Research Interests: development economics, environmental and resource economics, political economy, conflict
MPA/ID, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2016
BA, Stanford University, 2012
Jonah Rexer, Guy Grossman, Soojong Kim, Harsha Thirumurthy (2020), Political Partisanship Influences Behavioral Responses to Governors’ Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in the United States, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Abstract: Voluntary physical distancing is essential for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Political partisanship may influence individuals’ responsiveness to recommendations from political leaders. Daily mobility during March 2020 was measured using location information from a sample of mobile phones in 3,100 US counties across 49 states. Governors’ Twitter communications were used to determine the timing of messaging about COVID-19 prevention. Regression analyses examined how political preferences influenced the association between governors’ COVID-19 communications and residents’ mobility patterns. Governors’ recommendations for residents to stay at home preceded stay-at-home orders, and led to a significant reduction in mobility that was comparable to the effect of the orders themselves. Effects were larger in Democratic than Republican-leaning counties, a pattern more pronounced under Republican governors. Democratic-leaning counties also responded more to recommendations from Republican than Democratic governors. Political partisanship influences citizens’ decisions to voluntarily engage in physical distancing in response to communications by their governor.
Jonah Rexer (Working), The local advantage: Corruption, organized crime, and indigenization in the Nigerian oil sector.
Abstract: Despite advantages in technology and human capital, multinational firms may operate less effectively than their local competitors in markets plagued by corruption and conflict. I study the effects of divestment to local firms in the context of a two-decade indigenization drive in Nigeria's turbulent oil sector, during which the share of local production grew substantially. Local takeover considerably increases oilfield output and reduces the share of nonproducing assets. Local firms increase output by mitigating conflict risk: oil theft, maritime piracy, and violence by criminal-militant groups all fall following local takeover. However, since local firms have lower operating standards, divestment leads to increased operational oil spills and gas flaring, magnifying the environmental externalities of oil production. A simple bargaining model illustrates that when organized crime operates a protection racket, local firms' lower bargaining costs allow them to buy protection more cheaply, explaining their superior output performance. I find evidence that connections to high-level politicians and the security forces drive local firms' advantage in reducing criminal activity.
Jonah Rexer and Even C. Hvinden (Working), Delta boys: Bargaining, war, and black market oil in Nigeria.
Abstract: We study how a ruling elite facing conflict over natural resources allocates rents to rebel groups and how the structure of the elite’s settlement with rebels affects post-conflict resource theft. Using original data on the locations, alliances, black market activities, and attacks of militant commanders in the Niger Delta conflict, we find that a peace deal led to large declines in violent attacks on the oil sector, but also sustained growth in the black market for stolen oil. We use a model of dynamic bargaining under imperfect information and limited commitment to explain why inefficient conflict and oil theft persist in equilibrium. The model predicts that the government may optimally allow theft of resources by strong rebels in locations with low opportunity costs of black market activity. We test and find support for these propositions in the data. Our analysis highlights how the industrial organization of black markets and military dynamics jointly shape incentives for participants in resource conflicts.
Jonah Rexer (Under Revision), The Brides of Boko Haram: Economic Shocks, Marriage Practices, and Insurgency in Nigeria (Revise and Resubmit at Economic Journal).
Abstract: Unmarried young men may cause social unrest. This paper documents that imbalances in the marriage market lead to greater civil conflict. Marriage markets in rural Nigeria are characterized by bride-price – pre-marital payments from the groom to the family of the bride – and polygamy. These customs diminish marriage prospects for young men, causing them to join violent insurgencies. Using an instrumental variables strategy, I find that marriage inequality increases civil conflict in Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency. To generate exogenous supply shocks to the marriage market, I exploit the fact that young women delay marriage in response to favorable pre-marital economic conditions, which increases marriage inequality only in polygamous villages. The same shocks that increase marriage inequality and extremist violence also reduce female marriage hazard, lead women to marry richer husbands, generate higher average marriage expenditures, and increase violence against women. The results shed light on the marriage market as an important but neglected driver of violent extremism.
This course will introduce you to "managerial economics" which is the application of microeconomic theory to managerial decision-making. Microeconomic theory is a remarkably useful body of ideas for understanding and analyzing the behavior of individuals and firms in a variety of economic settings. The goal of the course is for you to understand this body of theory well enough so that you can effectively analyze managerial (and other) problems in an economic framework. While this is a "tools" course, we will cover many real-world applications, particularly business applications, so that you can witness the usefulness of these tools and acquire the skills to use them yourself. We will depart from the usual microeconomic theory course by giving more emphasis to prescription: What should a manager do in order to achieve some objective? That course deliverable is to compare with description: Why do firms and consumers act the way they do? The latter will still be quite prominent in this course because only by understanding how other firms and customers behave can a manager determine what is beswt for him or her to do. Strategic interaction is explored both in product markets and auctions. Finally, the challenges created by asymmetric information - both in the market and within the firm - are investigated.