Dina D. Pomeranz

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Dina Pomeranz is an assistant professor in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, where she teaches the Entrepreneurial Manager course in the MBA required curriculum. 

She is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), an affiliate professor at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and at the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), and a member of the International Growth Centre (IGC) and of the HBS Social Entreprise Initiative. Besides her academic interests, she serves on the board or advisory board of a number of social enterprise ventures committed to translating research into practice.

Dina Pomeranz is an assistant professor in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, where she teaches the Entrepreneurial Manager course in the MBA required curriculum. 

She is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), an affiliate professor at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and at the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), and a member of the International Growth Centre (IGC) and of the HBS Social Entreprise Initiative. Besides her academic interests, she serves on the board or advisory board of a number of social enterprise ventures committed to translating research into practice.

Professor Pomeranz’s research focuses on public policies towards firms and entrepreneurs in emerging markets. In particular, she has conducted large-scale randomized field experiments about tax evasion by firms and about determinants and impacts of formal savings for low-income microentrepreneurs. In current work, she is analyzing the impact of tax subsidies and public procurement regulations on investment and growth of SMEs in emerging markets. Prior to joining HBS, she served as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, with a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and BA and MA degrees in international relations from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

Beyond her research, Dina Pomeranz has been active in a variety of organizations, including as a consultant to Ernst & Young, the World Bank, the Chilean and Ecuadorian Tax Authorities, and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. She serves on the board of Evidence Action and TAMTAM-Together Against Malaria and on the advisory board of Instiglio and IDinsight. 

Working Papers

  1. Randomized Tax Enforcement Messages: A Policy Tool for Improving Audit Strategies

    Reducing tax evasion is a key challenge for governments around the world, particularly in developing countries. This paper presents a methodology to generate information to optimize audit strategies. Randomly selected taxpayers receive a deterrence message. Comparing their subsequent tax payments to a control group allows estimating what types of taxpayers are more likely to respond to an increase in perceived audit probability. This information can be used to target audits toward taxpayers that respond particularly strongly, and to construct risk indicators to predict taxpayers' responses. We show results from an application in Chile and describe lessons learned during the implementation.

    Keywords: Lawfulness; Taxation; Chile;

    Citation:

    Pomeranz, Dina, Cristobal Marshall, and Pamela Castellon. "Randomized Tax Enforcement Messages: A Policy Tool for Improving Audit Strategies." Tax Administration Review, no. 36 (January 2014): 1–21. View Details
  2. Saving More to Borrow Less: Experimental Evidence from Access to Formal Savings Accounts in Chile

    Poverty is often characterized not only by low and unstable income, but also by heavy debt burdens. We find that reducing barriers to saving through access to free savings accounts decreases participants' short-term debt by about 20%. In addition, participants who experience an economic shock have less need to reduce consumption, and subjective well-being improves significantly. Precautionary savings and credit therefore act as substitutes in providing self-insurance, and participants prefer borrowing less when a free formal savings account is available. Take-up patterns suggest that requests by others for participants to share their resources may be a key obstacle to saving.

    Keywords: Saving; Poverty; Borrowing and Debt; Chile;

    Citation:

    Kast, Felipe, and Dina Pomeranz. "Saving More to Borrow Less: Experimental Evidence from Access to Formal Savings Accounts in Chile." NBER Working Paper Series, No. 20239, June 2014. (Revised June 2014. Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-001, July 2013) View Details
  3. No Taxation without Information: Deterrence and Self-Enforcement in the Value Added Tax

    Claims that the VAT facilitates tax enforcement by generating paper trails on transactions between firms contributed to widespread VAT adoption worldwide, but there is surprisingly little evidence. This paper analyzes the role of third party information for VAT enforcement through two randomized experiments among over 400,000 Chilean firms. Announcing additional monitoring has less impact on transactions that are subject to a paper trail, indicating the paper trail's preventive deterrence effect. This leads to strong enforcement spillovers up the VAT chain. These findings confirm that when taking evasion into account, significant differences emerge between otherwise equivalent forms of taxation.

    Keywords: Information; Taxation; Chile;

    Citation:

    Pomeranz, Dina. "No Taxation without Information: Deterrence and Self-Enforcement in the Value Added Tax." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-057, December 2012. (Revised April 2013.) View Details
  4. Under-Savers Anonymous: Evidence on Self-Help Groups and Peer Pressure as a Savings Commitment Device

    We test the effectiveness of self-help peer groups as a commitment device for precautionary savings, through two randomized field experiments among 2,687 micro-entrepreneurs in Chile. The first experiment finds that self-help peer groups are a powerful tool to increase savings (number of deposits grows 3.5-fold and average savings balance almost doubles). Conversely, a substantially higher interest rate has no effect on most participants. A second experiment tests an alternative delivery mechanism and shows that effects of a similar size can be achieved by holding people accountable through feedback text messages, without any meetings or peer pressure.

    Keywords: Saving; Decision Making; Interest Rates; Planning; Performance Effectiveness; Economics; Entrepreneurship; Growth and Development; Social Enterprise; Global Range; Chile;

    Citation:

    Kast, Felipe, Stephan Meier, and Dina Pomeranz. "Under-Savers Anonymous: Evidence on Self-Help Groups and Peer Pressure as a Savings Commitment Device." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-060, January 2012. (Revised October 2012.) View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Start-Up Chile: April 2012

    Start-Up Chile is a unique program to encourage entrepreneurs to bring their new ventures to Chile. Policymakers must evaluate its effectiveness in achieving economic and social goals.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Venture Capital; Policy; Chile;

    Citation:

    Applegate, Lynda M., William R. Kerr, Josh Lerner, Dina D. Pomeranz, Gustavo A. Herrero, and Cintra Scott. "Start-Up Chile: April 2012." Harvard Business School Case 812-158, May 2012. View Details

Other Publications and Materials

  1. The Promise of Microfinance and Women's Empowerment: What Does the Evidence Say?

    The microfinance revolution has transformed access to financial services for low-income populations worldwide. As a result, it has become one of the most talked-about innoviations in global development in recent decades. However, its expansion has not been without controversy. While many hailed it as a way to end wold poverty and promote female empowerment, others condemned it as a disaster for the poor. Female empowerment has often been seen as one of the key promises of the industry. In part, this is based on the fact that more than 80% of its poorest clients, i.e., those who live on less than $1.25/day, are women. This paper discusses what we have learned so far about the potential and limits of microfinance and how insights from research and practice can help inform the industry’s current products, policies and future developments.

    Keywords: Microfinance; Entrepreneruship in emerging markets; entrepreneurship; gender; Women's Empowerment; entrepreneurs; Saving; savings; credit; credit supply; Insurance; Development economics; development finance; Behavioral economics; Gender Characteristics; Microfinance; Social Entrepreneurship; Developing Countries and Economies; Banking Industry; Public Administration Industry; Financial Services Industry; Insurance Industry; Latin America; Kenya; Chile; India; Asia; Africa;

    Citation:

    Pomeranz, Dina D. "The Promise of Microfinance and Women's Empowerment: What Does the Evidence Say?" EY Thought Leadership Series, February 2014. View Details