Q + A with Kabir Dasgupta
Dr Kabir Dasgupta joined NZWRI in 2016 as a Research Fellow and in 2019 was promoted to Senior Research Fellow. When asking Kabir to fill in the blanks: "Economics is ___, ___ and ___" , here's what he said:
Economics is not 'rocket science' but a stream where rocket science often comes in handy, my occasional weekend guilty pleasure
1. When and why did you decide that you wanted a career in economics?
Upon completing my high school education, I wanted to pursue higher studies in a field of natural science, such as mathematics or chemistry. However, being from India, where kids' academic choices are usually driven by parental decisions (not always an unfortunate situation), I yielded to my father's recommendation of economics - my sister (the brighter one), exploiting her exogenously determined age advantage, had already called dibs on chemistry! Choosing economics was one of the rare instances where I could not come up with an excuse to complain against my Dad. In fact, within a few months of my bachelor's program, I realised economics was the one - but I knew it was not going to be an easy road!
2. Describe one of your recent research projects.
In a recent study, my co-author Dr. Brenden Mason and I have looked at the effect of state-level restrictions on access to payday loans in the US on the incidence of bankruptcy filing. Our research idea was particularly motivated from the large presence of payday loans in the US and the substantial empirical evidence on a range of adverse socio-economic consequences associated with payday loan use, including high risk of debt-trap from repeated rollovers.
3. Describe the key results/main findings.
We find that state-level legislation on payday lending activities does have a negative impact on both the demand and the supply side. However, payday restrictions do not appear to have any significant effect on bankruptcy filing. Moreover, we explore additional mechanisms and our results indicate that limiting access to payday loans potentially drives users to other high-cost financial alternatives.
4. What makes this research impactful?
Our paper contributes to the academic literature by updating and providing external validity to the previous findings observed in the related literature. Further, although state-level restrictions are effective in curtailing payday activities, our analysis indicates that consumer financial protection needs to consider the possibility of substitution towards other costly financial alternatives.
5. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
You mean when I am not running regressions and clustering my standard errors? I am quite passionate about music. During the weekdays, watching the Chase (with my afternoon tea) and working out afterward are two of my biggest activities outside work. I also enjoy cooking (the spicier the better) and watching movies.