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2017 - 2018 Summer Undergraduate Full-time Research Assistant Program

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2017 - 2018 Academic Year

Assessing Adverse Selection into the Public Sector in Tanzania 

Most research on economic growth in developing countries finds that the rule of law, institutions and efficient government are critical determinants of growth.  One prominent constraint on improving government efficiency is the difficulty of recruiting and retaining skilled workers.  Particularly among the highest skilled, the best professionals are picked off by the private sector and NGOs, leaving the government constantly struggling to staff key positions.  The simple fact that the most valuable workers leave a particular organization, however, does not imply adverse selection because those workers may have comparative advantages in other firms.  So, despite the belief that adverse selection in labor markets is an important and possibly pervasive issue, it has not been documented.  Recent reforms to the pay scale in the Tanzania Ministry of Health provide a novel opportunity to measure the extent and consequences of adverse selection.  The undergraduate research assistant (RA) would work under the guidance of researchers to collect and analyze data on these reforms and their effects.

Faculty supervisors: Katherine Casey, Graduate School of Business, and Edward Lazear, Graduate School of Business
Location: Tanzania


Blasphemy Laws and Discrimination in Indonesia 

This research would involve working with Indonesia’s Institute for an Independent Judiciary (LeIP) on a project, funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta, that focuses on the increasing use of blasphemy laws to suppress or discriminate against minorities and marginalized groups. The project analyzes more than 100 criminal court decisions based on the blasphemy law, often in conjunction with the Electronic Communications Law or the Criminal Defamation Law. The analytical report on these cases will provide the basis for revising the curriculum module in the National Judicial Training Center and developing a Practice Guideline to be published by the Supreme Court. The research work with LeIP on this project will focus on three principal areas: preparing English language versions of the training tools and other documents for use in other South- and Southeast Asian countries; working with the LeIP research team on comparative research and analysis of blasphemy laws and prosecutions in other countries, and particularly in South- and Southeast Asia; participating in capacity building workshops for civil society emphasizing evidence-based advocacy.

This opportunity is part of Stanford's Cardinal Quarter for which students are eligible to apply for a Cardinal Service transcript notation.

Faculty supervisors: David Cohen, Department of Classics
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia


Emergency Medical Care and Crisis Support in Uttar Pradesh, India

Emergency medical services and crisis support networks are uncommon in low- and middle-income countries. In India, emergency medical services (EMS) infrastructure is being used in novel ways to fill this gap. Students will focus on one of two projects: 1) understanding the crisis support network for gender-based violence, and 2) mapping neonatal critical care interfacility transport and capacity.  To investigate the GBV crisis support network, students will work with local research assistants to conduct in-depth interviews with women who have used a GBV helpline built on current EMS infrastructure. They will also conduct assessments of one-stop crisis centers and seek to understand how these different components coordinate to support women in crisis. With our neonatal project, students will work with personnel at government hospitals (from primary care facilities to medical colleges) to collect data on infrastructure, processes, gaps, and needs using a standardized tool newly adapted for India.

Faculty supervisor: Jennifer Newberry, School of Medicine
Location: India


Evaluating the Cost-Effectiveness of English and Non-Cognitive Skill Training for Low-Income Youth in India 

In many developing countries, access to a quality education remains elusive for disadvantaged youth. Having failed to acquire adequate skills in a traditional school system characterized by tracking, outdated curricula, and passive teaching, disadvantaged youth are ill equipped for the labor market. Bucking this trend is an innovative, large-scale, and non-profit training program in Delhi, which (in contrast to typical job-training or vocational programs) attempts to help students develop English and non-cognitive skills. The working hypothesis of the program is that, through instruction in such skills, students will access otherwise inaccessible career opportunities in the labor market. We will test this hypothesis by (1) evaluating the effectiveness of the program in imparting English and non-cognitive skills; (2) examining the impact of the program on short- and longer-term labor market outcomes; (3) examining the mediating role of English and non-cognitive skill building in the program’s impact on labor market outcomes.

This opportunity is part of Stanford's Cardinal Quarter for which students are eligible to apply for a Cardinal Service transcript notation.

Faculty supervisor: Prashant Loyalka, Graduate School of Education
Location: Delhi, India


Improving Electoral Processes in South Asia 

Students may choose to research either: 1) In India, Professor Gulzar is working with a political party to help it design its campaigns better. He and his colleagues have already completed an experiment where the party explicitly engaged with women for a new campaign issue targeted particularly at women. This was also implemented through a field experiment. The RA will help with data analysis and do scoping work in the field for new projects with the party, potentially launching another experiment during the summer; or 2) Nepal's recent local elections have created newly elected politicians at the local level for the first time in twenty years. Professor Gulzar is working closely with a local NGO, Daayitwa, to study the process through which political parties choose their candidates for these elections. In addition, he is conducting pilots to train the elected representatives on their new jobs. The RA will primarily be based at Daayitwa and will help with data analysis as well as field activities for the training projects.  

This opportunity is part of Stanford's Cardinal Quarter for which students are eligible to apply for a Cardinal Service transcript notation.

Faculty supervisor: Saad Gulzar, Department of Political Science
Location: India


Innovation and Product Design by Handicraft Artisans in a Context of Global Markets 

Historically, handicraft artisans in developing countries have relied on a few, traditional product designs in their production process. However, innovating and adopting new product designs could improve their economic livelihoods by opening up new markets. Motivated by this observation, we ask: under what conditions do handicraft artisans innovate and adopt new designs in their production process to cater to urban and global markets? The student will conduct research in the wood and lacquerware cluster of Channapatna in India and the nearby city of Bangalore. The research will consist of interviewing and surveying designers in Bangalore who work with artisans to ask them about their experience introducing new designs amongst the Channapatna artistans, and spending some time in Channapatna interviewing and observing artisans at work. The research will also consist of piloting a field experimental intervention to improve artisans’ openness to experimentation with new designs.

Faculty supervisor: Aruna Ranganathan, Graduate School of Business 
Location: Bangalore, India


Socioeconomic Impacts of Urbanization in Cote d’Ivoire 

In recent years, African nations like Cote d’Ivoire have been experiencing rapid economic growth as well as high urbanization rates and urban sprawl, as people and businesses are moving from rural areas to capital cities and surrounding areas. Yet, there has been limited scientific analysis of a large set of issues that are peculiar to cities, such as urban poverty, employment/unemployment patterns, migration trends, firm characteristics, and urban governance. Most existing socio-economic surveys in Sub-Saharan Africa are largely focused on rural populations and many of them are cross-sectional. The Stanford Economic Development Research Initiative (SEDRI) intends to fill this gap by creating long-term panel datasets of households, businesses, and local administrators in peri-urban areas of multiple Sub-Saharan African countries. Under the guidance of senior Stanford economists and project staff, the summer undergraduate RA will help with need-finding and survey piloting in the greater Abidjan area. The work will include conducting exploratory interviews, gathering administrative data, preliminary data analysis, and report writing.

Faculty supervisors: Pascaline Dupas, Department of Economics, and Marcel Fafchamps, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)
Location: Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire


Socio-environmental Determinants of Schistosomiasis in Senegal

Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by a parasitic worm that affects 250 million people worldwide. The parasite is transmitted by freshwater snails and this complex ecology makes it difficult to control with human treatment alone. The project aims to understand the ecology of schistosomiasis transmission along the Senegal River and determine the feasibility and scalability of interventions that address the environmental source of infection as a necessary complement to treatment of human infections with pharmaceuticals. Students will contribute to a multipronged field study of schistosomiasis, assisting with the collection of ecological data quantifying populations of snail intermediate hosts as well as household surveys to understand the details of agricultural livelihoods and human-environment interactions that mediate disease risk.

Faculty supervisor: Giulio De Leo, Department of Biology
Location: Senegal