Dennis Egger

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics | University of California, Berkeley

I am a fifth year PhD student in Economics at UC Berkeley, interested in Development and Trade. I use large scale experiments and administrative data sets to conduct well-identified empirical research on migration, urbanization, networks, and the effects of cash transfers in general equilibrium.

Department of EconomicsUniversity of California530 Evans Hall #3880Berkeley, California 94720United States

CV | Photo



with Edward Miguel, Shana S. Warren, Ashish Shenoy, Elliott Collins, Dean Karlan, Doug Parkerson, A. Mushfiq Mobarak, Günther Fink, Christopher Udry, Michael Walker, Johannes Haushofer, Magdalena Larreboure, Susan Athey, Paula Lopez-Pena, Salim Benhachmi, Macartan Humphreys, Layna Lowe, Niccoló F. Meriggi, Andrew Wabwire, C. Austin Davis, Utz Johann Pape, Tilman Graff, Maarten Voors, Carolyn Nekesa, Corey Vernot. Science Advances

Despite numerous journalistic accounts, systematic quantitative evidence on economic conditions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic remains scarce for most low- and middle-income countries, partly due to limitations of official economic statistics in environments with large informal sectors and subsistence agriculture. We assemble evidence from over 30,000 respondents in 16 original household surveys from nine countries in Africa (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone), Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines), and Latin America (Colombia). We document declines in employment and income in all settings beginning March 2020. The share of households experiencing an income drop ranges from 8 to 87% (median, 68%). Household coping strategies and government assistance were insufficient to sustain precrisis living standards, resulting in widespread food insecurity and dire economic conditions even 3 months into the crisis. We discuss promising policy responses and speculate about the risk of persistent adverse effects, especially among children and other vulnerable groups.

Working Papers

with Johannes Haushofer, Ted Miguel, Paul Niehaus, and Michael Walker.
Revise-and-resubmit, Econometrica

How large economic stimuli generate individual and aggregate responses is a central question in economics, but has not been studied experimentally. We provided one-time cash transfers of about USD 1000 to over 10,500 poor households across 653 randomized villages in rural Kenya. The implied fiscal shock was over 15 percent of local GDP. We find large impacts on consumption and assets for recipients. Importantly, we document large positive spillovers on non-recipient households and firms, and minimal price inflation. We estimate a local fiscal multiplier of 2.6. We interpret welfare implications through the lens of a simple household optimization framework.

Media: Vox (pdf), Washington Post (pdf), The Economist (pdf), NPR (mp3), Econimate, Der Standard (pdf)

Code: iv_spatial_HAC (with Tilman Graff). Stata package for Conley-type standard errors in 2SLS-settings. Available upon request.

with Aleksandra Jakubowski, Dennis Egger, Carolyne Nekesa, Layna Lowe, Michael Walker, Edward Miguel.

In the absence of concrete plans for widespread vaccination, masks remain one of the few tools available to low-income populations to avoid the spread of SARS-CoV-2 for the foreseeable future. We compare mask use data collected through self-reports from phone surveys and direct observations in public spaces from population-representative samples in Ugunja subcounty, a rural setting in Western Kenya. We examine mask use in different situations and compare mask use by gender, age, location, and the riskiness of the activity. While only 12% of people admitted in phone interviews to not wearing a mask in public, 90% of people we observed did not have a mask visible in public spaces despite a national government mandate. Self-reported mask use was significantly higher than observed mask use in all scenarios (i.e. in the village, in the market, on public transportation). This vast gap suggests that people are aware that mask use is socially desirable, but in practice they do not adopt this behavior. Focusing public policy efforts on improving adoption of mask use via education and behavioral interventions may be needed to improve compliance. Methodologically, our findings suggest that the reliance on self-reported adherence to mitigation measures from phone surveys may be problematic.

Work in Progress

Labor Market Integration, Growth and Inequality: Evidence from China's Hukou Reforms

with Wei Lin

Successive reforms to China's local registration system, the Hukou, provide variation in group-specific migration costs across time and space. We use this variation, together with an event-study design and triple-difference identification strategy, to quantify the reforms' contribution to the increase in internal migrant labor over the past 20 years in China. Using policy-induced exogenous by-group bilateral migration flows, we estimate the impact of increased labor market integration on aggregate Chinese productivity growth, as well as inequality across types of workers and different regions between 1995 and 2015. In the process, we develop a new methodology and provide new estimates of the migration elasticity for different types of workers, between-group substitutability of workers, and across-group productivity and amenity spillovers.

The Effects of Social Networks on Labor Market Outcomes: Panel evidence from the Random Placement of Refugees in Switzerland

with Daniel Auer and Johannes Kunz

We study the effects of social and professional networks on the labor market integration of asylum seekers in Switzerland using monthly employer-employee matched administrative data from 2008 to 2018. Upon arrival, the universe of 600’000 asylum seekers arriving in Switzerland after 2000 are randomly allocated to one of 26 cantons (absent a reunion with immediate family or health reasons). We study how the structure (size, composition, etc.) of their ethnic, national and professional networks (instrumented by initial random placement) dynamically affects their labor market outcomes over time.

with Michael Walker, Tilman Graff, Magdalena Larreboure, Layna Lowe, Carol Nekesa, Andrew Wabwire, Utz Johann Pape, Johannes Haushofer, Ted Miguel

Our tracker emerges as an academic response to the lack of real-time data on the spread of COVID-19 and its economic fallout, particularly in rural African settings. Its goal is to help policy makers in Kenya to craft both public health and economic responses to the crisis.

How? We are generating descriptive statistics on COVID-19, behavioral adaptations, and local economic activity. We are collecting information on travel and recent contacts, knowledge of COVID-19 mitigation measures, and whether the population is adhering to them. As the epidemic unfolds, news consumption, trust in government and authorities, and social cohesion within households (e.g. domestic violence) or villages may also be affected. All of these data are being collected through phone surveys in representative samples nationwide, and of different study areas and populations. We will be posting weekly updates to disseminate our findings in real time.

We are also putting together different sources of information to create a timeline of the measures the government is enforcing during this time. We will use temporal and geographic variation in our survey timings and locations to analyze policy changes associated with the pandemic.

Other work in progress

  • How Deep is the Covid-19 Recession, and Can Unconditional Cash Transfers Mitigate Its Effects? Evidence from Kenya (with Johannes Haushofer, Edward Miguel, Michael Walker, Tilman Graff, Magdalena Larreboure, Layna Lowe, Anya Marchenko, Gwyneth Miner, Carol Nekesa, Carlos Paramo, Andrew Wabwire). We document the detailed evolution of economic activity through the covid-19 crisis at a weekly level, and test whether a previous cash transfer can mitigate its effect on households and enterprises.

  • Long-run equilibrium effects of cash transfers (with Johannes Haushofer, Ted Miguel, and Michael Walker). We study how large inflows of cash affect the economy in the long run. Do effects dissipate? Are there agglomeration effects? Does market structure change?

  • Does money buy influence? We use a large randomized cash transfer program to estimate the social network effects of cash. How does your social network and political influence change when you, or members in your network, get exogenously richer?

  • Reciprocity in assimilation? (with Daniel Auer and Johannes Kunz). Using the random assignment of asylum seekers to locations in Switzerland, we study how assimilation of migrants, proxied by newborn names, interacts with exposure effects on the host population.

  • Genocide and the Demand for Formal Institutions: Evidence from the Legacy of the Khmer Rouge (with Ricardo Dahis and Joris Mueller). How does a legacy of violence and expropriation shape the demand for current property rights?


Economic Development

Graduate Student Instructor, Spring 2020 | UC Berkeley

Case Studies in Economic Development from Sub-Saharan Africa

Graduate Student Instructor, Spring 2019, Fall 2019 | UC Berkeley

International Trade

Graduate Student Instructor, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020 | UC Berkeley

Macroeconomic Policy from the Great Depression to Today

Graduate Student Instructor, Spring 2018 | UC Berkeley

Teaching Evaluations

My teaching evaluations were consistently above the department average. In 2019, I was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award (given at most once to the top 10% of GSIs).