Contact Information

Email: aa4860@tc.columbia.edu


Office Contact Information

Teachers College Columbia University (Incoming Fall 2021)
525 West 120th St, New York, NY-10027

My CV


About Me

I am a development economist focused on quantitative research and evidence-based policy making. My research focuses on educational investments in developing countries, child labor substitution, occupational identity, and dissonance in beliefs to returns to education.

Efforts to promote school progression, reduce dropout rates at all levels of education and improve learning proficiencies raise new theoretical and empirical questions on the decisions of educational investments in children. My dissertation research is derived from field work of how low-income parents make educational investments for their children with an emphasis on child labor substitutability and occupational identity.

More details about my research can be found on my research page.






Research

Job Market Paper

Educational Investments of Low-Income Households: The Role of Parental Occupational Identity and Substitutability (Thesis/Job Market Paper)

Poor parents face difficult trade-offs when investing in their children's education. This paper studies how low-income urban households in Southern India, where child labor is a concern, make educational investments for their children. First, I build a model that shows how educational investments are shaped by the possibility of children substituting labor for their parents. Second, I collect parent surveys, child surveys, and student-level administrative data from schools and construct a linked dataset. Third, I examine the relationship between educational investments and several pertinent factors, with an emphasis on child labor substitution and the strength of occupational identity. I find that monetary and time investments in education are negatively correlated with both child substitution and the strength of a parent’s occupational identity. Parents who have high aspirations for their children invest significantly more time in their children’s education. Children who are highly motivated spend more time in school-and study-related activities. Also, children for whom occupation is important for their own identity perform better at school. I propose plausible mechanisms underlying these patterns. My findings highlight the role these unconventional variables play in understanding the barriers to educational investments made by low-income households.

In Progress

Educational Investments, Occupational Identity and Substitutability : Implication of Dissonance Beliefs

In this paper, I extend the idea of cognitive dissonance to a particular setting of dissonance in beliefs about returns to education between parent and child. This paper examines the role of mother and child's beliefs about returns to education on the educational investments made by the household. Using a survey data on mother and child’s beliefs to returns to various levels of education, I find that mothers who believe the marginal returns from college are higher spend significantly more time on their children's education. Further, I discuss how the presence of dissonance between the mother and child’s beliefs regarding returns from college and marginal returns from college affects investments. The findings show that households in which mothers value the returns from college more than their children the mothers spend significantly more time on their children's education. And in the households where children value the marginal returns from college more than their mothers the children spend significantly more time on their education.

Occupational Identity in One Of A Kind Occupational Type : A Qualitative Study of Domestic Workers

Using a descriptive approach, in this paper, I study the educational investment decisions made by mothers who are engaged primarily in domestic work occupations. I collect parent surveys, child surveys of low- income households in Southern India on a sample of mothers who are domestic workers. Using qualitative methods, I describe the socio-economic characteristics and empowerment of these women. Using a novel approach of an identity game, I evaluate whether domestic work as an occupation matters to self-image of mothers and how the children of domestic workers perceive their identity. Early results show that 43% of domestic workers in the sample chose occupation as a primary source of their identity and 68% of the children of domestic workers chose occupation as their primary identity. The study will have policy inferences as internationally there is growing traction to both regularize and improve welfare of this labor force.

Other Research Projects

Asymmetric Dominance Eliminates Hyperbolic Discounting in Intertemporal Choice (with Barry Sopher)

In this study we conduct an experiment to test the asymmetric dominance hypothesis in the context of financial decision making. An asymmetric dominance effect occurs if an added alternative that is similar to, but dominated by, one of the existing alternatives in a choice problem, systematically leads to the original alternative that dominates the new alternative being chosen more frequently. We focus on choices over alternative income streams that differ both in timing (relative amount received earlier or later) and in quantity (total amount to be received). Specifically, choice alternatives differ according to whether more money is received earlier (“time dominant”) or more money is received in total (“quantity dominant”). “Decoy” alternatives that resemble either the time dominant or quantity dominant alternative, but which are dominated by the respective original alternatives, are introduced to check for an asymmetric dominance effect. In a baseline treatment with no decoys, we find the commonly observed violation of stationarity in intertemporal choice, which has been interpreted as being due to hyperbolic or quasi-hyperbolic discounting of payment streams. That is, there appears to be present bias in choice behavior. Treatments that include either time-dominant or quantity- dominant decoys do not display systematic departures from constant discounting as in the baseline treatment. Instead, violations of stationarity are either unsystematic, or are systematically in the direction of bias toward future payments when an immediate payment is available. Thus, the introduction of dominated alternatives does change choice behavior, in a manner that is broadly more consistent with constant discounting, but not in a manner consistent with the asymmetric dominance hypothesis.

Teaching

Microeconomics Honors

Fall 2012 - Present

Economic Development

Fall 2014 & Spring 2017

Intermediate Microeconomics

Summer 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2014 & Spring 2015

CV

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