UCL Department of Economics



I am an applied microeconomist whose primary fields are development and public. My Job Market Paper, `Insurance Networks and Endogenous Poverty Traps', investigates why households in developing countries invest so little. This is a puzzle, as high return investments are available, and households belong to risk sharing networks which have the resources needed to invest. This paper provides a novel explanation for this puzzle: informal risk sharing can crowd out investment. I extend the canonical model of limited commitment in risk sharing networks to allow for lumpy investment, and show that together these features generate a poverty trap. I verify key empirical predictions of the model using data from a large scale asset transfer program in 1400 Bangladeshi villages. My results highlight how capital transfer programs can be made more cost-effective by targeting communities at the threshold of the aggregate poverty trap.

Other work in my thesis explores (i) how one can use data on networks to understand social spillover effects, including in the presence of endogenous network formation and measurement error; (ii) how the trade-off between economic and cultural incentives determines whether heterogeneous communities, such as migrants to the US, choose to integrate or segregate; and (iii) the impact of migrants’ initial networks on later labour market outcomes.

Whilst studying for my PhD at University College London, I have also been working part-time at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. As part of that work I coauthored a number of policy reports and comments on environmental taxation in the UK, and more recently I have been involved in issues of Tax Compliance. Using data from HMRC (the UK tax office), I am investigating how tax audits affect long term tax reporting, and in future work how the effects of audits spillover onto coworkers, business partners, and family members.