Place of Origin
MS Economics (2011, summa cum laude)
BA Economics (2008, summa cum laude)
Fields of Interest
Applied Microeconomics, Political Economy, Developement Economics
Entered program in 2011
Expected graduation June 2017
Chasing the Key Player, a Network Approach to Myanmar Civil War (Job Market Paper)
Abstract: Governments in weak states often face multiple armed groups opposing their monopoly of violence and have to decide which group to attack. In this study, I investigate the Myanmar army's choice to attack armed groups within the country's frontier over time. The model predicts which rebel groups the Myanmar army attacks to reduce the fighting capacity of all armed groups in the country. The key insight of the model is that armed groups' fighting capacity is increasing in their allies and decreasing in their enemies. This implies that when the Myanmar army attacks an armed group, it also weakens the group's allies. Hence, the Myanmar army is more likely to attack rebel groups that are more central in the network of armed groups. I collect data on rebel groups' locations, alliances and enmities to parametrize the model and derive predictions for the period 1989-2015. I then test these predictions using geo-referenced information on armed groups involved in conflict against the Myanmar army over time. Since past (and expected) conflicts might affect a group's alliances and enmities, I employ an empirical model of link formation using variables that are not correlated with past and previous conflict. That is, I predict a network structure from which I can pursue an instrumental variable strategy. Results show that one standard deviation increase in a group's centrality increases the likelihood of conflict with the Myanmar's army by 1.3 percentage points (over a baseline yearly conflict probability of 6.4%). This result is robust to variables that measure the opportunity cost of conflict such as rainfall and commodities' shocks, thus identifying a new channel through which conflict occurs.
Horizontal vs. Vertical Transmission of Fertility Preferences
Abstract: I study the cultural transmission of fertility preferences among second generation immigrant women observed in U.S. Censuses from 1910 to 1970. As hypothesized by Bisin Verdier (2001), the transmission of preferences can be "vertical" or "horizontal". Using a unique source documenting the variation in fertility behavior in Europe before and after the first demographic transition (1830-1970), I unpack the influence of parents (measured by source-country fertility at the time of departure from Europe) versus the influence of peers (measured by fertility of the same-age cohorts living in the source country and transmitted by same-age recent immigrants). I find that the transmission mechanism is crucially affected by the number of foreign born immigrant peers living in the same MSA. On one hand, the "vertical" channel of transmission is stronger in places where there are few newly arrived foreign born immigrant couples from the same source countries. On the other hand, fertility choices of second generation women are strongly correlated with marital fertility choices measured over peer cohorts in the sources countries whenever they live in MSAs densely populated by recently arrived immigrants.
Pecunia Non Olet. Loan Outcomes and Firm Identity: Evidence from a Field Experiment
(with Stefano Fiorin)
Impact of a Smartphone Application on Health Literacy
(with Russell Toth)
Peaceful and Violent Power Consolidation: Evidence from Myanmar
Abstract: This paper studies the process of state formation in Myanmar. Using a newly collected dataset of conflict events and ceasefire deals between the Myanmar Army and various armed groups in the country, I study how rebels' characteristics affect the Myanmar army's choice of weakening them peacefully or through military conflict from 1988 onward. In line with the theoretical predictions of Powell (2012, 2013), I find empirical evidence that heterogeneity in armed groups' resources and military ability affect the Myanmar Army's consolidation decisions. Namely, groups whose ethnic homeland lack resources and / or are unable to resist sustained offensives because of their limited military capacity are more likely to be peacefully absorbed by the Myanmar army. Moreover, consolidation policies take time: only three armed groups out of the forty-five active in 1988 can be said to be fully disarmed by 2015 while almost twenty of them keep playing a role as militias linked to the Myanmar army.