parora2@student.gsu.edu | p.arora31288@gmail.com

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Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University. 

Freelance Consultant, Behavioral Economics and Science Team (BEAST), India


About me

  •  I am a PhD student and job market candidate in the Department of Economics at Georgia State University.  I am also working as a Freelance Consultant at Behavioral Economics and Science Team (BEAST), India. 
  • My research interests are in the areas of development economics and public economics. My research combines theoretical modeling with the use of experimental methods (field and lab). 
  • My dissertation studies the role of different incentives offered by various grading systems in improving student learning.  
  • I will be available for job interviews at 2020 ASSA annual meeting in San Diego.

Education and Teaching Experience

  • Prior to joining Georgia State University, I completed my M.A. Economics from Delhi School of Economics, and B.A. (Hons.) Economics from Hans Raj College, University of Delhi.  


  • I have taught Introductory Economics, Advanced Microeconomics and Mathematical Economics to undergraduates at Indian School of Business and Finance, a University of London International Programmes center  in New Delhi.

Research: Dissertation

Grading, Incentives and Student Performance (Job market paper)

Grades to students is the most direct and zero monetary cost incentive that could affect their effort and performance. But does it matter if the chosen grading scale is very coarse like {A,B,C,D,F}  or very fine like [0,100]? This paper presents a theoretical model that compares students' optimal efforts as grading scale transitions between coarse and fine, and finds risk-attitudes as the pivotal factor that determines the optimal grading scale. A field experiment conducted with students in India finds no difference in average student performance between a coarse letter (LGS) and a fine numerical grading system (NGS). This negligible effect, however, masks important gender-differences in student performance with female students responding more positively to NGS and male students responding more positively to LGS. This evidence is informative of the role that the chosen grading scale may have played in enhancing the widely seen gender-gap in student learning.

Games to Nudge Students: Experimental Evidence from India

While attending classes is often perceived to be an individual-decision of students, this project studies how such decision changes when it is brought into a strategic-interaction mode. Using Randomized Controlled Trials conducted with 220 classrooms of an educational institution in Uttar Pradesh, India, I introduced rewards for students in every treated classroom for attending their classes regularly. This reward instruments transformation of their attendance decision from individual to strategic mode. This increased student attendance by 2.5pp. In a budget equivalent treatment which studied the effect of introducing the same game within smaller groups in the classroom, I found student attendance to have increased by 4.5pp. In this paper, I also estimate the causal effects of attendance on students' academic performance, the existing evidence on which is very limited, often correlational and based out of developed country context. This will be the first such paper commenting on the causal effect of attendance on student performance in a developing country context.

Recognition nudge for teachers and principals (with I. Fazlul, GSU; T. Musaddiq, GSU; and A. Vats)

This paper studies the effect of a simple “Recognition nudge” given to teachers and principals based on their students' performance. Using a field experiment with schools from 90 villages in India, we study how this policy differs from the prior policies promoting only teacher-related incentives. In this experiment, we nudged only teachers in schools from 30 villages, both teachers and principals in schools from another 30 villages, and remaining 30 villages acted as controls. A comparison between our two treatments will estimate the effect that principals have in helping teachers perform more efficiently in delivery of better quality education. 

RESEARCH: PUBLISHED PAPERS

Institutions, Firms, and Government Effectiveness (with A. Chong), JAE, 2018

While poorer countries have a much smaller public sector and correspondingly a smaller tax burden than richer countries, their economic performance has not been necessarily better. This paper discusses the role that institutional quality plays in determining government’s effectiveness in delivering public goods and in, therefore, mediating the effects of higher taxation in an economy. A simple theoretical model shows that provision of public goods and optimal tax levels increase with improved institutional quality. Using firm-level perceptions data on the quality of public services and the tax burden, consistent with the predictions of our model, we find that a higher level of institutional quality bolsters positive perception of the quality of public services while at the same time moderating the view of the taxes as an obstacle to growth. 

Research: Working papers

Group accountability and tax evasion. (with S. Kim, GSU)

Tax enforcing agencies have limited government budget for audits. As a result, it is important to develop a cost efficient audit strategy that deters tax evasion.  One of the methods the IRS uses to select tax returns for audits is to pick individuals who are engaged in transactions with other taxpayers whose tax returns were selected for audit. This joint liability in the audit mechanism introduces an externality where one’s action affects the likelihood of others being audited and therefore, can induce different tax compliance behavior compared to an individual liability audit mechanism. This paper studies the effectiveness of this Group Accountability (GA) audit mechanism against a purely random selection Individual Accountability (IA) audit mechanism using a lab experiment. In the GA audit mechanism, taxpayers are exogenously combined into several groups. When one person in the group is randomly selected for audit and found to be cheating on taxes, then all members of the group are also audited. Our results show that tax compliance is higher in GA audit mechanism compared to the IA audit mechanism in both cases when group members are anonymous and not anonymous. 

The market for corruption: Evidence from a field experiment (with Abbink, Gangadharan, Wu (Monash))

While petty corruption is pervasive, it is hard to observe in the field. We report a natural field experiment to study a market for corrupt services. We directly approach notaries public in New Delhi and request they attest a copy of a document as being genuine. In a control treatment, we check whether prices above the legal rate are demanded for legitimate requests. In further treatments we request the attestation be backdated (low risk, mildly illegitimate request) and certified when the copy is shown to be augmented from the original (high risk, highly illegitimate request). We observe substantial bribes being demanded in the backdating treatment. Half of the notaries refuse to attest the augmented document but those who consent typically demand large bribes. Surprisingly, notaries facing strong competition demand higher bribes. This may be attributed to competition crowding out altruism.

RESEARCH: WORK In Progress

Simon’s satisficing principle and student learning. (with H. Verma, Teach for India; K. Shreshta, GSU; Dr. A. Chong, GSU)

Optimal policy for traffic congestion amid behavioral constraints.

Teaching

Introductory Economics (August, 2013 - April, 2014)

Taught Microeconomics section of the Introductory Economics course to first year B.Sc. Economics students at Indian School of Business and Finance, University of London International Programmes affiliate center in New Delhi, India.

Advanced Microeconomics (August, 2015 - April, 2016)

Taught Advanced Microeconomics course to second year B.Sc. Economics and DFG (Diploma for Graduates) students at Indian School of Business and Finance, University of London International Programmes affiliate center in New Delhi, India.

Mathematical Economics (August, 2013 - April, 2014, August, 2015 - April, 2016 )

Taught Mathematical Economics course to final year B.Sc. Economics and DFG (Diploma for Graduates) students at Indian School of Business and Finance, University of London International Programmes affiliate center in New Delhi, India.

Conference presentations

"Grading, Incentives and Student Performance" at Advances with Field Experiments conference, University of Chicago, 2019

"Grading, Incentives and Student Performance" at Southern Economic Association 89th Annual Meeting, Florida, 2019

"Games to Nudge Students: Experimental Evidence from India" at Southern Economic Association 89th Annual Meeting, Florida, 2019

Awards and recognitions

Center for Economic Analysis of Risk (CEAR) Fellow, Georgia State University, 2018-Present

Best Graduate Research Assistant award, AYSPS, 2017

National Eligibility Test certified (eligibility certification to teach undergraduates anywhere in India), 2014

Scored 1st division in M.A. Economics, Delhi School of Economics, 2013 

Scored All-India 23rd rank in M.A. Economics entrance exam for Delhi School of Economics, 2009

Scored 1st division in B.A. (Hons.) Economics, University of Delhi, 2009 

Research grants

AYSPS Dissertation Grant, “Games to nudge students: Experimental evidence from India”, 2019, USD $6,800

The Russell Sage Foundation, “Group Accountability and Tax Evasion” (Co-author: S. Kim, GSU), 2018, USD $6700 

References

Alberto Chong (Dissertation Chair)

Professor 

Department of Economics 

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

Georgia State University

Tel: (404) 413-0201

Email: achong6@gsu.edu

Tom Mroz

Professor and Bernard B. and Eugenia A. Ramsey Chair of Private Enterprise, Department of Economics

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

Georgia State University

Tel: (404) 413-0163

Email: tmroz@gsu.edu


Jonathan Smith

Assistant Professor 

Department of Economics 

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

Georgia State University

Tel: (404) 413-0174

Email: jsmith500@gsu.edu

Gustavo Bobonis

Professor of Economics,
Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Development

University of Toronto

Tel: (416) 946 5299

Email: gustavo.bobonis@utoronto.ca