Zheng Xu Defends Dissertation, Stays at Harvard

ZhengDefenseOn August 28th, Zheng Xu defended his dissertation, “Developing in the Era of Globalization: The Case of China” written under the supervision of major advisor Professor Delia Furtado and associate advisors, Professor Nishith Prakash, Professor Kathleen Segerson, and Professor Richard Freeman from Harvard University.

Zheng’s dissertation studies how globalization has reshaped China in terms of the labor market, environment, and media. The first chapter examines how rising demand for Chinese exports affects Chinese labor markets. Particular emphasis is given to how the massive internal migration in China shapes the labor market consequences of trade. The second chapter studies whether party-newspapers in China are less likely to report local pollution events and whether the difference distorts households’ self-protective behaviors against potential health risks. The third chapter uses the list of environmental goods endorsed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to test whether export production improves air quality in China through adoption of green inputs.

Since September of 2013, Zheng has been a research fellow in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. In 2014, he received a CLAS Graduate Fellowship which helped support his time at Harvard. Zheng has already started a new position as postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities.

Congratulations, Zheng!

Professor Prakash Cited in Media

t_prakash[1]Two of Professor Nishith Prakash‘s works have been cited recently in the media.

His work with Aimee Chin concerning affirmative action in India was cited in The Economist.

A paper he collaborated on with Chin and Mehtabul Azam was cited by Business Standard.

Professor Prakash is currently in India collecting data for his Affirmative Action project. Later this month he will be in the state of Bihar holding meetings with government officials and school authorities for a new project focused on reducing gaps in learning outcomes across different caste groups.

Professor Prakash’s Project Funded by Danish Council for Independent Reserach

t_prakash[1]A joint project of Professor Nishith Prakash, has been awarded funding from The Danish Council for Independent Research. The award is approximately $600,000 USD.

Details of the project can be found below.

Project title: The Economic and Behavioral Impacts of Anti-Discrimination Policies in the Context of Caste: Learning from Household Surveys, Lab Experiments and Randomized Controlled Trials
P.A.: Nabanita Datta Gupta (Aarhus School of Business)
Institution: Aarhus University
Amount: Danish Kr. 3,478,625

Recent years have seen an increased interest in the economic and non-economic impacts of affirmative action policies across the social sciences, with a majority of the work focusing on developed economies. Unresolved issue relating to the effective design of such policy are how to minimize stigma effects and stereotyping effects, at what ages interventions should take place, and whether these policies carry disincentives for skill investment and if there are any effects on the majority. Affirmative action policy has been adopted in a larger scale in India than elsewhere, with a nation-wide program of reservation (quotas) of new jobs, political seats and slots in higher educational institutions for the historically discriminated lowest-caste groups in Indian society. Yet, surprisingly little evidence exists on the causal effects of reservation, in particular, whether such policies better the outcomes of the intended groups more than they would have in the absence of such programs. The aim of the research project is to bring reliable empirical evidence on the economic and behavioral implications of anti-discrimination policies in employment and education, across both children and adults, to better understand the linkages of policies, caste and education and labor market outcomes across the life-cycle, and to find ways to erase persistent inter-group inequalities. The findings are also expected to shed light on current Danish and European research on increasing social segmentation, polarization and out-group discrimination due to migration. 

For more information, please see the following link:

Professor Prakash in the Media

The London School of Economics has cited Professor Prakash‘s paper on education and incentives in Bihar in their blog. The paper, titled “Education Policies and Practices: What Have We Learnt and the Road Ahead for Bihar,” has also been covered by Ideas for India, which Professor Prakash was invited to join earlier this year.

Professor Prakash has also published a non-technical summary of his paper “The Redistributive Effects of Political Reservation for Minorities: Evidence from India” in VOX. VOX is a policy portal that aims to promote research-based policy analysis and commentary by leading scholars.

Professor Nishith Prakash has been invited to Growth Week 2012, a three day conference held by the International Growth Centre at the London School of Economics. Professor Prakash spent time at the IGC this summer as an academic visitor. The conference will be held from September 24-26.

Professor Prakash’s Article Accepted in Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization

Cover of JEBOProfessor Nishith Prakash‘s article titled “Consumption and Social Identity: Evidence from India” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 

We examine spending on consumption items which have signaling value in social interactions across groups with distinctive social identities in India, where social identities are defined by caste and religious affiliations. Using nationally representative micro data on household consumption expenditures, we find that disadvantaged caste groups such as Other Backward Castes spend eight percent more on visible consumption than Brahmin and High Caste groups while social groups such as Muslims spend fourteen percent less, after controlling for differences in permanent income, household assets and household demographic composition. The differences across social groups are significant and robust and these differences persist within different sub populations. We find that the higher spending of OBC households on visible consumption is diverted from education spending, while Muslim households divert spending from visible consumption and education towards greater food spending. Additionally, we find that these consumption patterns can be partly explained as a result of the status signaling nature of the consumption items. We also discuss alternative sources of differences in consumption patterns across groups which stem from religious observance.

Click to view full article.

Professor Prakash invited to join new India Policy Portal

International Growth Centre
Professor Nishith Prakash was recently invited to join a newly formed online economics and policy portal for India, funded by the International Growth Centre (IGC). The portal will potentially become the go-to source for ideas and evidence on policy issues in India.  The portal’s goal is to be an ideologically neutral portal for researchers to discuss policies and ideas with a wide audience, and to encourage debate and analysis based on rigorous evidence.

Professor Prakash’s expertise and research in the Indian economy made him a sought after addition to the group. His “Cycling to School” project, which focuses on school attendance in rural India, is also funded by the IGC.