Assistant Professor of Economics
Weatherhead School of Management
11119 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44106
Office Phone: 216-368-4294
I work in applied microeconomics. My areas of interest include economic decision making in social contexts, the evolution of language and culture, and personal finance. I am currently studying how beliefs about ability and luck influence social preferences, how people decide how much house they can afford to buy, the role of economic development in changing investments in language abilities, how ethnolinguistic groups evolve, and the effects of incentives on health care delivery in developing countries. I completed my Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University in June, 2007. My training at Harvard was in development economics, labor economics, and economic history. I also have an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Chicago.
Mental Accounts and the Mutability of Altruism: An Experiment with Online Workers
Abstract Altruism is sensitive to the availability of even thin excuses for being more selfish (Benabou and Tirole, 2011). Do mental accounts, which associate sources of income with their appropriate uses, provide such excuses? I conduct a framed field experiment in which participants accrue 1) earned income from a real-effort task and 2) windfall income, then make a sharing choice. The marginal willingness to share is U-shaped in the fraction of income from the earnings account. Participants pay selective attention to the account with the largest balance and ignore the smaller one and the total. They share less as a result.
Are the World's Languages Consolidating? The Dynamics and Distribution of Language Populations
Abstract Scholars have long conjectured that the return to knowing a language increases with the number of speakers. Recent work argues that long-run economic and political integration accentuate this advantage, leading larger languages to increase their population share. I show that, to the contrary, language size and growth are uncorrelated for languages with >35,000 speakers. I incorporate this finding into an evolutionary model of language population dynamics. The model's steady-state follows a power law and precisely fits the size distribution of the 1,900 languages with >35,000 speakers. Simulations suggest the extinction of 40% of languages with less than $35,000 speakers within 100 years.
Industrialization and Bilingualism in India
(Journal of Human Resources, Forthcoming)
Abstract: Many of the world's poorest people live in countries where hundreds of languages are spoken. Languages bind ethnic groups together and are central to cultural identity. However, language differences create barriers to economic exchange, such as employment, that can create economic incentives to learn a second language. Economic development can thus drive cultural change. I study how the growth of industrial employment increased bilingualism in India between 1931 and 1961. I exploit industrial clustering and sectoral demand growth for identification. The effect on bilingualism was strongest among local linguistic minorities and in linguistically fragmented areas. Language learning, rather than migration or assimilation, was the main mechanism. My results shed new light on human capital investment in developing economies and on the long-run evolution of languages.
Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam’s Global Gathering
With Asim Ijaz Khwaja and Michael Kremer
(Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 2009)
Abstract: We estimate the impact on pilgrims of performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Our method compares successful and unsuccessful applicants in a lottery used by Pakistan to allocate Hajj visas. Pilgrim accounts stress that the Hajj leads to a feeling of unity with fellow Muslims, but outsiders have sometimes feared that this could be accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims. We find that participation in the Hajj increases observance of global Islamic practices such as prayer and fasting while decreasing participation in localized practices and beliefs such as the use of amulets and dowry. It increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic sects and leads to more favorable attitudes toward women, including greater acceptance of female education and employment. Increased unity within the Islamic world is not accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims. Instead, Hajjis show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions. The evidence suggests that these changes are more a result of exposure to and interaction with Hajjis from around the world, rather than religious instruction or a changed social role of pilgrims upon return.
||The Economist, CNN, Slate, Harvard Kennedy School, HKS Impact, Islam Online, The National, Brookings
||David Clingingsmith, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, and Michael Kremer, "Mecca and Moderation," International Herald Tribune, 20 May 2008.
Deindustrialization in 18th and 19th Century India: Mughal Decline, Climate Shocks and British Industrial Ascent
With Jeffrey Williamson
(Explorations in Economic History, Vol 45, Issue 3)
Abstract: India was a major player in the world export market for textiles in the early 18th century, but by the middle of the 19th century it had lost all of its export market and much of its domestic market, primarily to Britain. The ensuing deindustrialization was greatest c1750-c1860. We ask how much of India's deindustrialization was due to local supply-side forces -- such as political fragmentation and a rising incidence of drought, and how much to world price shocks. An open, three-sector neo-Ricardian model organizes our thinking and new relative price database implements the empirical analysis. We find local
supply side forces were important from as early as 1700. The size of Indian deindustrialization is then assessed by comparison with other parts of the periphery.
Winner of the Explorations Prize for best paper in Explorations in Economic History in 2008
Work in Progress (predraft stage)
Debt Delinquency among First-Time Homebuyers with Daniel Hartley and Justin Sydnor
Unhappiness, Depression, and Income: Evidence from U.S. Panel Data
Empathy, Political Identity, and Altruism: An Experiment with Online Workers
Conspicuous Consumption, Status, and the Value of Looking Good
Self-Serving Bias, Luck, and Redistribution with Justin Sydnor and Mark Votruba