Nisha Malhotra

Associate Professor of Teaching (on leave)
CATPRN, CATPRN Fellow
Women’s Health Research Cluster, Member, September 2019

My Role As A Teacher

I am an Associate Professor of Teaching of Economics in the Education leadership stream at the University of British Columbia. I received an M.A. from the Delhi School of Economics (DSE) and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland (ECON), college park.

I am a strong advocate of using social media and new technologies in higher education. My YouTube education channel focuses on economics and serves as a resource for students at UBC and beyond.
I developed the first blended learning version of the Introductory Microeconomics course (offered in 2014), where a percentage (roughly 10%) of traditional lecture-style classes were substituted with online learning and video tutorials, freeing class time for problem-solving and active learning.

My research is that of an inter-disciplinary social scientist with a strong interest in questions related to Population, Gender, and Health. My recent work focuses on maternal and child health in India. My other research interest includes International trade and development. I have worked with the Indian council of research on international economic relations (ICRIER)and the World Bank.

Please click on paper titles for abstracts and full-text downloads.
(Link to Google Scholar Profile)
(Link to bepress )

PUBLICATIONS

Despite a spectacular economic growth over the last three decades, there continues to be widespread malnutrition in India. Consequently, between 2005 and 2006, an alarming 43 percent of children under three years old were stunted, 48 percent were underweight, and 17 percent were wasted. Indeed, income constraints can lead to malnutrition, but government policies, cultural norms, and lack of education are also some of the many determinants of malnutrition.
Using the NFHS, I confirm that following the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on child nutrition make a significant difference to anthropometric measures of Indian children.
Furthermore, I argue that poverty alone is not responsible for malnutrition. In fact, 20 percent of parents from the top 40 percent income group do not give supplementary solid food to their six- to eight-month-old infants, which I attribute to a lack of information on sound nutritional practices.
Keywords
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Aim: To examine the role of maternal diet in determining the low birth weight (LBW) in Indian infants.

Methods: Data from the National Family Health Survey (2005–06) were used. Multivariate regression analysis was used to analyse the effect of maternal diet on infant birth weight.

Results: Infants whose mothers consumed milk and curd daily [odds ratio (OR), 1.17; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.06–1.29]; fruits daily (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.07–1.36) or weekly (OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.02–1.24) had higher odds of not having a low birth weight baby. The daily consumption of pulses and beans (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.02–1.36) increased the odds while weekly consumption of fish (OR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.70–0.89) decreased the odds of not having a LBW infant. Intake of iron-folic acid supplements during pregnancy increased birth weight by 6.46 g per month.
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In this paper we examine the barriers and the facilitating factors for seeking treatment for childhood diarrhoea, and to determine the main causes for delay in seeking treatment. Data from Indian Demographic and Health Survey 2005-06 (NFHS-III) were used. Mothers were asked whether i) their children (<5-years) had suffered from diarrhoea during the 2 weeks preceding the survey, ii) if treatment was sought, and iii) the number of days waited to seek treatment after the diarrhoea had started. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to find the determinants of seeking treatment at the health facility and the factors responsible for the 'delay' in seeking advice/treatment.
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Why does child malnutrition persist in India? This column argues that the reason is not limited to poverty or inadequate access to food; but that a lack of knowledge about healthy nutrition plays a vital role.

Nutrition advice on feeding infants and children provided by health professionals is shown to be strongly correlated with improved feeding practices across all age groups. If information about feeding children is the key obstacle to improving nutrition, then there is hope; it will be easier to resolve the problem of scarce information than to resolve the problem of acute poverty.

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Why does child malnutrition persist in India? Amongst the fastest-growing economies over the last two decades, India has struggled to make progress in the health of its children. In this article the author argues that the reason malnutrition persists is not limited to poverty or inadequate access to food; but that a lack of nutritional knowledge amongst families plays a very important role.

Scientific Abstract Objective: Despite a rapidly growing economy and rising income levels in India, improvements in child malnutrition have lagged. Data from the most recent National Family Health Survey reveal that the infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices recommended by the WHO and the Indian Government, including the timely introduction of solid food, are not being followed by a majority of mothers in India. It is puzzling that even among rich households children are not being fed adequately. The present study analyses the socio-economic factors that contribute to this phenomenon, including the role of nutritional information.

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The objective of this paper is to identify demographic, social and behavioural risk factors for HIV infection among men in Zambia. In particular, the role of alcohol, condom use, and the number of sex partners is highlighted as being significant in the prevalence of HIV.
The survey included socio-economic variables and HIV serostatus for consenting men (N = 4,434). The risk for HIV was positively related to wealth status. Men who considered themselves to be at high risk for HIV-positive were most likely to be HIV-positive. Respondents who, along with their sexual partner, were drunk during the last three times they had sexual intercourse, were more likely to be HIV-positive (Adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 1.60; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.00-2.56). Men with more than two sexual life partners and inconsistent condom use had a higher risk for being HIV-positive (OR: 1.89; 95% CI: 1.45-2.46 and OR: 1.49; 95% CI: 1.10-2.02, respectively). HIV prevention programs in Zambia should focus even more on these behavioural risk factors.

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This paper sets out a simple non-cooperative model of resource allocation within the household in developing countries that incorporates domestic violence as an instrument for enhancing bargaining power. We demonstrate that the extent of domestic violence faced by women is not necessarily declining in their reservation utilities, nor necessarily increasing in their spouses’. Using the National Family Health Survey data of India for 1998-99, we isolate the e¤ect of domestic violence on female autonomy, taking into account the possible two-way causality through the choice of appropriate instruments. We provide some evidence for the evolutionary theory of domestic violence, which argues that such violence stems from the jealousy caused by paternity uncertainty in our evolutionary past. The findings have strong policy implications suggesting that it will take more than an improvement in women's employment options to address the problem of spousal violence.

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In this article, we analyze whether the Softwood Lumber Agreement between the United States and Canada imposed significant economic costs on industries that use softwood lumber in the United States. To ascertain this impact, we use an event study. Our event study analyzes variations in the stock prices of lumber-using firms listed at the major stock markets in the United States. We find that the news of events leading to the Softwood Lumber Agreement had significant negative impacts on the stock prices of industries using softwood lumber. The average reduction of stock prices for our sample of firms was approximately 5.42% over all the events considered. Article first published online: 20 OCT 2009

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The main aim is to question why we don't see more firms petitioning for import relief. It is well accepted that petitioning itself can restrain imports, lead to higher prices and hence higher profits (in the short run). What prevents more firms from filing for protection? It may be that petitioning reflects cost inefficiency on the part of the petitioning firm, and concerns about revealing this information might act as a deterrent for firms to come forward with their complaints. However, in a declining industry where a large number of firms are contemplating exit, petitioning could be a signal that the firm expects to remain in the market for the near future. The signaling hypothesis is tested by comparing the stock market response of an antidumping petition for petitioning firms and non-petitioning firms producing the same product.

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In this article we highlight the anticompetitive nature of antidumping (AD) legislation. Antidumping legislation was set up to protect domestic firms from predatory pricing by foreign firms. We argue that protecting highly concentrated industries drastically reduces competition at home. In cases where the industry consists only of one or two firms, import restriction may breed monopolies at the expense of domestic consumers. This article looks at cases filed by the agriculture sector, and at the market concentration of industries in this sector, to illustrate the above possibility. We study the case of fresh tomatoes in detail to further demonstrate the anticompetitive nature of AD legislation. We show the effect of AD legislation on imports, as well as the change in the Lerner index in the fresh tomato industry.

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In this paper we analyze whether U.S. Anti-Dumping (AD) duties in the agricultural sector are effective in restricting trade. More specifically, does imposition of an antidumping duty restrict imports of the named commodity or is there a diversion in the supply of imports from countries named in the petition to countries not named in the antidumping petition? We find that AD duties have had a significant impact on the imports of agricultural commodities from the countries named in the petition. However, our results also indicate that, unlike the manufacturing sector in the US, there was little trade diversion towards countries not named in the AD petition. Our results indicate that AD is a plausible protectionist policy in the Agriculture sector.

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In order to develop effective policies and programs that reduce the number of smokers a necessary first step is to understand the determinants of starting to smoke. In this paper, we present a split-sample duration model of the decision to start smoking. We use data from the 2002 Canadian tobacco use monitoring survey. The hazard rate of starting smoking peaks sharply at age 15 and quickly declines thereafter. Our parametric estimates provide evidence that gender, education, marital status, and household size are important determinants of the smoking habit. We also find that higher cigarette prices have an impact on picking up the habit, but not on the initiation age. Thus, the results highlight the importance of cigarette taxes in influencing the likelihood of smoking.

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We estimate the degree of trade diversion from provinces named under the Softwood Lumber Agreement(SLA) to provinces not named. Our regression results indicate that the SLA had a significant impact on the exports of non-named SLA provinces. Controlling for other factors, the SLA by itself would have increased exports from these provinces four times. The corresponding effect for the provinces named in the SLA is estimated at minus 5 percent. This decrease is not, however, statistically significant.

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WORKING PAPERS

In this paper we compare the use of antidumping (AD) measures in the agriculture sector by Canada and the United States, the two major users of antidumping procedures.1 We consider both the direct and indirect effects of the AD measure and consider what factors make an AD measure more or less successful at impeding trade and when it is more likely to cause trade diversion. Specifically, we ask when the imposition of an antidumping duty restricts imports of the targeted commodity and when is there a deflection in the supply of imports from countries named in the petition to countries not named in the antidumping petition? We compare these results for that of the US and draw conclusions about the determinants of such differences, like the exchange rate, GDP and distance to partner countries. We use a modified version of the gravity model, as used in the earlier literature (Prusa (2001)) for our analysis. We find that affirmative AD cases caused trade diversion from non-named countries for agricultural products in general, but that trade diversion was particularly strong for perishable products. We also find that the more concentrated the imports, the more restrictive the AD duties.

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WORK IN PROGRESS

As part of UBC’s initiative to facilitate community-based learning, this course gave students the option of participating in a research project that helps a non-profit organization gain a better understanding of a specific issue. Whereas most undergraduate economic curricula focus on theory or data analysis, Community-Based Research (CBR) lets students use their theoretical knowledge and analytical skills to help people in their own community.

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I use the Indian National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) data collected in 2006 to study the determinants of a mother's decision to breastfeed her child, and social factors that influence the duration of breastfeeding. More specifically, I examine the influence of family structure and gender of the child on a mother's choice to either breastfeed exclusively, supplement breast milk or not to breastfeed her child. I do not find any gender-bias in the choice to breastfeed an infant- more than 95% of the children in the sample are breastfed. Duration of family structure is surprisingly a strong determinant of duration of breastfeeding, women living in joint family breastfeed for significantly shorter duration.
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COURSES

ECON 101 ECON 355 ECON 457 ECON 490

 

PUBLISHED ARTICLES

Experimenting with Facebook in the College Classroom

The participation and discussion rates were higher than ever, and more problem solving, and other requests were made for help with the course. This module helped achieve what face-to-face, three-hours a week interaction could not. I have decided to make this technology a permanent feature in my course. However, next semester, we will have a closed Facebook group.This is what I have learned:

  • A Facebook page creates a public presence online. Anyone on the Internet, even those that don’t have a Facebook account, can view this page. By default, comments can be viewed by anyone on the Internet. (Pineda)
  • Facebook groups resemble an online café with walls to the rest of the online community, allowing students to (a) chat in real-time, (b) discuss in virtual-time, and (c) share materials through straightforward file upload.
  • Facebook groups can be open (public), closed (require administrator approval for joining and only members can read the posts), or secret (only members can see the group, who’s in it, and what’s being posted).

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The following small video was prepared by UBC leap, Chapman learning commons. This video was prepared to answer some of students’ concerns about taking a course which is a little different from traditional lectures.
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My approach to Blended learning

Guiding students in solving a problem is more conducive to learning than a lecture providing the answer. I free up class time by having students review basic concepts before class. They do this by watching the video tutorials I create.  While I still teach these concepts in class, I do not have to review them before subsequent lectures and when they have to be revisited for different sections. This allows me to engage students in problem-solving during lecture time. While we solve problems or apply concepts together I help students assimilate the new information and make the right connections with what they already know. I started using this approach in 2009 with only a few lectures and over time have developed video tutorials that have now culminated in this course with blended learning.


Workshops

Presentations/Posters