Jonah Rexer

Jonah Rexer
  • Applied Economics Doctoral Student

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3000 Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall
    3620 Locust Walk
    Suite 3000
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: development economics, environmental and resource economics, political economy, conflict

Links: CV



MPA/ID, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2016

BA, Stanford University, 2012

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  • Jonah Rexer (Draft), Political Partisanship Influences Behavioral Responses to Governors’ Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in the United States (with Guy Grossman, Harsha Thirumurthy, and Soojong Kim).

    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 be less effective than their local competitors at operating in developing economies plagued by corruption and conflict. Divestment can improve sectoral productivity if the comparative advantages of localness outweigh the technological edge of multinationals. I study the effects of localization in the context of a two-decade indigenization drive in Nigeria's oil sector, during which the share of local production grew substantially. Local takeover of operations considerably increases oilfield output and reduces the share of nonproducing assets, despite increasing incidents of mechanical failure. Local firms increase output by mitigating conflict risk: theft of oil and violent attacks by criminal gangs both fall following local takeover. A simple bargaining model highlights that lower bargaining costs and corruption penalties may explain superior performance by local firms. I find evidence that superior connections to high-level politicians and the security forces, as well as limited exposure to home-country anti-corruption laws, give local companies an advantage in reducing criminal activity.

  • Jonah Rexer (Working), Delta boys: Bargaining, war, and black market oil in Nigeria.

    Abstract: We study how a government facing conflict over natural resources allocates rents to rebel groups in the face of bargaining frictions, and how the structure of these agreements affects post-conflict outcomes. Using original data on the location, alliances, black market activity, 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 growth in oil theft is driven primarily by militarily strong rebels in locations with low opportunity costs of oil theft. We test and find support for these propositions in the data. The results highlight how the industrial organization of black markets for natural resources distorts the incentives facing participants in resource conflicts.

  • Jonah Rexer (Work In Progress), The Brides of Boko Haram: Economic Shocks, Marriage Practices, and Insurgency in Nigeria.

    Abstract: Unmarried young men are often believed to cause social unrest. This paper documents that imbalances in the marriage market are indeed linked to greater violence in the context of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Marriage markets in rural Nigeria are characterized by the customs of bride-price -- pre-marital payments from the groom to the family of the bride -- and polygamy. These norms diminish marriage prospects for young men, causing them to join violent insurgencies. Using an instrumental variables strategy, I find that greater inequality of brides among men increases the incidence of militant activity by Boko Haram. To instrument for marriage inequality, I exploit the fact that young women delay marriage in response to good pre-marital economic conditions, which increases marriage inequality more in polygamous villages. Supporting the mechanism, I find that the same positive female income shocks which increase marriage inequality and extremist activity also reduce female marriage hazard, lead women to marry richer and more polygamous husbands, generate higher average marriage expenditures, and increase abductions and violence against women. The results shed light on the marriage market as an important but hitherto neglected driver of violent extremism.


Past Courses


    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.


Latest Research

Jonah Rexer (Draft), Political Partisanship Influences Behavioral Responses to Governors’ Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in the United States (with Guy Grossman, Harsha Thirumurthy, and Soojong Kim).
All Research