Portrait of Dr Amrit Amirapu

Dr Amrit Amirapu

Lecturer in Economics

About

Amrit Amirapu joined the University of Kent in 2015 after receiving his PhD in Economics from Boston University. He also has a BA from Amherst College, where he studied Physics and Political Philosophy, and an MA from Columbia University in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences. Amrit has worked as a consultant to the World Bank and the Center for Global Development, and as an informal adviser to the Indian Ministry of Finance. 

Research interests

Amrit's primary research interests lie in the areas of development economics and applied microeconomics (including labour economics, industrial organisation and organisational economics). 

His present research examines the effects of government institutions and industrial policies on firms in developing countries. He is particularly interested in the ways in which governments can affect the pattern of structural transformation in their countries.

Teaching

Professional

Administrative roles

  • Senior Tutor

Publications

Article

  • Amirapu, A. and Gechter, M. (2020). Labor Regulations and the Cost of Corruption: Evidence from the Indian Firm Size Distribution. Review of Economics and Statistics [Online] 102:34-48. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1162/rest_a_00837.
    In this paper we estimate the costs associated with an important suite of labor regulations in India by taking advantage of the fact that these regulations only apply to firms above a size threshold. Using distortions in the firm size distribution together with a structural model of firm size choice, we estimate that the regulations increase firms' unit Labour costs by 35%. This estimate is robust to potential misreporting on the part of Firms and enumerators. We also document a robust positive association between regulatory costs and exposure to corruption, which may explain why regulations appear to be so costly in developing countries.
  • Amirapu, A., Hasan, R., Jiang, Y. and Klein, A. (2019). Geographic Concentration in Indian Manufacturing and Service Industries: Evidence from 1998 – 2013. Asian Economic Policy Review [Online] 14:148-168. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/aepr.12251.
    This paper uses a comprehensive new data source to document basic facts about geographic
    concentration among industries in India from 1998 to 2013. Unlike previous studies, our data
    allow us to accurately measure industrial concentration at the district level and cover
    manufacturing and services, as well as the formal and informal sectors. Our most striking
    finding is that average levels of industrial concentration fell dramatically between 1998 and
    2013, driven by steep reductions in capital-intensive manufacturing industries. We provide
    suggestive evidence that this increasing dispersion may be due to improvements in
    interregional transportation coupled with inefficient land management policies and limited
    labor mobility.

Monograph

  • Amirapu, A., Asadullah, M. and Wahhaj, Z. (2019). Child Marriage Law, Gender Norms and Marriage Customs. Economic Development and Institutions Working Paper Series. Available at: https://edi.opml.co.uk/resource/child-marriage-law-gender-norms-marriage-customs-bangladesh/.
    The negative welfare consequences of child marriage are well established, but the phenomenon is still ubiquitous in developing countries, where one in three girls is married before the age of 18. Although most countries have a legal minimum age of marriage set at 18 years, in practice marriage age in developing countries is determined by social norms. In this paper, we test the hypothesis that formal laws can influence social norms – even when the laws are not enforced. We do this by administering a randomized video-based information treatment that accelerates knowledge transmission about a new child marriage law in Bangladesh which contains separate progressive and regressive components. We find evidence that our information treatments led to a change in participants’ own attitudes and behaviour (including reported attitudes regarding appropriate marriage age and willingness to contribute to a charity that campaigns against child marriage), but did not substantially influence their beliefs about attitudes or practices prevalent in their community. We use these findings to distinguish between alternative hypotheses for how the formal law may influence behaviour, arguing that they are consistent with “focal point” theory and “whistle-blowing”, but are inconsistent with the law having an “expressive effect”.
  • Amirapu, A. and Gechter, M. (2017). Labor Regulations and the Cost of Corruption: Evidence from the Indian Firm Size Distribution, Boston University IED Working Paper No 266. BU Economics. Available at: http://www.bu.edu/econ/files/2015/05/Amirapu-and-Gechter-Size-Based-Regulations.pdf.
    In this paper, we estimate the costs associated with a suite of labor regulations in India whose components have gone largely unstudied in developing countries. We take advantage of the fact that these regulations only apply to firms above a size threshold. Using distortions in the firm size distribution at the threshold together with a structural model of firm size choice, we estimate that the regulations increase firms’ unit labor costs by 35%. We document a robust positive association between regulatory costs and exposure to corruption, which may explain why regulations appear to be so costly in
    developing countries.

Forthcoming

  • Amirapu, A. (2019). Justice Delayed is Growth Denied: The Effect of Slow Courts on Relationship-Specific Industries in India. Economic Development and Cultural Change [Online]. Available at: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/edcc/2020/68/2.
    Are well-functioning formal judicial institutions important for economic development, or can informal contracting arrangements provide adequate substitutes? This paper aims to answer this question using variation across industries in their reliance on contracts along with variation across Indian states in the average speed of courts. The identification strategy is motivated by theory from the incomplete contracting literature in which it is argued that transactions involving relationship-specific investments are more exposed to post-contractual opportunism and hence have greater need for efficient contract enforcement. The paper finds that the interaction between state level court efficiency and industry level relationship-specificity is highly predictive of future growth in India's formal manufacturing sector. The threat of omitted variable bias is minimized by the inclusion of state and industry fixed effects, while a number of robustness checks and placebo tests rule out competing explanations and provide additional confidence in the hypothesized mechanism.
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