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


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;

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


Editorial Boards:

·        Associate Editor, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.




I apply lab and field experimental methods to the study of corruption, governance and the provision of public services, with special focus on non-monetary incentives and bottom-up accountability systems. Some of my more recent research focuses on issues related to gender differences in education and labor market participation, gender norms and women’s empowerment.


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 an external member of NOVAFRICA, and 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.


Check out the Undergraduate Women in Economics Challenge and the new CEPR eBook on Women and Economics




·        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.






Corrupt Police” with K. Abbink (Monash University) and D. Ryvkin (FSU). Forthcoming, Games and Economic Behavior. Updated January 2020. PDF.



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

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

·         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). Management Science 66.2: 605-621, 2020. Available here. 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 and leadership in organizations: Promotions, demotions and angry workers” with P. Chakraborty (SMU). Coming soon.


A previous version circulated under the title “Gender differences in top leadership roles: Does worker backlash matter?

Managerial decisions, such as promotions and demotions, please some employees and upset others. We examine whether having to communicate such decisions to employees, and knowing that employees may react badly, have a differential impact on men's and women's self-selection into leadership roles and their performance when they become leaders. In a novel laboratory experiment that simulates corporate decision-making, we find that women are significantly less likely to self-select into a managerial position when employees can send them angry messages. Once in the manager role, we find some evidence of gender differences in decision-making, but no difference in final outcomes, i.e., overall profits. Male and female managers use different language to motivate their employees, yet the differences emerge only when worker can send angry messages to managers. Finally, low-rank employees are more likely to question the decisions of female managers, and send them more angry messages.


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



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). In the lab.



“Facilitating the reintegration of formerly abducted women in Uganda” (working title), with A. Cassar (University of San Francisco) and Christine Mbabazi (Makerere University). Design stage.






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). **NEW** Novafrica working paper 2002. February 2020. PDF.

We test ways to mobilize parents for education, though a field experiment in 126 Angolan primary schools, including three treatments: an information campaign at home, simple parents’ meetings at school, and the combination of both. Our measures of parental mobilization include beneficial practices at home, contacts with teachers, and participation in school institutions. We find that the information increased parents’ involvement at home but had no impact on engagement at school, while the meetings had the opposite effects. After mobilizing parents, the combined treatment improved management practices and facilities in schools, teachers’ attitudes, and parents’ satisfaction.


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, whereas different systems lead to either monetary or non-monetary consequences for providers.



 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). In the field.






Updated June 2020



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