Manisha Shah is Vice-Chair and Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She is also a Faculty Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Faculty Affiliate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Effective Global Action, The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, and The Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development, and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor. Shah is an economist who received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.
Shah is a development economist whose primary research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of applied microeconomics, health, and development. She has written several papers on the economics of sex markets in order to learn how more effective policies and programs can be deployed to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. She also works in the area of child health and education. Shah has been the PI on various impact evaluations and randomized controlled trials and is currently leading projects in Tanzania, Indonesia, and India. She has also worked extensively in Ecuador and Mexico. Her research has been supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the World Bank, and the National Science Foundation among others.
Published and Forthcoming Articles
The Right to Education Act: Trends in Enrollment, Test Scores, and School Quality (with B. Steinberg). AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, May 2019, vol. 109, pages 232-238. NBER Version of Paper with appendix here.
Scaling Up Sanitation: Evidence from an RCT in Indonesia (with L. Cameron and S. Olivia), Journal of Development Economics, May 2019, vol 138.
Decriminalizing Prostitution: Implications for Sexual Violence and Public Health (with S. Cunningham). The Review of Economic Studies, July 2018, 85(3):1683–1715.
Selected Media Coverage: Vox, Slate, Washington Post, WSJ, LA Weekly, UCLA, KCRW interview, WHYY show, Seriouspod Podcast
Drought of Opportunities: Contemporaneous and Long Term Impacts of Rainfall Shocks on Human Capital (with B. Steinberg), Journal of Political Economy, April 2017, 125(2).
Blog about paper: Ideas for India
Risk-Taking Behavior in the Wake of Natural Disasters (with L. Cameron), Journal of Human Resources, Spring 2015, 50(2): 484-515.
Media Coverage: The Huffington Post
Can Mistargeting Destroy Social Capital and Stimulate Crime? Evidence from a Cash Transfer Program in Indonesia (with L. Cameron), Economic Development and Cultural Change, January 2014, 62(2): 381-415.
Do Sex Workers Respond to Disease? Evidence from the Male Market for Sex, American Economic Review Papers & Proceedings, 2013, 103(3): 445-50.
Intra-household Resource Allocation: Do Parents Reduce or Reinforce Child Cognitive Ability Gaps? (with P. Frijters, D. Johnston, and M. Shields), Demography, December 2013, 50:6.
Compensated for Life: Sex Work and Disease Risk (with R. Arunachalam), Journal of Human Resources, Spring 2013, 48:345-369.
Face Value: Information and Signaling in an Illegal Market (with T. Logan), Southern Economic Journal. 2013. 79(3), 529-564.
Handedness, Health and Cognitive Development: Evidence from Children in the NLSY (with D. Johnston, M. Nicholls, and M. Shields), Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A (Statistics in Society), 2012.
The Prostitute’s Allure: The Return to Beauty in Commercial Sex Work (with R. Arunachalam), B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2012.
Sex Work and Infection: What’s Law Enforcement Got to Do with it? (with P. Gertler), Journal of Law and Economics, November 2011, 54.
Media Coverage: The Economist
To Work or Not to Work? Child Development and Maternal Labor Supply (with P. Frijters, D. Johnston, and M. Shields), American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, July 2009, 1(3): 97-110.
Nature’s Experiment? Handedness and Early Childhood Development (with D. Johnston, M. Nicholls, and M. Shields), Demography, May 2009, 46(2): 281-302.
Prostitutes and Brides? (with R. Arunachalam), American Economic Review Papers & Proceedings, May 2008, 98(2), 516-522.
Risky Business: The Market for Unprotected Commercial Sex (with P. Gertler and S. Bertozzi), Journal of Political Economy, June 2005, 113(3), 518-550.
Media Coverage: NYTimes, Slate
Books and Handbook Chapters
The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Prostitution. Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah, editors. Oxford University Press, 2016.
Sex Work and Risky Sex in Developing Countries, In: Anthony J. Culyer (editor), Encyclopedia of Health Economics, Vol 3. San Diego: Elsevier; 2014. pp. 311-315.
Sex Work, with V. Rao, In The New Oxford Companion to Economics in India (Kaushik Basu and Annemie Maertens, editors), Delhi: Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2012.
Working Papers (Please email for most recent version)
Workfare and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from India (with B. Steinberg), NBER Working Paper 21543. revise and resubmit Journal of Human Resources
Media Coverage: NBER Digest
Crimes against Morality: Unintended Consequences of Criminalizing Sex Work (with L. Cameron and J. Muz), 2019
How Does Health Promotion Work? Evidence From The Dirty Business of Eliminating Open Defecation (with P. Gertler, M. Alzua, L. Cameron, S. Martinez, and S. Patil). NBER Working Paper 20997.
Impact Evaluation of a Large-Scale Rural Sanitation Project in Indonesia (with L. Cameron and S. Olivia), World Bank Policy Research Paper 6360, February 2013.
Scaling Up Rural Sanitation: Findings from the Impact Evaluation Baseline Survey in Indonesia (with L. Cameron), Water and Sanitation Project Technical Paper, November 2010.