Ronit Mukherji

PhD Job Market Candidate

My research interests are in Labour Economics and Macroeconomics with a specific focus on immigrant labour. And the impact they have on the local labour market.

My job market paper studies the impact of low skilled immigrant labour entry on unionization rates in the U.S. and analyses how that, in turn, can associate with rising wage inequality.

I expect to graduate in 2022, and I will be available for interviews at the 4th EJM and the 2022 ASSA/AEA meetings.

Research Areas: Labour Economics, Macroeconomics

Education

PhD Economics, University of British Columbia, 2016 – 2022 (Expected)

M.Sc. Economics, University of Warwick, United Kingdom, Distinction, 2014

B.Sc. Economics, Presidency College, University of Calcutta, India, First Class Honours, 2013

Awards

St. John’s College Itoko Muraoka Fellowship, 2021.
CIDER Small Grants in Innovative Data, UBC, 2020.
President’s Academic Excellence Initiative PhD Award, University of British Columbia, 2019-Present.
International Tuition Award, University of British Columbia, 2016-Present.
Four Year Doctoral Fellowship, University of British Columbia, 2016-2020.
Warwick-India Scholarship, University of Warwick, 2013-2014.

JOB MARKET PAPER

(Bank of Canada Graduate Student Paper Award, 2021)

From the late 1960s, the U.S. economy has seen a rapid decline in labour union membership and coverage. This paper argues that the entry of immigrants into the U.S. economy has significantly altered the incentives of native-born workers to join labour unions and firms to hire unionized workers, prompting a fall in unionization. Once immigrants enter the workforce, high-skilled workers choose not to join the union as their efforts are better rewarded in the non-union sector. On the other hand, low-skilled native workers who face competition from immigrant workers are now less valued by firms if unionized and cannot demand a union wage. I present evidence that the entry of low skilled immigrants drives down union rates across geographical regions using an instrumental variable approach. I find that the relationship is robust and holds even after controlling for other potential causes proposed to explain a decline of union density. A search-theoretic framework, developed to bear out the mechanism, is followed by empirically testing predictions derived from the model. The model is further calibrated to fit the data in 1980 and used to predict union density in 2000. This exercise finds that low skilled immigrant entry can explain 48-55% of the total fall in union density. [GO TO PAPER]

WORKING PAPERS

In this paper, I exploit plausibly exogenous changes in exchange rates across source countries for immigrants in Canada, using panel data to evaluate how these changes impact their labour market outcomes. I present evidence using both survey and administrative tax data that, Canadian immigrants in response to a 10 per cent depreciation of the home currency relative to the Canadian dollar, reduce their annual earnings by 0.36 per cent by mainly reducing hours even after controlling for individual-level heterogeneity. The effect is higher in magnitude for recent male immigrants, who are less educated and are married but not living with their spouses. They also tend to be from lower-income countries and located in immigrant enclaves. Crucially, remittance senders are more affected, but these exchange rate fluctuations do not affect the amount of remittance sent. Thus, suggesting that immigrants tend to be target earners and react accordingly to exchange rate fluctuations. [GO TO PAPER]

WORK IN PROGRESS

This paper studies optimal commodity taxation when agents can home produce and taxes are subject to salience effects. With home production, households can use their time endowment to substitute market produced services, which would call for a lower tax on them. However, recent empirical evidence suggests that consumers under-estimate taxes are referred to as the salience effect. The distortions created due to tax salience leads to consumers making optimization errors. The paper develops a model to study how home production and salience can impact the consumption bundle of an agent and optimal time allocation. The model is used to derive conditions under which The Atkinson-Stiglitz and The Corlett-Hague theorems can be optimal from the social planner perspective in a representative agent framework. Additionally, the paper finds that lower taxes on market services in the presence of home-production are not justifiable when considering salience effects.

This paper studies how labour market conditions at the point of entry for immigrants affect their earnings, labour market outcomes, assimilation to the economy, and reverse migration decisions both in the short and long run. Using rich administrative tax data, I find that it takes 12-15 years for an initial negative impact of the unemployment rate to dissipate completely. I document the heterogeneity existing in this impact based on age, gender, marital status, country of origin, and education. This paper provides novel insights into the outmigration behaviour of immigrants, taking into condition their earnings post-arrival and over-time.

PUBLICATIONS

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is unique in combining self-selection of beneficiaries through demand for work and decentralization of administrative power at the local level. However, it falls into a pitfall associated with the decentralization mechanism: that of capture of funds by local leaders. Using nationally representative data I find how households which are closer to local leaders do much better in the NREG scheme during the different stages of its implementation as compared to households who are not. They have more job cards, they tend to work, among those working work more days and get faster wage payments. I argue how this is a result of favouritism by these local leaders leading to capture of funds. [GO TO PAPER]

  • Econ 221 - Introduction to Strategic Thinking (Undergraduate): 2017.
  • Econ 355 - Introduction to International Trade (Undergraduate): 2018, 2019, 2020.
  • Econ 350 - Public Finance Policy Topics (Undergraduate):  2021.