Professor Abigail Payne

Director and Ronald Henderson Professor

Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research
Professor Abigail Payne

Contact details:

Phone: +61 3 9035 4219
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)


Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research
Level 5, Faculty of Business and Economics Building. 111 Barry Street, The University of Melbourne


Professor A. Abigail Payne joined the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research as Director and Ronald Henderson Professor in 2016.  Prior to this appointment she was a professor of economics at McMaster University (Canada) where she was the inaugural director of MacDATA, McMaster’s Big Data Institute (created in 2015) and the director of the Public Economics Data Analysis Laboratory (“PEDAL”) a data facility she created in 2003 whose goal is to develop high quality research data sets for projects that address key public sector issues. Previous to her appoint at McMaster she was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois and the Institute for Government and Public Affairs (Illinois), and the University of Toronto.  Prior to receiving her PhD, she practiced law for a private law firm in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Payne works on empirical issues, relying primarily on measures from administrative and proprietary data, using creative ways to link measures across data sources.  Her research encompasses questions around student performance and the effects of policy on educational outcomes, and understanding donor and charity behavior.  Her current research in the area of charities and charitable giving concerns understanding the motivations of private donors, the role of fundraising in private giving, how policies and demographic changes affect charity operations, and the effect of charitable operations on community outcomes. Dr. Payne’s current research in the area of the economics of education includes understanding the decision to attend post-secondary education (PSE), understanding gender gaps in educational performance, and the determinants of successful transitions from high school to university.

Dr. Payne received her Ph.D. from Princeton University.  She holds a J.D. from Cornell University and a B.A. from Denison University.  She has published in the American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Law and Economics, and many other journals.  She has served on editorial boards of national and international journals, has beenan International Fellow with the Centre for Market and Public Organisation at the University of Bristol (UK), is a member of the CESifo Research Network (Germany). She has previously served as president of the Canadian Women’s Economists Network and as a member on the board of directors of the Canadian Economics Association, the Association for Educational Finance and Policy, and the Fort York Food Bank (Toronto charity). Her collaborations include researchers located in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain.  Previously Dr. Payne was a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Public Economics and she received a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship for her research on higher education issues.