nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2017‒01‒01
ten papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Poverty graduation with cash transfers: a randomized evaluation By Vilas J. Gobin; Paulo Santos; Russell Toth
  2. A Poor Means Test? Econometric Targeting in Africa By Caitlin Brown; Martin Ravallion; Dominique van de Walle
  3. Welfare effects of changed prices The “Tortilla Crisis" revisited By Rita Motzigkeit Gonzalez
  4. The Impact of Livestock Ownership on Solar Home System Adoption in the Northern and Western Regions of Rural Tanzania By Stephan Klasen; Tukae Mbegalo
  5. Does universalization of health work? Evidence from health systems restructuring and maternal and child health in Brazil By Bhalotra, Sonia; Rocha, Rudi; Soares, Rodigo R.
  6. Land Ownership, Access to Informal Credit and Its Cost in Rural Vietnam. By Migheli, Matteo
  7. Empowering Mothers and Enhancing Early Childhood Investment: Effect on Adults Outcomes and Children Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills By Victor Lavy; Giulia Lotti; Zizhong Yan
  8. The Impact of Food Price Changes and Land Policy Reforms on Household Welfare in Rural Tanzania By Tukae Mbegalo
  9. Evaluating Efficiency Gains from Tenancy Reform Targeting a Heterogeneous Group of Sharecroppers: Evidence from India By Kurosaki, Takashi; Parinduri, Rasyad; Paul, Saumik
  10. Changing Betas or Changing X’s? Evolution of Income and Poverty in Ecuador, 2001-12 By Diana Chiliquinga; Gaurav Datt

  1. By: Vilas J. Gobin; Paulo Santos; Russell Toth
    Abstract: We examine the impact of the Rural Entrepreneur Access Program (REAP), a poverty graduation program that combines multiple interventions with the aim of promoting en- trepreneurship among ultra-poor women. The program emphasizes cash transfers (rather than asset transfers) to ultra-poor women, in addition to business skills training, business mentoring and savings. Participation in each of three rounds of the program was randomly determined through a public lottery. In the short-to-medium-run we find that the program has a positive and significant impact on income, savings, asset accumulation, and food security that are similar to more traditional poverty graduation programs that rely on asset transfers.
    Keywords: Poverty graduation, Cash transfers, Entrepreneurship, Ultra-poor, Field ex- periment, Africa
    JEL: C93 D13 J24 O12 O13 Q12
    Date: 2016–11
  2. By: Caitlin Brown; Martin Ravallion; Dominique van de Walle
    Abstract: Proxy-means testing is a popular method of poverty targeting with imperfect information. In a now widely-used version, a regression for log consumption calibrates a proxy-means test score based on chosen covariates, which is then implemented for targeting out-of-sample. In this paper, the performance of various proxy-means testing methods is assessed using data for nine African countries. Standard proxy-means testing helps filter out the nonpoor, but excludes many poor people, thus diminishing the impact on poverty. Some methodological changes perform better, with a poverty-quantile method dominating in most cases. Even so, either a basic-income scheme or transfers using a simple demographic scorecard are found to do as well, or almost as well, in reducing poverty. However, even with a budget sufficient to eliminate poverty with full information, none of these targeting methods brings the poverty rate below about three-quarters of its initial value. The prevailing methods are particularly deficient in reaching the poorest.
    JEL: I32 I38 O15
    Date: 2016–12
  3. By: Rita Motzigkeit Gonzalez
    Abstract: This study uses a comprehensive framework to quantify the welfare changes of rural and non-rural households in Mexico associated with the food price crisis of 2007. The total change in welfare is decomposed into ve contributors. I nd that income e ects, i.e. changes through pro ts and wages, negatively a ected welfare. Substitution e ects played an important role in maintaining welfare levels after a price shocks, households substantially substituted out of goods that showed a strong increase in their price. Though food price increases led to a signi cant welfare loss, part of it was compensated through the decrease of the price of other commodities such as health and personal care, transportation, and leisure. Hence, particularly in non-rural areas, the sole use of food commodities to analyze welfare changes leads to markedly di erent results than using the complete range of all goods consumed. Overall both poor households in rural as well as non-rural areas experienced a net welfare loss, but the effect was stronger for poor rural households thus among the poorest of the poor.
    Keywords: welfare changes, prices, poverty
    JEL: D31 I31 I32 O15
    Date: 2016–12
  4. By: Stephan Klasen (Georg-August University Göttingen); Tukae Mbegalo (Georg-August University Göttingen)
    Abstract: Livestock has been hypothesized to be one of the major buffer stocks for consumption smoothing in rural areas of developing countries. It is therefore hard for poor farmers in the developing world to finance large investments. We test the latter by estimating a latent variable model of solar home systems. We use off-grid household data from four districts of mainland rural Tanzania. Results indicate that solar adoption is higher for livestock owners than non-livestock owners and that these differences increase as household expenditure increases, but there is no statistical difference at lower- and some middle-expenditure levels. We argue that poor families tend to keep small livestock, which may not generate enough income for investment. They may also decide to accumulate livestock due to a lack of incentives to invest in solar. Furthermore, solar prevalence plays a role in the observed differences of solar adoption. Thus, solar investment financed through livestock will also depend on whether households have enough information on solar technology. In principle, if solar is to spread within a community, households will have to have information on the upfront costs and maintenance costs and the social and economic benefits of solar technology.
    Date: 2016–12–14
  5. By: Bhalotra, Sonia; Rocha, Rudi; Soares, Rodigo R.
    Abstract: We investigate restructuring of the health system in Brazil motivated to operationalize universal health coverage. Using administrative data from multiple sources and an event study approach that exploits the staggered rollout of programmatic changes across municipalities, we find large reductions in maternal, foetal, neonatal and postneonatal mortality, and fertility. We document increased prenatal care visits, hospital births and other maternal and child hospitalization, which suggest that the survival gains were supply-driven. We find no improvement in the quality of births, which may be explained by endogenous shifts in the composition of births towards higher-risk births.
    Date: 2016–12–12
  6. By: Migheli, Matteo (University of Turin)
    Abstract: Access to credit and its cost is a major challenge for farmers in developing countries. Formal moneylenders often ration these economic agents, as they lack assets to give as collateral for the loans. The phenomenon is particularly diffused in the countryside, where the formal moneylenders are less present. Consequently, farmers resort to informal credit. Several studies show that land serves as collateral for accessing formal credit, but they often do not find any significant effect of land size on access to informal credit. Here I study the effects of land ownership on both the demand and the cost of informal credit in the Mekong Delta. Vietnam is an interesting country for studying this issue, as informal credit is widespread in the countryside, despite the government’s effort to eradicate it, also subsidising the formal lenders. The analysis is based on 603 households farming relatively small parcels. The results show that as land ownership increases, both the demand and the cost of informal loans decrease. This result is relevant in developing countries, where land reforms are still ongoing, as it shows that land redistribution may contribute to the development of formal credit markets. In particular, from a policy point of view, design and implementation of appropriate land redistributions appears to be a fundamental way to fight the informal credit market.
    Date: 2016–11
  7. By: Victor Lavy; Giulia Lotti; Zizhong Yan
    Abstract: Empowering women and enhancing children’s early development are two important goals that are often pursued via independent policy initiatives in developing countries. In this paper we study a unique approach that pursues both goals at the same time: empowering mothers through tools that also advance their children’s development. A program operated by AVSI, an Italian NGO, in a poor neighborhood of Quito, Ecuador, targets parents of children from birth to age 5. It provides family advisor-guided parent training sessions once every two weeks for groups of six to eight mothers and their children. We find that the program empowered women in various dimensions, including higher labor force participation and employment, higher likelihood of a full-time job in the formal-sector and higher wages. Treated mothers are also more likely to continue their education, make independent decisions regarding their own finances, have greater role in intra-household decisions, especially on issues involving children’s education and discipline and increase parental inputs into their children’s development. We find that treated children improve their cognitive and non-cognitive skills, for example, they are less likely to repeat a grade or temporarily drop-out from schooling, are less absent from and have improved behaviors in school, have better attitudes towards learning, and achieve higher scores on cognitive tests. Applying a recently suggested factor model of children's relative non-cognitive skills reaffirms our finding of significant gains in children non-cognitive skills. All results hold when we estimate aggregate treatment impacts, use summary indices instead of individual outcomes in order to account for multiple inference, when we use entropy balancing to adjust for differences in pre-treatment covariates, and when we use other robustness checks.
    JEL: I25 O15
    Date: 2016–12
  8. By: Tukae Mbegalo (Georg-August University Göttingen)
    Abstract: Land policy reforms across Africa are expected to address several of the underlying critical issues of food security and economic development, because they can help stabilize food prices by improving future expectations on trade and supply. However, there is an absence of solid empirical research that considers the relationship between food price and land policy reform. This paper simultaneously estimates the impact of food prices and the Land Act of 1999 on rural household welfare. We use panel data from 2008/2009 and 2010/2011. The data contains information on land ownership and the different forms of land titling. This allows us to construct a treatment variable for landownership before and after the Land Act. Then, we use a matching method to estimate the counterfactual effect of both net consumer and producer welfare. The results indicate that rural food producers have not benefited by the post independence land reforms. Furthermore, we found that education and land titling have a major influence on improving household welfare as well as in offsetting food price shocks and reducing rural food poverty. We argue that education attainment can facilitate literacy on land and credit market issues, enabling the rural population to take full advantage of land titling, which can be used as collateral. Finally, we found that although land titling is an important tool in reducing rural food poverty, few poor rural households have land use certification. This is a crucial issue because titling and access to land for the rural poor are essential for food security and rural economic development.
    Keywords: Food Price; Education; Household Welfare; Land Ownership; Land Act; Land Titling and Matching Methods
    Date: 2016–12–14
  9. By: Kurosaki, Takashi; Parinduri, Rasyad; Paul, Saumik
    Abstract: This paper reevaluates the effect of a tenancy reform, popularly known as Operation Barga, on agricultural productivity in West Bengal, India. We employ a transparent empirical strategy based on synthetic control. We focus on the varying intensity of Operation Barga across West Bengal districts by comparing the districts' agricultural productivity with that of counterfactual districts using the synthetic control approach. Concerns over agro-climatic diversity and the recorded history of land reforms were also addressed while creating counterfactual districts. We find robust empirical evidence of a negligible effect on agricultural productivity growth. Next, we consider a theoretical framework to estimate the potential gains from Operation Barga in light of several types of sharecroppers. Consistent with the empirical findings, we conclude that the capacity of Operation Barga to enhance agricultural productivity is heavily constrained by the heterogeneity of sharecroppers in terms of wealth and livelihood structure.
    Keywords: land reform, agricultural productivity, synthetic control, India
    JEL: D60 O4 Q1 R11
    Date: 2016–11
  10. By: Diana Chiliquinga; Gaurav Datt
    Abstract: While endowment v rates-of-return decompositions are common in the labour market literature, in most applied work on modelling of income and poverty changes over time, the hypothesis of unchanging rates of return (betas) has largely remained untested. This paper tests and rejects the hypothesis for Ecuador for models of household income and poverty estimated over the period 2001-12. A variation on the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition over time shows that changing betas are also quantitatively important, contributing nearly three-fourths of the substantial income growth and poverty reduction in Ecuador over this period. Changes in only a few endowments (𝑥’s) and rates of return (betas) are however found to account for most of the change.
    Keywords: income growth; poverty; Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition; Ecuador
    JEL: I32 O15 O54
    Date: 2016–11

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