Akshay Moorthy

About me

I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Economics at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, Norway. I am on the 2023/24 academic job market. My research interests are in behavioural and development economics. The primary objectives of my research are to study the interaction between beliefs and preferences in various economic settings, with a focus on learning, belief updating, and exploring the causes and consequences of heterogeneity in social preferences between cultures and countries.

Email: akshay.moorthy@nhh.no


Job market paper

Whom do we learn from? Beliefs, preferences, and identity in social learning


This paper reports from a series of large-scale survey experiments aimed at identifying whether people have preferences over the social identity of information sources. I examine both naturally occurring identities (caste and religion in India), and experimentally assigned identities (in a EU/US sample). The results show that when the quality of information is known, the identity of the messenger does not influence learning. Further, participants react strongly to signals of information quality in all settings and descriptive results suggest that people may rely on pre-existing beliefs about the abilities of different identity groups in the absence of quality signals. Finally, I show that people prefer to learn from non-social sources (a computer algorithm) than from other people. Taken together, the results suggest that experts and policymakers should prioritise emphasising the quality of information.

In progress

Paternalistic preferences across the world
(with Björn Bartling, Alexander Cappelen, Henning Hermes, Marit Skivenes, and Bertil Tungodden)

The paper presents evidence from a global survey experiment with ~65,000 participants from 60 countries on the heterogeneity in paternalistic preferences within and across countries, and maps these preferences to the support for specific types of paternalistic policies. Globally, support for soft interventions greatly exceeds the support for hard interventions. There is striking variation in the difference in levels of support for hard and soft interventions, which we attribute to differences in preferences. The paper also studies how people's preferences for paternalistic policies of various types relate to various cultural and country-level characteristics.

Macro-economic shocks and preferences for inequality acceptance
(with Ingvild Almås, Alexander Cappelen, Erik Sørensen, and Bertil Tungodden)

This paper studies how people's economic experiences shape their preferences for inequality acceptance both during their lifetimes, and through cultural transmission. We combine data from a global survey experiment where individuals from 60 countries make real redistributive decisions with macroeconomic indicators and ethnographic data. The results show that an increased exposure to poor economic growth causes people to become substantially more meritocratic.

The cultural transmission of fairness preferences
(with Ingvild Almås, Alexander Cappelen, Erik Sørensen and Bertil Tungodden)

Published papers

The effect of rainfall shocks on early childhood development in Uganda
Economics Letters, Volume 200, March 2021, 109764

| Paper | Appendix

Shocks faced in early life have been linked with persistent inequalities in long-term health and economic outcomes. This paper studies the link between seasonal rainfall shocks and early childhood development in rural Uganda. The results indicate that rainfall shocks during the Ugandan harvest season in the in-utero period and first year of life are positively associated with the cognitive and non-cognitive development of 3- to 5-year-old children. This contributes to the literature on the persistence of economic inequalities caused by adversities in early life.