Bilge Erten Biography

Bilge Erten

Assistant Professor of Economics and International Affairs

Economics Department
International Affairs Program

[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Intersection of gender, development and international economics, with a particular focus on empirical research.


Bilge Erten is an assistant professor of Economics and International Affairs at Northeastern University. After completing her PhD in Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she was a postdoctoral research scholar at the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. Her research interests lie in Development Economics, with a focus on Gender, Health, and Education. She studies the effects of lockdown policies on mental health and domestic violence; the causes and consequences of domestic violence; education, mental health, and violence against children; and globalization and women’s empowerment in developing countries.

Project Description

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the prevalence of mental health conditions that account for 20 percent of all disabilities in the world. Social isolation and loneliness are associated with a variety of mental and physical conditions, including anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and chronic diseases, which are strong predictors of early mortality. For instance, the share of U.S. population reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety increased from 11 percent in early 2019 to around 40 percent during the pandemic. Yet, little is known about the causal effects of restricted mobility on mental health and cognitive function, and whether these effects persist once the restrictions are lifted.

In this project, we aim to address this gap by focusing on the age-specific lockdowns on the senior population aged 65 and older in Turkey. These long-lasting and strictly enforced stay-at-home orders offer an ideal natural experiment that generates a discontinuity of exposure to curfew around the binding age cutoff. In a recent study, we report the short-run effects of these curfews on mental health using a phone survey conducted from late May to early July including 59- to 70-year-old adults. Our regression discontinuity design estimates show that the curfew-induced decline in physical mobility substantially worsened mental health, in both somatic and nonsomatic symptoms of mental distress. Moreover, we find that social and physical isolation mainly drive these effects, and existing literature suggests that increased social isolation is related to cognitive decline. Building on these findings, we will examine whether social and physical isolation induced by COVID-19 lockdown measures have longer term and persistent negative effects on mental health and cognitive function.

Publications – Past Three Years

Erten, B., Keskin, P.,& Prina,S. (2022). Social distancing, stimulus payments, and domestic violence: Evidence from the U.S. during COVID-19. American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings. 112, 262-266.

Altindag, O., Erten, B., & Kenskin, P. (2022). Mental health costs of lockdowns: Evidence from age-specific curfews in Turkey. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 14(2), 320-343.

Erten, B., & Keskin, P. (2022). Does knowledge empower? Education, legal awareness, and intimate partner violence. Feminist Economics.

Erten, B., & Keskin, P. (2021). Female employment and intimate partner violence: Evidence from Syrian refugee inflows to Turkey. Jounral of Development Economics, 150, Article 102607.

Erten, B., & Leight, J. (2021). Exporting out of agriculture: The impact of WTO accession on structural transformation in China. Review of Economics and Statistics, 103(2), 364-380.

Erten, B., Korinek, S., & Ocampo J. A. (2021). Capital controls: Theory and evidence. Journal of Economic Literature, 59(1), 45-89.

Erten, B., & Ocampo J. A. (2021). The Future of Commodity Prices and the Pandemic-driven Global Recession: Evidence from 150 Years of Data. World Development, 137, Article 105164.

Erten, B., & Schwank, O. (2020). Rethinking unconditional convergence in manufacturing in the Age of New Technologies. Review of Economics and Statistics, 12(1), 1-45.

Erten, B., & Keskin P. (2020). Breaking the cycle? Education and the intergenerational transmission of violence. Review of Economics and Statistics, 102(2), 252-268.

Erten, B., Leight, J., Tregenna, F. (2019). Trade liberalization and local labor market adjustment in South Africa. Journal of International Economics, 118, 448-467.

Erten, B., & Keskin, P. (2019). Compulsory schooling for whom? The role of gender, poverty, and religiostiy. Economics of Education Review, 72, 187-203.

Erten, B., & Metzger, M. (2019). The real exchange rate, structural change, and female labor force participation. World Development, 117, 296-312.