Dennis Egger

Associate Professor in Economics   |   University of Oxford   |   Tutorial Fellow in Economics at The Queen's College

Research   |   Teaching

I am an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford and a Tutorial Fellow at The Queen's College, Oxford.

I am a development economist interested in labor and trade. I use large scale experiments and administrative data sets to conduct empirical research on migration, networks, and spatial linkages between economic agents in general equilibrium. My current work focuses on Kenya, Ethiopia, China and Switzerland.

CV   |  Photo



with Johannes Haushofer,  Ted Miguel, Paul Niehaus, and Michael Walker.
Econometrica, Vol. 90, No. 6 (November, 2022), 2603–2643
ECMA Link; Paper, Supplemental Material; NBER WP; Slides

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 transfer multiplier of 2.5. We interpret welfare implications through the lens of a simple household optimization framework.

Media: VoxDev (mp3), 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 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 (2021), Vol. 7, no. 6

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.

with Aleksandra Jakubowski, Carolyne Nekesa, Layna Lowe, Michael Walker, Edward Miguel.
JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(7)

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

We study the effects of migrant networks on the labor market integration of refugees, the performance of local firms, and the wages of their employees in Switzerland. To track outcomes of individuals and firms, we link six employer-employee matched administrative datasets covering the universe of residents (citizens, migrants, and refugees) and registered firms from 2008 to 2017. Leveraging the quasi-random placement of refugees across locations and a novel IV strategy, we show that larger local networks persistently increase employment and income of refugees. Network effects are large, accounting for 38% of the variation in incomes within nationality cohorts across cantons. In line with homophily, demographically similar networks and economically successful peers have larger positive impacts. Network effects are shaped by direct personal contacts: refugees who quasi-randomly lived in the same residential center are three times more likely to become co-workers at the same firm. Using a shift-share IV design, we then show that firms experiencing a positive shock to their employee’s network hire both more migrants and natives. Their wage bill and the average wages of existing employees grow, and high-skilled natives rise within the firm hierarchy. This is consistent with referrals improving firm-worker match quality and productivity. Concerns about adverse economic impacts of spatially concentrated immigration are not borne out in the data, suggesting that existing migration policies in Switzerland and other high-income countries may need to be reconsidered.

This paper uses COVID-19 school closure policies in Kenya as an exogenous shock to estimate the impact of changes in household childcare needs on adult labor supply. We use nationally-representative bi-monthly panel data in a difference-in-differences design to compare changes after schools partly reopened in Kenya in October 2020 for households with a child in grade 4 or 8—the grades eligible to return to school after the partial reopening—against households with a child in adjacent grades. Having a child eligible to return increases adults’ labor supply in the weeks after reopening. Increases are concentrated on the intensive margin of hours and particularly in household agriculture hours, consistent with labor in this activity being more flexible. We find no effects on the extensive margin of labor participation or on wage employment, which may take longer to adjust to a childcare shock. Impacts are not significantly different by sex of the adult: though women have greater responsibility for childcare in Kenya, men also contribute and both increased childcare hours during school closures. Effects are driven by changes in household childcare burdens and in child agricultural labor when a child returns to school, and are larger in less wealthy households. The impact of partial reopening on work hours corresponds to over 30% of the fall in average hours in the first few months after COVID-19 cases were detected, indicating that school closures are responsible for a significant share of the reduction in labor supply during the pandemic. Large labor effects of a potentially expensive childcare availability shock suggest that policies making childcare more available and affordable could have positive impacts on adult labor supply in Kenya. 

Other work in progress

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Current Teaching

Development Economics

 HT  Oxford University

Quantitative Methods

MSc for Development   | HT  |  Oxford University

Probability and Statistics

MT, HT, TT  |  The Queen's College

Quantitative Economics

 TT  |  The Queen's College

Past Teaching

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