Have an ordinal dependent variable? Use this robustness test.

Ordinal variables are everywhere. Data providing information about happiness, levels of customer satisfaction, employees’ satisfaction, mental stress, psychological well-being, societal trust, and other important variables are now regularly collected and analyzed by national governments, large multinational companies, and researchers. However, because these data are not directly observable or quantitatively measurable, they are thus not measured on objective cardinal units. This presents a key challenge when performing standard quantitative analysis.

Continue reading

“The Coronavirus Pandemic and Food Security: Evidence from Mali”—Forthcoming

My paper, co-authored with Guigonan Serge Adjognon and Aly Sanoh, on changes in experienced food security associated with the coronavirus pandemic is now forthcoming at Food Policy. In the paper, we combine pre-pandemic survey data with follow-up phone survey data from Mali, and find some interesting—and perhaps surprising—patterns in experienced food security within Mali. Here is the abstract:

Continue reading

Higher Aspirations, Less Investment? Some New Experimental Evidence

New research by David McKenzie, Aakash Mohpal, and Dean Yang finds that exogenously increased financial aspirations lead to less borrowing and business investments two years later.

This finding is consistent with existing evidence, using observational data, of an inverted U-shaped relationship between the aspirations gap and ‘future oriented’ behavior such as investments (by me), education spending (by Phillip Ross), on saving (by Janzen et al.), and existing theoretical work (by Genicot and Ray). It is an important finding because while aspirations may be an important factor that can lead to increased ‘future oriented’ behavior, increasing aspirations by themselves may not necessarily be beneficial if setting aspirations ‘too high’ can lead to frustration and possibly a behavioral poverty trap.

Continue reading

“Aspirations and Investments in Rural Myanmar”—Forthcoming

In 2014, while I was completing my M.S. degree at MSU, I worked as a research assistant on a data collection project in Mon State Myanmar. As part of this work, I designed a module to be included in a larger household survey that aimed to measure the hopes and aspirations of respondents. That initial work, which was largely a data validation effort, was published in the Journal of Development Studies in 2018.

I am now very happy to report that my paper investigating the relationship between aspirations and investment choices, using these data, is now forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Inequality. Here is the abstract:

Continue reading

“How Much Does the Cardinal Treatment of Ordinal Variables Matter?”—Forthcoming

I am very excited to share that my paper, “How Much Does the Cardinal Treatment of Ordinal Variables Matter? An Empirical Investigation” is now (finally) forthcoming in the journal Political Analysis. I wrote the first draft of this paper in my 2nd-year paper class at the University of Minnesota. So, publishing this paper in the official methods journal of the American Political Science Association is particularly rewarding.

Continue reading

COVID-19 and Trends in Conflict Globally

I am happy to announce that a short research note titled “COVID-19 and Conflict,” co-authored with Colette Salemi, is now out in World Development. It is a modest study, but one that we hope will inspire and motivate future research relating to pandemic-related disruptions and inter-group conflict. Here are some highlights:

Continue reading

Testing and Correcting for Endogeneity with Discontinuities and No Exclusion Restriction

Applied microeconomists, like us, spend a lot of our time thinking (…erm… worrying) about the bias from endogeneity embedded in our empirical estimates. That is why the work of Carolina Caetano (and co-authors), in methodological papers published in Econometrica and the Journal of Econometrics seems so exciting to us.

Continue reading

Does covid-19 raise the risk of violent conflict?

In a short article on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog, my colleague Colette Salemi writes about our research on trends in conflict events and the coronavirus pandemic around the world. Basically, we really lack sufficient evidence to make credible claims about the relationship between the pandemic and violent conflict and simple time-series analysis highlights that the relationship may be highly variable across contexts.

Continue reading