My research is funded by a Leibniz Association Junior Research Group grant under the project Economics of Violence against Women (PI; 2019-2023). You can check the program of our first workshop here. Projects under this grant have also received funding from the IGC, JPAL, UNICEF, Princeton University and the World Bank.
(1) Sexual Harassment in Public Spheres and Police Patrolling: Experimental Evidence from Urban India with Girija Borker, Nathan Fiala, Anjani Kumar, Nishith Prakash and Maria Micaela Sviatschi
We implement a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects on women's victimization and mobility of one of the world's largest street patrolling programs targeting sexual harassment. Using a novel high-frequency observation exercise to collect a non-reported measure of harassment at each hotspot in Hyderabad, India, we show that visible police presence reduces severe forms of sexual harassment by 27 percent, improving women's mobility. In particular, we show that women are less likely to take preventive measures, such as avoiding a particular location to minimize the likelihood of sexual harassment. To explain why less severe cases of harassment remain unaffected by the program, we also exploit heterogeneity in police officers' norms towards sexual harassment and design a field experiment to understand police behavior and biases. We show that police officers have a higher tolerance for less severe cases of sexual harassment and, as a result, are less willing to apprehend perpetrators for it. In line with this result, we find a reduction in less severe cases of sexual harassment only when the assigned police officers have better norms. Overall, to effectively use the police as a resource to address sexual harassment in public spaces, complementary investments are needed to improve the norms that surround policing.
Conference and Seminar Presentations: ASSA, New Orleans; NBER Fall Development Program; NOVAfrica; Princeton Development Research Group Seminar, Princeton Applied Seminar Group, ifo Institute, ViCE Seminar.
(2) Deterrence or Backlash? Arrests and the Dynamics of Domestic Violence with Gordon Dahl, Victoria Endl-Geyer, Timo Hener and Helmut Rainer
There is a vigorous debate on whether arrests for domestic violence (DV) will deter future abuse or create a retaliatory backlash. We study how arrests affect the dynamics of DV using administrative data for over 124,000 DV emergency calls (999 calls) for West Midlands, the second most populous county in England. We take advantage of conditional random assignment of officers to a case by call handlers, combined with systematic differences across police officers in their propensity to arrest suspected batterers. We find that an arrest reduces future DV calls in the ensuing year by 51%. This reduction is not driven by reduced reporting due to fear of retaliation, but instead a decline in repeat victimization. We reach this conclusion based on a threshold reporting model and its testable implications regarding (i) the severity of repeat DV calls and (ii) victim versus third-party reporting. Exploring mechanisms, we find that arrest virtually eliminates the large spike in re-victimization which occurs in the 48 hours after a call, consistent with arrest facilitating a cooling off period during a volatile, at-risk time. In the longer run, we estimate a sizeable deterrence effect. Substantiating this, arrest increases the probability an offender is charged with a crime. Our findings argue against recent calls for a decriminalization of domestic violence and suggest the optimal police response is to lower the threshold for arrest.
As part of a collaboration with the West Midlands Police
Conference and Seminar Presentations: ASSA, New Orleans; ViCE Online Seminar, Chicago, University of Bath, CLEAN, Bocconi, SITE-Stockholm, Heidelberg, Passau, Bavarian Micro Day, Berlin, UConn, UCSD
(3) Women in Policing Teams with Siddhartha Bandyophdyay and Jordi Blanes-i-Vidal
We show that the gender composition of policing teams significantly alters the path of domestic violence calls within the policing system and that this effect differs by the type of officers within the organization. We investigate the causal impact of call-handlers' gender, first-respondents, and investigative officers by tracking calls outcomes over ten years. Our identification relies on the random allocation of police officers to calls. We find that female call-handlers' incidents are dispatched faster, but there are no additional indirect effects on the legal path of cases. Calls returned by teams with a higher share of female first-respondents have a longer duration of responses, are more likely to be subject to criminal investigations, and are less likely to be granted an arrest. Such effects in turn explain a reduction in repeat victimization of domestic violence in the following 12 months. This reduction is not due to changes in the mode of reporting a future domestic violence incident. We also show that the effects increase in the number of women per team and that effects are larger when women are leading teams.
Draft available upon request.
As part of a collaboration with the West Midlands Police
Conference and Seminar Presentations: CEP-LSE; University of Chicago, Urban Labs; SITE-Stockholm; American Economics Association (San Diego); German Economics Association; Eastern Economic Association (DC); VICE Seminar
(4) Helping Families Help Themselves: The (Un)intended Impacts of a Digital Parenting Program with Lelys Dinarte, Patricio Dominguez and Santiago Perez-Vincent - R&R, Journal of Development Economics Parenting practices play a crucial role in child development. We evaluate the impact of a free digital stress-management and positive-parenting intervention designed to reduce the prevalence of child maltreatment in El Salvador. Drawing on the prior success of in-person interventions, we study the effects of digital intervention delivery and examine differential treatment effects by caregiver's gender. Using an individual-level experiment, we find that the intervention increased stress and anxiety and lowered caregiver-child interactions among male caregivers. In contrast, among female caregivers, we did not detect changes in mental health but observed a decrease in physical violence against children. Although these findings differ from results of in-person interventions, they align with theories that link economic deprivation and family structure to caregivers' cognitive overload and mental health.
Conference and Seminar Presentations: NBER Development Fall 2020; 2nd Joint IZA & Jacobs Center Workshop: Consequences of Covid-19 for Child and Youth Development; Symposium of Economic Experiments in Developing Countries; Gender and COVID-19 research consortium; Nordic Development Economics Conference; ifo Institute
Online Presentation Video
(5) Text or Talk?: Evaluating Response Rates by Remote Survey Method During Covid-19 with Lelys Dinarte, Patricio Dominguez, Santiago Perez-Vincent and Steffanny Romero
Researchers and policy makers face significant challenges in selecting a method to conduct remote surveys, especially when collecting sensitive information or during turbulent life stages of hard-to-reach groups. In the context of the COVID-19 lockdown, we randomly selected about 600 adults in El Salvador to survey using two different tools: telephone interviews or a self-completion survey via WhatsApp. We find that phone-based surveys increase the rate of survey completion by 42 percentage points. We document even larger effects for women and older adults. Although direct costs of phone-based surveys are substantially larger---doubling implementation cost---our estimates imply that when adjusted for the probability of completion, the costs of conducting phone-based surveys can be 25 percent lower.
(6) Gender, Crime and Punishment: The effects of Women Police Stations in India with Sonia Bhalotra and Nishith Prakash
We examine the impact of establishing women police stations (WPS) on reporting of gender-based violence. Using administrative crime data and exploiting staggered implementation across Indian cities, we find that the opening of WPS is associated with an increase in police reports of crimes against women of 29 percent, a result driven by domestic violence. This appears to reflect reporting rather than incidence as we find no changes in femicide or in survey-reported domestic violence. We also find some evidence of an increase in women's labor supply following WPS opening, consistent with women feeling safer once the costs of reporting violence fall
Conference and Seminar Presentations: IEA World Congress (virtual), Barcelona Summer Forum; Econometric Society Meeting (Atlanta); NEUDC (Cornell); Urban Economics Association (New York); EEA (Cologne); Italian Development Economics Conference (Florence); CSAE 2018 (Oxford); ifo Institute; CMI (Bergen); International Center for Research on Women (DC); Essex; Growth and Development Conference (Delhi)
(7) Population Sex Ratio and Violence against Women: The long-run effects of sex-selection in India with Sonia Bhalotra
This paper examines the impact of gender imbalances in the population on crime. Using administrative crime data from India matched with census, household and individual-level information, we show that a surplus of young men significantly increases crimes committed against women, accounting for more than a fifth of the rise in gender-based violence since 1995. In contrast, we find no discernible impact of this imbalance on other forms of non-gender based violent crime or on property and economic crime. Our results are explained by the adverse effects a distorted population sex ratio has on marriage markets and on early formation of gender norms.
Conference and Seminar Presentations: IFPRI, ifo Institute; Bath-Conflict Workshop; NIPE-EEG; Royal Holloway-Economics of Domestic Violence Workshop; Reading; Leicester; Kent Workshop in Development Economics; Leicester Workshop on the Economics of Domestic Violence; European Economic Association Conference; European Society for Population Economics Conference; Population Association of America Conference; JESS Seminar; Growth and Development Conference, ISI Delhi
(8) Do improved Property Rights decrease Violence against Women? Evidence from India R&R, World Development
This paper uses the staggered implementation of a legal change in inheritance law in India to estimate the effect of women's improved access to inheritance on both police-reported and self-reported violence against women. I find that the rate of all forms of violence against women decreased following the amendments, including female suicides. This is due to decreases in the major forms on violence committed against women: police-reported violence and female unnatural deaths. Further, women eligible for inheritance are 17 percent less likely to be victims of domestic violence. These findings are explained by an improvement in husbands' behaviour and better marriage market negotiations.
Conference and Seminar Presentations: Royal Economic Society Conference; Royal Economic Society Ph.D. Meetings; Summer School in Development Economics, Verona; UBC Empirical Seminars; RECODE Meetings, Ottawa; University of Birmingham; French Economic Association Conference; Growth and Development Conference, ISI Delhi
(10) Debiasing Law Enforcement: Effects of an Expressive Arts Intervention in India with Girija Borker, Nishith Prakash and Maria Micaela Sviatschi
As part of a collaboration with the police in Bihar, India and Mittika.
Funding: Fund for Innovation in Development, JPAL Crime and Violence Initiative, JPAL Gender and Economic Agency Initiative, ifo Institute
(11) Credit Market Consequences of Marital Distress: Evidence from an Infidelity Platform Data Breach with Andre F. Silva
Conference and Seminar Presentations: ASSA, New Orleans
(12) Childcare Provision and Family Violence: Evidence from Colombian Neighborhoods with P.Kobl and L. Dinarte-Diaz
As part of a collaboration with the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar
(13) The Consequences of Police Capacity Constraints with V. Endl-Geyer, T. Hener, P. Kobl and Helmut Rainer
As part of a collaboration with the West Midlands Police
- Employment Programmes for the Poor and Female Empowerment: The Effect of NREGS on Gender-based Violence in India,with Siddhartha Bandyophdyay and Rudra Sensarma. Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics.