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Raghav Rakesh

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics, Michigan State University


International Peers in Higher Education and Domestic Students' Outcomes
Presentations: SEA 2023 (scheduled)


    Recent decades witnessed a rapid increase in foreign post-secondary student enrollment in the US, substantially altering the college landscape. While evidence suggests that foreign students contribute significantly to university revenues and the host economy, there remains much debate around their impact on domestic students' outcomes. Using rich administrative and survey data from a large US public university, this paper explores the effects of exposure to foreign peers in college courses on domestic students' academic outcomes. I focus on first-term introductory math courses and leverage plausibly exogenous variation in the share of foreign peers across terms but within a course-instructor pair. I find that exposure to foreign peers in lower-ability (non-calculus) courses has a sizable negative effect on the graduation rate of domestic students; students in higher-ability (calculus-based) courses are unaffected by their foreign peers. The decline in graduation comes through a drop in students graduating with non-STEM degrees, with no effect on the number of STEM graduates. Further, the negative effects are incurred by domestic students of all races except Asians; domestic Asian students incur positive effects. Exploring potential mechanisms, I find suggestive evidence of limited interaction, lack of shared interests or culture, and language barriers between domestic and foreign students. Additionally, evidence points to the potential role of domestic students' lower academic rank in their peer group. At the same time, I do not find evidence of negative social preferences associated with races or immigrants among domestic students, nor do I find evidence linking the effect to differences in abilities between domestic and foreign students.


Science Education and Labor Market Outcomes in a Developing Economy
Economic Inquiry, 60(2), pages 741-763, 2022
with Tarun Jain , Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay , and Nishith Prakash
Coverage: Indian Express, Times of India, Careers 360, Ideas for India


    We examine the association between studying science in higher secondary school and labor market earnings in India. Studying science in high school is associated with 22% greater earnings than studying business or humanities. Earnings for science students are further enhanced with some fluency in English. Science education is also associated with more years of education, completing a professional degree, returns to entrepreneurship and working in public sector positions. Primary survey of high school students shows no discernible differences in behavioral characteristics of science students compared to others.


The Local Economic Impacts of Foreign Students
Presentations: MEA 2023, IGIDR (2022), ACEGD ISI 2022, SEA 2022


    Do foreign students affect the economic outcomes of the natives in places with post-secondary institutions? I address this question by examining the impacts of demand shocks induced by expansions in foreign post-secondary student enrollment in the US between 2004 and 2016. Using an instrumental variables strategy that exploits spatial variation in foreign student enrollment expansion over this period, I estimate the causal effects on a vector of local economic outcomes. On average, the demand shocks substantially increased local employment and wages while having no significant effect on housing rent. At the same time, I find no evidence of adverse spillover effects on neighboring areas without post-secondary institutions. Further, the effect on employment increases with population density. However, the effect on housing rent also increases, likely due to limited supply in densely populated areas. The results suggest welfare gains for natives, especially in less densely populated areas that depend heavily on the education sector. While the effect of changes in foreign student enrollment on the local economy is sizable, the effect of changes in domestic student enrollment is small during the same period.


Sowing the Seeds of Entrepreneurship: Evaluation of Entrepreneurial Mindset Development Program in India
with Sofia Amaral , Aakash Bhalothia, Ritam Chaurey , Isis Gaddis , Gaurav Khanna , Samreen Malik , Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay , and Nishith Prakash
Status: Endline Data Collection Ongoing


    Growing evidence shows that new economic opportunities and challenges will make many existing workforce skill profiles obsolete in the medium and long run. At the same time, there is a rapidly growing demand for entrepreneurial and soft skills. However, employers often struggle to find workers with high levels of these skills. To build skills for the evolving labor market, the Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP), India, launched the Entrepreneurship Mindset Development Program (EMDP) in the Academic Year (AY) 2022-23. The program consists of a unique curriculum to train students of Grade 9 in all state government schools on entrepreneurial skills and mindsets over an entire academic year. In this study, we evaluate this at-scale program received by 293K students in AY 2022-23 alone. Working closely with the GoAP and the implementing NGOs on the program's rollout, we designed a randomized control trial (RCT), with the study sample consisting of 50 sub-districts in the control group and 75 sub-districts in the treatment group. Using primary surveys and lab experiments, we measure the impact on various entrepreneurial skills and mindsets in the short run and academic (college enrollment, major, and graduation), labor market (employment status and wages), and entrepreneurial (running a business, venture plans, and venture success) outcomes in the long run.

Weather and College Student Achievement
with Andrew Earle
Presentations: SEA 2023* (scheduled)


    This paper investigates how the weather impacts college students’ academic achievement. Previous studies in this literature have focused almost exclusively on extreme heat, and no existing work explores the relationship in the context of higher education. While heat significantly impacts learning, college students are likely influenced by a range of weather conditions. Because US university academic calendars overlap with colder months of the year, rather than the hottest, it is important to understand how cold and precipitation impact college students’ learning. Using several years of administrative, student-level data from a large US public university and leveraging within-student exposure to adverse weather across semesters, we estimate the causal impact of cold and precipitation on students’ semester GPA. We explore four possible mechanisms that may drive the relationship: cost of commute, cognitive performance, the opportunity cost of academic activities, and mental health. Our analysis provides new evidence that the weather impacts human capital accumulation, and our findings could help inform college student success initiatives.

Shaping Minds: The Transformative Effects of Theatre-Based Learning
with Ritam Chaurey , Sara Constantino , Shantanu Khanna , Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay , Nishith Prakash , and Raisa Sherif
Status: Pilot


    Despite progress in addressing barriers to human capital in the last two decades, significant learning gaps persist. A new line of research suggests that holistic skills have been associated with positive impacts on later life outcomes. However, there is little evidence supporting the effectiveness of existing traditional classroom-based instructional strategies in improving non-cognitive and socio-emotional skills. In this study, we conduct a randomized control trial in 100 schools in Uttarakhand, India to estimate the causal impacts of an experiential learning pedagogy in secondary schools. The curriculum consists of a total of 36 hours of arts and theater-based instruction spread over 24 weekly sessions. We will measure the impacts on cognitive skills (critical thinking and learning), social skills (class participation, network formation, communication skills, pro-sociality), and emotional skills (stress, anxiety, self-care, self-esteem).

*presentation by co-author