Ph.D., London School of Economics (2011)
M.Res., London School of Economics (2008)
B.Sc., London School of Economics (2006)
As a development economist, Prakarsh Singh studies how to make the public sector more efficient and some of the most serious issues facing the poor in conflict affected regions.
His research has included randomized controlled trials in collaboration with state governments of Punjab, West Bengal and Chandigarh, with the intent of streamlining and improving government efforts to reduce child malnutrition in day care centers. One of his latest projects is with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which awarded him a competitive Grand Challenges Award worth $100,000 to study effective strategies to combat undernutrition in slums.
"We implemented different performance pay schemes to figure out which one works best to motivate child health workers, and have tried combining it with information for mothers and training for the workers themselves," he says. "Many of these interventions show promise."
Another new project is a collaboration with MIT’s J-PAL and Government of Tamil Nadu to reduce undernutrition in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The other side of his research deals with the impact of conflict at the micro-level on households’ education and health investments, firms’ investments and labor markets.
"Conflict leads to poverty but also makes it difficult to root out," he says.
"I measure, for example, how firms make tradeoffs between long-term and short-term investments, and how households decide education for their sons and daughters when there is both a loss in incomes and an increase in future uncertainty. In recent works, we have also studied the impact of conflict on food prices, emigration and economic growth."
In addition, he studies why civil wars occur and the role of institutions in conflict resolution.
At Amherst, he has worked with thesis students on studying the effects of conflict on child abuse and the impact of access to media on intimate partner violence. Both thesis students now have publications in peer-reviewed journals.
"I hope to continue measuring the impact of civil and intra-household conflict on outcomes and behavior of individuals, households and firms using micro-level data. This will help policymakers better understand the true costs of conflict and its heterogeneous impact," he says.
Singh’s new work funded by the United Nations University in Helsinki, Finland studies the sources of religious discrimination in child day care centers (which was also funded by Fordham University, New York) and the impact of conflict on girls’ school enrollments in Assam, India.
His courses include Introductory Economics, Development Economics and Microeconomics of Development. He is teaching Microeconomics in Spring 2016.
Singh uses “complementary techniques to help students absorb and apply concepts in economics," he says. He encourages debate, discussion and class participation. His lower-level elective on Development Economics has an assignment “Dream Experiment” where groups of students write a grant proposal for undertaking research in a developing country to solve a market failure in areas such as health, education and agriculture. In his upper-level elective, Singh trains students to write their own research papers analyzing existing data sets, and several of these have resulted in publications for example, Alvaro Morales’ work on the impact of child physical maltreatment on nutritional outcomes was published in the Journal of Development Studies in 2015.
Singh enjoys challenging his introductory-level students with weekly quizzes and in-class group problems, incorporating real-world examples from newspaper and magazine articles, as well as real-world policy dilemmas.
Recent Publications in 2015
1) “Performance Pay and Information: Reducing child undernutrition in India”, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2015, Vol 112, pp. 141-163, April.
2) “The Effects of Child Physical Maltreatment on Nutritional Outcomes: Evidence from Peru”, joint with Alvaro Morales. Journal of Development Studies, forthcoming.
3) “A Research-Based Development Economics Course for Undergraduates”, joint with Hongye Guo and Alvaro Morales. The Journal of Economic Education, 2015, Vol 46 (3), pp. 274-284, June.
4) “Violence and the Market for Food: Evidence from Kenya”, joint with Luis Alberiko Gil-Alana, Journal of African Economies, 2015,doi: 10.1093/jae/ejv009, May.
5) “Growth Recovery after Civil Conflict: A Fractional Integration Approach”, joint with Luis Alberiko Gil-Alana. Defence and Peace Economics, forthcoming.