Research

Working Papers

Monumental Changes: Confederate Symbol Removals and Racial Attitudes in the United States (paper available here)

Abstract: What are the consequences of contestation over political symbols for public opinion and behavior? This paper explores two waves of Confederate symbol removals in the United States to examine how local changes in the built environment, in conjunction with salient national events, shape racial attitudes and prejudice-motivated violence. Using a difference-in-differences strategy with repeated cross-sectional and panel data, I find that the removal of Confederate symbols, on average, decreased racial resentment,increased support for affirmative action, increased warm feelings (as measured with thermometer scores) toward Blacks, and decreased anti-Black hate crimes, particularly by White offenders. These effects are strongest at the hyper-local level and decay with distance. These findings collectively suggest greater evidence for a norms-shifting effect, relative to a backlash effect.

Can Communities Take Charge? A Randomized Controlled Trial on Sustaining Schools in Afghanistan (with Dana Burde, Joel Middleton, and Cyrus Samii). 2021.

Abstract: After wars, international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) often service basic needs like health and education. Ideally, such service provision would eventually be handed over to an accountable government. But cases like Afghanistan show that handover can fail. Should the ideal of handover be abandoned, or are there strategies to make it realistic? To address this question we test a community-based model for administering primary education in Afghanistan. We use a randomized equivalence trial that estimates effects relative to what INGOs achieve. The model succeeds in maintaining children’s learning and household satisfaction. It does not increase gender or ethnic bias nor does it result in resource misappropriation. However, in a one-year follow-up, community leaders were pessimistic about the model’s viability, although this was moderated by age and education. Communities can take charge in administering basic services, but they need additional inputs to sustainably institutionalize service provision after INGOs withdraw.

From another era (pre-PhD)

Peer-Reviewed Publications

A utility approach to accelerate universal electricity access in less developed countries: A regulatory proposal”. IJ. Pérez-Arriaga, R. Stoner, R. Rahnama, S. Lee, G. Jacquot, E. Protzer, A. Garcia, R. Amatya, M. Brusnahan, and P. Dueñas, Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy 8 (1): 33-50 (2019).

Policy Publications

Determinants of WTP among energy poor households: implications for planning models and frameworks“. R. Rahnama. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies Paper (EL 35): 1-33 (2019).

Electrification planning with a focus on human factors”. R. Rahnama and IJ. Pérez-Arriaga. Oxford Energy Forum (115): 30-34 (2018).