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Working Papers

  • Behavioral epidemiology: An economic model to evaluate optimal policy in the midst of a pandemic, Jan 2022. (submitted) [With Ilia Krasikov and Rohit Lamba].

    "Study strategic interactions between social distancing, lockdown, and testing in an epidemiological setting."

    This paper combines a canonical epidemiology model of disease dynamics with government policy of lockdown and testing, and agents’ decision to social distance in order to avoid getting infected. The model is calibrated with data on deaths and testing outcomes in the Unites States. It is shown that an intermediate but prolonged lockdown is socially optimal when both mortality and GDP are taken into an account. This is because the government wants the economy to keep producing some output and the slack in reducing infection is picked up by social distancing agents. Social distancing best responds to the optimal government policy to keep the effective reproductive number largely equal to one and avoid multiple waves. Calibration shows testing to have been effective, but it could have been even more instrumental if it had been aggressively pursued from the beginning of the pandemic. Not hav- ing any lockdown or shutting down social distancing would have had extreme consequences. Greater centralized control on social activities would have mitigated further the spread of the pandemic.

  • Who to share information with? Persuasion in social networkss, Aug 2021. (submitted)
    [Paper] [ pdf ]

    "Study a sender's information tageting and design problem when receivers communicate in a network setting."

    We study the information targeting and design problem of a sender in a setting where multiple receivers can communicate with each other through links in a social network. The sender commits to an information structure and chooses one of the receivers to initially observe the realised signal. The receivers simultaneously choose an action based on the information they possess, but are subject to peer effects. Each receiver wants her neighbours to choose the same action as her, and can strategically communicate her information to them. This triggers a strategic diffusion process through the network, with the realised signal reaching only a subset of receivers. The sender’s objective is to persuade as many receivers as possible to take a high action level. We characterise the optimal information and targeting strategy of the sender, highlighting the fundamental trade-off between information precision and extent of diffusion. Applications include political campaigns, lobbying, and raising participation in experimental settings . Contrary to common intuition, that targeting the “most central” agent in the network may not be optimal. The notion of centrality, which we term “influence” itself is endogenously determined by communication strategies and the information quality. We also conduct some comparative static analysis to understand how notions like homophily and network density affect the optimal policy of the sender.

  • A model of network security, [Draft in preparation].
    [Draft soon]

    "An adversary aims to send an object to a target through a network, and nodes along the path can conduct costly checks to intercept the item."

    We present a model of network security where an adversary aims to send a (potentially destructive) object to a target via one of multiple paths. Along each path, there are intermediaries who can periodically involve in costly checks to intercept and destroy the item. The adversary wins if the object reaches the target, and the target (along with the intermediaries) wins if the object is intercepted before reaching the target. We characterize the equilibrium of the game and discuss the welfare properties in terms of the network structure. We provide a mechanism design approach to design the least-cost security system to minimize the loss to the economy. (To be updated)

  • Others

  • The ‘God Makers’ of Kolkata : Can improved infrastructure mitigate the misery of artisans in Kumartuli?, May, 2014, [With Rajarshi Bhowal, Vinayak Iyer, and Shakya Sengupta].
    [Paper] [Slides]

    "Study the impact of a rehabiltation project on costs and profits for artisan communities in Kolkata.."

    This paper aims at adding to the burgeoning literature on the informal sector in de- veloping countries. Kumartuli is the traditional home of the artisans who work round the year to supply idols for the various Hindu pujas. Plagued with general ignorance and a lack of development, this art form is slowly dying out. In 2007, the government took a baby step towards the development of Kumartuli by sanctioning a rehabilitation project that would see each artisan obtain a permanent concrete studio to work in. Till today, the only steps that have been taken is the make-shift relocation of some artisans so that land for the rehabiliation project could be acquired. However, we find that the artists are stuck in a historically conditioned equilibrium whereby the artists do not want to leave their old studios and shift to the relocated region. This prevents rehabilitation to start in the first place. In this paper we try to obtain the welfare implication of the rehabilitation project in an ex ante sense. We use data from a census survey on the 110 artisans present in Kumartuli to obtain details of the components of revenue and costs for these artisans. We show that while the rehabilitation would benefit the worst off artists,there are limits to this benefit. We further try to ascertain the long term prospects of the profession with the help of an accompanying attitudinal survey conducted by us.

  • What is New about India’s Economic Growth 1980-2012: The Industry Perspective using KLEMS dataset, Dec 2016, [With Deb Kusum Das and Pilu C. Das].
    [Paper] [Slides]

    "Determine the key factors behind India's growth story in the 1990s using the novel KLEMS dataset."

    The dynamics of Economic Growth in India continues to engage economists and still remains an enigma. The trends and patterns of growth observed in India have seen acceleration in growth in Indian economy in the period following macroeconomic reforms and policy changes in investment and trade regimes. However, when and how did India transformation from itself Hindu rate of growth to the present growth regime continues to be debated. The present study using INDIA KLEMS dataset provides a highly novel, very valuable, and quite distinctive perspective on India’s economic growth. A unique dataset comprising 27 sectors of Indian economy at a disaggregate industry level for a period of 30 years attempts to understand the dynamics of India’s growth from the contribution of industries that comprise the Indian economy. This DATA SET offers a new way of analyzing the dynamics of growth including the sources of growth. Our growth empirics allow evaluation of the relative significance of multi factor productivity growth Vis-a-Vis input accumulation in accounting for output growth. In addition, we are able to document the industry contributions to aggregate growth. In this way, we are able to analyze how important are different sectors of the economy- agriculture, manufacturing, construction, market as well as non-market services in accounting for the observed growth in India.