2019 Awards

The Ronald H. Coase Dissertation Award

The Ronald H. Coase Best Dissertation Award is handed out annualy for the best doctoral dissertation in institutional and organizational economics. During SIOE's recent conference in Stockholm (June 27-29), Sara Lowes (UC San Diego) received this year's award for her dissertation (from Harvard, Economics).

The committee wrote: she “is incredibly creative both in finding sources of exogenous institutional variations and important outcomes. The paper about concessions is particularly deep: it shows that being exposed extractive colonial institutions has long-lasting effects on violence and the cooptation of local leaders.” That paper is R&R at QJE. Another paper in her thesis studies the relationship between matrilineal kinship and household bargaining. She uses variation between matrilineal and patrilineal families in Kananga (Democratic Republic of the Congo. In a patrilineal family, the wife joins the husband’s lineage and the children belongs to the husband’s lineage. By contrast, in matrilineal families such as the one Sara studies in the DRC, the husband does not belong to same linage as his children but to the one of his sister’s children. Sara finds that such matrilineal couples are less cooperative with each other. In the last chapter of her dissertation (which – would you believe it?- does not even include her Econometrica paper with Nathan Nunn and James Robinson!), she shows that the coercive methods by the colonial authorities to eradicate sleeping sickness with a drug called atoxyl with the negative side effects of affecting vision in 20% of patients, led to long-term mistrust in Western medicine all over former French Africa. This paper, R&R at the AER, delivers a particularly important finding that sheds light on why foreign health interventions are often ineffective and even raise suspicion.

A more comprehensive description of the work of all finalists---very recommendable reading--- is here.