Department of Economics

Jesse Bruhn, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Crime, trust, and informal institutions in the inner city

Abstract: The goal of this project is to better understand how trust in the police affects the way urban African American communities interact with law enforcement in the United States. We plan to examine this question by exploring how 911 calls and gunshots co-evolve in the wake of news events about officer-involved shootings. We also plan to explore this question using within-city data on community trust in the police gathered by fielding micro surveys on social media.

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Carolina Lopez, Economics Graduate Student

Santiago Hermo, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Incentivizing high-school graduation: evidence from teenagers in Salta, Argentina

Abstract: Our research speaks to the problem of low high-school graduation rates in developing countries. To study this question, we analyze the impact of two interventions in the province of Salta, Argentina. The first one took place in one school and did not allow students who don’t pass all subjects by the end of the academic year to participate in the graduation ceremony (traditionally, students are allowed to participate even if they don't have a passing grade in all subjects). Since the program started in 2015 the graduation rate increased by 14 p.p. and the school authorities attribute this result to the success of the program. For the second project, we study the effects of randomization of school shifts (morning or afternoon) at the beginning of secondary school on academic achievement or behavior. Evidence on this question is mixed, with some papers suggesting that later shifts benefit from improved sleeping, whereas others emphasizing that later shifts induce risky behavior in the students earlier in life, harming academic achievement. We will like to analyze the complete entire trajectory of these students while in high school to (i) determine the impact of school shift at each age, and (ii) assess the role of peers and parents. Besides analyzing academic records, we will implement surveys.

Masahiro Kubo, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Jihad over Centuries

Abstract: This project uncovers the historical roots and persistence of violent Islamic extremism in Africa. We investigate how the power structure of Islamic states and European military during the colonial era in 19th century shapes contemporary Islamic conflicts and Muslim population.

Shunsuke Tsuda, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: De-Radicalization and Reintegration from Violent Islamic Extremism

Abstract: This research attempts to uncover obstacles behind de-radicalization and reintegration from violent Islamic extremism. We collect novel data from imprisoned ex-combatants of a jihadist group. We implement an RCT intervention to evaluate the effectiveness of frequent rehabilitation counseling and intergroup contact in the form of reconciliation dialogue. A natural language processing approach and a series of lab-in-the-field experiments is designed to capture extremist ideologies, other-regarding preferences, cooperative behaviors, and subjective beliefs.

Henrique Pita Barros, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: The Economics of Portuguese Colonization in Africa: lessons from the independence wars in Angola and Mozambique

Abstract: This project studies persistent effects of European colonization in the long-run development of African countries. Specifically, the project combines new data from archival sources and it explores the mechanisms taking place during the wars for Independence of Angola and Mozambique, as well as the consequences of several colonial policies in the long-run development of these countries.

Ruchi Mahadeshwar, Economics Graduate Student

Bryce Steinberg, Assistant Professor of Economics

Neil Thakral, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Actions and Information Acquisition

Abstract: This project aims to understand how individuals’ past actions impact their beliefs and plans to take similar actions in the future. The literature on motivated beliefs suggests that agents seek and believe information consistent with their pre-existing beliefs, but is missing empirical evidence of a causal relationship between actions in one period and beliefs about the value of taking those actions in the future. We are currently exploring this idea as it relates to media consumption between election cycles. 

Alexander Yarkin, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Ancestral Shocks and Political Attitudes of Immigrants: Evidence from the European Refugee Crisis

Abstract: This project explores cultural transmission along ethnic/ancestral networks. Focusing on the European Refugee Crisis in 2014-2016, the project demonstrates how social attitudes and political behaviors of (the descendants of) immigrants react to the inflow of refugees and corresponding attitudinal change in their ancestral homelands. As a first step, the project documents that such 'real time' ancestral cultural spillovers are significant and large: a 1-unit increase in the anti-immigrant sentiment in a country receiving refugees translates into 0.33-0.5 units of increase in the anti-immigrant sentiment among people tracing ancestry to that country. These spillover effects are stronger (i) for people with a stronger sense of ethnic identity and (ii) for more similar groups of people (i.e., homophily effect). To better understand the mechanisms behind these cultural spillovers, a novel type of online survey is conducted, measuring respondents' networks and attention to their ancestral homelands, and administering an 'information treatment' about the refugee crisis and the attitudes of people in the ancestral country.

Yann Koby, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Global Firms in Large Devaluations

Abstract: I investigate the consequences of firms' joint import and export decisions in the context of large devaluations. I provide empirical evidence that large devaluations are characterized by an increase in the aggregate share of imported inputs in total input spending, and by reallocation of resources towards import intensive firms, contrary to what standard quantitative trade models predict. These facts are explained by the expansion of exporters, which are intense importers. I develop a model where firms globally decide their import and export strategies and discipline it to match salient features of the Mexican micro data. After a counterfactual devaluation, the model predicts that the aggregate import share increases as exporters gain market share. It also predicts higher increases in production costs and prices, and smaller reductions in productivity, as compared with the benchmark model of the literature.

Matthew Pecenco, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Selection into entrepreneurship

Abstract: This is two early-stage projects studying heterogeneous returns to entrepreneurship and the decision to become an entrepreneur. Little is known about these relationships. The goal of the projects is to provide clear evidence on ex-ante heterogeneous returns and understand how to target policy interventions to potential entrepreneurs.

Joaquin Blaum, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Firms Imports and Exports and Devaluations

Abstract: (TBA)

Carolina Lopez, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Understanding Low High School Completion Rates in a Developing Country: Experimental Evidence from Argentina

Abstract: Secondary school graduation rates remain low in many developing countries, and this may be a barrier to sustained economic growth. I have designed and implemented in 63 secondary schools in Salta, Argentina, a randomized controlled trial testing the impacts of providing information about labor market returns to schooling, as well as about the probability of graduation by academic standing, on graduation rates. In Argentina, attendance rate to secondary school is relatively high: 91.2% (SEDLAC, 2018). However, less than half of teenagers who are enrolled graduate from high school (UNICEF, 2017). In particular, a high proportion of the students that attend until the last day of senior year do not obtain the high-school diploma because they fail to pass all required subjects (35% at the national level, and 42% in Salta). Based on discussions with educational authorities and teachers, as well as on interviews with students, the randomized controlled trial was designed based on the following hypotheses: first, students do not have enough information on the benefits of obtaining the high-school diploma, in terms of earnings and probabilities of employment; second, students overestimate their chances of graduation and consequently, they do not take the steps needed to increase those chances. Providing information about wages and probability of employment, as well as information on the probability of graduation by current academic standing could help to address these two issues, respectively.

Guillaume Blanc, Economics Graduate Student

Masahiro Kubo, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Schools, Language, and Nations

Abstract: This paper studies the evolution of language in the process of nation-building. We identify the institutional origins of the advent of common language in the course of the emergence of nation-states in the nineteenth century. In particular, we provide the first empirical evaluation of the process of homogenization that took place with nation-building. In France, at the time of the French Revolution, less than fifteen percent of the population spoke standard French—a dialect of langue d’oil and only one of forty-six dialects and nine different languages spoken historically. Today, only French is spoken. In order to study this, we digitize a novel, detailed town-level dataset on spoken languages in France in 1900. We explore the role of state-sponsored education in a regression discontinuity framework exploiting quasi-experimental variation in school building and show that schools played a substantial role in the widespread adoption of standard French language.

Samsun Knight, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Local retail linkages and demand spillovers: Evidence from chain store closures

Abstract: Retail is the centerpiece of local economic activity, but policymakers have limited information on what types of stores and policies will most improve their local retail environment. Using cell phone location data on retail foot traffic, I exploit sudden retail chain bankruptcies to measure the existence and extent of demand spillovers between adjacent retail stores. For the well-identified case studies of the Payless ShoeSource and Toys R Us bankruptcies, I establish the strength of this demand interdependence and demonstrate how it varies by area type. Then, using an RKD-style design on a broader category of chain store closures, I build out the full matrix of crossdemand interdependence by store type.

Bobby Pakzad-Hurson, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Equal Pay Laws: A Matching Theory Approach

Abstract: Equal pay laws (EPL) typically require workers who are ``substantially similar" be paid the same wage within a firm. We study such policies theoretically and empirically. In our model, we show that when EPL restricts firms by protected class (e.g. no man can be paid less than a woman, and no woman can be paid less than a man) firms segregate their workforce by gender in equilibrium. This endogenously lowers competition for workers, as it becomes costly for firms to poach from one another—doing so exposes them to the bite of the policy. As a result, wages are lower in equilibrium. When there are more men than women, EPL leads to an increase in the equilibrium wage gap. For a sufficiently high ratio of men to women, there exist equilibria with arbitrarily low wages for women, leading to a particularly large wage gap. We test our model predictions using a difference-in-difference approach to analyze an EPL passed in Chile in 2009. The policy affects firms above a threshold of 10 workers. By comparing firms just above the threshold (treatment) to those just below (control) we find that the EPL increases the share of employees working at segregated firms by 3% and increases the wage gap by 3%.

Ruchi Mahadeshwar, Economics Graduate Student

Alex Zhou, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Promoting Ethical Productivity Improvements: The Impacts of Competitive Tournaments in
Cambodian Textile Factories

Abstract: Around the world, piece-rate has become the gold standard of productivity pay. Contests are rarely used as work-place incentive schemes, despite the fact that theoretical studies show that contests can outperform piece-rate pay in improving labor productivity, especially since monitoring workers’ output can be expensive or unreliable (Lazear and Rosen, 1981). There have been some hypotheses about why piece-rate pay is more highly adopted – one strand of literature finds that contests are associated with higher variance in effort (see Dechenaux et al. 2012 for review) and another strand finds that the workers internalize the negative externalities of contests and are therefore less productive (Bandiera et al. 2005, 2006, 2012). However, recent theoretical literature offers a simpler explanation: in contests with sufficiently homogenous worker populations, demotivation may outweigh motivation, and therefore, result in perverse effects to aggregate productivity (Fang et al., 2020 and Olszewski and Siegal, 2020). This paper will empirically test for productivity differences by worker heterogeneity in various contest-based incentive schemes through an RCT with two textile factories in Cambodia.

Aarushi Kalra, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Hate Speech on social media in India

Abstract: How do economic changes within and across social groups change user engagement with hateful content that is directed towards vulnerable groups on social media? We seek to understand the economic reasons behind propagation of hate speech on social media, using data from a hugely popular content generation app in India. We employ this unique dataset along with novel methods to draw causal inference about the relationship between socio-economic indicators of users and their engagement (likes/ comments/ shares) with hateful content.

Joaquin Blaum, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Firms Imports and Exports and Devaluations

Abstract: (TBA)

Ruchi Mahadeshwar, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: The Long-term Consequences of India’s Emergency-Era Coercive Sterilizations

Abstract: India’s 1970’s “Emergency” (rule by decree period under the then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi) involved around 8.3M coercive sterilizations, representing 7% of all fertile-age households in India — we are interested in studying the consequences of this program over subsequent decades. In contrast to previous work in the literature, this setting allows us to study the consequences of a short-run shock to fertility that is coercive in nature and for which there is qualitative consensus of a broad, long-lasting set of impacts on affected regions. In addition to quantifying these impacts, we intend to explore potential mechanisms through standard economic models of demographic transition.

Daniel Crisóstomo Wainstock, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Roots of Obedience

Abstract: This research project explores the roots of obedient behavior. Inspired by the work of Fenske (2014) and Galor, Ozak and Sarid (2018), I propose that ecological diversity was conducive to the emergence of obedience. I compile data from sources such as the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample, the World Values Survey and the European Social Survey to show evidence supporting my hypothesis. 

Bryce Steinberg, IJC Assistant Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs

Title of Research Project: Causes and Consequences of Early Fertility

Abstract: Despite rising female enrollment in tertiary education in Sub-Saharan Africa, early fertility among schooling-aged women remains extremely common; the median age of first birth in Zambia is 19. However, use of modern contraception is very rare in nulliparous women, even sexually active undergraduates who report a desire not to become pregnant. If, as qualitative evidence suggests, pregnancy is an important driver of dropout, interventions that increase contraceptive usage among young women may be a cost-effective way for the state to reduce dropout and increase women’s productivity and labor force participation. The proposed study will analyze a randomized controlled trial at the University of Zambia of two interventions that reduce barriers to contraceptive take-up highlighted in the literature: cognitive biases and misinformation. The first intervention, a non-coercive conditional cash transfer, pays young women to visit a nearby, youth-friendly health clinic. This intervention allows us to measure the role of behavioral barriers such as procrastination, time-inconsistency, and salience bias which may cause up-front costs to deter take-up even when contraception use is individually rational. The second intervention, which allows us to measure the marginal effect of reducing myths about the infertility effects of hormonal contraceptives, will provide the first causal, quantitative evidence on whether fears of infertility are a major impediment to the take-up of contraceptives. We will measure effects not only on contraceptive use, but also on sexual behavior, pregnancy, abortions, and educational outcomes using a biweekly mobile-based survey. We will supplement these data with direct evidence from the clinic on contraceptive take-up by treatment arm, and long-term educational outcomes from administrative data. This study will increase our understanding of policies that can increase productivity among young women while providing insight into how multiple bureaucracies (here, ministries of Education and Health) can work together to solve key policy challenges. 

Sara Spaziani, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Can Gender Quotas Break the Glass Ceiling? Evidence from Italian Municipal Elections

Abstract: Do gender quotas promote the election of female mayors? I study three gender quota policies governing Italian municipal elections to answer this question. The quotas institute minimum legal levels of female representation in the lists of councilor candidates and in the municipal governments' executive bodies, but do not directly target mayoral positions. Therefore, their ability to promote female political leadership entirely depends on whether they induce a broader increase in female representation in municipal governments beyond that mechanically required by the law. By analyzing the specific requirements of each policy, I find evidence that the quotas increased female representation in municipal governments beyond the minimum legal level. However, such an increase was concentrated in the less powerful government offices, and there is no evidence of effects on the mayoral position. 

Maor Milgrom, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: The effects of ethnic conflict on discrimination in the labor market: Evidence from the Second Intifada

Abstract: In this project we examine whether Israeli firms whose employees were exposed to Palestinian terror attacks are less likely to hire or promote workers from Palestinian origin. The quasi-randomness in the identity of terror victims can plausibly be used to estimate a causal measure of discrimination in the labor market. We plan to use this measure to examine additional related questions, including the long-term effects of discrimination, and the effect of discrimination on cross-ethnic labor market networks. 

Francesco Ferlanga, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Propaganda Through Visual Arts: Evidence From Medieval Denmark

Abstract: In this project, I study how visual arts shape individual beliefs and preferences. In economics, the impact of images on individuals has mainly been studied from an advertisement or marketing perspective. However, images may be used to promote and teach specific ideological or theological messages that may severely influence people’s behavior. To study this phenomenon, I test how the religious messages contained in frescoes in medieval Danish churches affected
individuals’ religiosity, trust and education.

A wide historical literature has highlighted the importance of wall paintings in medieval churches as a tool for the Church
to indoctrinate believers, teach them the Bible and to convey ideological or theological messages. This is often included in
the so-called “Biblia Pauperum”, namely the use of visual images to teach the Bible to the illiterate majority of the
population. Given the cost of producing a fresco, they were usually paid by a donor (a local leader of a high-ranked
Church member) who commissioned the wall painting and had clear requests on the type of message to convey, often
demanding to be represented in the paintings. Given the absence of any alternative form of visual propaganda and the
low literacy rate in the population at the time, not to mention the weekly exposition during religious ceremonies, these
frescos had the potential to strongly influence people’s beliefs. Indeed, decisions about where to paint a new fresco and
what it should contain might be endogenous to local beliefs and preferences. Denmark is a particularly interesting
context to study this phenomenon since this country has one of the best-documented collections of ancient frescos
(available on, which provides information on more than 600 churches and 2000 frescos. This
allows me to exactly define the location, period and message of the visual art to which individuals were exposed.
Furthermore, there are several sources of heterogeneity that I could exploit to overcome the endogeneity of my
relationship of interest. First, Danish frescos were called kalkmalerier and were only painted on limewash, a relatively
expensive material at the time that was mainly used in church construction as an alternative to wood. Crucially, the
largest limestone quarry in the world (in use between 11th and 19th century) is located in Denmark, the distance from
which might have generated an exogenous increase in paintings price, affecting the amount of frescos located in a
certain areas. Second, while these painting were drawn in different periods, they were typically covered with limewash
(not destroyed) right after the Reformation and only brought to light during the 19th century after very extensive process of
uncovering: this generated an exogenous shock that influenced how long people were exposed to the paintings. Finally, it
is possible to exploit the influence of prominent ancient frescoes on more recent frescos in the surrounding area as a
potential additional source of variation. These sources of variation can be exploited to detect differences in people beliefs
through a persistence mechanism.

Patrick Vu, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: The Structure of Scientific Reforms

Abstract: How do new ideas spread in academic science? How does the rate of diffusion depend on the centrality of the authors who 'seed' the idea in the network of scientific researchers? This project examines these questions by analyzing how clustered standard errors went from being more or less unused in the empirical economics literature in the early 2000s, to being widely adopted by the end of the decade.  

Igor Cerasa, Economics Graduate Student

Tomasso Coen, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Censorship and Experience Goods. Evidence from Online Wine Retail

Abstract: In this project we study how information disclosure and censorship can affect the consumption of experience goods, for which quality is ex-ante uncertain. Our goal is to show that this concern can be of practical relevance in large online markets by studying the online retail market for wines. To investigate the strategic selection of product reviews by retailers, we use a novel dataset that includes expert wine reviews as displayed by two different websites for more than 200,000 different wines. The first website is the leading retailer’s website, while the second is the website of a leading web wine search engine. These data allow us to compare the distributions of reviews across websites, testing whether the retailer is less likely to report reviews that assign lower scores to a wine.

Then, we move on to consider whether the possibility that some wine reviews are censored by the retailer impacts consumer choices. We designed an online survey experiment to collect choice data. Using an information treatment approach, we plan to evaluate how the strategic disclosure of reviews impacts consumer choices, and therefore their welfare. 

Moritz Poll, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Access to rural markets

Abstract: Market days are the pulse of rural economic and social life in many parts of the world. They are a way of spatially and temporally aggregating thin market demand and supply to ameliorate food security and price volatility. I want to understand where periodic markets emerge, how they co-evolve with the towns they are in, how attendance can be improved, and how access to them or the lack thereof affects local communities.

Geetika Nagpal, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Impact of land regulations on housing supply: Evidence from India

Abstract: India is projected to add 416 million to its urban population by 2050, making it one of the largest expanding urban populations in the world. Overly stringent density regulations in developing countries paralyze the formal property market, and encourage the emergence of informal settlements as citizens seek to live in areas where they can affordably access jobs and services. This research project will provide new evidence on the responsiveness of housing supply and land prices in developing country cities to changes in land-use regulation.

Assaf Kott, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Household resources and children long-term outcomes: Evidence for child allowances in Israel

Abstract: This project examines the relationship between household resources and children's long-run outcomes. The setting is a unique reform to the Israeli child allowance program that induced variation in the allowance amount that is as-good-as random. This study will explore open questions in the literature on childhood circumstances and adulthood outcomes, such as whether the impact of shocks to household resources gets weaker with child's age, and what are the mechanisms that drive the long run effects of resource shocks during childhood. This project will also contribute to the policy debate on universal income and specifically child-support programs (such as the child tax credit and child allowances).

Steven Lee, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Vaccine Effectiveness and Take-up: Evidence from Seasonal Influenza

Abstract: This project investigates whether take-up of preventive healthcare responds to clinical effectiveness, focusing on seasonal influenza vaccination in the United States. In order to explore causal mechanisms, we develop an identification strategy that combines geographic variation in circulating influenza strains with annual changes in the genetic composition of the influenza vaccine to obtain variation in vaccine effectiveness across states and time. We plan to develop a model in which individuals update their beliefs about the effectiveness of vaccines based on their prior experiences with the vaccine—and the experiences of individuals in their social network—in the previous influenza season.

Diego Gentile Passaro, Economics Graduate Student

Santiago Hermo, Economics Graduate Student

Gabriele Borg, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Minimum Wage as a Place-based Policy: Evidence from US Housing Rental Markets

Abstract: In this paper we study the effect of MW changes on local housing rental markets exploiting the placed-based nature of MW policies. We construct a novel measure of exposure to MW policies based on commuting shares, which we call a ZIP code's workplace MW. We write down a partial-equilibrium model and show that the workplace MW increases rents, whereas the residence MW (i.e., the statutory one) has a negative effect on rents. We take our model to the data by constructing a ZIP code monthly panel using rents data from Zillow. We use a difference-in-differences design to estimate the effect of residence and workplace MW changes on median housing rents. We find that a ZIP code experiencing a 10 percent increase in workplace MW and no change in residence MW will have an increase in rents of between 0.65 and 1.2 percent. If statutory MW also increases by 10 percent within that same ZIP code, then the increase in rents will only be between 0.35 and 0.9 percent. We use our results to study the consequences of a counterfactual increase in the federal MW from \$7.25 to \$9. We estimate that, in ZIP codes where the statutory MW increases, landlords pocket between 5 and 9 cents on the extra dollar. In ZIP codes where the binding MW does not change, landlords pocket between 9 and 16 cents.

Mercedes Ponce de Leon, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: The redistributive effects of felon enfranchisement

Abstract: This project studies how state-level relaxations in voting restrictions faced by felons affect the distribution of State transfers, particularly among those disproportionally affected by mass incarceration. Preliminary results show that the probability of voting among black people increases in States that relax their restrictions, but that transfers decrease in counties with a higher historical black population share. This decrease seems to be driven by red states.

Luca Rizzotti, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Local TV and politics: The impact of Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Abstract: In this paper, I am studying how the entry of the conservative media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcast Group in local media markets affects political knowledge and participation in US House elections. Exploiting survey data, I observe a reduction in knowledge among republicans and an increase among democrats, while weaker effects are observed for participation. The next step is to study how this in turn affected the incumbency advantage in US House elections in the last decade.

Cosimo Petracchi, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Prices and Monetary Regimes in Open Economy

Abstract: In this research project, I construct a novel dataset which reports the product-level prices of goods and services across West European countries from 1972 to 1989.

Steven Lee, Economics Graduate Student

Matthew Schaelling, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Understanding and Bridging Systemic Gaps in Student Learning and Outcomes

Abstract: This project aims to understand gaps in student achievement across race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and urbanicity. Our plan is to study student performance gaps by analyzing two important areas: (1) how gaps are measured, and (2) how gaps can be impacted by differential resourcing. In the first, using machine learning techniques, we assess the extent to which test construction explains the standardized testing performance gap. In the second, we use a variety of econometric methods to examine how resourcing at key levels of the educational spectrum—the classroom, the school, and the neighborhood—influences systemic outcome gaps.

Aditi Singh, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: What Determines Household Expectations?

Abstract: This paper analyzes what kinds of macroeconomic information is used by households when forming expectations about the economy.  We focus on a small set of statistics that we think carry the most information about the economy: inflation, output, unemployment rate, jobless claims and housing. We also try to understand the mechanism through which households' adjust their expectations, as well as which real outcomes, such as consumption or job search, change if expectations change.

Henrique Pita Barros, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Do social interactions help to integrate internally displaced people? – Evidence from Mozambique

Abstract: The region of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, is currently facing a jihadist insurgency, coordinated by Al-Shabaab, which has already led 150,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) to relocate to Pemba, the provincial capital. We will conduct a field experiment in Pemba in which IDPs and local Pemba residents will be joined in community meetings. 2 hypotheses will be tested: (1) direct contact between groups will improve tolerance, trust, and social cohesion, and will generate social networks between locals and IDPs; (2) exposure to IDPs will decrease locals’ support for insurgents by revealing the hardships that insurgents impose on IDPs. This second hypothesis is important because insurgencies rely on the cooperation (or at least tolerance) of locals to sustain their operations.

Moritz Poll, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Business coordination and poverty graduation

Abstract: I leverage a poverty graduation program in Malawi to deepen our understanding of the mechanisms through which they operate with the help of high-frequency panel data. I test whether poverty graduation programs are limited in scale by the number of new microenterprises that the local economy can absorb and devise a simple intervention to overcome such a potential limit.

Yan Li, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Disentangling non-classical preferences under the deferred acceptance algorithm

Abstract: This paper aims to experimentally disentangle non-classical preferences models that try to explain sub-optimal non-truthful behaviors under strategyproof mechanisms. Specifically, the simple design identifies the presence and relative importance of report-dependent preferences, self-image concerns, and social-image concerns by manipulating the provision of the information on participants’ relative performance on an IQ test.

Juan Pereira, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: A CBT Intervention to Prevent The Self-fulfilling Prophecy Trap of Effort and Aspirations

Abstract: Limiting beliefs are internal constraints that bind people’s life trajectories. They act as self-boycotting mechanisms which limit aspirations, the ability to set and overcome goals, and undermine the opportunity for individuals to develop their full potential. Since these constraints shape behavior in a way that perpetuates poverty, public policies that target internal constraints could be as important as those that tackle external ones. This project assesses the causal effect of an intervention that relies on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to help teenagers and young adults internalize their limiting beliefs and increase present effort.

Bruno Cardinale, Economics Graduate Student

María Medellín, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Radio Schools and Local Development: Evidence from Colombia

Abstract: Radio Sutatenza (RS) shaped the lives of millions of Colombians through a revolutionary model of education during the second half of the 20th century. Leveraging the expansion of the radio across Colombia, RS combined broadcast lessons with in-situ radio schools to reach those living in the most remote areas of the country. This project proposes to evaluate RS's effect on local development, human capital, and political participation, across the period 1947-1994. By first testing the hypothesis of whether municipalities with increased RS presence increased their literacy rates, we then plan to explore whether this also accelerated fertility decline, promoted migration to cities, political involvement, affected armed conflict trajectories, and set descendants of RS students in a path of human capital formation

Yunyu Shu, Economics Graduate Student

Jiayue Zhang, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Revealed Greenness and Response to Climate Change Information: Evidence
from Cocoa Farmers in Ghana

Abstract: This project intends to document the most vulnerable farmers' heterogeneous expectations and understanding of climate change and how this affects their different responses to climate-change-resilient practice and other adaptation decisions using evidence from the cocoa industry in Ghana. With a lab-in-field experiment design, this project examines cocoa farmers' differential adaptation of shade management and revealed preferences for greenness under two different subsidy schemes that incentivize farmers' adaptation strategies. Comparing farmers' responses to conventional payment for ecosystem services (PES) versus green product price premia (GPP), the results would provide empirical evidence for policymakers to design more cost-efficient schemes to achieve the dual targets of carbon-reduction and productivity improvement.

Vesa-Matti Heikkuri, Economics Graduate Student

Cosimo Petracchi, Economics Graduate Student

Matthias Schief, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Allocation of talent in Finland

Abstract: We study the aggregate and distributional consequences of improving allocation of talent into higher education and occupations. We use administrative data from Finland to measure human capital, educational outcomes and incomes.

Francesco Ferlenga, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Political dual mandate and favoritism in public procurement: search cost or electoral incentives?

Abstract: I study the impact on public procurement outcomes of a peculiar type of career path for municipal politicians: the dual mandate, whereby representatives are elected to higher institutional roles while simultaneously maintaining their municipal office. From a theoretical standpoint, dual mandate generates electoral incentives for the politicians to favor firms from the municipality they rule on, which goes beyond a simple “preference” for ones’ hometown and that may be particularly consequential when not all districts are equally represented. More specifically, I use the network of firms connected to the municipal office to identify patterns of public procurement favoritism in the higher office. I exploit the firms’ location, taken as a proxy for political influence, to uncover whether the simple acquaintance with the firm or the presence of electoral incentives are driving favoritism. 

Jesse Bruhn, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Gangs and Student Outcomes in a Large Urban School District

Abstract: This project will use newly assembled, large-scale administrative data from a large urban district to study the effects of exposure to gangs on children. Specifically, we have linked police records on gang territory to student-level micro data on academic achievement, school discipline, Highschool graduation, and college attendance. We will study the impacts of neighborhood exposure to gangs on these short- and long-run schooling outcomes.

Giulia Gitti, Economics Graduate Student

Authors: Andrea Cerrato and Giulia Gitti

Title of Research Project: "Inflation Since COVID: Demand or Supply"

Abstract: We estimate the slope of the Phillips curve before, during, and after COVID. To do so, we exploit panel variation in inflation and unemployment dynamics across US metropolitan statistical areas, using a shift-share instrument to isolate demand-driven fluctuations in local unemployment rates. We find that the slope of the Phillips curve dropped to zero during the pandemic and more than tripled, relative to the pre-COVID era, from March 2021 onward. From these estimates we quantify that demand-driven economic recovery explains around 1.4 out of the 5.6 percentage-point increase in all-items inflation observed from March 2021 to September 2022. 

Giacomo Rubbini, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: "Mechanism Design without Rational Expectations"

Abstract: Non-equilibrium models of strategic interaction often offer sharply different predictions from equilibrium ones. In the context of mechanism design, does this mean that dropping the rational expectations assumption allows the social planner to fully implement a larger class of social choice functions? The answer to this question turns out to be mainly negative. This paper proposes a generalized model of full implementation that does not assume rational expectations and characterizes the class of solution concepts such that Bayesian Incentive Compatibility is necessary for implementation of social choice functions. Surprisingly, dropping the rational expectations assumption and moving to non-equilibrium models does not deliver significantly more permissive results for a large class of models of strategic behavior. A key implication of this finding is that some classical results (such as Myerson and Satterthwaite’s impossibility of efficient bilateral trade) hold for a wide range of non-equilibrium solution concepts, confirming their relevance even in bounded rationality setups.

Daniel Crisostomo Wainstock, Economics Graduate Student

Bo Yeon Jang, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: "A Historical View of Family Ties in the United States"

Abstract: A growing literature explores the effect of family ties on various outcomes such as comparative development, political participation, and moral values. We propose a novel measure of historical intensity of family ties in the United States by exploring the passing down of first names within the family. Leveraging the linking of historical full count censuses, we tell whether individuals share first names with their ancestors. First, we aggregate this novel individual-level measure of the strength of family ties to construct a county-level index, which we explore to show its association with political participation and comparative development. By tracking households as they migrate across the country in multiple censuses, we observe differential exposure of siblings to the intensity of family ties in the communities where they grow up. This allows us to make a claim about the causal effect of exposure to family ties on individual outcomes.

Michael Neubauer, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: "Caste Discrimination, Segregation, and Spatial Misallocation in Village India"

Abstract: We aim to study the efficiency and welfare consequences of caste-based segregation in Indian villages. To do so, we will combine lab-in-the-field exercises with a quantitative spatial model that will be estimated using data on all individuals living in selected villages in Bihar, India.

Alison Lodermeier, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: "Discrimination in Eviction Filings"

Abstract: Racial minorities are overrepresented in the 3.6 million eviction cases filed annually. I test whether racial discrimination in landlords’ decision to file an eviction case plays a role. Most eviction filings are caused by non-payment of rent, meaning that tenants accrue back rent up to the point it becomes worthwhile for their landlord to file an eviction case. In this paper, I test for racial discrimination by testing whether landlords in Chicago and Philadelphia tolerate more back rent owed by white tenants than minority tenants before filing an eviction case. I further propose a test to distinguish whether statistical discrimination explains the entirety of landlord discrimination in eviction filings.

Giulia Buccione, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: "Tasty, Traditional, and Healthy Water: Considering Local Culture in Water-Adoption Interventions"

Abstract: In the context of low consumption of clean water in developing countries, previous literature has shown that neither subsidies nor information consistently influence adoption and willingness to pay for clean water. We provide experimental evidence that a technology (filtered water) that produces clean water taking into account individuals’ tastes and local culture leads to higher willingness to pay and higher adoption rates than usual chlorinated water provision: in a pilot conducted in September 2022, willingness to pay is 200% higher and that adoption rates (at a zero price) are 30 percentage points higher for filtered water compared to chlorinated water.

Aarushi Kalra, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Algorithmic Drivers of Hate Speech on Social Media

Abstract: Recommendation algorithms are used widely to tailor content to users’ preferences on social media platforms, yet little is known about the causal effect of these algorithms on political polarization. The algorithms expose different users to specific kinds of content based on their innate preferences over political content. These preferences are not observed by the researcher but are learnt by the algorithm over time. This project investigates the influence of algorithmic recommendation systems on the amplification of engagement with anti-minority hate speech in a Developing country. To accomplish this, we conducted a large-scale RCT in collaboration with one of the biggest social media platforms in the country. During this experiment, content recommendations were switched off for a random set of users. As a result, about four million users were exposed to content that was chosen randomly from the entire corpus of posts. We hypothesize that an effect of past exposure on sharing of current content will cause algorithmic customization to be more polarizing than it would be in the absence of dynamic such effects. 

Alison Lodermeier, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: The Effect of a Public Eviction Record

Abstract: We aim to provide the first causal estimates of the effect of a public eviction record. While in recent years the effects of evictions and homelessness prevention programs have gathered more attention in economics (Collinson et al. 2022; Palmer et al. 2019; Evans et al. 2016), the impact of having a public record of an eviction filing – a much more common occurrence than experiencing an eviction – remains unanswered. Using data on sealed and public eviction records in Cook County, Illinois and Washington DC, we will estimate the effect of a public eviction filing record on residential mobility, public assistance, credit access, and employment outcomes relative to a sealed eviction filing record. The results from this study will inform policy decisions on record-sealing laws in jurisdictions across the country.

Mauricio Caceres Bravo, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: How do prison differences affect inmate outcomes?

Abstract: Correctional institutions can be highly heterogeneous: This project examines how experiencing different prison environments affects individuals. I leverage moves during an inmate's prison stay to recover the causal impact of different prisons on inmate outcomes. I obtain a value-added estimate of the relative effect of each prison to examine the drivers of these causal effects and their policy implications.

Samyak Jain, Economics Graduate Student

Authors: Samyak Jain and Chandni Shyam

Title of Research Project: Child Care Institutions and the State: Education for Juvenile Justice

Abstract: In India, there are more than 30 million children in need of childcare and protection. Most of them are abandoned, orphaned, or belong to families struggling with abuse or extreme poverty. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015 decides the rights, care and protection of these children with a two-pronged approach. One one side, it is the basis of the legal system for juvenile justice and on the other, it decides the functioning of Child Care Institutions (CCIs). Our project aims to map the roles of the state and civil society organizations in the implementation of this act and its implications on these children’s access to education. 

Jose Belmar, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: The Conflicting Effects of International Trade: Evidence from Colombia and the Panama Canal, 1851-1973

Abstract: In this project I use natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of international trade on population growth and economic development in an economy with a comparative advantage in agriculture. I focus on the case of west Colombia, a region that experienced rapid integration into the world markets as a consequence of the opening of the Panama Canal (1904-1914) and the take-off of coffee exports in the first decades of the 20th century.

Francesco Ferlenga, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Symbols of oppression. The role of confederate monuments in the Great Migration

Abstract: Dominant groups around the world have asserted their power by erecting on public spaces monuments that glorify their narrative, vis-à-vis their opponents'. How does the construction of divisive symbols affect the opposing groups? I investigate this issue in the context of the construction of Confederate monuments in the US South during the early 20th century, which was supported by southern Whites and generally opposed by African-Americans. Given the absence of viable political counteractions for African-Americans (including voting) and the high propensity to migrate during the Great Migration, I find that African-Americans disproportionately left areas with monuments. First, I use a diff-in-diff approach to show that southern counties where a monument was constructed experienced a sharp decline in the share of Black population after the inauguration. Individual level data confirm this was driven by outmigration. Second, I exploit the presence of a quasi-monopolist producer to construct an instrument for the stock of Confederate monuments, based on the transportation cost and on the relevant production years. The IV analysis confirms that an exogenously higher stock of monuments caused a substantial reduction of the Black share of the population in the following decades.

Emilia Brito, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Labor Market Returns to Subsidized Graduate Education: Evidence from a Scholarship Program in Chile

Abstract: Despite the rapid growth of postgraduate education, there is limited evidence of its returns. This study aims to contribute to this topic by analyzing the returns to masters and PhD programs in Chile. To do this we examine the applicants for a government scholarship funding graduate degrees. By leveraging quasi-random variation in graduate enrollment and graduation resulting from the assignment system, we estimate the causal effect of graduate education on employment and income for multiple years following the scholarship application. 

Bobby Pakzad-Hurson, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Negotiating Job Offers

Abstract: We study the decision of job market candidates to negotiate job offers. We develop a theoretical model which illuminates optimal bargaining behavior given a portfolio of initial offers, and how the presence of bargaining can impact job seekers' desire to seek out additional job offers. We investigate the real-world impact of bargaining via a field experiment wherein we partner with a firm that provides job seekers with a negotiation coaching service. This experiment will allow us to test the importance of bargaining on job outcomes, and also reveal heterogeneities in the ways that different groups of job seekers (e.g. men versus women) negotiate. 

Henrique Pita Barros, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: The Power of Dialogue: Forced Displacement and Social Integration amid an Islamist Insurgency in Mozambique

Abstract: This study undertakes a novel field experiment designed to improve the social integration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) into host communities under conditions of scarce resources and low state capacity. The experiment was conducted in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique's northernmost province, where an Islamist insurgency has resulted in over one million IDPs. Hosts  and IDPs participated in joint community meetings in which they discussed topics related to the collective life of both groups, and IDPs also narrated their stories of escape from insurgents. Community meetings produced immediate and sustained positive effects on the relationship between hosts and IDPs. Religious tolerance also improved, and religious-extremist beliefs decreased, highlighting the potential of intergroup contact to support counterinsurgency efforts. As a novel insight, this study finds that even brief but structured intergroup interactions can have a beneficial long-lasting impact on social cohesion.

Myles Ellis, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Racial Disparities in Institutional Trust

Abstract: While trust serves as an integral part of our society, American distrust of institutions has increased over the past couple decades. There is also evidence of racial disparities in institutional trust. With this work, I explore the racial wealth gap through the mechanism of institutional distrust among American households. 

Haoyu Sheng, Economics Graduate Student

Finn Schüle, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Unemployment in a Production Network

Abstract: We model a production network economy with sectoral and occupational unemployment by incorporating matching between job-seekers and employers in segmented labor markets. In our model, productivity shocks in upstream sectors affect production in other sectors directly through intermediate goods production and indirectly through labor markets. We apply our model to analyze the joint impact of labor force participation declines and energy shocks in the post-Covid U.S. economy. Our model generates realistic responses: a modest decline in output, a pronounced decrease in unemployment, and relative price increases in energy-intensive sectors and their downstream sectors.

Jesse Bruhn, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: The Effects of Early Career Occupations on Future Labor Market Outcomes

Abstract: How does early career occupational choice affect the labor market trajectories of young Americans? We aim to answer this question using data from one of the largest employers in the United States: the United States Army. For identification, we will link Army administrative data to discontinuities in the test scores the Army uses for job qualifications and long run outcomes on earnings and occupational choice from the United States Treasury.

Spencer Kwon, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Failures of Information Aggregation

Abstract: A rational Bayesian agent knows every state of the world that is consistent with her evidence and integrates across these states to form her beliefs. We conjecture that, in practice, it is difficult to imagine, or “simulate,” all the ways events might unfold and to identify which are consistent with one’s current data. We describe and experimentally test a model in which an agent first must generate possible states of the world by simulating chains of events, and then forms her beliefs according to the ease of simulating each.

Rachel Cummings, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: The Impact of Learning Disabilities on Children and Parental Outcomes: Evidence from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics

Abstract: We document the characteristics of children and young adults identified in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics as having a learning disability and study whether legislative changes in diagnosis criteria have had a noticeable effect determining who receives a diagnosis. We further document that children and young adults identified as a having a learning disability experience less desirable outcomes early in life, including trouble with the police, drug use, violent behavior, incarceration, self-reported low levels of well-being, lower educational attainment, and less favorable labor market outcomes. We also find that the mothers of children diagnosed with learning disabilities are less likely than other mothers to participate in the labor market.

Daniel Crisostomo Wainstock, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: "Shared Culture and Economics Ties Between Ethnic Groups"

Abstract: The 20th century witnessed a profound wave of globalization, with international trade becoming an increasingly vital aspect of many societies. Each day, numerous business connections are forged on a global scale. However, this globalization of goods and services, which inherently involves the diffusion of norms and values, has not obliterated ethnic boundaries. Ethnic identity remains a significant facet of life for countless individuals worldwide. The interplay between these two dimensions raises an intriguing question: What influences economic relationships among ethnic groups?  In pursuit of answers, I have compiled a unique dataset tracking business connections between pairs of ethnic groups worldwide from 1979 to 2022 relying on GDELT events data. My preliminary findings indicate that differences in the presence and strength of business links across these ethnic pairs can be linked to the extent of their shared folklore. Remarkably, this pattern persists even after controlling for country-pair variations. The next phase of my research involves computing measures of linguistic and religious disparities among these groups to assess whether the observed results remain robust when accounting for such factors. 


Moritz Poll, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Market Day Coordination, Market Size, and Rural Development

Abstract: Market days are the pulse of rural, economic and social life in many parts of the world and millions of people rely for their daily sustenance on weekly markets. They are also a complex coordination problem that determines who participates where and when in market exchange. I identify a natural experiment in Western Kenya in which market schedules over the past century were set quasi-randomly, inducing exogenous variation in markets competing over participants with their neighbors on the same day of the week. I analyze the effect that such scheduling frictions have on market cross-attendance and ultimately on rural economic development. I find that market schedule coordination causally and lastingly affected market attendance, driven by cross-attendance from other villages, as well as present-day population and nighttime luminosity as a proxy for economic activity.

Israel Eruchimovitch, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Breaking Barriers, Building (on) Networks: Lessons from the Jewish Emancipation in Germany (joint with Assaf Sarid)

Abstract: We study the effect of religious social networks on cultural integration and occupational specialization of Jews in nineteenth-century Germany. Using county-level and unique individual-level datasets from German archives, we argue that Jewish social networks channeled Jews to commerce, resulting in labor market segregation while fostering cultural integration.

Louis Putterman, Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: Research on Behavioral Economics, Long History and Comparative Development

Abstract: Includes research on two historical themes. First, my collaborators and I are fleshing out an enhanced framework that explains why China has built up ethnic, linguistic, and political unity during the past 3,000 years whereas  comparable unity has eluded Europe and the Middle East. Second, with another team, I am tying together several lines of evidence that cultural valuation of written communication and knowledge at the beginning of the early modern period (1500 CE) is an independent determinant of elite human capital in today's world, explaining a significant share of the variance of representation among ethnic/national groups of the world at the forefront of Ph.D. studies, on leading university faculties, and on authorship in top peer-reviewed scholarly journals.  

Alexandre Gaillard, Assistant Professor of Economics

Title of Research Project: The Decline of Business Transfers

Abstract: This project examines the declining trend in business transitions in France and the US, highlighting a reduction in transmission rates from 32% in 1980 to 15% in 2020, against a backdrop of an aging business owner demographic. It explores the growing mismatch between the businesses of older generation owners and those acquired by younger entrepreneurs, attributing these trends to technological advancements, educational shifts, and valuation difficulties. Through analysis of administrative data and data collected through business transmission platforms, the study aims to understand the complexities of intergenerational business transitions and propose a theoretical framework for these phenomena.

Yan Li, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Noise in communication

Abstract: Theoretical works have established that noise can improve information transmission. However, they do not differentiate between noise that takes different forms or happens at different stages of the sender-receiver interaction. Therefore, this project intends to conduct a lab experiment to compare four situations: First, noise results from sender's uncertainty about her true type; Second, noise results from a non-strategic mediator that commits to an information garbling rule; Third, noise results from a strategic mediator; Fourth, noise results from the fact that the receiver may misinterpret the message she receives.

Sergei Pankratev, Economics Graduate Student

Title of Research Project: Punch Struck Love: Motivated Behaviors and Risk of Adversity

Abstract: Support of dictators, self-reinforcing domestic abuse, people at risk of diseases rejecting medical exams - what is common to such behaviors? This project studies such behaviors through the lens of subjective beliefs. It aims to show formation of motivated beliefs in cases where individuals face risk of adversity and have limited action set. I study how motivated respond to changes in shape of individual’s action set in such situations. I further test whether motivated beliefs affect other behaviors such as risk taking, patience and demand for information. Finally, I investigate whether motivated beliefs arise in response to perception of past or future experiences in such contexts.