Professor A. Abigail Payne

Professor Payne is the Director of the Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research, where she leads a team of more than 50 academic researchers that are engaged in research on various microeconomic and macroeconomic topics including health, labour, education, housing, social disadvantage, macro, and public economics.

Professor Payne moved to Australia from North America where she previously held positions in Canada and the US. Professor Payne holds a PhD from Princeton University, a J.D. from Cornell Law School, and a Bachelor’s Degree (with honours) from Denison University. Professor Payne has a longstanding research interest in empirical public economics issues with a focus on how government policy affects spending and performance. Her work encompasses educational issues such as understanding successful transitions from high school to university, why there are gender gaps in STEM enrolments, and the role of scholarships on university participation, especially those from low income backgrounds. She also studies charitable giving (e.g. what motivates individuals to donate), the role of government funding on service provision, and how tax policy affects giving and the delivery of public services

Her scholarship demonstrates how best to use big data for economic research and the issues involved in accessing and using these data. She has initiated several key projects in Australia that relate to entrenched disadvantage, charitable giving, educational performance. Professor Payne is actively involved in Australian economic and social policy as a member on multiple State and Commonwealth Government and University of Melbourne committees. Internationally she is a member of the ifo Institute’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and a number of boards and co-editorships. She continues to collaborate with researchers around the world on economic and social issues.