– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

Michele Tertilt is a Professor of Economics at the University of Mannheim in Germany. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and worked as an Assistant Professor at Stanford University before joining Mannheim. Michele is a Managing Editor at the Review of Economic Studies and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Development Economics. She is also a Research Affiliate at BREAD and the European Development Research Network (EUDN) and a Research Fellow at CEPR.

Michele’s research concentrates on macroeconomics with a special focus on development and intra-family interactions. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies.

One of her papers, jointly written with Matthias Doepke, that I really like is “Women’s Liberation: What’s in it for men?” “The nineteenth century witnessed dramatic improvements in the legal rights of married women. Given that they took place long before women gained the right to vote, these changes amounted to a voluntary renouncement of power by men.” In this paper, they “investigate men’s incentives for sharing power with women.” They “show that men face a tradeoff between the rights they want for their own wives (namely none) and the rights of other women in the economy. Men prefer other men’s wives to have rights because men care about their own daughters and because an expansion of women’s rights increases educational investments in children.” They “show that men may agree to relinquish some of their power once technological change increases the importance of human capital.” They corroborate this “argument with historical evidence on the expansion of women’s rights in England and the United States.”

For more information about Michele and her research, check out her website.




– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

Eliana La Ferrara is a Professor of Economics at Bocconi University, Italy. She received a Ph.D. degree from Harvard University and is currently the Vice President of the European Economic Association, a Fellow at BREAD and CEPR, and is affiliated with several other organizations. She serves on the editorial boards of Italian Economic Journal, Journal of African Economies, The World Bank Economic Review, and World Development.

Eliana’s research interests lie in the fields of development economics, political economics, and public economics. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

I find almost all of Eliana’s research super interesting, but here I want to highlight just one of her papers that shows how media influences even very private decisions such as how many children people have. With co-authors Alberto Chong and Suzanne Duryea, Eliana estimates the impact of Brazilian soap operas—telenovelas—on fertility outcomes. These soap operas portray families that are much smaller than in reality. Their “content analysis of 115 novelas aired…in the two time slots with highest audience between 1965 and 1999 reveals that 72 percent of the main female characters (age 50 and lower) had no children at all, and 21 percent had only one child. This is in marked contrast with the prevalent fertility rates in Brazilian society over the same period.” They exploit “differences in the timing of entry into different markets of Rede Globo, the main novela producer, and find that women living in areas covered by Globo have significantly lower fertility.” They also find that “parents living in areas that are reached by Globo are significantly more likely to name their children after the main characters of novelas aired in the year in which the children are born,” suggesting that the effects are driven by novelas and not just television.

For more information about Eliana and her research, check out her website.



  • Does Rosie like Riveting? A new NBER working paper on occupational tastes of men and women. The “results suggest that women may care more about job content, and this is a possible factor preventing them from entering some male-dominated professions.”







– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

Oriana Bandiera is a Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. She received a Ph.D. degree from Boston College and BSc/ MSc degrees from Bocconi University. Oriana is also the Director of STICERD and a co-director at IGC and CEPR. She is a co-editor of JOLE and Economica and serves on the editorial boards of EJ, JDE, JEEA, and JEL.

Oriana’s research analyses organizations and labor markets in different settings. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies.

One of her papers that I really like is “Social Incentives in the Workplace,”(joint work with Iwan Barankay and Imran Rasul) where she tests if workers’ behavior is affected by the presence of those they are socially tied to. They find that “compared to when she has no social ties with her co-workers, a given worker’s productivity is significantly higher when she works alongside friends who are more able than her, and significantly lower when she works with friends who are less able than her. The distribution of worker ability is such that the net effect of social incentives on the firm’s aggregate performance is positive. The results suggest that firms can exploit social incentives as an alternative to monetary incentives to motivate workers.”

For more information about Oriana and her research, check out her website. Oriana will be one of the speakers at the Human and Economic Development Seminar at BC this semester.




– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

I was born in the Eighties; so audio cassettes, VHS tapes, and floppy disks were a big part of my life at some point. And now, these receptacles kill time in dusty boxes with their songs, movies, and data, well-aware that the world has moved on. Luckily, these sort of technical changes/ innovations offer empirical industrial organization researchers, like Julie Mortimer, excellent opportunities to learn about firm behavior, pricing strategies, and so on.

Julie Mortimer is a tenured Associate Professor in the Economics department at Boston College. She received a Ph.D. degree from UCLA and B.A. from Carleton College. Before joining Boston College in 2011, she worked at the Harvard Economics Department for several years. Julie is also a Research Associate of the NBER. Julie has served on the editorial board of the International Journal of Industrial Organization and is currently a member of the Journal of Economic Literature’s editorial board.

Julie’s research interests lie in the field of empirical industrial organization. Among other things, she has examined the introduction of DVDs, the video rental industry, copyright infringement and enforcement in the market for digital images, and vertical rebates in the chocolate industry in her papers. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies.

Her paper, “Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances,”(co-authored with Chris Nosko and Alan Sorensen) examines “the negative impact of file-sharing on recorded music sales and offsetting implications for live concert performances.” While their “study focuses on the music industry, the economic phenomena [they] analyze are clearly relevant in many other markets. For example, digital copies of movies may cut into home video sales, but may also lead to higher demand for movie-related merchandise. An author’s royalties from book sales may be reduced if the book is digitally shared, but the increased readership may lead to profits on the lecture circuit. Mass sharing of a pirated software program may displace paid licenses for that program, but may also generate increased sales of complementary physical products or technical support services.” They “find that file-sharing reduces album sales but increases live performance revenues for small artists, perhaps through increased awareness. The impact on live performance revenues for large, well-known artists is negligible.”

For more information about Julie and her research, check out her website.



– 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.



– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.-

One of my daydreams is to write an awesome economic history paper. We’ll see when that comes true, but meanwhile, let me tell you about Leah Boustan. Leah is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at UCLA. Her interests span economic history, labor economics, and urban economics. Her research focuses on the Great Black Migration from the American South during and after WW II and the mass migration from Europe to the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In her 2010 QJE paper, Leah analyzes post-WW II suburbanization and “white flight” in the United States. “The distinctive American pattern—in which blacks live in cities and whites in suburbs—was enhanced by a large black migration from the rural South” during World War II and the subsequent decades. “Between 1940 and 1970, four million black migrants left the South, increasing the black population share in northern and western cities from 4% in 1940 to 16% in 1970. Over the same period, the median nonsouthern city lost 10% of its white population.” Leah shows that “white departures from central cities were, in part, a response to black in-migration. In every decade, cities that received a larger flow of black migrants also lost a larger number of white residents.” She estimates that each black arrival led to 2.7 white departures and “rules out an indirect effect on housing prices as a sole cause.” Reminds me of the contrasting experience of modern San Francisco.

Leah is also a Research Associate of the NBER, a Research Associate of the California Center for Population Research, and an External Research Fellow of the Center for Research and Analysis of Migration, University College London. She is currently on the editorial boards of the American Economic Review, Explorations in Economic History, Historical Methods, Journal of the European Economic Association, and the Journal of Urban Economics. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and A.B. from Princeton University.

For more interesting papers and some cool black and white photographs from the past check out Leah’s website.


Spotlight: Claudia Olivetti


Today I am starting a new feature on the blog called Spotlight, that will feature the work of female economists, one at a time. First up, my colleague at Boston College, Claudia Olivetti.

Claudia is a Professor in the Department of Economics at Boston College since 2015. Before joining us at BC, she spent 14 years at Boston University in the Economics department. She is a Research Associate of the NBER and a former Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University. Claudia is currently on the editorial boards of the European Economic Review, Labour Economics, and LABOUR. She received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania and Laurea in Statistics and Economics from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” (Italy).

Claudia’s research focuses on the economics of family and gender, economic history, and macro/labor economics. One of my favorite papers of hers (with Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli) is Mothers and Sons (QJE 2004), which shows that “the growing presence of a new type of man—one brought up in a family in which the mother worked—has been a significant factor in the increase in female labor force participation over time.” The paper shows that “wives of men whose mothers worked are themselves significantly more likely to work. Growing up with a working mother either influenced a man’s preferences for a working wife or directly made him a better partner (say, by increasing his ability to cooperate and be productive in household work) for a working woman.”

Claudia’s recent JPE paper (with Stefania Albanesi), Gender Roles and Medical Progress, shows that the improvements in maternal health and the diffusion of infant formula during 1930-1960 in the United States enabled women to reconcile work and motherhood, and “the decline in the burden of maternal conditions can account for approximately 50 percent of the increase in both married women’s labor force participation and fertility” during this period.

For more interesting papers, check out Claudia’s website.




Indian athlete, Dutee Chand

(Image courtesy: The New York Times)

+ The humiliating practice of testosterone-testing female athletes was recently challenged by an Indian athlete, Dutee Chand. In its decision, “the Court of Arbitration for Sport sus­pended the policy until July 2017 to give the I.A.A.F. time to prove that the degree of competitive advantage conferred by naturally high testosterone in women was comparable to men’s advantage.” Meanwhile, Dutee has qualified for the Rio Olympics. For more about the history of this murky aspect of sports, read this article in the NYTimes.

+ A new paper examines the effect of gender-neutral tenure-extension policies in US universities. The authors find that these well-intentioned policies unintentionally “advanced the careers of male economists, often at women’s expense.”

+ Another new paper by Heather Sarsons, a Ph.D. student at Harvard Kennedy School, finds that female co-authors receive less credit than male co-authors in economics.

+ Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant describe the evidence on women pulling other women down. Again, it turns out, that women are judged more harshly than men for the same behavior. Here Lena Dunham chats with Sheryl about similar things.

+ Freakonomics discusses what gender barriers are made of.