Research

Here is a link to my Research Statement.


Abstract: Many recent studies show that small businesses leave profitable investment opportunities unexploited. This suggests that interventions designed to improve managerial capital, such as business training, could be effective. Traditional business training, however, has had limited success on both the adoption of new business practices and on the subsequent performance of the micro-enterprise. A promising alternative are interventions targeted around simple heuristics such as separating business and personal cash, or focusing attention on profitable business practices like proper change. Motivated by this, we conduct a field experiment with small business owners in urban Ethiopia featuring two novel interventions: (1) a poster to be conveniently placed in their business that contains highly simplified, "rule of thumb" management information, and (2) a wallet to facilitate the separation of business and personal accounts. The group receiving the poster reported increased investment and profit. Just under 60% of people actively used the wallet, but effects on profits were imprecisely estimated. We conclude that the content from a business training can be cost-effectively delivered to micro-entrepreneurs and that the lack of access to simplified and convenient management information can partially explain why profitable investments commonly go unrealized.   

Works in Progress:

"Market Linkages, Trade Costs, and Technology Adoption in Rural Tanzania" with Shilpa Aggarwal, Patrick Olobo, Jonathan Robinson, and Alan Spearot

Abstract: This project seeks to evaluate the role of supply networks in developing countries, particularly in rural markets. Specifically, the project examines how the density and quality of roads affect the prices of inputs and output, both through the natural costs of geography as well as the actions of intermediaries. The sectors at the center of the project are inorganic fertilizer, a key input for agriculture, and maize, a staple crop in Sub-Saharan Africa. Based in Tanzania, the project has three main questions: (1) How much do transportation costs contribute to spatial price dispersion, and how much do they increase input prices paid, and decrease output prices received by farmers? (2) How do transportation costs affect entry of intermediaries in input and output markets and how does selection of markets by intermediaries affect input and output prices? (3) How do transportation costs affect technology adoption decisions? In particular, to what extent do these inefficiencies make it unprofitable to invest in chemical fertilizer? 

Working Papers:
 
"Myopic Loss Aversion and Multi-Dimensional Framing: A Lab-in-the-Field Experiment with Micro-Entrepreneurs in Ethiopia" with Sameh Habib and Biruk Tekle

Abstract: We try to understand the puzzle of low business reinvestment through the behavioral finance concept of ``myopic loss aversion'', which is the combination of mental accounting and loss aversion. This could be dampening shop owners ability to grow as their aversion to loss and narrow temporal bracketing (short-sighted) lead to under-investment in risky products. Using data from a lab-in-the-field experiment with 199 retail shops in Ethiopia, we first replicate Gneezy and Potters (1997) and find that our sample does not display any tendencies of myopic loss aversion when bracketing the traditional risky gamble across time. Motivated by recent theoretical work from Blumberg and Kremer (2014) along with anecdotal evidence from discussions with small shops, we then extend the experimental design to offer the same gambles packaged as a cross-sectional, portfolio of investments. We find that respondents willingly take on more risk when looking across a basket of products, suggesting that tendencies of loss aversion could be mitigated by adjustments to the frame over which investments are made.

Policy Reports:

"Anthropometric Effects from a Random Sample of IFAD Projects" with Alessandra Garbero. IFAD Working Paper

"Quasi-Experimental Evidence of IFAD Programs on Poverty Dynamics using Synthetic Panels" with Valentina Brailovskaya and Alessandra Garbero. IFAD Working Paper

Books:
Applied Impact Evaluations Using Stata: Compendium of Learning Guides (with Paul Gertler, Stanislao Maldonado, and Alexandra Orsola-Vidal). To be published by the Inter-American Development Bank Press.

Consulting:
Impact Assessment Cluster, Statistics and Strategy Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) 
January 2014 - Present

Research Division, Save the Children - Somalia
September 2016 - Present

Research Experience:
Impact Evaluation Specialist, Statistics and Strategy Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) 
Rome, Italy, (on leave from UCSC) Winter 2015

Field Coordinator for Prof. Michael Kramer (Harvard), Prof. Jonathan Robinson (UCSC), and Prof. Frank Shilbach (MIT) 
Busia, Kenya, June - Sept. 2013

Research Assistant to Professor Jonathan Robinson (UCSC)
Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Summer 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016

Research Intern, BRAC Uganda Research and Evaluation Unit 
Kampala, Uganda, Feb. - May 2011