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 Five Years

Capital Controls: Theory and Evidence (with Anton Korinek and José Antonio Ocampo)

Journal of Economic Literature, 2021, 59 (1), 45-89.

Also available as NBER Working Paper No. 26447.

– VoxEU


World Development, 2021, 137, 105164.


Breaking the Cycle? Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Violence
 (with Pinar Keskin)

Review of Economics and Statistics, 2020, 102 (2): 252-268.

Also available as the Institute of for Economic Development at BU working paper #296, November 2017.

[Online Appendix] [Replication Files]

– VoxDev

Trade Liberalization and Local Labor Market Adjustment in South Africa 
(with Jessica Leight and Fiona Tregenna) Journal of International Economics, 2019, 118: 448-467

Compulsory Schooling for Whom? The Role of Gender, Poverty, and Religiosity (with Pinar Keskin) Economics of Education Review, 2019, 72: 187-203.

The Real Exchange Rate, Structural Change, and Female Labor Force Participation (with Martina Metzger)
World Development, 2019, 117: 296–312.

For Better or for Worse? Education and the Prevalence of Domestic Violence in Turkey (with Pinar Keskin)
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2018, 10 (1): 64-105. [Online Appendix]. [Replication Files] – VoxDev

Output Effects of Global Food Commodity Shocks (with Kerem Tuzcuoglu)
Journal of Globalization and Development, 2018, 9 (1): 1-18.

Macroeconomic Effects of Capital Account Regulations (with José Antonio Ocampo)
IMF Economic Review, 2017, 65 (2): 193–240.

Proposal for a Global Fund for Women through Innovative Finance (with Nilufer Cagatay)
Feminist Economics, 2017, 23 (4): 170-200.

Super Cycles of Commodity Prices since the Mid-Nineteenth Century (with José Antonio Ocampo)
World Development, 2013, 44, 14–30.

– Featured in Financial TimesHuffington PostBloomberg ViewNPR’s MarketplaceWestern Producer

Macroeconomic Transmission of Eurozone Shocks to Emerging Economies
International Economics, 2012, 131, 43-70.

North-South Terms of Trade Trends from 1960 to 2006
International Review of Applied Economics, 2011, 25 (2): 171–184.

Working Papers

Gender and Development


Social Distancing, Stimulus Payments, and Domestic Violence: Evidence from the U.S. during COVID-19
 (with Pinar Keskin and Silvia Prina)



Mental Health Costs of Lockdowns: Evidence from Age-specific Curfews in Turkey
 (with Onur Altindag and Pinar Keskin)

Revision requested by American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.


Trade-offs? The Impact of WTO Accession on Intimate Partner Violence in Cambodia (with Pinar Keskin)

Revision requested by the Review of Economics and Statistics.


Does Knowledge Empower? Education, Legal Awareness and Intimate Partner Violence (with Pinar Keskin)

Revision requested by Feminist Economics.


Female Employment and Intimate Partner Violence: Evidence from Syrian Refugee Inflows to Turkey (with Pinar Keskin)

Accepted at the Journal of Development Economics.

Also available as IZA Discussion Paper No. 14066.

   – VoxDev


International Economics


Exporting out of Agriculture: the Impact of WTO Accession on Structural Transformation in China (with Jessica Leight)

Accepted at the Review of Economics and Statistics.

[Replication Files]


Rethinking Unconditional Convergence in Manufacturing in the Age of New Technologies (with Oliver Schwank)

Background paper for the Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2020.

Accepted at the Journal of Globalization and Development.