Faculty publication

Professor Prakash publishes in Social Science & Medicine

Professor Nishith Prakash and his co-author Professor Kumar (Sam Houston State University) have had their paper titled “Effect of political decentralization and female leadership on institutional births and child mortality in Bihar” accepted for publication at Social Science & Medicine.

In this paper, they investigate the impacts of political decentralization and women reservation in rural local governance on institutional births and child mortality in the state of Bihar in India. Using difference-in-differences methodology, they find a significant positive association between political decentralization and institutional births. They also find that the increased participation of women at local governance led to increased survival rate of children belonging to richer households. They argue that their results are consistent with female leaders having policy preference for women and child well-being.

This project was funded by International Growth Center at London School of Economics (http://www.theigc.org).

Professor Agüero publishes in the Journal of Health Economics

Professor Jorge Agüero and his coauthor Trinidad Beleche have had their paper “Health Shocks and their Long-Lasting Impact on Health Behaviors: Evidence from the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic in Mexico” accepted for publication in the Journal of Health Economics.

Abstract: Worldwide, the leading causes of death could be avoided with health behaviors that are low-cost but also difficult to adopt. We show that exogenous health shocks could facilitate the adoption of these behaviors and provide long-lasting effects on health outcomes.

Specifically, we exploit the spatial and temporal variation of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in Mexico and show that areas with a higher incidence of H1N1 experienced larger reductions in diarrhea-related cases among young children. These reductions continue even three years after the shock ended. Changes in hand washing behaviors are behind these health improvements. Several robustness checks validate our findings and mechanism.


Professor Naknoi publishes in Canadian Journal of Economics

Canadian Journal of EconomicsProfessor Kanda Naknoi published a sole-authored article in the February 2017 issue of the Canadian Journal of Economics.

The title of her article is “Real Exchange Rate Fluctuations, Wage Stickiness and Tradability

Abstract: When we classify factors of production by their tradability, the relative wage of nontraded labour influences the real exchange rate through the relative cost of distribution services. We confirm this prediction using monthly data on the sector-level US–Canada real exchange rate and the relative wage of service-producing labour. The relative wage accounts for 40% of the variability of the real exchange rate at a one-month horizon. Furthermore, when we use the effective nontraded labour content to classify goods into nontraded and traded ones, the variability of the price of the nontraded-goods basket accounts for more than half of the variability of the real exchange rate.

Professor Zhao publishes his research in JEDC and JEoA

Kai ZhaoProfessor Kai Zhao has had his paper titled “Social Insurance, Private Health Insurance and Individual Welfare” accepted for publication in the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control. In this paper, he develops a quantitative dynamic general equilibrium model to evaluate social insurance policies. The main findings of the paper are that means tested social insurance does not only distort saving and labor supply decisions, but also has a large crowding out effect on the demand for private health insurance. However, despite the distorting effects, the net welfare consequence of eliminating social insurance is still negative. In addition, this paper finds that the existence of social insurance as a last resort is a quantitatively important reason why many Americans choose to be uninsured.

Professor Zhao and his coauthor Ayse Imrohoroglu (USC Marshall) have their paper titled “Intergenerational Transfers and China’s Social Security Reform” accepted for publication in the Journal of the Economics of Ageing. This paper grew out of their research agenda on the Chinese economy and its implications for the rest of the world. In it, they find that a model with two-sided altruism is preferred to a standard pure life-cycle model for studying social security reforms in China due to the prevalence of intergenerational links. They show that the implications of several reforms are quantitatively different from what have been found in existing studies using pure life-cycle models.

Professor Zhao’s research can be found at his personal webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/kaijackiezhao/research

Professors Minkler and Prakash publish in the Journal of Comparative Economics

Professor Minkler and Professor Prakash’s paper titled “The Role of Constitutions on Poverty: A Cross-National Investigation” has been accepted by the Journal of Comparative Economics. In this paper, they construct and use a new historical data set on economics and social rights from the constitutions of 195 countries and an instrument variable strategy to answer two important questions.

First, do economic and social rights provisions in constitutions reduce poverty, measured as headcount income and health outcomes? Second, does the strength of constitutional language of the economic and social rights matter? Constitutional provisions can be framed either more weakly as directive principles or more strongly as enforceable law.

The results suggest three findings. First, they do not find an association between constitutional rights generally framed and poverty. Second, they do not find an association between economic and social rights framed as directive principles and poverty. Third, they do find a strong negative association between economic and social rights framed as enforceable law and poverty when we use legal origins as our IV. These results persist for indices of constitutional rights and also when they restrict the sample to non-OECD countries. The policy implication is that constitutional provisions framed as enforceable law provide effective meta-rules with incentives for policymakers to initiate, fund, monitor and enforce poverty reduction policies.

Professor Shor publishes new explanation for the Allais paradox

jbdmThe Allais Paradox is one of the most enduring violations of expected utility theory, a hallmark theory of economics. Professor Mike Shor and coauthor Mark Schneider (a recent UConn PhD) have had their paper “The Common Ratio Effect in Choice, Pricing, and Happiness Tasks” accepted by the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making.

In the paper, Professor Shor elicits preferences for the Allais paradox choice alternatives using three different methods: traditional choice, monetary valuation, and subjective happiness ratings. He finds that both the consistency and distribution of responses differs systematically across different elicitation methods, with modal choices replicating the Allais preference pattern, modal happiness ratings exhibiting consistent risk aversion, and modal valuations maximizing expected value. The paper finds support for a dual process framework in which people use either a “logical” or an “intuitive” thinking process depending on the task.

Professor Prakash publishes in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Professor Nishith Prakash’s paper “Cycling to School: Increasing Secondary School Enrollment for Girls in India“, with Karthik Muralidharan, has been accepted for publication in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

In this paper, the authors “study the impact of an innovative program in the Indian state of Bihar that aimed to reduce the gender gap in secondary school enrollment by providing girls who continued to secondary school with a bicycle that would improve access to school.

Using data from a large representative household survey, we employ a triple difference approach (using boys and the neighboring state of Jharkhand as comparison groups) and find that being in a cohort that was exposed to the Cycle program increased girls’ age-appropriate enrollment in secondary school by 32% and reduced the corresponding gender gap by 40%. We also find an 18% increase in the number of girls who appear for the high-stakes secondary school certificate exam, and a 12% increase in the number of girls who pass it. Parametric and non-parametric decompositions of the triple-difference estimate as a function of distance to the nearest secondary school show that the increases in enrollment mostly took place in villages that were further away from a secondary school, suggesting that the mechanism of impact was the reduction in the time and safety cost of school attendance made possible by the bicycle.

We also find that the Cycle program was much more cost effective at increasing girls’ secondary school enrollment than comparable conditional cash transfer programs in South Asia.”

Professor Prakash is following up on this work with his new project, ‘Wheels of Change: Impact of Cycles on Female Education and Empowerment in Zambia’.  For more information, see Professor Prakash Studies the Impact of Bicycles on Female Education and Empowerment in Zambia

Professor Coşgel Publishes Book

Economics of Ottoman Justice Book CoverProfessor Metin Coşgel has published The Economics of Ottoman Justice (Cambridge University Press, November 2016) with coauthor Boğac Ergene.

“During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire endured long periods of warfare, facing intense financial pressures and new international mercantile and monetary trends. The Empire also experienced major political-administrative restructuring and socioeconomic transformations.

In the context of this tumultuous change, The Economics of Ottoman Justice examines Ottoman legal practices and the sharia court’s operations to reflect on the judicial system and provincial relationships. Metin Coşgel and Boğaç Ergene provide a systematic depiction of socio-legal interactions, identifying how different social, economic, gender and religious groups used the court, how they settled their disputes, and which factors contributed to their success at trial. Using an economic approach, Coşgel and Ergene offer rare insights into the role of power differences in judicial interactions, and into the reproduction of communal hierarchies in court, and demonstrate how court use patterns changed over time” – Cambridge University Press

Professor Simon publishes in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Professor David Simon published his paper “Does Early Life Exposure to Cigarette Smoke Permanently Harm Childhood Welfare?  Evidence from Cigarette Tax Hikes” in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Professor Simon used restricted use health survey data to link cigarette taxes to cohorts of children. This shows that in-utero exposure to a dollar increase in the state cigarette tax causes a 10% decrease in sick days from school and a 4.7% decrease in having two or more doctor visits.  Jointly these findings support the argument that exposure to cigarette smoke in utero carries significant medium-term costs, and that excise taxes can lead to lasting intergenerational improvements in wellbeing.

Professor Ross’s Article in Vox

An article by Professor Stephen Ross, co-authored with Stephen Billings and David Deming, has been posted on the Centre for Economic Policy Research’s policy portal, Vox:

Neighbourhood spillovers in youth crime: Social interactions matter

In the article, Professor Ross and his co-authors discuss recent research on the mechanisms behind the neighborhood concentration of crime.  They focus on their recent NBER and HCEO working paper, in which they show that social relationships at school play a very important role in mediating neighborhood effects in youth crime.