2021-2022 Series

Presenter Name: 
Kanika Mahajan
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, Ashoka University
Title of talk: 
Aggregate Shocks, Domestic Trade Collapse and Regional Realignment
Co-Sponsor: 
Department of Economics
Abstract/Description: 
How do plants’ sales and input-sourcing respond to aggregate shocks? Using novel administrative data, we show that COVID-19 induced lockdown in March 2020 led to domestic trade collapse across regions in India. Well after the movement restrictions were lifted, trade continues to suffer while GDP recovers as plants switch from inter-regional sales and input-sourcing to intra-region. Plants more dependent on inter-region sales (inputs) lead this regional realignment. Additionally, products with a higher pre-pandemic scope to expand into the home market witness greater realignment, accounting for 7.6 percent of the sales growth in the last quarter of 2020.
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Date and Time: 
Tuesday, September 7, 2021 12:15 PM
Presenter Name: 
Daniela Scur
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, Cornell University
Title of talk: 
Organizational Capacity and Profit Shifting
Co-Sponsor: 
Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
Faculty Research Speaker Series
Abstract/Description: 
Daniel Scur’s research focuses on organizations and how organizational practices affect productivity and labor outcomes across countries and industries. She studies organizational economics with a focus on emerging economies and developing countries. The research questions she is currently working on include why family firms adopt fewer structured management practices (and what to do about it), how school management and personnel policies affect teacher effort and student outcomes, how personnel management affects wages and other employee outcomes in manufacturing firms, and how female leadership influences organizational practices.
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Date and Time: 
Friday, September 24, 2021 12:15 PM
Presenter Name: 
Renuka Sane
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Associate Professor, NIPFP
Title of talk: 
Unshrouding product-specific attributes through financial education
Co-Sponsor: 
Department of Economics
Abstract/Description: 
We introduce a new financial education that provides rules-of-thumb for consumers of a sub-optimal insurance product with shrouded attributes in India. Our intervention results in a significant decline in potential demand, improving welfare for newly-informed consumers. Using a model of shrouded attributes where financial education is linked to firms' incentives to reveal information, we further show that overall welfare depends on whether firms unshroud the information. We characterize the treatment effect size required for an unshrouded equilibrium, and conclude that significant effects of financial education are a necessary, but not a sufficient condition to improve welfare in retail financial markets.
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Date and Time: 
Tuesday, October 5, 2021 12:15 PM
Presenter Name: 
Melissa Lee
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, Princeton University
Title of talk: 
From Pluribus to Unum? The Civil War and Imagined Sovereignty in 19th Century America
Co-Sponsor: 
Lansing Lee/Bankard Seminar in Global Politics
Abstract/Description: 
Contestation over the structure and location of final sovereign authority — the right to make and enforce binding rules — occupies a central role in political development. Historically, war often settled these debates and resulted in the institutionalization of the victor’s vision of sovereignty. Yet sovereign authority requires more than a set of institutions; it ultimately rests on the recognition and acceptance of the governed. How does war shape the popular imagination of sovereignty? Does war promote ideational convergence around the victor’s ideals, or does it polarize and harden attachments to competing visions of sovereignty? We explore the effect of warfare on imagined sovereignty in the United States, a case where the debate over two competing visions of sovereignty culminated in violence during the American Civil War. We exploit the grammatical shift in the “United States” from a plural to a singular noun as a measure of how sovereignty is imagined, drawing upon two large textual corpuses: newspapers between 1800–1899 and all Congressional speeches between 1851–1899. Our results indicate that war shapes the popular imagination of sovereignty, but for winning partisans only.
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Date and Time: 
Friday, October 8, 2021 12:15 PM
Presenter Name: 
Claudio Ferraz
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Professor, University of British Columbia
Title of talk: 
Internet, Social Media, and the Behavior of Politicians: Evidence from Facebook in Brazil
Co-Sponsor: 
Department of Economics
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Date and Time: 
Tuesday, October 19, 2021 12:15 PM
Presenter Name: 
Shoumitro Chatterjee
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, Penn State
Title of talk: 
No Country for Dying Firms: Evidence from India
Co-Sponsor: 
Department of Economics
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Date and Time: 
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 12:15 PM
Presenter Name: 
Aaditya Dar
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, ISB Hyderabad
Title of talk: 
Irrigation and the Spatial Pattern of Local Economic Development in India
Co-Sponsor: 
Department of Economics
Abstract/Description: 
We study the impacts of 1,500 large-scale irrigation projects that have affected more than 250,000 villages in India. To identify treatment effects, we use high-resolution spatial data, and exploit discontinuities in program inclusion arising at project boundaries. Irrigation increases agricultural output and population density in rural villages. However, in and near towns, it causes a decline in indicators of development including population density, nightlight density, built-up area, and firm employment, reallocating factors of production away from non-agricultural activities. The results are consistent with a model in which permanent agricultural productivity gains slow the process of structural transformation.
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Date and Time: 
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 3:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Jishnu Das
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Professor, Georgetown University
Title of talk: 
Randomized Regulation: The Impact of Minimum Quality Standards on Health Markets
Co-Sponsor: 
Department of Economics
Abstract/Description: 
Working with the Kenyan Cabinet and Ministry of Health, we experimentally evaluated the market-level impacts of healthcare regulation in settings with public and private providers. We randomly allocated 273 markets with 1258 facilities to treatment and control arms and in treatment arms, facilities were inspected to assess compliance with minimum patient safety standards with the potential for closure. To accurately capture how regulation functions in low-capacity environments, inspections and facility closures were carried out by the government using their own staff. The intervention (a) increased compliance with the patient safety checklist in both public and private clinics (more so in the latter); (b) increased closures of clinics without licenses and (c) reallocated patients from private to public clinics, primarily in markets with a facility closure. A decomposition approach shows that 93% of the increase in compliance with patient safety measures was due to improvements within facilities, rather than exits or changes in market shares. The intervention had no impact on patients’ out-of-pocket payments, and we find no evidence of declines in facility use, either in the aggregate or for poorer patients. We then examine three classes of mechanisms: An information channel, a compliance channel, and a vertical differentiation channel due to Ronen (1991). We do not find evidence for the information channel and weak evidence for the compliance channel. Quantile treatment effects suggest that, consistent with Ronen (1991), there were quality improvements across the quality spectrum. Our study thus brings the regulatory function of the state under the ambit of experimental methods and shows that even in low-capacity settings, regulations and inspections can improve the quality of care, as measured by compliance with patient safety measures.
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Date and Time: 
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 12:30 PM
Presenter Name: 
Pavitra Suryanarayan
Presenter title and affiliation: 
Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University
Title of talk: 
Hollowing out the State
Co-Sponsor: 
Lansing Lee/Bankard Seminar in Global Politics
Abstract/Description: 
This paper argues that political elites may weaken bureaucratic capacity in anticipation of future redistribution. One such instance occurred in the Colonial Indian provinces, where incumbent elites hollowed out tax capacity in anticipation of franchise expansion. While studies of intra-elite competition have focused on economic inequality as a key factor in shaping elite motivations, this paper finds that high-caste elites in the colonial era, who were worried about their status dominance, weakened institutions in order to limit the ability of future elected lower castes to integrate public goods to lower castes. As elite bureaucrats as well as local tax collectors, upper castes enabled tax avoidance and exited the local bureaucratic machinery. Using a historical dataset from 1914-1925 and novel micro-level measures of land tax collection, tax avoidance, and the size of the bureaucracy, the paper demonstrates that bureaucratic capacity declined after franchise expansion in the districts with higher levels of inter-caste status inequality and where threats of political ascedence of lower castes were greater.
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Date and Time: 
Friday, December 3, 2021 12:15 PM
Academic Year: