Faculty publication

Professor Agüero Published in AER Papers and Proceedings

Professor Jorge Agüero’s article “Is Community-Based Targeting Effective in Identifying Intimate Partner Violence?” has been published in the American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings:

Is Community-Based Targeting Effective in Identifying Intimate Partner Violence?
Jorge M. Agüero, Úrsula Aldana, Erica Field, Veronica Frisancho and Javier Romero

We measure the effectiveness of community-based targeting to identify victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) in rural Peru. In 254 villages, we collected self-reported data on IPV via a DHS-style questionnaire and compared it to a listing of women elicited from female community leaders. The results indicate that IPV is widely underreported by leaders: on average, leaders report an IPV rate of 17.9 percent, and when asked to name individuals, report only 7.7 percent of women. Both numbers are well below the 38.3 percent measured through self-reports. Overall, the evidence does not support community-based instruments for identifying IPV victims or rates.


Professor Shor’s Article a Finalist for the 2019 Decision Analysis Special Recognition Award

Professor Shor’s article, Optimizing Choice Architectures, was one of three finalists for the 2019 Decision Analysis Special Recognition Award, awarded annually to the best paper published in the journal, Decision Analysis, in the previous year.

The paper (coauthored with Tibor Besedes, Sudipta Sarangi, Cary Deck, and former UConn PhD student Mark Schneider) examines numerous ways to improve decision making from a large set of options. Different methods work for different people, and the paper identifies the source of this heterogeneity.

Professor Harmon’s SSRN Working Paper on Data Visualization is Top 5 Downloaded Paper

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a platform for dissemination of early-stage research, recently announced their all-time top ten downloaded  papers in the topic Data Visualization.  Oskar Harmon’s paper “Learning Tableau: A Data Visualization Tool” with Steven Batt, and Paul Tomolonis was among that list.

“Doing economics” and “data literacy” are becoming important themes of undergraduate economics  programs.  This paper introduces an exercise that teaches the fundamental Tableau concepts and commands needed to create charts, assemble them in a dashboard, and tell a story of patterns observed in the data.  The exercise assumes no prior experience in Tableau and is appropriate for an undergraduate economics  capstone course or an empirical methods course.


Professor Ross’s HCEO Working Paper on Friendship Effects is Top 5 Downloaded Paper

The Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group (HCEO) at the University of Chicago announced their top five downloaded working papers of 2019.

Steve Ross’s paper “The Consequences of Friendships: Evidence on the Effect of Social Relationships in School on Academic Achievement” with Jason Fletcher and Yuxiu Zhang was among that list.

In that paper, they show that female students experience substantial improvements in their academic performance when they have more friends from an advantaged economic background, i.e. friends whose mothers completed four years of college.  These effects may arise in part because girls with such friendships are also better integrated into their school environment.


Professor Miceli Publishes The Paradox of Punishment

Book Cover: The Paradox of Punishment Reflections on the Economics of Criminal JusticeProfessor Thomas Miceli has published The Paradox of Punishment: Reflections on the Economics of Criminal Justice.

From the publisher:

This book explores the insights that can be gained by looking at the criminal justice system from an economic point of view. It provides an economic analysis of the institutional structure and function of the criminal justice system, how its policies are formulated, and how they affect behavior.

Yet it goes beyond an examination of specific policies to address the broad question of how law influences behavior. For example, it examines how concepts such as the possibility of redemption affect the decisions of repeat offenders, and whether individual responsibility is (or should be) a pre-requisite for punishment. Finally, the book argues that, in addition to the threat of criminal sanctions, law inculcates principles of acceptable behavior among citizens by asserting that certain acts are “against the law.” This “expressive function” of law can influence behavior to the extent that at least some people in society are receptive to such a message. For these people, the moral content of law has more than mere symbolic value, and consequently, it can expand the scope of traditional law enforcement while lowering its cost.

Another goal of the book is therefore to use economic theory to assess this dualistic function of law by specifically recognizing how its policies can both internalize an ethic of obedience to the law among some people irrespective of its consequences, while simultaneously threatening to punish those who only respond to external incentives.



Professor Prakash publishes in Feminist Economics

Nishith Prakash and co-author Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati are publishing their article “Girls for Sale? Child Sex Ratio and Girl Trafficking in India” in Feminist Economics, the journal of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE)

From the abstract:

Illegal trafficking of girls results from their disadvantageous position in society, often reflected by preference for sons and neglect of daughters. India has both higher levels of illegal trafficking of girls and abnormal child sex ratios in favor of boys. This paper examines if the skewed sex ratio in India is associated with trafficking of girls. Using panel data from twenty-nine Indian states from 1980 to 2011, the study finds that a 100-unit increase in the child sex ratio is associated with a 0.635 percent increase in girl trafficking. Further, the association is heterogeneous by women’s empowerment, crime against women, and party rule in the state, and the association between the child sex ratio and trafficking of girls is stronger and larger in magnitude in states with greater women’s empowerment. Overall, it appears the results are driven both by greater reporting and a greater incidence of illegal girl trafficking.


Professor Prakash to be Published in the Journal of Development Economics

Professor Nishith Prakash’s paper “Do criminally accused politicians affect economic outcomes? Evidence from India” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Development Economics


We study the causal impact of electing criminally accused politicians to state legislative assemblies in India on the subsequent economic performance of their constituencies. Using data on the criminal background of candidates running in state assembly elections for the period 2004–2008 and a constituency-level measure of economic activity proxied by the intensity of night-time lights, we employ a regression discontinuity design and find that narrowly electing a criminally accused politician lowers the growth of the intensity of night-time lights by about 24 percentage points (approximately 2.4 percentage point lower GDP growth). The negative impact is more pronounced for legislators who are accused of serious or financial charges, have multiple accusations, are from a non-ruling party, have less than a college education, or have below median wealth. Overall, we find that the effect appears to be concentrated in the less developed and the more corrupt states. Similar findings emerge for the provision of public goods using data on India’s major rural roads construction program.

“Earlier politicians used criminals. Now the criminals themselves have entered politics” – (Associated Press, 2014).

Professor Ross in the AEA Papers and Proceedings

Professor Ross’s work with former students Jesse Kalinowski (Quinnipiac) and Matt Ross (NYU) was published in the 2019 American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings.

In this paper, they document that police change where they patrol and the types of infractions that they monitor when darkness falls.  This behavior has important implications for attempts to test for racial profiling in traffic stops where often stops at night when race cannot be observed are used as a benchmark to determining whether police disproportionately stop minority motorists during the day (non-gated link to working paper below).


Professor Zhao’s Research to be Published in International Economic Review

Professor Zhao’s paper “Household Saving, Financial Constraints, and the Current Account in China” has been accepted for publication in the International Economic Review.

In this paper, Professor Zhao and his coauthor find that the rise and fall in China’s current account surplus was largely due to (1) the rising household saving driven by the decline in family insurance coupled with inadequate public insurance, and (2) the variation in financial constraints facing the Chinese firms.

The working paper version of this research can be found in the UConn working paper series: https://ideas.repec.org/p/uct/uconnp/2018-15.html.

International Economic Review publishes cutting edge papers in many areas of economics, including econometrics, economic theory, macro, and applied economics. It is considered one of the leading journals in economics in the world (Engemann and Wall, 2009).

Professors Harmon and Tomolonis publish in International Review of Economics Education

Oskar Harmon and Paul Tomolonis (UConn PhD 2017) co-authored the article “The effects of using Facebook as a discussion forum in an online Principles of Economics course: Results of a randomized controlled trial”

Their paper makes a comparison between using social media or traditional Course Management System (CMS) discussion groups in a fully online Principles of Microeconomics course.

Students were randomly assigned to a discussion forum in either Facebook or CMS to discern a difference in the level of engagement and learning outcomes. The popular hypothesis is that students using social media have greater engagement with the class and higher learning outcomes relative to students using a CMS platform. Reasons for the positive effect include the ease of use and student familiarity with social media, which allows them to make more connections and gain a deeper understanding of the course material through discussions with others.

Contrary to the widely held view, the results of this study suggest that participation in the treatment Facebook group is associated with declining student engagement and a reduction in the semester course average of 3 to 5 points on a 100-point scale.

The article is available at the IREE website