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Sahar Parsa
Tufts University - Department of Economics
301 Braker Hall - 8 Upper Campus Rd.
Medford, MA 02155-6722 - U.S.A.
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I′m an Assistant Professor of Economics at Tufts University, with a doctoral degree from MIT in Economics, 2011. I am interested in a variety of fields, including political economy and finance, where I explore informational pathways that run from cultural, social and behavioral factors to socioeconomic outcomes. In past work, I emphasized the behavioral differences between short-term and long-term institutional investors reaction to information, to understand stock price perceived mis-pricing. In a series of projects exploring political outcomes, I investigate name branding in politics and its role in female political representation or the importance of neighborhood interactions in voting behavior. In an ongoing research agenda, which received a three-year NSF grant, my coauthor and I explore the role of managerial capital as well as managerial connections in the process of structural transformation and development.
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Political Economy

Coming Out in America: AIDS, Politics, and Cultural Change

with Raquel Fernández and Martina Viarengo [First version: March 2019 - This version: May 2019]

Abstract: The last few decades witnessed a dramatic change in public opinion towards gay people. This paper studies the hypothesis that the AIDS epidemic was a shock that changed the incentive to "come out" and that the ensuing process of mobilization and endogenous political process led to cultural transformation. We show that the process of change was discontinuous over time and present suggestive evidence that the 1992 presidential election followed by the "don't ask, don't tell" debate led to a change in attitudes. Using a difference-in-difference empirical strategy, we find that, in accordance with our hypothesis, the change in opinion was greater in states with higher AIDS rates. Our analysis suggests that if individuals in low-AIDS states had experienced the same average AIDS rate as a high-AIDS state, the change in their approval rate from the '70s to the '90s would have been 50 percent greater.

Media coverage: Vox

Redistributive Choices and Income Inequality: Experimental Evidence for Income as a Signal of Deservingness

with Laura Gee and Marco Migueis Published in: Experimental Economics, February 2017

Abstract: We explore the relation between redistribution choices, source of income, and pre-redistribution inequality. Previous studies find that when income is earned through work there is less support for redistribution than when income is determined by luck. Using a lab experiment, we vary both the income-generating process (luck vs. performance) and the level of inequality (low vs. high). We find that an increase in inequality has less impact on redistribution choices when income is earned through performance than when income results from luck. This result is likely explained by individuals using income differences as a heuristic to infer relative deservingness. If people believe income inequality increases as a result of performance rather than luck, then they are likely to believe the poor deserve to stay poor and the rich deserve to stay rich.

From Winning an Election to Political Engagement

[First version: April 2017 - This version: November 2018]

Abstract: The outcome of any election leads naturally to winners and losers. We explore the effect of winning (or losing) an election on future political participation. We compare the behavior of counties supporting winning gubernatorial candidates to counties supporting losing gubernatorial candidates for close gubernatorial elections from 1990 to today, using a regression discontinuity design. We show that winning counties experience (i) an increase in voter participation compared to losing counties, but (ii) no significant change in the composition of votes, suggesting that (i) extends to voters of all persuasions. We provide evidence for a combination of an "individual" and a "community" effect to explain this dual pattern. (iii) While winning voters are "encouraged" by the win of their preferred candidate compared to losing voters, losing voters are galvanized by the community level win.

Political Dynasties and Female Political Representation in the Philippines

with Julien Labonne and Pablo Querubin [First version: June 2015 - This version: July 2017]

Abstract: We argue that in dynastic environments, binding term limits constitute critical junctures at which women are more likely to access elected office. Using data from the Philippines, we show that the relatively high numbers of female mayors are the result of women replacing term-limited incumbents in office. Focusing on municipalities in which a term-limited incumbent is replaced by a relative, we provide evidence that the relative’s gender does not depend on municipal or incumbent characteristics. In those municipalities, we find no differences between those governed by a male or female along a broad range of economic, electoral and policy outcomes.
Online Appendix

Widows, Representation, and the (Ms.)appropriation of a Name

with Danielle Lupton and Steven Schuster [First version: October 2017 - This version: October 2017]

Abstract: For much of the 20th century, widowhood was the primary path for women into the U.S. Congress. Yet, little research has considered how familial connections and the name recognition widows acquire from their husbands may affect their political behavior. Drawing on insights from the literatures across American politics, comparative politics, and economics, we argue that widows in Congress will have an inherent name brand advantage, providing them more freedom to pursue their own policy agendas. Using a differences-in-differences analysis of legislative voting behavior from the 63rd to 104th Congresses, we provide evidence that widows are more liberal than their husbands and follow their own policy agendas. We also show that widows are more liberal than other women. Thus, our results indicate that widowhood embeds both the gender and the dynastic dimension of these legislators. Further evidence suggests that this difference is rooted in the brand name advantage that widows have compared to other women, highlighting the complementarity between these indivduals’ dynastic identity and their gender identity.


Information Aggregation in a Financial Market with General Signal Structure

with Youcheng Lou, Debraj Ray, Duan Li and Shouyang Wang Forthcoming - Journal of Economic Theory [Previous version: February 2017 - This version: May 2019]

Abstract: We study a financial market with asymmetric, multidimensional trader signals that have general correlation structure. Each of a continuum of traders belongs to one of finitely many "information groups." There is a multidimensional aggregate signal for each group. Each trader observes an idiosyncratic signal about the fundamental, built from this group signal. Correlations across group signals are arbitrary. Several existing models serve as special cases, and new applications become possible. We establish existence and regularity of linear equilibrium, and demonstrate that the equilibrium price aggregates information perfectly as noise trade vanishes.

It Takes Two To Misprice: Investor Horizons and Earnings Announcements

[First version: January 2015 - This version: January 2018]

Abstract: I study how investor horizons affect the price reaction of the stocks to earnings announcements. In the theory, short-run investors trade frequently, while long-run traders hold and trade on fundamentals. The model predicts that the reaction to an earnings announcement is shifted downward for stocks held short-term relative to those held long-term: a positive earnings surprise is less of a positive; a negative surprise is a larger negative. I test this prediction. I find that the reaction to earnings for “short-term securities” is dominated by the corresponding reaction for “long-term securities.” The discrepancy persists over 75 days. These results are independent of security characteristics; they are robust to controls that capture various aspects of growth or value stocks.
Online Appendix

Short-Term Traders, Learning and Informational Externalities

[First version: January 2008 - This version: January 2015]

Abstract: This paper examines how short term trading impacts the aggregation of information in financial markets. I develop a model where short-term traders, in an attempt to learn about the average beliefs of future market participants, make the price relatively more noisy. This typically introduces a negative informational externality on long-term investors. I show that (i) as the horizon of the informed traders decreases, the price becomes relatively less precise; (ii) an inflow of informed traders in the market can decrease the informativeness of the price when the traders have a relatively short horizon or the market is expected to be thin in the future; (iii) finally, as rational informed short-term traders have access to an extra source of information about the future price, they end up creating more noise and a decrease in the informativeness of the price might result. Thus, paradoxically, more informed trading could lead to a less informative price.

Ongoing Research

On Women in Traditional Position of Authority in Sub-Saharan Africa

with Siwan Anderson, Sophia du Plessis and James Robinson Get more info and follow our progress here

On the East Asian Growth Miracle

with Melissa Dell

Sample projects: Foreign Connections and Structural Transformation: Evidence from Discontinuities in Douglas MacArthur’s Economic Purge Labor Skill Linkages and Structural Transformation

Investors’ Horizon and the Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns

with Fernando Duarte and Leonid Kogan


Ec 15: Introduction to Econometrics

Spring 2018 Extra Resources: Datacamp for the classroom

Ec 50: Introduction to Finance

Spring 2017