Danila Serra

Associate Professor

Texas A&M University

Department of Economics

& Bush School of Government and Public Service


Curriculum Vitae: CV

Email: dserra@tamu.edu

Phone: (+1) 979-862-4412

Office: LASB 242


I am the inaugural recipient of the Vernon L. Smith Ascending Scholar Prize. The prize, named after the 2002 Economics Nobel Prize winner Vernon Smith, is a “budding genius” award 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 a member of the Economic Science Association (ESA) Executive Committee. I am also a research affiliate at the Center for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), at the University of Oxford. Before joining TAMU I was an Associate Professor at SMU, and, before that, an Assistant Professor of Economics at Florida State University.


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


Teaching fields: Experimental and Behavioral Economics, Development Economics; Economics of Corruption, Intermediate Microeconomics, Behavioral Development Economics (PhD).



·        PhD in Economics, University of Oxford and Centre for the Study of African Economies (2009);

·        MSc in Economics, London School of Economics (2003);

·        BS (laurea) in Economics and Social Sciences, Bocconi University, Milan (2001).



Check out the Undergraduate Women in Economics Challenge




·        Some of my thoughts and research on corruption have appeared in The Atlantic. Read the piece “Does corruption happen slowly or all at once?”


·        Other research has been featured in the New Scientist. Read the article, titled The underhand ape: Why corruption is normal”, here , or here.







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






“Gender Differences in the Choice of Major: The Importance of Female Role Models” with C. Porter (Lancaster University), 2019. New version (July 2019): PDF. Accepted, American Economic Journal: Applied.

We report results from a field experiment aimed at increasing the percentage of women majoring in economics by exposing students enrolled in principles of economics classes to carefully chosen career women who majored in economics -- our female role models.

·         Read a summary of the study: SMU Press release.

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

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



Motivating Whistleblowers” with J. Butler (UC Merced) and G. Spagnolo (SITE, Stockholm School of Economics). Forthcoming at Management Science. Published online on August 5, 2019. Ungated here: PDF.



Corruption and competition among bureaucrats: An experimental study”, with D. Ryvkin (FSU). Forthcoming at Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Available online in January 2018. Ungated here: 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.



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









Gender differences in top leadership roles: Does worker backlash matter?” with P. Chakraborty (SMU). SMU Working Paper. Updated: February 2019. PDF

Top leadership positions involve the necessity of making decisions, like promotions, demotions and dismissals, which please some employees and upset others. Backlash from unhappy employees may therefore arise. We examine whether the anticipation of such backlash induces women, more than men, to select out of top leadership roles and to perform differently when/if they become leaders.



“Influencing youths’ educational aspirations and gender attitudes through role models: Evidence from Somali schools” with Elijah Kipkech Kipchumba (BRAC), Catherine Porter (Lancaster University) and Munshi Sulaiman (BRAC). Writing Stage.



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



“Women’s circles” (working title), with Kjetil Bjorvatn (NHH Norwegian School of Economics), Alessandra Cassar (University of San Francisco), catalina Franco (NHH Norwegian School of Economics) and Mofioluwasademi Odunowo (Texas A&M University). Design Stage.






Mobilizing parents at home and at school: An experiment on primary education in Angolawith Vincenzo Di Maio (World Bank), Stefan Leeffers (Nova University of Lisbon) and  Pedro Vicente (Nova University of Lisbon). **NEW** February 2020. PDF.


For more information, including study details, photos and video, visit the study webpage



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. PDF. R&R at Experimental Economics.

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

We use lab-in-the-field experiments to examine the effectiveness of accountability systems that rely on patient reporting in Kenyan health clinics.



Corrupt Police” with K. Abbink (Monash University) and D. Ryvkin (FSU). Updated January 2020. PDF. Submitted.

We employ laboratory experiments to examine the effects of corrupt law enforcement on crime within a society. In the second study, we test the effectiveness of two reward mechanisms aimed at reducing police corruption, both of which are based on society-wide police performance measures and not on the observation/monitoring of individual officers.



How identity, norms and narratives can be used to reduce corruption in Police Service (traffic police) in Ghana,” with Oana Borcan (U of East Anglia), Stefan Dercon (University of Oxford) and Donna Harris (University of Oxford). In the field.



 “Supply Chain Corruption: A Field Experiment” (working title), with Utteeyo Dasgupta (Wagner College), Subha Mani (Fordham University), Marcello Puca (University of Bergamo) and Krista Saral (Webster University Geneva). Design Stage.




Updated February 2020



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