My CV

Published Papers:

“On the Determinants of Educational Corruption: The case of Ukraine”, with Philip Shaw and Brandon Poconaro, Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

Abstract: This article utilizes a unique data set to examine the relationship between a group of potential explanatory variables and educational corruption in Ukraine. Our corruption controls include bribing on exams, on term papers, for credit, and for university admission. We use a robust nonparametric approach in order to estimate the probability of bribing across the four different categories. This approach is shown to be robust to a variety of different types of endogeneity often encountered under commonly assumed parametric specifications. Our main findings indicate that corruption perceptions, past bribing behavior, and the perceived criminality of bribery are significant factors for all four categories of bribery. From a policy perspective, we argue that when bribe control enforcement is difficult, anti-corruption education programs targeting social perceptions of corruption could be appropriate.

“Are Resources Bad for your Health”, with Amany A. El Anshasy, Health & Place, 32, 2015, 29-42

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to empirically examine whether economic dependence on various natural resources is associated with lower investment in health, after controlling for countries’ geographical and historical fixed effects, corruption, autocratic regimes, income levels, and initial health status. Employing panel data for 118 countries for the period 1990-2008, we find no compelling evidence in support of a negative effect of resources on healthcare spending and outcomes. On the contrary, higher dependence on agricultural exports is associated with higher healthcare spending, higher life expectancy, and lower diabetes rates. Similarly, healthcare spending increases with higher mineral intensity. Finally, more hydrocarbon resource rents are associated with less diabetes and obesity rates. There is however evidence that public health provision relative to the size of the economy declines with greater hydrocarbon resource-intensity; the magnitude of this effect is less severe in non-democratic countries.  

“On the Determinants of Obesity: Evidence from the UAE”, with Amany A. El Anshasy, Applied Economics, 46:30, 2014, 3649-3658

Abstract: This article investigates the possible determinants of being overweight and obese in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), controlling for age and education status. We use a novel dataset constructed from survey responses of university undergraduate students. Using OLS, logistic and ordered logistic regressions, we find that male, affluent and nonnational students face a higher risk of being obese (or overweight). The results also show that cultural and geographical factors interact with some behavioural aspects related to lifestyle in determining weight status. Students originating from other Middle East and North Africa countries exhibit higher body mass index (BMI) and odds of being obese with higher frequency of eating out and more computer use. Unexpectedly, fast food consumption and lack of exercise do not seem to contribute to higher risks of being overweight/obese.

“Energy Efficiency or the Energy Mix: What works for the Environment”, with Amany A. El Anshasy, Journal of Environmental ManagementVol. 126, 2014, 85-93.

Abstract: In the absence of carbon sequestration, mitigating carbon emissions can be achieved through a mix of two broad policy approaches: (i) reducing energy intensity by improving energy efficiency and conservation, and (ii) changing the fuel mix. This paper investigates the long-run relationship between energy intensity, the energy mix, and per capita carbon emissions; while controlling for the level of economic activity, the economic structure measured by the relative size of the manufacturing sector, and the differences in institutional qualities across countries. We aim to answer two particularly important policy questions. First, to what extent these policy approaches are effective in mitigating emissions in the long-run? Second, which institutional qualities significantly contribute to better long-run environmental performance? We use historical data for 131 countries in a heterogeneous panel framework for the period 1972-2010. We find that less dependence on fossil fuel and lower energy intensity reduce emissions in the long run. A goal of 10% reduction in CO2 levels in the long-run requires reducing the share of fossil fuel in total energy use by 11%, or reducing energy intensity by 13%. In addition, specific institutional qualities such as better corruption control and judiciary independence contribute to mitigating levels of emissions.

What Determines Obesity in Oil-Rich UAE? New Evidence from Survey Data”, with Amany A.  El Anshasy, Applied Economics LettersVol. 20:17, 2013, 1574-1579.

Abstract: We conduct a survey on university undergraduate students, and use the novel dataset to investigate the possible determinants of overweight and obesity in the UAE. Our results indicate that being male, married, rich and non-national is associated with higher BMI and students with these features are in greater risk of overweight/obesity. For students originating from MENA countries we find a negative effect for fast food and a positive one for income and computer use.

“Fiscal Policy, Governance, and the Growth Performance in Oil-Exporting Countries: Do Institutional Qualities Matter?”, with Amany A. El Anshasy, Journal of Macroeconomics, Vol. 37, September 2013, 285–298

Abstract: Weighing the current world affairs, there seems to be strong association between natural resources, corruption, and bad economic performance. We empirically investigate the interplay between different institutional qualities and fiscal policy, and their effect on resource-abundant economies’ growth. In particular, the study contributes to the existing literature by disentangling the indirect effect of institutions on growth through the ‘‘quality of fiscal performance’’ transmission channel. Using yearly panel data on 79 resource and non-resource countries for the period 1984–2008, we find that the quality of fiscal policy – and not the quantity (government size) – matters to growth in the group of resource-rich countries. We also find that not all types of socio-economic and political institutions impact growth in the same manner. Better governance, stronger democratic institutions, and transparent budgets improve fiscal performance, leading to higher growth rates. Democratic and budget institutions seem to be in effect only through the fiscal channel but not independently.

“Does Corruption Affect Suicide? Empirical evidence from OECD countries for the period 1995-2004”, with Eiji Yamamura and Antonio Rodriguez Andres,  Atlantic Economic Journal, Vol. 40, Issue 2, 2012, 133-145, Springer Verlag, DOI: 10.1007/s11293-012-9313-7.

Abstract: The question to what extent corruption influences suicide still remains unanswered. This paper examines the effect of corruption on suicide using a panel data approach f or 24 OECD countries over the period 1995–2004. Our results show that suicide rates are lower in countries with lower levels of corruption. We also find evidence that this effect is approximately three times larger f or males than for females. It follows from these findings that corruption has a detrimental effect on societal well-being and its effect differs based on the social position of genders.

"Obesity and Happiness", Applied Economics Vol. 44, Issue 31, 2012, 4101-4114. Available online at http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/raec20/44/31

Abstract: This paper provides insight on the relationship between individual obesity and happiness levels. Using the latest available panel data from Germany (GSOEP), UK (BHPS), and Australia (HILDA), we examine whether there is statistical evidence on the impact of overweight on subjective well being. Instrumental variable analysis is utilized under the presence of endogeneity, stemming from several explanatory variables. Results indicate that in all three countries obesity has a negative eff ect on the subjective well being of individuals. The results also have important implications for the e ffect of other socio-demographic, economic and individual characteristics on well being.Download

"Opinions and attitudes toward humanoid robots in the Middle East", with N. Mavridis, S. Naef, A. Falasi, A. Nuaimi, H. Araifi and A. Kitbi, AI & Society, November 2012, Vo. 27, Issue 4, 517-534.

Abstract: Robotics is expected to boom in the near future, moving massively beyond traditional application areas, and extending to all parts of the globe. Thus, in order to enable effective international customization of robot designs, and in order to facilitate their smoother harmonious introduction to everyday life, it is important to study the opinions and attitudes towards robots in different regions of the world. Although there exists a small body of research covering the US, EU, and Asia, there is almost no research regarding attitudes towards robots in the Middle East, a region with its own marked cultural idiosyncrasies. Therefore, we brought Ibn Sina, an Arabic-language conversational android robot to Dubai’s Gitex, one of the most important exhibitions in the region, and performed a questionnaire-based empirical study with 355 subjects from 38 countries, which had seen the robot interacting, and most of which had also interacted directly with it.   Many interesting findings are presented: First, a statistically significant ordering of preferred application areas for robots overall was found, as well as strong effects of the region of origin on the preferred applications. Furthermore, strong religion, age, and education effects were observed. Overall, the results together with a theoretical discussion of possible causes provide interesting insights on cultural acceptance of robots in this richly complex region, which potentially have strong implications to their wider deployment in the future in specific settings.

"Discrepancies in Financial Performance between Domestic and Foreign Owned Enterprises: The case of Greece", with Dionisis Valsamis and Panagiotis Petrakis, International Journal of Economics and Finance, Vol. 3, No. 5, October 2011, 76-85.

Abstract: This study examines the existence of discrepancies between domestic and foreign owned enterprises operating in Greece, and in particular it focuses on financial management characteristics of the firms under investigation. The data comes from the individual companies' balance sheets for the year 2008. The firms under investigation are grouped into two categories based on the origin of their capital share. Using a non-linear model, we arrive at the following results:foreign enterprises have higher use of capital, manage more financial elements, have more access to long-term borrowing, while they fall short against domestic firms in short term financing. Finally, foreign firms have higher sales and present greater profitability.

"Corruption and Growth Under Weak Identification," with Philip Shaw and Marius Jurgilas, Economic Inquiry, Vol. 49, No. 1, January 2011, 264-275.

Abstract: The goal of this paper is to revisit the influential work of Mauro (1995) focusing on the strength of his results under weak identification. He finds a negative impact of corruption on investment and economic growth that appears to be robust to endogeneity when using two-stage least squares (2SLS). Since the inception of Mauro (1995), much literature has focused on 2SLS methods revealing the dangers of estimation and thus inference under weak identification. We reproduce the original results of Mauro (1995) with a high level of confidence and show that the instrument used in the original work is in fact "weak" as defined by Staiger and Stock (1997). Thus we update the analysis using a test statistic robust to weak instruments. Our results suggest that under Mauro's original model there is a high probability that the parameters of interest are locally almost unidentified in multivariate specifications. To address this problem, we also investigate other instruments commonly used in the corruption literature and obtain similar results. Download

Unpublished Work:

"Evaluating Health Care Externality Costs by Risky Consumption Goods" (2009) with Michael A. Cohen

Abstract: We present an overlapping-generations (OLG) macroeconomic model that applies a behavioral interpretation of preferences for goods that generate health risks. In this paper proneness to poor health is viewed as a cognitive miscalculation by economic agents between their expected health state over various consumption bundles and the actual health care they require for their health outcome. To model this the paper borrows insight from prospect theory and applies the reference-dependent preference framework to the specification of our utility model. In our model of the economy, individual preferences are decomposed into intrinsic consumption utility and gain-loss utility associated with the miscalculation. Agents in the economy are strati ed in their health states as well as their expected health care consumption according to some probability measure over the population. Heterogeneity introduced in this way generates consumers of varied proneness to risk associated with consumption of unhealthy goods because individuals vary in their gain-loss utility valuation. In such a population, when all agents pay the same insurance premium, health-conscious agents shoulder the health care costs of their less health-conscious counterparts and the less health-conscious are engaged in less healthy consumption than they would if they paid actuarially fair premia. We demonstrate these effects in simulations by comparing the risk pooling equilibria to the actuarially fair pricing equilibria. This paper introduces the mathematical programming equilibrium constraint (MPEC) computational approach to compute model equilibria; we believe this approach is new to heterogeneous agent OLG model simulation. Download

"A Model of Choice: Food Consumption, Weight Preferences and Obesity Rates" (2010)

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to construct a macroeconomic model that can explain the origins of obesity. We construct an overlapping generations (OLG) heterogeneneous agents model, with two sectors, one producing food and the other producing a composite consumption good. Individuals differ in their patience levels and thus in their equilibrium  consumption decisions and weight levels. Moreover, we allow for different fractions of the population in the service sector. We find that in economies where a large fraction of the employment is concentrated in more sedentary jobs, we should expect higher obesity rates. Finally, we introduce borrowing constraints and examine how they in influence consumption decisions. We derive results that explain which factors cause obesity rates to increase. For verification purposes we apply econometric methods to identify the extent to which our model can replicate the data.


Other Research:

"Connecticut’s Spending Cap: It’s History and An Alternative Spending Growth Rule” (2005) Connecticut Centre for Economic Analysis, Working Paper, University of Connecticut, co-authors: Stanley McMillen, Mark Sheridan, Bryant Goulding, Patrick Flaherty, Sharan Sharma, Bingbo Hu. Download

“The HOPE VI Neighborhood Evaluation: Stamford, Connecticut” (2005) Connecticut Centre for Economic Analysis, Working Paper, University of Connecticut, co-authors: Stan McMillen Patrick Flaherty, Nicholas Jolly, Priscillia Hunt, Maroula Kraiche, James Boudreau, Phililp Shaw. Download

“Neighborhood Baseline Report: Bridgeport, Connecticut” (2007) Connecticut Centre for Economic Analysis, Working Paper, University of Connecticut, co-authors: Philip Shaw, Colin Brennan, Robert Slattery, John Doyle, Jesse Kalinowski and Adnan Nur. Download

 “The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Connecticut’s Estate Tax” (2008) Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development”, co-authors: Stanley McMillen, Troy Helming, Nandika Weerasinghe

 “The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Connecticut’s Film Tax Credit” (2008) Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, co-authors: Stanley McMillen, Kathryn Parr, Troy Helming. Download

Marina-Selini Katsaiti
United Arab Emirates University
P.O. BOX: 17555, Al Ain
UAE