Brian Dillon

Assistant Professor of Development Economics and Applied Econometrics

Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Cornell University

475D Warren Hall

Ithaca, NY 14853


My email address is

Click here for a copy of my current CV.

I am a development economist at Cornell, working primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. My research focuses on the economics of agriculture, rural development, seasonality, labor markets, food security, and small/medium enterprises. 

Published and Forthcoming Papers

Dillon, Brian, and Travis Lybbert (2024). "The Gambler's Fallacy Prevails in Lottery Play." Forthcoming, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

Aker, Jenny C., Brian Dillon and C. Jamilah Welch (forthcoming). "Demand, Supply and Long-Term Adoption: Evidence from a Storage Technology in West Africa." Journal of Development Economics.

Ragunath,  Ananditha, Laurel Krovetz,  Hosea Mpogole, Henry Mulisa, Brian Dillon, Richard Anderson (forthcoming). "From Grasshoppers to Secondhand Cars: Understanding the Smartphone-Enabled Marketplace in Peri-urban Tanzania."  CHI 2023 Conference Proceedings.

Rakotonarivo, O. S., Bell, A., Dillon, B., Duthie, A. B., Kipchumba, A., Rasolofoson, R. A., Razafimanahaka, J., & Bunnefeld, N. (2021). “Experimental evidence on the impact of payments and property rights on forest user decisions." Frontiers in Conservation Science 2, 33.   [Link is open access]

Dillon, Brian (2020). “Selling Crops Early to Pay for School: A Large-scale Natural Experiment in Malawi.” Journal of Human Resources 56(4): 1296-1325.   [Working paper version]   [Replication page]

Dillon, Brian, Joachim De Weerdt, and Ted O’Donoghue (2020).  “Paying More for Less: Why Don’t Households in Tanzania Take Advantage of Bulk Discounts?" World Bank Economic Review 35(1): 148-179.   [Working paper version]

Dillon, Brian, Peter Brummund, and Germano Mwabu (2019). “Asymmetric Non-separation and Rural Labor Markets.” Journal of Development Economics (139): 78-96.   [Working paper version]   [Replication page]

Dillon, Brian and Alessandra Voena (2018). “Widows' Land Rights and Agricultural Investment." Journal of Development Economics (135): 449-460. [Working paper version]

Weld, Galen, Trevor Perrier, Jenny Aker, Joshua Blumenstock, Brian Dillon, Adalbertus Kamanzi, Editha Kokushubira, Jennifer Webster, and Richard Anderson (2018). “eKichabi: Information Access through Basic Mobile Phones in Rural Tanzania.” CHI 2018 Conference Proceedings. [Link is open access]

Christian, Paul J and Brian Dillon (2018). “Growing and Learning when Consumption is Seasonal: Long-term Evidence from Tanzania.” Demography (2018)55: 1091-1118.  [Link is open access]

Dillon, Brian and Chelsey Dambro (2017). “How Competitive are Crop Markets in sub-Saharan Africa?” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 99(5): 1344-1361. [Link is open access]

Dillon, Brian and Chris B. Barrett (2017). “Agricultural Factor Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Updated View with Formal Tests for Market Failure.” Food Policy 67: 64-77. [Working paper version]

Dillon, Brian and Chris B. Barrett (2016). "Global Oil Prices and Local Food Prices: Evidence from East Africa." American Journal of Agricultural Economics 98(1): 154-171. [Working paper version]

Dillon, Brian (2012). "Using Mobile Phones to Collect Panel Data in Developing Countries." Journal of International Development 24(4): 518-527. [Link is open access]

Working Papers

Dillon, Brian, Jenny Aker, and Joshua Blumenstock (2024). "Yellow Pages: Experimental Evidence on Household-Firm Connections." R&R, Economic Journal.

Rudder, Jessica, and Brian Dillon (2023). "Search Costs and Relational Contracting: The Impact of a Digital Phonebook on Small Business Supply Chains."

Aker, Jenny C., Brian Dillon, Leticia Donoso Peña, Anne Krahn (2023). "It's All Fun and Games? WTP Experiments for Longer-Term Impacts."

Dillon, Brian (2017). "Private Information and Dynamic Risk."

Dillon, Brian (2016). "Measuring Subjective Probability Distributions." R&R, Quantitative Economics.

Work in Progress

Dillon, Brian, Twivwe Siwale, John Mulenga, Jihye Jang. "Firm Responses to Tax Policy Innovations." Data collection complete, RCT in Zambia.

De Weerdt, Joachim, Brian Dillon, Emmanuel Hami, Bjorn Van Campenhout, and Leocardia Nabwire. "Behavioral Explanations for the Sell Low / Buy High Puzzle in Smallholder Market Participation." Ongoing RCT in Malawi.

Dillon, Brian, Jenny C. Aker, Joshua Blumenstock, Hosea Mpogole, and Jessica Rudder. "Search Costs, Mobile Phones, and Agricultural Investment." Ongoing RCT in Tanzania.

Aker, Jenny C. and Brian Dillon. "The Emergence of a Market for New Technologies." Data collection complete, RCT in Niger.

Dillon, Brian, Twivwe Siwale and Joanna Upton. "Phone Tree Sampling and Phone Survey Bias." Ongoing study in Malawi.

De Weerdt, Joachim, Brian Dillon, Todd Gerarden, Ben Leyden, and Ben Norton. "Mark-ups and Entry in the Food Markets of a Large African City." Data collection complete. 


AEM 4315 / ECON 3550: Economics of Developing Countries. This class covers core topics in development economics, for advanced undergraduates and some Master's students. [Recent syllabus]

AEM 6120: Applied Econometrics. A core class for the Dyson School MS program, we cover statistical fundamentals, linear models, nonlinear models, maximum likelihood, testing, and causal inference. [Fall 2023 syllabus]

AEM 6620: Development Economics. Elective class for Dyson MS students interested in research careers in development economics. This class co-meets with AEM 7620. [Recent syllabus]

AEM 7620 / ECON 7660: Microeconomics of International Development. The first course in the PhD sequence for students in development economics. [Fall 2023 syllabus]