The Early College Experience Economics program (https://ece.uconn.edu/) held its annual workshop this fall for 30 Connecticut high school economics teachers who are teaching UConn’s Principles of Microeconomics (ECON 1201), Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON 1202) and/or Essentials of Economics (ECON 1000).
Leading off the workshop was Professor Mike Shor, presenting “Patent Holdup” in which he explained the limits monopoly power conveyed by patents. The complementary relationships among patents and the price determination of purchasing or licensing of patents. He went on to explain the idea of the patent hold up. He also provided the workshop participants with a classroom exercise in which students discover how patents are priced.
There followed a presentation by Professor Natalia Smirnova, “Using Data in the Classroom: FRED database.” Professor Smirnova demonstrated several empirical uses of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank’s FRED database including both Macro and Micro economic examples.
Professor William Alpert presented a lunch time talk about the “Perils and Pitfalls of Prediction” highlighting the famine predictions of Paul Ehrlich for the 1980 (100’s of millions die) and the failed predictions of The Club of Rome from 1973. Professor Alpert also “predicted” the rise to more than 600 million in the number of horses in the United States if 18th Century trends had continued, assuming no alternative means of transportation.
Professor Steven Lanza then followed up with a presentation entitled “Rediscovering Lost Arts: Economic Index Numbers” in which he stressed the importance of index numbers and the biases in those numbers. He also demonstrated how to calculate them using data that is easy to access and readily available.
Professor Nishith Prakash rendered the concluding presentation concerning a natural experiment concerning the harassment. In India 79% of women living in cities have experienced harassment in public spaces. Professor Prakash and his coauthors set out to determine the effect of street patrolling that targets harassment, on the type and frequency of incidents and women’s proactive responses. They also are trying to determine the impacts of targeting perpetrators of harassment and what drives these changes — visibility, and/or quantity of a focused taskforce?
All of the presentations were well received and the workshop was among the most successful offered by the ECE Economics program.
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 Nishith Prakash presented his paper “Do Criminally Accused Politicians Affect Economic Outcomes? Evidence from India” at the 6th NCID Research Workshop in Madrid, and at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.
Professor Prakash was interviewed at the 6th NCID Research Workshop about his work:
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 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.
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 Nishith Prakash’s project, ‘Wheels of Change: Impact of Cycles on Female Education and Empowerment in Zambia’, has received generous funding from UBS-Optimus Foundation and World Bicycle Relief and will be in joint collaboration with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) at Yale University:
Many countries worldwide have made significant progress towards gender equality in education, labor force participation, and political representation in recent decades. However, in many developing and less developed countries, there also exist discriminatory social norms that favor early marriage and limit girl’s access to education and labor force participation. Therefore, it is not surprising that reducing gender disparity in primary, secondary and tertiary education has been one of the most important goals for international education policy over the past decade, and has been enshrined as one of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s).
In this experimental study we aim to study the impact of providing cycles to girls in grade 7 and 8 on education and empowerment. The aim of this evaluation is to estimate the impact of World Bicycle Relief’s BEEP program in Zambia, which provides access to cycles to students who live far from schools in their communities. The study proposes to rigorously test the impact of cycle distribution on education outcomes as well as outcomes pertaining to girls’ empowerment and their bargaining position in the households.
This study will build on the previous study by Muralidharan and Prakash (2016) by testing if increased school access through cycles could create an enabling environment for girls to negotiate better health outcomes in addition to education outcomes. The study proposes to test the following hypotheses:
1) What is the impact of providing cycles to adolescent girls on education outcomes such as attendance, drop outs and examination scores?
2) What is the impact of providing cycles to adolescent girls on pregnancy, marriage, fertility, mobility, bargaining power, and empowerment?
His work with co-author Sanjeev Kumar on the possible unintended consequences of an alcohol ban meant to stem violence against women has been published in several locations, including The Times of India