- Design and implementation of field experiments and quasi-experimental evaluations
- International migration
- Development and labor economics
Paolo Abarcar is an applied microeconomist with primary research interests in international development and labor economics. His work tries to identify programs that do or do not work in developing countries and the mechanisms that underlie their success or failure. He is experienced in conducting rigorous evaluations by using field and natural experiments and by analyzing large and previously unused administrative data sets.
Abarcar’s previous research has focused on issues related to international migration and its effects on migrants and on origin countries. He was a co-principal investigator for a randomized trial of financial education and financial services offered to migrant households in Cabanatuan, Philippines. For another study, he used the Asian financial crisis as a natural experiment, looking at exchange rate shocks to uncover why Australian legal permanent immigrants might return to their home countries. Abarcar has also investigated the extent to which employers value foreign work experience by running an audit study: sending thousands of fictitious resumes, randomly assigning which applicants were return migrants, and tracking callback rates. His most recent work uses administrative data on the universe of migrant departures and school enrollments from the Philippines to dispel myths about international migration leading to the depletion of human capital, or “brain drain.”
A native Filipino, Abarcar earned his Ph.D. in economics and public policy at the University of Michigan and has presented at academic and policy conferences, including recently at the Northeast Universities Development Consortium Conference and at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) Annual Migration Meeting. Before attending graduate school, he worked at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C., researching international migration and issues related to foreign aid.