Melissa Dell

Last updated

Melissa Dell
Born1983/1984(age 37–38)
Alma mater Oklahoma Bible Academy
Harvard College
Oxford University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Children2 [1]
Awards Truman Scholarship, 2004
Rhodes Scholarship, 2005
Sloan Fellowship, 2016
Carnegie Fellowship, 2017
Calvó-Armengol International Prize, 2018
Elaine Bennett Research Prize, 2018
John Bates Clark Medal, 2020
Scientific career
Institutions Harvard University
Doctoral advisors Daron Acemoglu

Melissa Dell (born 1983or1984) is an economist and Professor of Economics at Harvard University. Her research interests include development economics, political economy, and economic history.


In 2014, the International Monetary Fund named Dell among the 25 Brightest Young Economists. [2] In 2018, she was awarded the Elaine Bennett Research Prize [3] and the Calvó-Armengol International Prize; The Economist also named her one of "the decade’s eight best young economists." [4] She was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 2020. [5]


Dell grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, where she attended Oklahoma Bible Academy. [6] Despite difficulties completing races because of her poor eyesight, she was a champion long distance runner in high school, setting a state record in the 3000-meter distance. [7] As of 2010, she was an ultramarathon runner (100 km) runner. [8] She was the first student from her high school to attend Harvard University, and established an organization, "College Matters," [9] and a book, "The College Matters Guide to Getting Into the Elite College of Your Dreams," to offer practical advice to ambitious students from similar backgrounds. [7]

She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 2005 (B.A. economics) and attended the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar receiving a M.Phil. in economics in 2007. [9] In 2012, she completed her Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows from 2012 to 2014, [10] and joined the faculty at Harvard in 2014 as an Assistant Professor. She was promoted to Full Professor in 2018. [11]


Melissa Dell's research interests include development economics, economic history and political economy. A major focus of her work has been explaining economic development through the persistence of historical institutions. [12] [13] For example, in her paper on the long-term effects of Peru's Mining Mita, she showed that current development outcomes were influenced by whether regions were included in forced labor policies that ended in the early 1800s. This paper was also methodologically important, as it was one of the first in economics to use a spatial regression discontinuity design. Dell has also investigated the effect of conflict on labor market and political outcomes and vice versa. [4] Finally, she has influential work on the economic effects of climate, especially for developing economies. [14] [15] Much of her research has focused on Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Selected works

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  1. Marina N. Bolotnikova (July–August 2020). "Melissa Dell". Harvard Magazine.
  2. "IMF Lists 25 Brightest Young Economists". International Business Times UK. August 27, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  3. American Economic Association (2018). Melissa Dell Recipient of the 2018 Elaine Bennett Research Prize.
  4. 1 2 "Our pick of the decade's eight best young economists". The Economist. December 18, 2018. ISSN   0013-0613 . Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  5. "American Economic Association". Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  6. Writer, James Neal | Staff. "Enid native wins Carnegie Fellowship". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  7. 1 2 Tyson Hubbard. "Rhodes Runners :: A profile on Harvard cross country runners Melissa Dell and Sarah Hill". Archived from the original on October 30, 2018. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  8. "Leonardo Monasterio's Blog: Melissa Dell "The Persistent Effects of Peru's Minning Mita"". Leonardo Monasterio's Blog. September 22, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  9. 1 2 Steven A. Mcdonald (December 16, 2004). "Cross-Country Charm". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  10. "Current & Former Junior Fellows: Listed by Term". Harvard University Society of Fellows. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  11. "Congratulations to Professor Melissa Dell on Promotion to Tenure!". Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  12. "Melissa Dell (Harvard) receives Calvó Prize for research on micro-foundations of political and social phenomena | News | Barcelona GSE". Barcelona Graduate School of Economics. June 1, 2018. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  13. "Dell, Shelby named 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellows". Harvard Gazette. April 26, 2017. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  14. Dell, Melissa; Jones, Benjamin F; Olken, Benjamin A (July 1, 2012). "Temperature Shocks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century". American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics. 4 (3): 66–95. doi:10.1257/mac.4.3.66. ISSN   1945-7707.
  15. Dell, Melissa; Jones, Benjamin F.; Olken, Benjamin A. (September 1, 2014). "What Do We Learn from the Weather? The New Climate-Economy Literature". Journal of Economic Literature. 52 (3): 740–798. doi:10.1257/jel.52.3.740. ISSN   0022-0515.