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Lucy Msall

(last name pronounced ‘muh-sal’)

I am a PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and a recent Master of Legal Studies graduate from the University of Chicago Law School.

My research interests are in Public Economics (especially Taxation), Household Finance & Innovation. Prior to graduate school, I worked as a political campaign staffer, government employee, and NBER Research Assistant.

I can be reached via email at

Working Papers

Sex, Drugs, and R&D: Missing Innovation from Regulating Female Enrollment in Clinical Trials with Valerie Michelman

Abstract: Did women’s underrepresentation as research subjects depress female-focused drug innovation in the late 20th century? From 1977-1993, U.S. regulatory guidance was that early-stage drug trials should not enroll pre-menopausal women. This guidance increased development costs and uncertainty for drugs targeting predominantly female diseases. We find that the 1993 removal of this guidance led to a large and sustained increase in female-focused drug patenting: the share of drug patents with a female focus increased 1.5-2 percentage points (38-51%). Our estimates imply 200-268 fewer female-focused drug candidates entered development during the guidance period, 17-58 of which would have been approved but for the exclusionary guidance.

Presentations*: NBER SI Innovation (2022), Eastern Economic Association (2022), University of Nebraska England-Clark Conference (2022), Royal Economic Society (2023)

*Not including presentations by co-author.

Consumer-Financed Fiscal Stimulus: Evidence from Digital Coupons in China with Jing Ding, Lei Jiang & Matthew Notowidigdo

Abstract: In 2020, local governments in China began issuing digital coupons to stimulate spending in targeted categories such as restaurants and supermarkets. Using data from a large e-commerce platform and a bunching estimation approach, we find that the coupons caused large increases in spending of 3.1–3.3 yuan per yuan spent by the government. The large spending responses do not come from substitution away from non-targeted spending categories or from short-run intertemporal substitution. To rationalize these results, we develop a dynamic consumption model showing how coupons’ minimum spending thresholds create temporary notches that lead to large spending responses.

Online Appendix

Presentations*: NBER SI Public Economics (2023), Becker Friedman Institute China Research Conference (2022)

*Not including presentations by co-author.

Work in Progress

The Taxation of Capital Gains at Death with Ole-Andreas Næss

Do Corporate Insiders “Buy-Borrow-Die”? Searching for Individual Tax Avoidance in Public Company Filings


Pre-Doctoral Publications

Decreases In Readmissions Credited To Medicare’s Program To Reduce Hospital Readmissions Have Been Overstated with Christopher Ody, Leemore Dafny, David Grabowski & David Cutler. Health Affairs, January 2019. Vol. 38, Issue 1.

Abstract: Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) has been credited with lowering risk-adjusted readmission rates for targeted conditions at general acute care hospitals. However, these reductions appear to be illusory or overstated. This is because a concurrent change in electronic transaction standards allowed hospitals to document a larger number of diagnoses per claim, which had the effect of reducing risk-adjusted patient readmission rates. Prior studies of the HRRP relied upon control groups’ having lower baseline readmission rates, which could falsely create the appearance that readmission rates are changing more in the treatment than in the control group. Accounting for the revised standards reduced the decline in risk-adjusted readmission rates for targeted conditions by 48 percent. After further adjusting for differences in pre-HRRP readmission rates across samples, we found that declines for targeted conditions at general acute care hospitals were statistically indistinguishable from declines in two control samples. Either the HRRP had no effect on readmissions, or it led to a systemwide reduction in readmissions that was roughly half as large as prior estimates have suggested.

Popular Press Coverage: The New York Times, Chicago Booth Review.