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Sendhil Mullainathan

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Residence  United States
Role  Professor
Name  Sendhil Mullainathan

Notable awards  MacArthur Fellow
Nationality  United States, India
Awards  MacArthur Fellowship
Sendhil Mullainathan Sendhil Mullainathan Solving social problems with a nudge

Institutions  Harvard University 2004– MIT 1999-2004
Alma mater  Harvard University Ph.D, 1998 Cornell University B.A., 1993
Known for  Behavioral Economics Development Economics Corporate Finance
Organizations founded  Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab
Fields  Economics, Behavioral economics
Doctoral advisor  Drew Fudenberg, Lawrence F. Katz, Andrei Shleifer
Education  Cornell University, Harvard University
Similar People  Eldar Shafir, Marianne Bertrand, Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee, Andrei Shleifer

Fi2020 global forum sendhil mullainathan professor of economics harvard university

Sendhil Mullainathan (செந்தில் முல்லைநாதன்) () (born c. 1973) is a Professor of Economics at Harvard University and the author of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much (with Eldar Shafir). He was hired with tenure by Harvard in 2004 after having spent six years at MIT. He is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" and conducts research on development economics, behavioral economics, and corporate finance. He is co-founder of Ideas 42, a non-profit organization that uses behavioral science to help solve social problems, and J-PAL, the MIT Poverty Action Lab. He has made extensive academic contributions through the National Bureau of Economic Research and has also worked in government at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).


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Scarcity why having too little means so much sendhil mullainathan

Early life and career

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Born in a small farming village in India, Mullainathan moved to the Los Angeles area at 7. He received his B.A. in computer science, mathematics, and economics from Cornell University in 1993, and he completed his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University 1993-1998.

Research contributions

Sendhil Mullainathan Book review 39Scarcity Why Having Too Little Means So

He has made substantial contributions to the field of behavioural economics. He has also made innovative additions to the literature on development topics, such as discrimination, corruption, and corporate governance.

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His 2013 "Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function" published in Science, compared farmers' performance on intelligence tests in the bleak and stressful days before harvest, to the period of abundance following the sale of produce. Remarkably, the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, compared with after harvest, when rich. The controlled study found that the stress associated with poverty impeded other behaviors.

As a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, he produced numerous papers that link behavioral science and economics. The 2002 paper "Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier", written together with Jonathan Gruber, found an improvement in smokers' psychological state when cigarette taxes were hiked to provide disincentive to buy cigarettes.

A December 2007 paper studies corruption in obtaining driving licenses in Delhi. On the average, individuals pay about twice the official amount to obtain a license and very few take the legally required driving test, resulting in many unqualified but licensed drivers. The magnitude of distortions in the allocation of licenses increases with citizens' willing to pay for licenses. The results support the view that corruption does not only transfer from citizens to bureaucrats but also distorts allocation. The paper also shows that partial anti-corruption measures have only a limited impact because players in this system adapt to the new environment. Specifically, a ban on agents at one regional transport office is associated with a high percentage of unqualified drivers overcoming the residency requirement and obtaining licenses at other license offices.

The 2004 study used a simple technique to measure labor market discrimination by switching the names at the top of resumes. Controlling for other factors, Mullainathan and his co-authors found that applications with white sounding names attained 50% more callbacks. The experiment provides convincing evidence of implicit discrimination in hiring practices.

In collaboration with Marianne Bertrand, Mullainathan published a series of papers scrutinizing executive compensation. The studies explain that increasing financial reward for CEO performance is a more complicated matter than incentive. Factors may enable CEOs to gain from luck, manipulating committees (the Skimming Model) and decreased sector competition.


Sendhil Mullainathan Wikipedia

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