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.
The 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 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 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 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.
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.
Professor Michele Baggio’s paper “Optimal management with reversible regime shifts” with Paul Fackler has been published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
The paper examines the management of a natural resource, a fishery, subject to regime shifting dynamics.
The work of University of Connecticut Professors William Alpert, Kenneth Couch, and Oskar Harmon, entitled “A Randomized Assessment of Online Learning”, appears in the May issue of the American Economic Review. The paper was selected for inclusion in the Papers and Proceedings issue after being submitted in response to a national call for papers on economic education.
The study provides the fourth randomized examination of online versus face-to-face education ever conducted for a semester length college course. In this case, the course studied was microeconomic principles. The study shows that students in a face-to-face course did about half a letter grade better than students in a purely online course developed consistent with best practices for online education. The study finds that there are no meaningful differences in performance when comparing students in a course with a blended versus face-to-face format.
Professor Paul Hallwood’s book Economics of the Oceans: Rights, Rents and Resources (Routledge, Oxford, 2014) will be translated into Chinese, for distribution in China. It will be the second of his books to have a Chinese edition.
Professor Ross’s work with Pat Bayer and Fernando Ferreira has been featured in The Atlantic and the Pacific Standard
This paper examines racial and ethnic differences in high cost mortgage lending in seven diverse metropolitan areas from 2004-2007. Even after controlling for credit score and other key risk factors, African-American and Hispanic home buyers are 105 and 78 percent more likely to have high cost mortgages for home purchases.
The increased incidence of high cost mortgages is attributable both to sorting across lenders (60-65 percent) and to differential treatment of equally qualified borrowers by lenders (35-40 percent). The vast majority of the racial and ethnic differences across lenders can be explained by a single measure of the lender’s foreclosure risk, and most of the within-lender differences are concentrated at high-risk lenders.
Thus, differential exposure to high-risk lenders combined with the differential treatment by these lenders explains almost all of the racial and ethnic differences in high cost mortgage borrowing.