Research

I am an applied microeconomist, who works on issues related to Environmental Economics and Development Economics. Most of my work uses theoretical and econometric models to examine the impact of institutional changes on socioeconomic outcomes, such as firm productivity and legal disputes, in China and Sub-Saharan Africa. However, I am also interested in macroeconomic questions related to the use and management of natural resources.

Publications:

Naso, P., Lanz, B., Swanson, T. (2020). The Return of Malthus? Resource Constraint in an Era of Declining Population Growth, European Economic Review.

Naso, P.; Bulte, E.; Swanson, T. (2020) Legal Pluralism in post-conflict Sierra Leone, European Journal of Political Economy.

Naso, P.; Yi, H.; Swanson, T. (2020) The Impact of Environmental Regulation on Chinese Spatial Development, Economics of Transition and Institutional Change.

Working Papers:

Delegation of Regulation and Perceived Corruption in South Africa (submitted, pdf)

In this paper, I study the economic motivations behind a reduction in the discretionary power of environmental inspectors, and show the impact that such reduction has on perceived corruption in South Africa. I examine the transition from the Air Pollution Protection Act of 1965 to the Air Quality Act of 2005, a change from full to partial delegation of regulation. By constructing a principal-agent model, I argue that this transition might have occurred because of an increase in inspectors’ rent-seeking motivation and capacity of appropriating rents. I then employ diff-in-diffs models for a two-period panel with 191 South African firms to show that the regulatory change decreased treated firms’ perceived corruption, but did not improve other institutional quality measures.

Food Security and Global Public Good Provision – A Macroeconomic Approach to Land Use Policy, with Ozgun Haznedar, Bruno Lanz and Tim Swanson (submitted, pdf)

It may be important to dedicate substantial parts of the global land supply to public good uses in the 21st century, for purposes of climate change management and biodiversity provision. But will it also be possible to meet the food requirements of 12 billion people while doing so? Using a macroeconomic model, we demonstrate that it may be possible to provide both for food security and environmental services in the long run. We first show that it may be possible to provide for food security with very substantial constraints on the amount of land used in agriculture with relatively minor welfare losses. We then show that global policies that re-allocate labour across sectors of the economy may have the capacity for directing the economy toward reduced reliance on land in agriculture. Focusing on education, research and development, and fertility costs may be the best way to meet these combined goals.

Free Primary Education and Educational Inequality in Tanzania, with Roxana Manea (pdf)

In this paper, we investigate the educational impacts of the elimination of primary school fees in Mainland Tanzania. We use 2002 and 2012 census data and conduct a difference-in-differences analysis. Spatial and temporal variation in the reform’s implementation process is generated by distinguishing between cohorts that were exposed to the reform and cohorts that were not, and by considering the intensity of the reform, which is defined based on pre-reform educational outcomes at the gender-district level. We find that exposure to an average of 1.7 years of free primary education has reduced educational inequality by 0.66 standard deviations. We also find that this outcome has been mainly driven by a reform-induced reduction of 6.8 percentage points in the proportion of people who have never attended primary education. The benefits of fee removal have been relatively larger for females compared to males. Therefore, the educational gender gap has been narrowed. Nevertheless, policymakers should be wary of the reform’s limited reach in preventing dropouts and its more general diminishing effects as time elapses from the year when the reform was rolled out.

Work in Progress:

What Does Happen to Climate Change Mitigation when Relative Concerns are Considered? An Experimental Approach, with Tania Theodoluz, Mare Sarr and Tim Swanson.

A Model of Addiction under Uncertainty, with Tim Swanson.

Conferences and Seminars:

Third Winter Camp in New Structural Economics (2017), Peking University (PKU); CSAE (2018), University of Oxford; SURED (2018), Ascona; WCERE (2018), Gothenburg; FAERE (2018), Aix-en-Provence; BioEcon (2018), King’s College, University of Cambridge; Alumni Conference (2018), Gerzensee; The New Malthusianism (2018), Jesus College, University of Cambridge; ECHO Symposium, Kigali (2019).

I have also given seminars at the National School of Development (PKU) (2017, 2019), at the University of Cape Town (2017) and at the IHEID (2017, 2018);

Teaching:

I was a teaching assistant for the Master’s course Natural Resources and Sustainable Development (IHEID) from 2015 to 2018 (student feedback: 20172018).

Course Material (2017/2018): Slides: First ClassSecond ClassThird ClassFourth Class; Handout, Problem Set.

Course Material (2018/2019): Lectures: Introduction to Dynamic Optimization; Classes: Optimal Control Theory; Practice Problem Set.

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“Every man’s performances, to be rightly estimated, must be compared with the state of the age in which he lived, and with his own particular opportunities […] [T]here is always a silent reference of human works to human abilities, and as the enquiry, how far man may extend his designs, or how high he may rate his native force, is of far greater dignity than in what rank we shall place any particular performance […].” Samuel Johnson, Preface to Shakespeare (1765)

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