I am an economist with research interests in trade, macroeconomic development, and political economy. I received my Ph.D. in Economics from UCLA in 2020. 
I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Yale University's School of Management, a Faculty Affiliate of the Economic Growth Center in the Economics Department at Yale, and a Research Affiliate of the Cowles Foundation. Previously, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University.
Diana Van Patten 1112022.5.jpg

Working Papers

 with Esteban Méndez-Chacón
Revise and resubmit at Econometrica

This paper studies the short- and long-run effects of large firms on economic development. We use evidence from one of the largest multinationals of the 20th Century: The United Fruit Company (UFCo). The firm was given a large land concession in Costa Ricaone of the so-called "Banana Republics"from 1899 to 1984. Using administrative census data with census-block geo-references from 1973 to 2011, we implement a geographic regression discontinuity design that exploits an exogenous assignment of land. We find that the firm had a positive and persistent effect on living standards. Regions within the UFCo were 29% less likely to be poor in 1973 than nearby counterfactual locations, with only 56% of the gap closing over the following four decades. Company documents explain that a key concern at the time was to attract and maintain a sizable workforce, which induced the firm to invest heavily in local amenities that likely account for our result. Consistent with this mechanism, we show, empirically and through a proposed model, that the firm's welfare effect is increasing in worker mobility.

International Diffusion of Technology: Accounting for Differences in Learning Abilities

New Version Coming Soon - Old Version Here

An important question in the field of economic growth and development is how developing countries learn to adopt and use new technologies. This paper studies how firms learn from each other through trade. First, using an unexpected change in foreign trade costs and data on the network of firm transactions in Costa Rica, I document how productivity grows systematically faster for firms that trade with partners with better technologies, but that this effect is decreasing in the gap between the partners' productivity. Second, I build a model in which knowledge transfers can occur through trade, and in which agents have heterogeneous learning abilities: the probability of a producer adopting a technology slightly better than hers is larger than the probability of adopting a much more sophisticated one—the trade-off being that, conditional on adoption, more sophisticated technologies lead to higher productivity.  I document how the model matches the empirical dependence of productivity growth on productivity gaps across trading partners, and the firm size distribution. The model also highlights how ignoring differences in learning abilities can overestimate the impact of exposure to high-TFP trading partners, leading to suboptimal trade policies.  

with Lee Ohanian, Paulina Restrepo-Echavarría, and Mark Wright    

This paper quantifies the positive and normative effects of capital controls on international economic activity under The Bretton Woods international financial system. We develop a three-region world economic model consisting of the U.S., Western Europe, and the Rest of the World. The model allows us to quantify the impact of these controls through an open economy general equilibrium capital flows accounting framework. We find these controls had large effects. Counterfactuals show that world output would have been 6% larger had the controls not been implemented. We show that the controls led to much higher welfare for the rest of the world, moderately higher welfare for Europe, but much lower welfare for the U.S. We interpret the large U.S. welfare loss as an estimate of the implicit value to the U.S. of preventing capital flight from other countries and thus promoting economic and political stability in ally and developing countries.

Policy Papers

 with Matías Herrera Dappe and Mathilde Lebrand 

Work in Progress

Strategic Complementarities in a Dynamic Model of Technology Adoption with Fernando Alvarez, David Argente, Francesco Lippi, and Esteban Méndez-Chacón

Voting on a Trade Agreement: Firm Networks and Attitudes Towards Openness with Esteban Méndez-Chacón

Enrooted Corporate Culture: The Long-Run Impact of Exposure to Multinationals on Local Trade Policy and Political Identity with Esteban Méndez-Chacón

Detour Ahead: Market Frictions and Path Dependence in Transport Networks with Marta Santamaría



Mailing Address:
Diana Van Patten

Yale School of Management

Evans Hall

165 Whitney Avenue

New Haven, CT 06511

Email: diana.vanpatten@yale.edu