Danila Serra

Associate Professor

Texas A&M University

Department of Economics

& Bush School of Government and Public Service


Email: dserra@tamu.edu

Phone: (+1) 979-862-4412

Office: LASB 242


NEWS: Elira Kuka and I have launched the ADOPT a PAPER mentoring program, which aims to expand and diversify junior scholars’ access to high quality feedback.

The application deadline for the first round of Adopt a Paper has passed but we plan to implement more rounds of the program in the near future.




Research fields: Economics of Corruption, Development Economics; Experimental and Behavioral Economics, Gender and Economics.



·      PhD in Economics, University of Oxford and Centre for the Study of African Economies;

·      MSc in Economics, London School of Economics;

·      BS (laurea) in Economics and Social Sciences (DES), Bocconi University, Milan.



Editorial Boards:

·      Associate Editor, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.










I apply lab and field experimental methods to the study of a variety of topics related to governance, development, education, labor and gender economics.


In 2017, I was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Vernon L. Smith Ascending Scholar Prize. The prize, named after the 2002 Economics Nobel Prize winner Vernon Smith, is presented by the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE) to an exceptional scholar in the field of experimental economics. For more info, see the IFREE’s announcement.


I am an external member of NOVAFRICA, and a research affiliate of EGAP. Between 2017 and 2020, I was an elected member of the Economic Science Association (ESA)’s Executive Committee.


Before joining TAMU I was an Associate Professor at Southern Methodist University (SMU), and, before that, an Assistant Professor at SMU (2012-2018) and an Assistant Professor at Florida State University (2009-2012).






“Influencing youths’ educational aspirations and gender attitudes through role models: Evidence from Somali schools” with E. K. Kipchumba (BRAC), C. Porter (Lancaster University) and M. Sulaiman (BRAC). PDF. February 2021.


We randomly selected schools to receive a role model intervention, consisting of a college student visiting target classrooms. Within each treatment school, we randomly selected some grades to receive a visit from a female role model and some grades to receive a visit from a male role model. We test the impact of the intervention on students’ education aspirations and attitudes toward gender equality.



Gender and leadership in organizations: Promotions, demotions and angry workers” with P. Chakraborty (Allegheny College). NEW draft: PDF. December 2020.

[A previous draft circulated under the title “Gender differences in top leadership roles: Does worker backlash matter?”]


Do female managers receive more backlash from unhappy employees? Does the possibility of (possibly harsher) backlash lead women more than men to select out of top leadership roles? Are there gender differences in managerial decision-making, including communication style, in the presence and absence of worker backlash from unhappy employees?



Mobilizing parents at home and at school: An experiment on primary education in Angolawith V. Di Maio (World Bank), S. Leeffers (Nova University of Lisbon) and P. Vicente (Nova University of Lisbon). Novafrica working paper 2002, February 2020. PDF. R&R Economic Development and Cultural Change.

Project website; GlobaDev Blog post


How can parental participation in children’s education be fostered in Angola? What is the effectiveness of an information campaign relying on door to door visits to discuss score cards that compare the performance of the local school relative to other schools in the area, as well as comics depicting different ways for parents to be involved at home and at school? And how does it compare to a cheaper intervention consisting in organizing parents’ meetings and facilitating discussions about school related issues raised by parents, without providing any exogenous information?



Health Workers’ Behavior, Patient Reporting and Reputational Concerns: Lab-in-the-Field Experimental Evidence from Kenya, with I. Mbiti (U of Virginia). IZA working paper, February 2018. R&R at Experimental Economics. NEW DRAFT: PDF. March 2021.

Instructions of the lab-in-the-field experiment here.


Could health worker performance in Kenya be improved by leveraging a patient complaint mechanism where complaints lead to non-monetary consequences, in the form of social disapproval possibly activated by the disclosure of such complaints to professional peers? We address this question by conducting lab-in-the-field experiments with health professionals and their patients in Nairobi, Kenya.






Corrupt Police” with K. Abbink (Monash University) and D. Ryvkin (FSU). Games and Economic Behavior, 123: 101-119, September 2020. Ungated PDF.



 “Gender Differences in the Choice of Major: The Importance of Female Role Models” with C. Porter (Lancaster University). American Economic Journal: Applied, 12(3): 226–254. PDF. Ungated here.

·       Media Coverage: Dow Jones Moneyish, Pacific Standard, The University Network, Forbes.

·       Read about the study in the new CEPR eBook on Women and Economics.

·       Read an early summary of the study: SMU Press release.

·       Watch a short video of me talking about the study.



Motivating Whistleblowers” with J. Butler (UC Merced) and G. Spagnolo (SITE, Stockholm School of Economics). Management Science 66.2: 605-621, 2020. Available here. Ungated here: PDF.



Corruption and competition among bureaucrats: An experimental study”, with D. Ryvkin (FSU).  Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 175, July 2020, pp 439-451. PDF. Experimental instructions here.



Is more competition always better? An experimental study of extortionary corruption”, with D. Ryvkin (FSU). Economic Inquiry, 57 (1), January 2019: 50-72. PDF.



 Corruption, Social Judgment and Culture: An Experiment”, with T. Salmon (SMU). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 142: 64-78, 2017. PDF.



I paid a bribe: An experiment on information sharing and extortionary corruption”, with D. Ryvkin (FSU) and James Tremewan (U of Vienna). European Economic Review, 94: 1-22, 2017. PDF



Participatory accountability and collective action: Experimental evidence from Albania”, with A. Barr (U of Nottingham) and T. Packard (The World Bank). European Economic Review, 68: 250–269, 2014. PDF



Intermediaries in corruption: An experiment”, with M. Drugov (Carlos III de Madrid) and J. Hamman (FSU). Experimental Economics, 17(1): 78-99, 2014. PDF.

·         Winner of the Editor’s prize for the best paper published in Experimental Economics in the year 2014.



Combining top-down and bottom-up accountability: Evidence from a bribery experiment”. Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, 28(3): 569-587, August 2012. Online advance access here.



Anti-corruption Policies: Lessons from the Lab”, with K. Abbink. In D. Serra and L. Wantchekon (eds.) New Advances in Experimental Research on Corruption, Research In Experimental Economics Volume 15, Bingly: Emerald Group Publishing, June 2012.



Intrinsic motivations and the non-profit health sector: Evidence from Ethiopia”, with P. Serneels (UEA) and A. Barr (U of Nottingham) Personality and Individual Differences, 51(3): 309-314. PDF.



How corruptible are you? Bribery under uncertainty”, with D. Ryvkin (FSU), Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 81(2012): 466-477. PDF.



Corruption and Culture: An experimental Analysis, with A. Barr (U of Nottingham), Journal of Public Economics, 94, Issues 11-12, December 2010. PDF .



The effects of externalities and framing on bribery in a petty corruption experiment”, with A. Barr (U of Nottingham), Experimental Economics, 12 (4): 488-503, 2009. PDF.



Discovering the Real World –Health Workers’ Career Choices and Early Work Experience in Ethiopia, with P. Serneels (UEA) and M. Lindelow (World Bank), The World Bank, Washington DC.



Pre-doctoral Publications


Empirical Determinants of Corruption: A sensitivity Analysis,” Public Choice 126 (1-2), 225-256, 2006. PDF.


This is based on my undergraduate thesis at Bocconi University, under the supervision of Guido Tabellini and Eliana La Ferrara.



“The twin effects of globalization: Evidence from a sample of Indian manufacturing firms,” with F. Daveri and P. Manasse, Rivista of Politica Economica, 2010: 223-254.


I worked on this project as a pre-doctoral Research Assistant. I still remember the shock and happiness I experienced when Francesco and Paolo asked me to be a coauthor on the paper.






New Advances in Experimental Research on Corruption, edited with Leonard Wantchekon (Princeton University), Emerald Group Publishing, June 2012.








Recruiting Economics Majors: The Impact of an Information Campaign Targeted at High School Counselors” (working title), with J. Meer (Texas A&M University). AER Registry information.



“Job applications” (working title), with D. Ryvkin (Florida State University).



“Long Term Impact of Trauma on the Psychological Well-being, Individual Preferences and Socio-Economic Status of Women Abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda” (working title), with A. Cassar (University of San Francisco) and Christine Mbabazi (Makerere University).



“Women’s leadership in VSLAs” (working title), with Shymal Chowdhury (University of Sydney), Catalina Franco (Norwegian School of Economics), Kjetil Bjorvatn (Norwegian School of Economics), Munshi Sulaiman (BRAC).







How identity, norms and narratives can be used to reduce corruption in Police Service (traffic police) in Ghana,” with O. Borcan (U of East Anglia), S. Dercon (University of Oxford) and D. Harris (University of Oxford).



“Beliefs, information and anti-corruption under COVID-19: Experimental evidence from India” (working title), with F. Afridi (Indian Statistical Institute), A. Basistha (Indian Statistical Institute) and A. Dhillon (Kings College).



“Who self-selects into councils?” (working title) with A. Cao (TAMU) and D. Ryvkin (FSU).





Updated February 2021



Web Analytics Made Easy -