Research

I study topics in labor economics and behavioral economics with a focus on models of strategic interaction and empirical tests of gender-based differences. My research can be grouped into three areas – discrimination, the economics of charity, and conflict. My work in all three areas has both theoretical and empirical components. For my empirical analyses, I conduct laboratory experiments, field experiments, primary field surveys, and use observational datasets as relevant to each research question.

Working Papers

Persistence of discrimination: Theory and Experimental evidence
Why does discrimination persist, when there is evidence that it can be overcome? I model dynamic discrimination as a repeated contest between a favored and an unfavored candidate such that bias declines or reverses if the unfavored (discriminated) candidate wins in the initial round. I show that the favored candidate’s threat of losing privilege is more salient than the unfavored candidate’s opportunity of overcoming bias in a repeated competition. Experimental data confirms that reducible and reversible biases cause the favored candidate to increase their effort significantly more than the unfavored candidate unless the unfavored candidate cares sufficiently more about the future. Discrimination persists even when bias can be overcome due to the favored candidate’s threat of losing advantage.

The economics of street charity: Theory and Field Evidence
How do poor labor market opportunities interact with the culture of earning one’s own bread in shaping informal charitable behavior? I answer this question using a combination of primary survey data analysis and applied game theory. I collected primary data documenting real-time charitable transactions to test the effect of material offerings while soliciting charity on the street (street vendors of trivial items versus beggars). Controlling for demographic attributes of solicitors and givers, soliciting style, product information of vendors, and matching on unbalanced variables, I find that the street vendors who offer a product receive double the charitable transfers than beggars even when givers have no use for the product. Based on the findings from the survey, I develop a signaling model of street charity, which considers the objectives of both the charity solicitor and giver, and show that in a separating equilibrium, the act of vending separates the involuntary unemployed from the voluntary unemployed, predicting larger charitable transfers to vendors compared to beggars.

Work in Progress

Which gendered laws matter for women’s economic empowerment? (joint with Anna Fruttero (WB) and Diego Gomes (IMF))

Gender norms and the partition of British India (joint with Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay (ISI) and Mahima Vasishth (UCI))

Discontinuity of Gender discrimination: theory and experimental evidence from India