Statement of Research

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I have been trained to be a labor economist, with an emphasis on studying the economics of poverty, income dynamics, regional economics and empirical microeconometrics. My primary research focus is investigating the causes, dynamics and the consequences of poverty. I have used both large and small datasets collected from both developed and developing countries to study poverty. Some of the large datasets that I have worked with are Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), Current Population Surveys (CPS) of Census Bureau, different rounds of Bangladesh Labor Force Surveys, and Household Income and Expenditure Surveys (HIES) of Bangladesh and different rounds of the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). A few of my current working papers and future research agendas are listed below:

Currently, I am working on a research paper that studies income dynamics of individuals who enter the job market during a recession. I am interested to see if incomes of these entrants are lower than average during recession and whether they rise at a faster rate than the rest of the population when the economy recovers. I am doing a cohort analysis using the March Current Population Survey (March CPS) dataset of the Census Bureau. I find that after controlling for different individual and macroeconomic effects, those that enter the job market during a recession continue to have a lower wage than those who enter during times of economic growth. This effect is more pronounced on women than on men.

I am also in the process of starting a research project on how family income and asset levels affect fertility rate and the propensity for a male child in a developing country. I have collected the dataset from the Demographic and Health Surveys of Bangladesh and I am in the process of cleaning the dataset before running the regression analysis.

I recently completed writing a paper that measures the elasticity of poverty in the US. In this paper, I calculated the percentage increase of income of the poor due to a one percent increase in the US state-level per-capita income. I used the March CPS dataset to do this analysis. I find that economic growth has generally been elusive in improving the income of the poor over the last 35 years, and those in deep poverty have not seen much improvement of their real incomes during this time period. 

One of my papers, that is co-authored with Jim Ziliak and Jenny Minier (both from the University of Kentucky) looks at the underlying causes of persistent poverty in certain counties in the US. About 10 percent of the US counties have poverty rates of over 20 percent for the past 50 years, and we look at whether current or historical factors are the main reasons behind such persistent poverty in these counties. We find that low human capital is one the prime reasons why counties remain poor, and the impact of historic culture, institutions and geography is very low in explaining the high prevalence of poverty in these counties. This paper is currently under revise and resubmit at the Southern Economic Journal.

I have also worked with small datasets from developing countries. I have written a paper that introduces multidimensional poverty measures to the program evaluation literature to measure the efficacy of an anti-poverty program that had multiple measureable outcomes. I obtained this dataset from BRAC, an NGO that designed and implemented this program, called Targeting the Ultra-Poor (TUP) in Bangladesh. I show that just focusing only on one dimension of well-being, such as income, may not fully show the true impact of a development program with multiple outcomes, and multi-dimensional poverty measures may be a better way of evaluating such programs.

Although my research primarily involves the study of poverty and income dynamics, I try to work in other economic fields as well if they are close to my research agenda. While working on my paper that recently got published in Regional Science and Urban Economics, I faced the problem of selecting the appropriate system GMM to estimate the coefficients. I ran some simulations which indicated that different system GMM techniques are appropriate under different circumstances. I thus ended up writing a paper illustrating the findings of my simulations.

I have also been working on a research paper with a former graduate school classmate of mine that studies the impact of foreign aid on the economic growth of developing countries, after controlling for external shocks such as natural disasters. My co-author is a growth economist, and although growth is outside my research area, I was able to contribute to the empirical analysis of the data to investigate this research question. 

Besides working on research papers, I have also contributed in writing policy reports. I worked as a consultant in the World Bank to help write the Bangladesh Poverty Assessment Report. I am one of the co-authors of a chapter in that Report that investigates the labor force changes of Bangladesh between 2000 and 2010 (Chapter 4 of the Report). As a research assistant at the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research (UKCPR), I assisted in the writing of a policy report that applied the supplemental poverty measures (SPM) to the states of the US.

I have a few research ideas that I would like to pursue in the future once I am done with my current research projects. I would like study why certain counties in the US were able reduce their poverty rates faster than other counties. I also would like to study if growth of cities has an effect on the growth and poverty rates of the surrounding counties in the US. Another project that I also would like conduct is to study how economic and social conditions of second generation immigrants during childhood affect their education and income levels later in their adult life.