Economics and Public Policy Seminar Series

Fall 2022 Seminar Series

Via Webex, all times ET

Thursday, September 22, 10:30 am
Harry Anthony Patrinos
Adviser, Office of the Chief Economist, Europe and Central Asia, World Bank

Title: “An Analysis of COVID-19 Student Learning Loss”
Abstract: COVID-19 caused significant disruption to the global education system. Early reviews
of the first wave of lockdowns and school closures suggested significant learning loss in a few
countries. A more recent and thorough analysis of recorded learning loss evidence documented
since the beginning of the school closures between March 2020 and March 2022 finds even
more evidence of learning loss. Most studies observed increases in inequality where certain
demographics of students experienced learning losses more significant than others. But there
are also outliers, countries that managed to limit the amount of loss. In 36 identified robust
studies, the majority find learning losses that amount to, on average, 0.17 of a standard
deviation, equivalent to roughly a 1/2 years’ worth of learning. This confirms that learning loss is
real and significant and has continued to grow after the first year of the covid-19 pandemic.

Thursday, October 13, 10:30 am 
Sabrin Beg
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Delaware

Sabrin Beg, Lerner College of Business & Economics.

Title: “Teacher Flexibility and School Productivity: Evidence from a Remedial Education
Program in India”

Abstract: Public education in developing countries is often deficient, leading to substantial gaps
that grow as students progress. However, there is a trade-off between ensuring uniformly high
standards and introducing reforms that allow teachers flexibility to introduce remedial content.
We randomly assign Class 9 students in 300-schools in Odisha, India to either T1) rigidly
defined remedial lessons that take time away from the curriculum, T2) teacher determined
remedial lessons, or T3) control. We test the demand for and response to these lessons and
program flexibility. We show that both interventions increased students test scores
equally—0.11SD, about 60 percent of a year of learning, and that the quality of implementation
was high in both arms. Remedial lesson benefitted students throughout the ability distribution.
We find no evidence that increased flexibility increased teacher shirking. Despite a perception
that flexibility would reduce service delivery, giving teachers additional flexibility did not hurt
learning gains likely because teachers have a low demand for flexibility and selected the more
regimented version as a default.

Wednesday, October 19, 12:00pm
Catherine L. Kling
Tisch University Professor, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management,
Cornell University

(joint with the Geography & Environmental Systems Department Seminar Series)

Title: “The Social Cost of Water Pollution”

Abstract: Nutrient pollution of water in the United States is a growing issue with excessive
nutrients in all 50 states. In this study, the authors develop an integrated assessment model for
nutrient pollution that spans the entire continental US and incorporates social damages related
to drinking water costs, recreational losses, aesthetic damages that reduce property values, and
nonuse values of rivers and streams. By quantifying these social costs, policy makers can
prioritize needed changes and budgets to improve social well-being.

Tuesday, November 15, 2:00 pm
Daniel Brent
Assistant Professor, Pennsylvania State University

Title: “Financial Literacy and Academic Outcomes”

Abstract: Outstanding student debt has almost doubled in the past decade to over $1.7 trillion.
Delayed graduation contributes to the student debt burden by increasing tuition payments
without any additional wage premium. Behavioral theory suggests that young adults are prone
to biases limiting their ability to connect short-run actions with long-run outcomes. We attempt to
correct these biases using a low-touch financial literacy intervention within a randomized
encouragement design at a large public university. We randomly invite and incentivize first-year
students to participate in an online tutorial connecting short-run academic success to long-run
debt obligations and examine differences in academic outcomes. The intervention increases
credits earned and GPA: treated students earn 0.55 more credits per semester and GPAs
increase by 0.08. We also find substantially larger effects for underrepresented minorities and
less-prepared students. The intervention puts these at-risk students on track to graduate on
time, where they would otherwise fall behind. Applying a simple benefit-cost formula, our results
suggest that spending one dollar incentivizing financial literacy in this context leads to tuition
savings of $115.

Spring 2022 Seminar Series

Via Webex

Tuesday February 22, 2-3pm
Jamein P. Cunningham
Assistant Professor , Department of Policy Analysis and Management and the Department of Economics, Cornell University


“The Impact of Affirmative Action Litigation on Police Killings of Civilians”
Abstract: Although research has shown that court-ordered hiring quotas increase the number of minority police officers in litigated cities, there has been little insight into how workforce diversity, or lack thereof, may impact police violence. Using an event-study framework, we find that the threat of affirmative action litigation reduces police killings of non-white civilians in the long-run. In addition, we find evidence of lower arrest rates for non-white civilians and more diverse police departments 25 years after litigation. Our results highlight the vital role that federal interventions have in addressing police behavior and the use of lethal force.

Tuesday March 8, 12-1pm
Oyebola M. Okunogbe
Economist, World Bank Development Research Group, World Bank

Recording available upon request.  Please email

“Becoming Legible to the State: The Role of Detection and Enforcement Capacity in Tax Compliance”
Abstract: Tax revenue in many low-income countries is inadequate for funding government investment in infrastructure and public services. This paper examines two dimensions of low state capacity that hinder tax collection: the inability to ascertain the tax base (detection capacity) and the inability to enforce unpaid liabilities (enforcement capacity). A randomized experiment with Liberian property owners finds that using identifying information from a newly developed property database to alert property owners that their noncompliance has been detected quadruples the tax payment rate, but only when the notice includes details on the penalties for noncompliance. A second experiment finds a further increase in compliance from signaling greater enforcement probability to delinquent property owners. These results highlight the importance of investments in both detection and enforcement capacity.


Thursday April 21, 2-3pm
Amanda Deerfield 
Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, St. Mary’s College of Maryland


“Entrepreneurship and Regulatory Voids:  The Case of Ridesharing”
Abstract: Formal institutions, e.g., regulations, are considered crucial determinants of entrepreneurship, but what enables regulatory change when there is a regulatory void, meaning entrepreneurship clashes with existing regulations? Drawing on public choice theory, we hypothesize that regulatory freedom facilitates the introduction of legislation to fill such voids. We test this hypothesis using unique data documenting the time for ridesharing to become legalized at the state level across the United States following its local (and often illegal) rollout. Results suggest states with greater regulatory freedom passed ridesharing legislation quicker, highlighting an underappreciated way that extant regulatory freedom facilitates the accommodation of entrepreneurship.

Fall 2021 Seminar Series

Via Webex

“School-Based Healthcare and Absenteeism: Evidence from Telemedicine”
Sarah Komisarow (Duke University)
Tuesday, September 21, 12:00pm EST

“Effect of Health Insurance Premium Changes on Labour Supply: Evidence from Rwanda”
Emmanuel Nshakira-Rukundo (University of Bonn)
Thursday, October 28, 10:00am EST

“Do Police Make Too Many Arrests?”
Felipe Goncalves (University of California, Los Angeles)
Wednesday, November 17, 2:00pm EST

“Environmental Justice and Oil & Gas Development in Colorado”
Katherine Dickinson (Colorado School of Public Health, CU Anschutz)
Tuesday, December 7, 2:00pm EST

Spring 2021 Seminar Series

Via Webex

“Understanding Climate Damages: Consumption Versus Investment”
Stephie Fried (Arizona State University)
Friday, February 19, 11:00 am

“A New Method to Value Amenities with High-Frequency Data: Evidence from Crime in Chicago”
Marcus Casey (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Thursday, March 4th, 3:00 pm

“American or Not American? The Role of Race, Immigration and Partisanship in Shaping Attitudes about Disaster Assistance in the United States”
Isabella Alcañiz (University of Maryland)
Wednesday, March 24, 2:00 pm

“Omnia Juncta in Uno: Foreign Powers and Trademark Protection in Shanghai’s Concession Era”
Maggie X. Chen (George Washington University)
Friday, April 9, 12:00pm
Recording available upon request.

“Dirty People Doing Dirty Work: The Role of Power and Context in Cleaning Toilets”
Ghazal Mir Zulfiqar (Lahore University of Management Sciences)
Thursday, April 22, 10:00am

Hosted by the Department of Economics, the School of Public Policy, and the Center for Social Science Scholarship.