Welcome! I’m Francis Ratsimbazafy

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at Vanderbilt University. My current research focuses on trade agreements and strategic interaction. However, my interests lie at the intersection of international trade and applied microeconometrics.

I am currently on the job market. I will be available for interviews at the 2019 ASSA meetings in Atlanta.

Working Papers

Strategic Interactions Among Big Countries in Free Trade Agreement Formation

[Job Market Paper]

In this paper, I develop a model showing that when a big country factors in the FTA decision of another one, it leads to independent FTAs involving one small country and several big countries. Such a result is not predicted by the existing trade literature even if many instances of it can be observed in the real world (e.g. FTAs between Peru and China and between Peru and the US). I also show that accounting for this strategic interaction leads to multiple equilibria of trade regimes that make the estimation of its effect impossible with standard econometric tools. As such, I provide a practical method of solving this issue by using a moment inequality approach. Focusing on the FTA decisions of four big countries (China, the EU, Japan and the US), my estimate indicates for instance that a one standard deviation increase in GDP per capita increases the overall likelihood of the US having an FTA by 62 percentage points whereas China’s having an FTA with a country increases the probability of the US having an FTA with that country by 27 percentage points. Moreover, my structural approach allows me to use the estimated model and run a counterfactual policy analysis about the effect of the US entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership on FTA formation by the other big countries. I find that the likelihood of China, the EU, and Japan also having an FTA with TPP members would have increased by 21, 19, and 17 percentage points, respectively, if the US had signed the agreement. Strategic interaction thus matters in FTA decisions of the big countries.

Measuring Peer Effects on Negotiation Outcomes during GATT Rounds


Work in Progress

Substituting bikeshare for taxis: Evidence from New York City

(with Alejandro Molnar)

The Income Elasticities of the Quantity and Quality of Children

(With Federico Gutierrez)


ECON 1010 - Principles of Macroeconomics

Semester: Fall 2018

This course introduces students to general topics on Macroeconomics and is divided into four sections. The first section addresses market equilibrium and analyzes the effect of prices, preferences, income, taxes and subsidies on supply and demand. The second section covers aggregate demand, aggregate supply, general equilibrium, inflation and unemployment. The third section talks about the role of different monetary and fiscal policies in the economy. The last section covers open economy analysis with a focus on exchange rates, balance of payments and balance of trade.

ECON 7100 - Project Evaluation

Semester: Spring 2017

This is a graduate level course with a focus on program evaluation. The course introduces students to various econometrics methods such as two-stage least squares, differences-in-differences, regression discontinuity design and panel data estimation techniques.

ECON 7920 - Seminar Research in Economic Development

Semester: Spring 2016, Fall 2016

This is a graduate level course with a focus on labor economics. The course introduces students to various econometrics methods used to estimate the impacts of health on labor market outcomes.

ECON 1500 - Statistics

Semester: Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Summer 2016

The course is divided into three sections. The first section covers the use of statistics for descriptive analysis. The course introduces topics such as mean, standard deviation, standard errors. The second section talks about hypothesis testing. The last section introduces linear regression with a focus on the interpretation of estimation results.


Eric Bond (Co - chair)

Professor Bond is the Joe Roby Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University. He has written on a number of topics in international trade and applied microeconomics, including the theory of trade agreements, the role of asymmetric information in markets, and the impact of factor market distortions on economic growth.  He is the author of more than 60 articles, and his work has appeared in a number of leading journals in the profession, including the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of International Economics, and the Rand Journal of Economics.

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Tong Li (Co - chair)

Professor Li is the Gertrude Conway Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University. His primary research and teaching interests are microeconometrics with a focus on identification and inference of econometric models with latent variables, and game-theoretic models. His work has been published in general interest journals including EconometricaReview of Economic StudiesAmerican Economic Journal: MicroeconomicsInternational Economic ReviewReview of Economics and Statistics, and top field journals such as the Journal of EconometricsRAND Journal of Economics, Games and Economic Behavior.

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Joel Rodrigue

Professor Rodrigue is an Associate Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University. He also serves as the current Vice Chair of the Department of Economics. His research focuses on the intersection of international trade and firm dynamics.  His recent work has studied the impact of importing on firm organization and efficiency, firm-level entry and growth in international markets, and the impact of trade barriers on the allocation of resources across heterogeneous firms.

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Mattias Polborn (Director of Placement)

Professor Polborn is a Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt and serves as the current Director of Graduate Studies. His research interests lie in political economy, specifically in the formal and empirical analysis of American Politics. He is particularly interested in understanding candidate competition in elections and political polarization. His research has been published in some of the leading journals in both economics and political science (including the American Economic Review, American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Politics).

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