Research
Peer-reviewed publications

J. Rexer. 2021. "The brides of Boko Haram: Economic shocks, marriage practices, and insurgency in Nigeria." The Economic Journal (forthcoming).

Selected for special issue on the Economics of Conflict


Grossman, G., S. Kim, J. Rexer and H. Thirumurthy. 2020. "Political partisanship influences behavioral responses to governors' recommendations for COVID-19 prevention in the United States." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117 (39) 24144-24153

Working papers

The local advantage: Corruption, organized crime, and indigenization in the Nigerian oil sector (Job Market Paper) Under Review

Abstract: Multinationals in the extractive sectors of weak states face resource theft by armed groups. This criminality is often abetted by state corruption, even though firms are willing to pay for protection. I study two decades of multinational divestment in Nigeria's oil sector, which increased participation by Nigerian firms substantially. Despite evidence that local firms are of lower quality, localization increases output and reduces oil theft. A bargaining model illustrates that political connections align law enforcement incentives, solving commitment problems. Data on raids by government forces show that local firms receive preferential law enforcement protection. I find that connections to military elites drive the local advantage.

Presentations: World Bank DAAPA Symposium (2021), NBER Summer Institute Political Economy (2021), Barcelona GSE (2021), GLaD (2021), MWIEDC (2021), WGAPE (2021), GSIPE (2021), NBER Development (2020), PACDEV (2020), NEWEPS (2020), YES (2020), AfDB Seminar (2020), CSAE (2020)

Violence and black markets: Evidence from the Niger Delta conflict (with Even Hvinden) Under Review

Abstract: We use original data on the locations, alliances, black market activities, and attacks of militant commanders in the Niger Delta conflict to show that a peace agreement led to large declines in attacks on the oil sector and sustained growth in the black market for stolen oil. We formalize the decision problem of a ruling elite bargaining with an armed rebel over the allocation of natural resource income. Our model predicts that the government may rationally allow resource theft among militarily strong rebels in locations favorable to black market. We find that post-conflict oil theft is elevated and anti-theft law enforcement is muted in these areas. Our analysis highlights how local conditions in the black market and relative military capabilities jointly shape incentives for participants in resource conflicts.

Presentations: PACDEV (2021), ESOC seminar (2020), DEVPEC (2020), BI Norwegian Business School (2019), PDRI workshop (2019)

Estimating the Economic Value of Zoning Reform (with Santosh Anagol and Fernando Ferreira) Under Review

Abstract: We develop a framework to estimate the economic value of a recent zoning reform in São Paulo. Using a block-level regression discontinuity design, we find that developers request more permits in blocks with higher allowable densities. We incorporate these micro-estimates into an equilibrium model of housing supply and demand, finding that the reform produces a 1.9% increase in housing stock and a 0.5% reduction in prices, with substantial heterogeneity across neighborhoods. Welfare gains increase 4-fold once accounting for changes in built environment, and gains are larger for high-income and high-education families. However, homeowner house price losses overshadow all consumer gains.

Presentations: Atlanta Federal Reserve (2021), NBER Summer Institute Real Estate/Urban (2021), Wharton Urban lunch, EUEA (2021), Imperial College (2021)

Works in progress

Premiums and Penalties in Sovereign Credit Ratings (with Ethan Kapstein, Adi Tantravahi, and Fangyuan Yi) Draft soon

Conflict and Sovereign Bond Markets (with Ethan Kapstein, and Andrés Rivera) Draft soon

The Fuel Subsidy Paradox (with Adi Tantravahi) Draft soon

Mining, violence, and electoral competition in Myanmar (with Even Hvinden)

Instability and political connections (with Darin Christensen)