Publications by Year: 2017

Hanna, Rema, and Shing-yi Wang. 2017. “Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service: Evidence from India.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 9 (3): 262-290. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Students in India who cheat on a simple laboratory task are more likely to prefer public sector jobs. This paper shows that cheating on this task predicts corrupt behavior by civil servants, implying that it is a meaningful predictor of future corruption. Students who demonstrate pro-social preferences are less likely to prefer government jobs, while outcomes on an explicit game and attitudinal measures to measure corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. A screening process that chooses high-ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption. The findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption.
Hanna, Rema, Benjamin A. Olken, and Gabriel Kreindler. 2017. “Citywide effects of high-occupancy vehicle restrictions: Evidence from “three-in-one” in Jakarta.” Science 357 (6346): 89-93. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Widespread use of single-occupancy cars often leads to traffic congestion. Using anonymized traffic speed data from Android phones collected through Google Maps, we investigated whether high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) policies can combat congestion. We studied Jakarta’s “three-in-one” policy, which required all private cars on two major roads to carry at least three passengers during peak hours. After the policy was abruptly abandoned in April 2016, delays rose from 2.1 to 3.1 minutes per kilometer (min/km) in the morning peak and from 2.8 to 5.3 min/km in the evening peak. The lifting of the policy led to worse traffic throughout the city, even on roads that had never been restricted or at times when restrictions had never been in place. In short, we find that HOV policies can greatly improve traffic conditions.


Hanna, Rema, and Iqbal Dhaliwal. 2017. “The devil is in the details: The successes and limitations of bureaucratic reform in India.” Journal of Development Economics 107 (January 2017): 1-21. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Using a biometric technology to monitor the attendance of public health workers in India resulted in a 15 percent increase in staff presence, particularly for lower-level staff. The monitoring program led to a reduction in low-birth weight babies, highlighting the importance of improving provider presence. But, despite the government initiating this reform, there was ultimately a low demand by the government to use the higher quality attendance data available in real time to enforce their existing human resource policies (e.g. leave or salary deductions) due to logistical challenges and a not unrealistic fear of generating staff discord or increase in staff attrition, especially among doctors, who showed the least improvement in attendance. While we observed some gains from this type of monitoring program, technological solutions by themselves will not improve attendance of government staff without a willingness to use the data generated to enforce existing penalties.
Khwaja, Asim Ijaz, Tahir Andrabi, and Jishnu Das. 2017. “Report Cards: The Impact of Providing School and Child Test Scores on Educational Markets.” American Economic Review 107 (6): 1535-1563. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We study the impact of providing school report cards with test scores on subsequent test scores, prices, and enrollment in markets with multiple public and private providers. A randomly selected half of our sample villages (markets) received report cards. This increased test scores by 0.11 standard deviations, decreased private school fees by 17 percent, and increased primary enrollment by 4.5 percent. Heterogeneity in the treatment impact by initial school test scores is consistent with canonical models of asymmetric information. Information provision facilitates better comparisons across providers, and improves market efficiency and child welfare through higher test scores, higher enrollment, and lower fees.
Pande, Rohini. 2017. “Why Are Indian Children So Short? The Role of Birth Order and Son Preference.” American Economic Association 107 (9): 2600-2629. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Co-authored by two economists–Associate Professor Seema Jayachandran of Northwestern University and Professor Rohini Pande of Harvard Kennedy School—the article examines the role that gendered parental preferences play in child stunting in India, a phenomenon which prior research has demonstrated casts a long shadow over an individual's life: on average, people who are shorter as children are less healthy, have lower cognitive ability, and earn less as adults.
Pande, Rohini, Sharon Barnhardt, and Erica Field. 2017. “Moving to Opportunity or Isolation? Network Effects of a Randomized Housing Lottery in Urban India.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 9 (1): 1-32. Publisher's Version