– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.-
Rema Hanna, besides being one of the nicest economists, is the Jeffrey Cheah Professor of South East Asia Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is a development economist with a “special interest in understanding how to make government services “work” for the poor in developing countries. She has worked on large-scale field projects with governments and non-profits to understand how to improve safety net systems, reduce bureaucratic absenteeism, and reduce corruption.”
Rema also has several papers on environmental issues. One of my favorites is her 2014 AER paper with Michael Greenstone. “Using the most comprehensive developing country dataset ever compiled on air and water pollution and environmental regulations, the paper assesses India’s environmental regulations.” They find a large impact of the air pollution regulations, but no effect of the water pollution regulations. They “cautiously conclude that the striking difference in the effectiveness of the air and water pollution regulations reflects a greater demand for improvements in air quality by India’s citizens.”
Rema is also a Co-Director of the Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) research program at Harvard’s Center for International Development, the Scientific Director for South East Asia at J-PAL, a Research Associate at the NBER, an affiliate of BREAD, and a faculty affiliate at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. She is currently on the editorial boards of the Review of Economic Studies, the Review of Economics and Statistics, and the Journal of Human Resources. Rema received a Ph.D. degree from MIT and B.S. in Public Policy from Cornell University.
For more details on her research, check out Rema’s website.