Danila Serra

Assistant Professor of Economics

Southern Methodist University
Department of Economics

Email: dserra@smu.edu


My research lies at the crossroads between experimental and development economics. My work combines experimental methodologies and survey design, both in lab and field settings, for the study of issues relating to corruption, governance, and accountability. My research to date has focused on two major themes: 1) the role that intrinsic motivations, social norms and culture play in individual decision-making, specifically in relation to situations that involve rule-breaking behavior that harms others while benefiting the decision-maker; and 2) the incentives and motivations of public service providers in developing countries, and the willingness and ability of service recipients to hold them accountable. More recently, I have become interested in issues related to gender differences in a variety of preferences and behaviors leading to differential outcomes in the labor market.



I have written many experimental papers investigating individuals’ willingness to engage in bribery. I also edited a volume, with Leonard Wantchekon, on New Advances in Experimental Research on Corruption. Some of my bribery papers test the effectiveness of specific anti-corruption policies, while others investigate whether intrinsic motivations, norms and culture matter for corrupt decision making.

Research on intrinsic motivations, norms and culture

·        “Corruption, Social Judgment and Culture: An Experiment,” with T. Salmon (SMU). R&R Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

·        “Intermediaries in Corruption,” with M. Drugov and J. Hamman. Experimental Economics.

·         “Corruption and Culture: An experimental Analysis,” with A.Barr. Journal of Public Economics.

·        “The effects of externalities and framing on bribery in a petty corruption experiment,” with A. Barr. Experimental Economics.



Papers testing policies

·          “I paid a bribe: Information sharing and extortionary corruption” with D. Ryvkin and J. Tremewan. European Economic Review.

·          “Combining top-down and bottom-up accountability: Evidence from a bribery experiment”. Journal of Law, Economics and Organization.

·          “Motivating Whistleblowers”, with J. Butler (EIEF) and G. Spagnolo (Stockolm School of Economics). Submitted.

·          “The Industrial Organization of Corruption: Monopoly, Competition and Collusion” with D. Ryvkin. Submitted.

·          “Is more competition always better? An experiment on extortioanary corruption”, with D. Ryvkin. Submitted.

·         “Corrupt Police”, with K. Abbink (Monash University). In progress.

·         Klaus Abbink and I have written a survey paper on “Anti-corruption policies: Lessons from the lab” in D. Serra and L. Wantchekon (eds.) New Advances in Experimental Research on Corruption, Research In Experimental Economics Volume 15, Bingly: Emerald Group Publishing.






I am especially interested in motivations and incentives of teachers and health professionals in developing countries, and clients’ (i.e., parents and patients respectively) willingness to actively participate in the accountability process. I have been involved in three projects – one of which still ongoing – combining large-scale surveys and lab-in-the-field experiments involving service providers and/or recipients.

·           “Do patients’ reports improve providers’ perfomance? Lab-Experimental evidence from Kenya” with Isaac Mbiti. Submitted.

·           Participatory accountability and collective action: Experimental evidence from Albanian schools” with A. Barr and T. Packard. European Economic Review.

·           “Intrinsic motivations and the non-profit health sector: Evidence from Ethiopia” with P. Serneels and A. Barr. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(3): 309-314. Special issue on Personality and Economics, edited by E. Ferguson, J.J. Heckman and P. Corr (invited submission).

·           “Parental participation in schools in Angola: An experimental investigations of motivations, information sharing and collective action problems” with P. Vicente. In the field.



Description: Description: Description: wordpress com stats RESEARCH ON GENDER

·           “Gender Differences in the Choice of Major: The Importance of Female Role Models” with C. Porter. In progress.


·           “Gender differences in leadership: An experiment” with P. Chakraborty. In progress


·           Does Transparency in Pay Eliminate the Gender Gap?” with T. Salmon. In progress.


·           Information, Aspirations and Role Models” with T. Salmon. In progress.


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