I am a PhD student in Economics at the University of Zurich.
I work at the intersection of development and behavioral economics. I am interested in how the social environment affects economic and health outcomes, with a focus on developing countries. My current field work is based in Uganda.
I am on the job market and available for interviews before, at or after the Virtual European Job Market 2020 and the ASSA 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting.
In my job-market paper, I explore the economic benefits of obesity in developing countries. In settings where information is scarce, wealth signals can play an important role. Here, I focus on obesity as a sign of wealth. Using experimental evidence from Kampala (Uganda), I demonstrate that obese people are perceived as rich and that being obese facilitates access to credit. By exploiting random variation in asymmetric information between borrowers and lenders, I conclude that – in the absence of verifiable data on wealth and earnings – body mass matters because it conveys information about a borrower’s quality.
More information is available in my CV.
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This paper provides experimental evidence on the wealth-signaling value and associated financial benefits of obesity in a low-resource setting. My empirical strategy leverages two experiments that randomly assign obesity using weight-manipulated portraits. I provide three main results. First, residents of Kampala (Uganda) perceive obesity as a reliable signal of wealth (against other traits such as beauty or health). Second, the body-mass wealth signal is exploited to mitigate asymmetric information in credit markets and in turn, being obese has financial benefits. In a real-stake field experiment with 124 Kampala credit institutions, professional loan officers screen borrowers based on body mass. Obesity facilitates access to credit. Looking at an access-to-credit index based on loan officers’ evaluations, going from normal weight to obese is equivalent to increasing a borrower’s earnings by 60%. Third, the obesity premium is driven by asymmetric information. To test for the wealth-signaling hypothesis, I vary the amount of borrowers’ financial information available to the lenders: reducing the degree of asymmetric information lowers the obesity premium by two-thirds. While these results could be consistent with standard screening mechanisms, loan officers appear to place too much weight on obesity as a wealth signal - possibly distorting the allocation of credit. On the borrowers’ side, obesity benefits are commonly known and significantly overestimated - thus inefficiently raising the perceived cost of healthy behaviors.
The future of an institution, such as the European Union, ultimately depends on people’s support. This paper investigates whether EU redistributive policies have improved public attitudes towards European integration, both in terms of public opinion and political preferences. We focus on Cohesion Policy funds, whose allocation allows us to single out these effects by means of a regression discontinuity approach. The results show that EU transfers have mitigated the rise of Eurosceptical attitudes and reduced political consensus for anti-EU parties. The effects are homogeneous across different socio-economic groups, including the most disadvantaged ones. The improvement in public support for the EU does not appear to be exclusively a spillover of the positive economic effect of funding; we show evidence suggesting the existence of a ‘reciprocity-effect’ channel, i.e. citizens in recipient regions recognize the beneficial role of the EU as the source of funding.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that, in low-resource settings, providing employment is a common way to redistribute wealth and share earnings. In this paper, we explore the existence and the determinants of social pressure to provide employment in rural Uganda. Using an experimental approach, we investigate and discuss consequences for profits, agricultural productivity, and technology adoption.
Nakasero Market, Kampala
IPA Uganda team preparing for loan officers interviews.
Models preparing for shooting
Traditional Ugandan Food
KFC at Acacia Mall, Kampala (one of the fanciest places in town)