I am an economist with research interests in Applied Microeconomics and Labor Economics. I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Tehran Institute for Advanced Studies . I received my Ph.D. in Economics from UCLA in 2020, and my MSc and BSc from Sharif University of Technology in Economics and Electrical Engineering.

Working Papers

The Cost of Strategic Play in Centralized School Choice Mechanisms     - submitted -

This paper evaluates the welfare costs induced by limiting the number of choices in deferred acceptance mechanisms. I show that when the number of choices is capped, some students have to be strategic and that increasing the size of the submittable list can result in better matches, and therefore lead to welfare improvement. I use Iranian college entrance dataset to estimate a novel discrete choice model for centralized university systems, in which I relax the independence of unobserved preference shocks assumption. I validate the model with out-of-sample data from a quasi-experimental policy change, in which the list cap was increased by 50 percent. In my counterfactual analysis, I calculate that a list cap of 10 choices instead of 100 would incur a 14.2 percent welfare loss. This is equivalent to a 453 km increase in the home-university distance, which is 2.6 times the average distance traveled by Iranian students. I also show that a more restrictive list cap does not affect students at the top and bottom of the ranking, but hurts students with average scores and benefits students in the lower quartile.

The Role of Labor Market’s Information in College Major Choice and Educated Labor Supply

with Mohammad Ali Bagherzadeh

This work aims to investigate the role of information sharing in labor market as a key determinant of temporal dynamics and suboptimality of educated labor supply using a dynamic choice model of college majors and jobs. Exploiting a directed search model of the labor market, choice dynamics are assessed in a network of potential workers who receive new information on their productivity in different industries and observe posted wages in skilled-labor sub-markets. The case of the Dot-Com boom effect on the enrollment of different college majors is studied. While the social network connectivity in different U.S. states is considered as the information diffusion criterion, the effect of wages on college majors' enrollment is examined exploiting a multinomial choice model. In the case where sub-market wages are derived from the competitive search equilibrium, difference between the semiparametric estimation results highlights the underestimation of wage effect on enrollment decisions.

Differential Effects of Public and Private Transit Infrastructure on Urban Sorting Dynamics: Evidence from Houston

with Hamid Reza Koohian

We examine the differential effects of public and private transit modes on the sorting of individuals within a city. Our study focuses on the case of Houston, a sprawling metropolis that has experienced significant transportation developments in the past two decades, including the expansion of the Katy Freeway and the introduction of METRORail. Our findings indicate that high-income individuals tend to reside along the freeway, contributing to a suburban trend in Houston, whereas the introduction of public transit has attracted low-income individuals to its vicinity. Currently, we are working to assess the distributional welfare effects of different transit infrastructure modes using a quantitative spatial model, highlighting the important consideration of heterogeneous elasticities of commute choices to commute costs for different types of workers.

The Geographic Reshuffling of Firms: Remote Work and the Shift Away from Central Business Districts

with Mohammad Fallah

The rise of remote work has significantly influenced the location choices of residents and businesses, leading to shifts in living patterns, real estate markets, and business operations. As remote work adaptability varies by industry and skill level, firms in different sectors and individuals with varying educational backgrounds are expected to respond differently to the new working arrangements. This research aims to elucidate the mechanisms driving these shifts and their implications for agglomeration economies. We employ a quantitative spatial equilibrium model to investigate how the differential adaptation of remote work across industries, amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, has impacted firms’ location preferences away from the central business district (CBD) in San Diego and estimate the elasticity of substitution between remote and on-site work for different industries. The findings offer insights into the spatial dynamics of firm location in response to the ongoing remote work trend, informing policy decisions and urban planning in the post-pandemic landscape. Given the decline in worker and firm density in the CBD and the resulting reduction in positive externalities, counterfactual analyses will be conducted to explore the potential impact on social welfare of measures including a remote work tax, transit infrastructure improvement, and zoning regulations.

Work in Progress

Education Inequality with Free Higher Education

with Mehran Ebrahimian

Geography of Higher Education Opportunity and the Role of Place-Based Policies

with Sahber Ahmadi-Renani

Sanctions and Cancer Mortality

with Sahber Ahmadi-Renani

Land Reform in Iran: Institutional Policy and Natural Resources

with MohammadAli Bagherzadeh
2023 Sepehr Ekbatani