Jessica Leight is a research fellow in the Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute. Previously, she served as an assistant professor of economics at American University from 2017 to 2019 and Williams College from 2013 to 2017. She received a Ph.D. in economics at MIT in 2013, a M.Phil. in Economics at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar in 2008, and a B.A. in Ethics, Politics and Economics from Yale University in 2006. Her research agenda focuses on questions of human capital accumulation, particularly for women and girls, as well as agricultural institutions, structural transformation and political accountability. Current projects include both field randomized controlled trials and survey analysis and have been funded by agencies including the Macarthur Foundation, USAID, the Department of Labor, the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. She has also worked as a consultant with 3ie. In addition, her work is published or forthcoming in a number of leading journals in development economics.


Academic Affiliate

Years active

2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

Agency collaborators

Office of Personnel Management, Social Security Administration, US Agency for International Development, Veterans Affairs