Harvard Scholar Wins the John Bates Clark Medal From the American Economics Association

Melissa Dell, a professor of economics at Harvard University, has been selected to receive the John Bates Clark Medal. The prize, administered by the American Economic Association, is awarded annually to an American economist under the age of 40 for making significant contributions to thought and knowledge in the field.

Professor Dell examines how long past conflicts, economic conditions, and institutions can have lasting impacts on a nation. Her research, which has focused largely on Latin America and Southeast Asia, ranges from work on how forced labor in Peru and Bolivia from the 1500s to the 1800s has conditioned current development, to how policies enforced by the Mexican government against the country’s illicit drug trade has changed patterns of violence and trafficking and affected local economic development.

The award committee lauded Professor Dell’s work by stating that “through her pioneering, careful, and creative data collection and empirical work, Melissa Dell has advanced our understanding of the role state and other institutions play in the daily lives of and economic outcomes of ordinary people. In doing so she has also given a new energy and direction to the entire field of political economy and development.”

Dr. Dell joined the faculty at Harvard University in 2014. She was promoted to full professor in 2018. Professor Dell is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard University. As a Rhodes Scholar, she earned a master’s degree in economics at the University of Oxford in England. Dr. Dell earned her Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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