Teaching and Research Interests
Dr. Rahman’s primary areas of research are behavioral development economics, and law and economics. His current research focuses on behavioral and experimental measurements of agency and gender discrimination; formation of gender norms; behavioral impacts of anti-poverty programs; the relationship between economic shocks and gender-specific labor market outcomes; climate information and adaptation of livelihoods; and formation of trusts in communities and public institutions.
Dr. Rahman was a visiting professor of Law and Economics at University of Oslo, Norway in 2011. He was the Co-PI of the recently concluded National Science Foundation’s multidisciplinary Research Coordination Network (2012–2018) on sustainable food systemsand food security. He is the Co-PI of several World Bank-supported research projects and has been a frequent visiting researcher at the World Bank.
Current Papers and Projects
Currently Dr. Rahman has three ongoing research projects on women’s agency. One of the most fundamental kinds of social exclusion is exclusion from the ability to contribute to society’s shared pool of knowledge. The philosopher Miranda Fricker calls this “epistemic injustice.” It is one way that legitimacy may follow power. Epistemic injustice against women would deepen women’s poverty since a woman whose word is devalued is constrained in every direction—in making contracts, communicating ideas, exercising authority, and defending herself from violence. But little work has examined whether prejudice devalues the credibility judgments of what women say. This project develops new games and experiments and uses them with 500 husband-and-wife pairs in 12 representative villages of Bihar, India, to study this question. In the follow up evaluation project on women’s agency, Dr. Rahman and his collaborators use 2,600 members of women’s self-help groups from 146 villages, in only half of which Jeevika has been active for an extensive period [over 4 years] to study the impact of Jeevika on women’s agency (e.g., executive function, mental and emotional health, gender norms, and epistemic discrimination). [Collaborators: Karla Hoff and Vijayendra Rao, World Bank; Ashutosh Kumar, Washington State University]
In the second project, Dr. Rahman and his collaborator Jane Bambauer examine the gender gap among young lawyers in the US and address two related questions. First, they attempt to answer why so many female lawyers abandon their careers. Thirty percent of female lawyers leave their careers. Neither workplace discrimination nor family obligations can fully and satisfactorily explain it. Here they advance a theory and provide corroborating evidence that the cultural acceptance of female under-employment is a privilege in the abstract, but a curse in practice. Even under the best conditions, the early stages of professional careers involve mistakes, mismatches, and disappointments. An opportunity to escape the stress of the public sphere by focusing on the family may have great appeal in the short run even though the long-run consequences are severe. Second, utilizing longitudinal data from the career trajectory of young lawyers, they examine the impact of macroeconomic shocks on gender gaps in labor market outcomes and provide further insights into the role of asymmetric cultural acceptance of female under-employment [Collaborators: Jane Bambauer, College of Law, University of Arizona).
Climate Information Service, Adaptation, and Rural Livelihoods
This is a collaborative project with the Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society (BRLPS), an initiative of the Government of Bihar for poverty alleviation. This research involves two randomized experiments (146 villages in a drought-prone region, and 146 villages in a flood-prone region) in India to study the impacts of a climate information service (CIS) provided to rural communities on their livelihoods. The objectives are four-fold: (a) estimate the impacts of the CIS on the modernization of agriculture, climate-resilient agricultural practices, sectoral allocation of labor, livelihood diversification, saving and investment behavior, and long-term behavioral change, among other outcomes; (b) provide new insights on efficient designs of CISs; (c) provide results on relative efficacies of the CIS in two agro-climatic (drought-prone and flood-prone) regions; and finally (d), demonstrate evidence-based templates for the programming of CISs in other drought and flood-prone regions of the world, and the designing of climate-resilient rural livelihoods (anti-poverty) programs. Baseline data was collected during 2016–2017.
Women’s Empowerment as a Tool for Fighting Poverty: Behavioral Impacts
Identifying effective ways to reduce poverty is one of the most important intellectual challenges before economists. To gauge the effectiveness of a program, changes in income, business formation, and nutrition resulting from anti-poverty programs are tracked, and this is a well-established area of research. However, what has not been subject to careful investigation is the relevance of an indirect channel of poverty reduction whereby an anti-poverty program changes the overall economic attitudes and orientations of the targeted individuals, and this change in attitude leads to the observed increase in income and entrepreneurial activity. To study such changes in economic behavioral orientations, this project develops incentivized tasks, which are adaptations of protocols developed in experimental economics for participants who have only a minimal level of education. Literacy and numeracy are not necessary to complete the tasks. The goal is to understand what the underlying attitudinal drivers of women’s empowerment and its capacity might be to lift individuals and families out of poverty. Thus, this project contributes to experimental methodology by adapting the tasks, to empirical evaluation of poverty reduction programs, and potentially to the theoretical modeling of the relationship between female empowerment and economic development. Pilot work completed in 2018. (Collaborators: Charles Noussair and Tamar Kugler, The Eller College of Management, University of Arizona).
The Quiet Resignation: Why Do So Many Female Lawyers Abandon Their Careers? (with Jane Bambauer), UC Irvine Law Review, 2019.
Economic Impact of Seasonal Forecast Information Service in Jamaica, 2014-2015 (with Z. Guido and J. Buizer). A report prepared for United States Agency for International Development, Washington DC. February 2016.
Environmental Justice and Federalism (with Dennis Cory). Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013.
Does Open Government Pay? The Impact of Open Government on Trust in Public Institutions (with Joseph Navelski). Working Paper.
Gender Attitudes and Intergenerational Co-residence: Evidence from East Asia (with Wenjun Wu). Working Paper.
The Impact of Network Goods on Health: Evidence from India (with Anand Murugesan and Vikram Dayal). Working Paper.
Epistemic Discrimination against Women: Experimental Evidence from India (with K. Hoff and V. Rao).
Can a Women’s Anti-Poverty Program Improve Mental and Emotional Health? Experimental Evidence from India (with Ashutosh Kumar). Working Paper.