Research Overview

Inspecting young paprika plants in Malawi.

Inspecting young paprika plants in Malawi.

My research is on the economics of development in the world’s poor countries. Questions I have addressed in my research include:

Religion— How does the timing of religious festivals relative to agricultural seasons affect long-run economic development?

Public health— What public health interventions can effectively raise testing and treatment for epidemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS? What are the roles of imperfect information and stigmatizing attitudes in limiting testing and treatment? What public messaging approaches can best promote behaviors such as social distancing to control the COVID-19 pandemic?

International migration— How do households use the earnings of migrant members? Why do migrants return to poor countries? Do remittances serve as insurance? Can innovative financial interventions stimulate remittances and channel them to more productive uses? What challenges do transnational households face in making optimal financial decisions?

Technology adoption— What barriers keep rural households from adopting modern agricultural technologies? Can one-time input subsidies lead to sustained technology adoption in agriculture?

Microfinance— How important is imperfect personal identification for the efficiency of credit markets? How do formal savings facilities affect farm input use, income, and general well-being among rural households?

Behavioral economics— How do self-control problems affect financial decision-making? How can financial products and social policy interventions be designed to help overcome behavioral biases that hinder good decision-making?

Political economy— How do voters make decisions to sell their votes in elections? What simple interventions can reduce vote-selling?

Disasters and risk— What are the economic effects of disasters? How well are disaster losses buffered by international financial flows, such as foreign aid, migrants’ remittances, and FDI?

Human capital— How does windfall income affect household educational investment and child labor? How do health shocks early in life affect educational attainment and socioeconomic status in adulthood?

International trade— Does exporting improve firm performance?

Crime and corruption— Can monitoring by private firms help governments fight corruption?