Manisha Shah is the Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Endowed Chair in Social Justice and Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and Founding Director of the Global Lab for Research in Action. Shah 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. She is an editor at Journal of Health Economics and an Associate Editor at The Review of Economics and Statistics. Follow Shah on Twitter @Manisha_econ.
Published and Forthcoming Articles
Unintended Consequences of Lockdowns: COVID-19 and the Shadow Pandemic (with S. Ravindran), Nature Human Behaviour. March 2023, 7(3).
Media Coverage: The Wall Street Journal, World Bank Development Impact Blog, The Hindu, The Indian Express (Front Page), India Today, Quartz India, Livemint.
The Dirty Business of Eliminating Open Defecation: The Effect of Village Sanitation on Child Height from Field Experiments in Four Countries,” (with P. Gertler, M. Alzua, L. Cameron, S. Martinez, and S. Patil) Journal of Development Economics. November 2022, 159.
Women’s Well-Being During a Pandemic and its Containment (with N. Bau, G. Khanna, C. Low, S. Sharmin, and A. Voena), Journal of Development Economics. May 2022, 156.
Crimes against Morality: Unintended Consequences of Criminalizing Sex Work (with L. Cameron and J. Seager), Quarterly Journal of Economics. February 2021, 136(1): 427–469.
Media Coverage: Probable Causation, The Economist, VoxDev
Policy Brief: Cato Brief
Aggregate Effects from Public Works: Evidence from India (with J. Cook), forthcoming The Review of Economics and Statistics.
Media Coverage: VoxDev
Workfare and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from India (with B. Steinberg), Journal of Human Resources. Spring 2021, 56(2): 380–405.
Media Coverage: NBER Digest
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.
Media Coverage: : VoxEU, IdeasForIndia
Scaling Up Sanitation: Evidence from an RCT in Indonesia (with L. Cameron and S. Olivia), Journal of Development Economics, May 2019, vol 138.
Media Coverage: : VoxDev
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).
Media Coverage: 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
Economics of Sex Work and Policy Considerations (with S. Cunningham). forthcoming in Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics
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)
“Sex, Power, and Adolescence: Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Behaviors” (with J. Seager, J. Montalvao, and M. Goldstein), 2023.
“Improving Mental Health of Adolescent Girls in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Causal Evidence from Life Skills Programming,” (with S. Baird, J. Seager, B. Avuwadah, J. Hamory, S. Sabarwal, and A. Vyas) r&r Journal of Human Resources.
“Violent Discipline and Parental Behavior: Short- and Medium-term Effects of Virtual Parenting Support to Caregivers,” (with L Dinarte-Diaz, S. Ravindran, S Powers, and H Baker-Henningham) 2023.
“Reducing bias among health care providers: Experimental evidence from Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Pakistan,” (with Z. Wagner, C. Moucheraud, A. Wollum, W. Friedman, and W. Dow), 2023.
“Intergenerational Impacts from the World’s Largest Early Childhood Program,” with S. Ravindran, 2022.
Financial Incentives and Other Nudges Do Not Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations among the Vaccine Hesitant (with T. Chang, M. Jacobson, R. Pramanik & S. Shah). 2021. NBER Working Paper 29403.
Media Coverage: WSJ, MarketPlace, KCRW, Bloomberg, SF Chronicle.
Human Capital Investment in the Presence of Child Labor (with N. Bau, M. Rotemberg, and B. Steinberg), 2020. NBER Working Paper 27241.