Tenure Reform on Deforestation:  Evidence from the Brazilian Amazon.”  With Niveditha Prabakaran.  2020. World Development.


"Externalities and Spillovers from Sanitation and Waste Management in Urban and Rural Neighborhoods," 2020.  Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy.


“Subsidies versus mental accounting nudges:  Harnessing mobile payment systems to improve sanitation.”  With Laura Schechter, 2018. Journal of Development Economics.


“Decentralization and Pollution Spillovers: Evidence from the Re-drawing of County Borders in Brazil” with Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak.  Review of Economic Studies, January 2017, v84 (1).


“Service Reform and Manufacturing Performance:  Evidence from India.”  with Jens Arnold, Beata Javorcik, and Aaditya Mattoo. Economic Journal, v126, issue #590 pp (1-39), February 2016.


“The Aggregate Impact of Household Saving and Borrowing Constraints:  Designing a Field Experiment in Uganda.”  With Joseph Kaboski and Virgiliu Midrigan.  AER:  Papers and Proceedings, March 2014.


"Development Effects of Electrification:  Evidence from the Topographic Placement of Hydropower plants in Brazil.” with Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak and Tania Barham, April 2013, AEJ: Applied Economics v5 (2).


Working Papers:


“Spillovers without Social Interactions in Urban Sanitation,” with Josh Deutschman, Laura Schechter, and Jessica Zhu.  R&R AEJ:  Applied.


“How Important are Nonconvexities for Development? Experimental Evidence from Uganda,” with Joseph Kaboski, Virgiliu Midrigan, and Carolyn Pelnik.


“Pricing People into the Market:  Targeting through Mechanism Design.”  With Terence Johnson.


“Pricing Winners:  Optimizing Just-in-time Procurement Auctions in Dakar, Senegal.”  With Jean-François Houde, Terence Johnson, and Laura Schechter.


“Imperfect Competition and Sanitation:  Evidence from Randomized Auctions in Senegal.” With Jean-Francois Houde, Terence Johnson, and Laura Schechter


“Electricity, Agricultural Productivity and Deforestation in Brazil.”  With Juliano Assunção, Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, and Dimitri Szerman.


“Leader Networks and Targeting: A randomized controlled trial testing the effectiveness of local religious and Governmental leaders.”  With Robert Dowd and Danila Pankov.


“Using Market Mechanisms to Increase the Take-up of Improved Sanitation,” with Joshua Deutschman, Jared Gars, Shoshana Griffith, Jean-François Houde, Terence Johnson,  Mbaye Mbeguere, Sarah Nehrling, Laura Schechter, and Jessica Zhu.



Public Policy and Popular Press:

 “Does Corruption Exacerbate the Human Effects of Financial Crises? A Survey of the Evidence from the Asian Financial Crisis.”  With Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak.  In Tackling Corruption, Transforming Lives:  Technical Background Papers for the Asia Pacific Regional Human Development Report 2007.  UNDP.


VoxDev invited publication:  “The Impact of Privatising the Management of a Sanitation Utility” with Josh Deutschman, Jared Gars,  Jean-Francois Houde, and Laura Schechter.  May, 2022.


VoxDev invited publication:  “Using Mobile Money to Improve Access to Sanitation Services in Dakar,”  with Laura Schechter, December, 2018.


VoxEU invited publication:  “Services Sector Reform and the Indian Manufacturing Miracle” (with Arnold, Javorcik, and Mattoo);  October, 2010.


Academic Honors and Grants:

Structural Transformation for Economic Growth (STEG):  £100,000.  September and December, 2022.  “How Important are Non-Convexities for Economic Development, a follow up Survey.”

Public Impact Focused Research Award—Office of the Vice President for Research, UVA, 2021

International Growth Centre:  £62,277 (research project grant) +£10,000 (small project grant):  “Willingness or Ability to Pay?  Expanding electricity access with cost sharing and financing.”  With Kelsey Jack.

Gates Foundation:  $1,145,422 “Market Structure and Sanitation Tariffs in Accra and Ouagadougou,” October, 2014-August 2017 with Terence Johnson.

Gates Foundation: $1,645,667 November 2011-January 2016 “Restructuring the Market for Sanitation in Dakar, Senegal” with Laura Schechter and Jean-François Houde.

DFID:  $300,000:  “Restructuring the Market for Sanitation in Dakar, Senegal” with Laura Schechter and Jean-François Houde.

Mastercharge Foundation:  “Unlocking the Black Box of Savings.”  November 2015-October 2017.  $285,000 (co-PI) with Joseph Kaboski (PI) and Virgiliu Madrigan.

NIH:  “Unlocking the Black Box of Savings.”  October, 2012.  $285,000 (co-PI) with Joseph Kaboski (PI) and Virgiliu Madrigan.

NAPSAA Spotlight Award January, 2015

Economic Journal Excellence in Refereeing Prize, 2014

USAID: “The Impact of Development Projects on Leader Popularity and Accountability.” $75,000, June 2014.

Templeton Foundation: “Promoting Health-Enhancing Behavior through Religious and Secular Networks.” $371,000 (co-PI)  with Robert Dowd (PI)

Bankard Foundation, December, 2012, $30,000; December 2013, $30,000, December 2014, 30,000.  December 2016, $30,000.

Center for International Studies, UVA December, 2012.  $10,000.

Tony Blair Faith Foundation:  $29,150, January 2011 (co-PI) with Robert Dowd (PI)

Ford Family Program Seed Grant:  $15,000, November 2009

National Science Foundation (NSF) Dissertation Improvement Grant, May 2008

World Bank Spot Award, April 2007.

Morris E. Garnsey Fellowship, May 2006.

Economics Department Fellowship, April 2006.


Seminars and Conference Presentations:


“How Important are Investment Indivisibilities for Development?”  GSE Barcelona, 2022; GMU, May 2022; Yale Development Seminar, October 2022.


“Electricity, Agricultural Productivity, and Deforestation in Brazil.”  GSE Barcelona, 2022.


“Pricing People into the Market:  Targeting through Mechanism Design.”  TREES NC Seminar (joint UNC, Duke, and NC-State), September, 2018, University of Stockholm, September, 2018, NYU Abu Dhabi March 2018,  NYU February 2018, William and Mary November 2017, Gates convening November 2017, NBER-Development, July 2017, MWIEDC, April, 2017.


“Measuring and Addressing Market Power Issues in the Desludging Market in Senegal.”  GSE Barcelona, June 2017; Dartmouth, October 2016; Northwestern University, April 2016; University of Wisconsin (ARE), February 2016; University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, January 2016; University of Michigan, November 2015; UVA Quantitative Collaborative, November 2015; Dakar policy workshop, June, 2015; Gates Foundation Seattle Workshop, July, 2015; AERE Annual Conference, May 2015, Gates Foundation Seattle Workshop, July, 2015.


“Leader Networks and Targeting: A randomized controlled trial testing the effectiveness of local religious and Governmental leaders.” NOVAFRICA, July 2016,  Georgetown University, March 2015, George Washington University, March, 2014; IFPRI, August 2014.


“Service Reform and Manufacturing Performance:  Evidence from India” CEPR Globalization meetings in Stockholm, July 2011;  Midwest International Development Conference, April, 2012. 


“Can Environmental Enforcement Induce Product Responses?  Theory and Firm and Product Level Evidence from India.”:  Yale University Environmental Economics Seminar, November, 2008;  Northeastern Universities Development Conference, November 2009;  Vail Environmental and Resource Economics Workshop, September, 2008;  Pennsylvania State University, Department of Environmental Studies, January 2009, Environmental Protection Agency, NCEE February 2009; University of Notre Dame, January 2009;  Quinnipiac University, May 2009, Heartland Environmental Conference, October 2010.


 “Returns to Electricity:  Evidence from Quasi-Random Placement of Hydro-Electric power plants in Brazil.” University of Michigan Development Conference, December, 2010, World Bank Infrastructure conference, Toulouse, France January 2010, Inter-American Development Bank (invited presentation), August 2009;  Corporacion Andina de Fomento (CAF – Andean Development Corporation:  invited presentation) Annual Research Meeting, Lima, Peru, May, 2008.


“Decentralization, Spillovers and Water Quality, Evidence from Brazil” Virginia Tech, November 2014, India School of Business, August 2013;  University of Virginia, January 2012; Yale School of Forestry, January 2009; Boston University, Department of Environmental Studies, February 2009; AEA/ASSA Annual Meetings, New Orleans, January,  2009;  Northeast Universities Development Economics Conference (NEUDC), Harvard University, October, 2007;  National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Summer Institute in Energy and Environmental Economics, Cambridge, July, 2007;  Population Association of America (PAA) Annual Meetings, New York, NY, March, 2007;  International Society for New Institutional Economics (ISNIE) Conference, Boulder, CO, September, 2006.


Service for the Profession:


American Economic Review, American Economic Journal:  Applied Economics, American Economic Journal:  Economic Policy, Economics of Education, Energy Journal, International Journal of Industrial Organization, Journal of the European Economics Association, Economic Journal, Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economics, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Journal of International Trade and Development, Journal of Political Economy, NSF, Oxford Press, Quantitative Economics, Review of Economics and Statistics, World Development, World Bank Economic Review


Development Workshops Organized:

  • Water and Sanitation Conference, joint with IFS and ADBI, November 2021.

  • Washington Area Development Economics Symposium (WADES) April, 2016.

  • Development and Environment Workshop with Sheetal Sekhri, UVA May 2013.

  • Second Annual Midwest Universities Development Day (University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, and University of Chicago) with Joe Kaboski at Notre Dame, December, 2011. 

  • Participated as a facilitator-trainer at the World Bank DIME conference in Dakar, Senegal, May 2011.  Consulted with Haiti team to develop an evaluation plan for a $75 million project.

  • Participated in Senegal Ministry of Sanitation Policy Planning Workshop, Dakar, Senegal, June 2011.


Teaching Experience:

Sustainability Policy Design and Evaluation, University of Virginia, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Development Economics for MPP Students, University of Virginia, Fall 2013, Fall 2014.

Economics and Public Policy, University of Virginia, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020; 2021

Randomized Controlled Trials Short Course, University of Virginia, Spring 2013

PhD Development Economics, University of Virginia, Fall 2012.

Advanced Environmental Economics, University of Notre Dame, Spring 2011, 2012.

Graduate Environmental Economics, University of Notre Dame, Fall 2010, 2011.

Principles of Microeconomics, University of Notre Dame, Spring 2010.

Environmental Economics, University of Notre Dame, Fall 2009.

Math Skills for new PhD Students, University of Colorado, Boulder, August 2005, August 2006

Mathematics for Economists, University of Colorado, Boulder, August 2006

Teaching Assistant, Doing Business in the Developing World, Yale School of Management, August 2007

Teaching Assistant, Graduate Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, University of Colorado,  2004-2006

Trainer and Curriculum Development, Accounting Skills for Microfinance Bank Managers, Mauritania, 2001

Trainer, Gender and Development, Peace Corps Mauritania, 2000

Instructor, English, University of Nouakchott, Mauritania, 2000-2001


Advising and Mentoring:

University of Virginia: 

  • Graduate Student Advising (committee member):  Heidi Schramm, 2015 (first placement:  Joint Committee on Taxation); Moogdho Mahzab, 2021 (first placement, Stanford post-doc); Hanna Charankevich (first placement, Biocomplexity Institute, UVA)


  • CEMENT (CSWEP) Mentor, January, 2022

  • Graduate Student Advising (with Bill Evans, Notre Dame):  Nolan Noble.  2014  (first placement:  CNA)

  • Committee Member:  Joshua Deutschmann, 2021 University of Wisconsin-Madison Agricultural Economics (first placement:  University of Chicago post doc)


Other Experience:

  • Institute for Behavioral Science, Graduate Research Assistant, Brazil               May 2007-July 2009

  • World Bank Group, DEC Research Group, Consultant, DC                         August 2006-April 2007

  • Peace Corps, Volunteer, Islamic Republic of Mauritania            September 1999-October 2001

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