nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2017‒05‒14
fourteen papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Optimal data collection for randomized control trials By Pedro Carneiro; Sokbae Lee; Daniel Wilhelm
  2. Learning about the Enforcement of Conditional Welfare Programs: Evidence from Brazil By Brollo, Fernanda; Kaufmann, Katja; La Ferrara, Eliana
  3. Decentralization and Efficiency of Subsidy Targeting: Evidence from Chiefs in Rural Malawi By Basurto, Pia; Dupas, Pascaline; Robinson, Jonathan
  4. Agricultural diversification in Nepal: Status, determinants, and its impact on rural poverty: By Thapa, Ganesh; Kumar, Anjani; Joshi, Pramod Kumar
  5. Does migration affect education of girls and young women in Tajikistan? By Kseniia Gatskova; Artjoms Ivlevs; Barbara Dietz
  6. The Political Economy of Program Enforcement: Evidence from Brazil By Brollo, Fernanda; Kaufmann, Katja; La Ferrara, Eliana
  7. WASH for child health: Some evidence in support of public intervention in the Philippines By Joseph J. Capuno; Carlos Antonio R. Tan, Jr.; Xylee Javier
  8. Limitations of contract farming as a pro-poor strategy: The case of maize outgrower schemes in upper West Ghana By Ragasa, Catherine; Lambrecht, Isabel; Kufoalor, Doreen S.
  9. Does the community-based development program contribute to the economic welfare of rural households? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Afghanistan By Sarwari, Abdul Nafi; Jinnai, Yusuke
  10. Human Capital and Shocks: Evidence on Education, Health, and Nutrition By Elizabeth Frankenberg; Duncan Thomas
  11. Analysing Adoption of Soil Conservation Measures by Farmers in Darjeeling District, India By Chandan Singha
  12. Measuring postharvest losses at the farm level in Malawi: By Ambler, Kate; de Brauw, Alan; Godlonton, Susan
  13. Agricultural Production Amid Conflict: Separating the Effects of Conflict into Shocks and Uncertainty By María Alejandra Arias; Ana María Ibáñez; Andres Zambrano
  14. Agribusinesses, smallholder tenure security, and plot-level investments: Evidence from rural Tanzania By Kacana Sipangule

  1. By: Pedro Carneiro (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London); Sokbae Lee (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies); Daniel Wilhelm (Institute for Fiscal Studies and cemmap and UCL)
    Abstract: In a randomized control trial, the precision of an average treatment effect estimator and the power of the corresponding t-test can be improved either by collecting data on additional individuals, or by collecting additional covariates that predict the outcome variable. We propose the use of pre-experimental data such as other similar studies, a census, or a household survey, to inform the choice of both the sample size and the covariates to be collected. Our proce-dure seeks to minimize the resulting average treatment effect estimator’s mean squared error or the corresponding t-test’s power, subject to the researcher’s budget constraint. We rely on a modi?cation of an orthogonal greedy algorithm that is conceptually simple and easy to implement in the presence of a large number of potential covariates, and does not require any tuning parameters. In two empirical applications, we show that our procedure can lead to reductions of up to 58% in the costs of data collection, or improvements of the same magnitude in the precision of the treatment effect estimator.
    Keywords: randomized control trials, big data, data collection, optimal survey design, orthogonal greedy algorithm, survey costs.
    Date: 2017–03–27
  2. By: Brollo, Fernanda; Kaufmann, Katja; La Ferrara, Eliana
    Abstract: We study the implementation of Bolsa Familia, a program that conditions cash transfers to poor families on children's school attendance. Using unique administrative data, we analyze how beneficiaries respond to the enforcement of conditionality. Making use of random variation in the day on which punishments are received, we find that school attendance increases after families are punished for past noncompliance. Families also respond to penalties experienced by peers: a child's attendance increases if her own classmates, but also her siblings' classmates (in other grades or schools), experience enforcement. As the severity of penalties increases with repeated noncompliance, households' response is larger when peers receive a penalty that the family has not (yet) received. We thus find evidence of spillover effects and learning about enforcement.
    Date: 2017–04
  3. By: Basurto, Pia; Dupas, Pascaline; Robinson, Jonathan
    Abstract: Developing countries spend vast sums on subsidies. Beneficiaries are typically selected via either a proxy-means test (PMT) or through a decentralized identification process led by local leaders. A decentralized allocation may offer informational advantages, but may be prone to elite capture. We study this tradeoff in the context of two large-scale subsidy programs in Malawi (for agricultural inputs and food) decentralized to traditional leaders ("chiefs") who are asked to target the needy. Using high-frequency household panel data on neediness and shocks, we find that nepotism exists but has only limited mistargeting consequences. Importantly, we find that chiefs target households with higher returns to farm inputs, generating an allocation that is more productively efficient than what could be achieved through a PMT. This could be welfare improving, since within-village redistribution is common.
    JEL: D73 I38 O12 Q12
    Date: 2017–04
  4. By: Thapa, Ganesh; Kumar, Anjani; Joshi, Pramod Kumar
    Abstract: As in many parts of the developing world, the share of high value crops in agricultural gross domestic product (AgGDP) has increased substantially in Nepal. We contribute to the literature on trends in agricultural development in the poorest countries by answering the research question on “Does transition from traditional to high-value agriculture reduce rural poverty in poor developing countries†? We also identified the drivers leading to this transition. The study uses survey data from three rounds of the nationally representative Nepal Living Standard Surveys: NLSS I (1994/1995), NLSS II (2004/2005) and NLSS III (2010/2011). Multi-level model was used to study the determinants of agricultural diversification. To estimate the causal impact of agricultural diversification on welfare measures, propensity score matching and instrumental variable techniques were used. Results indicate that there has been a rightward shift in the distribution of the share (percent) of high-value crops between 1995 and 2004 and between 2004 and 2010, respectively. The area as well as the shared by major cereals (paddy, maize, and wheat) is declining over years. However, it is increasing for high-value crops (potato, vegetables, spices/condiments, and fruits). The percentage increase in share of the high-value crops was higher in or adjacent to urbanized districts between 1995 and 2010. The factors positively associated with the agricultural diversification are female-headed households, caste, mother's education, net-buyer status, urban region, remittance, farm size, kitchen garden, improved seeds, telephone and refrigerator. We found positive impact of agricultural diversification towards high-value crops on rural poverty and monthly per capita consumption expenditure. However, for cereal crops grower, we find the negative impact on poverty and monthly per capita consumption expenditure.
    Keywords: poverty; rural areas; horticulture; diversification; agricultural development; welfare; households, high value agriculture; consumption expenditures,
    Date: 2017
  5. By: Kseniia Gatskova; Artjoms Ivlevs; Barbara Dietz
    Abstract: We study how migration affects education of girls in Tajikistan—the poorest post-Soviet state and one of the most remittance-dependent economies in the world. Using data from a threewave household panel survey conducted in 2007, 2009, and 2011, we find that the effect of migration on girls’ school attendance differs markedly by age. School attendance of young girls (ages 7–11) improves when either parents or sibling migrate, as well as when the household starts receiving remittances. In contrast, school attendance of teenage girls (ages 12–17) falls when siblings migrate, while parental migration and remittances have no effect. Having a grandmother as the head of household after parents (typically fathers) migrate improves school attendance of young and teenage girls, but reduces school attendance of young women (ages 18–22). We also find that in localities where the share of migrants is already high, an increase in the share of migrant households is associated with an increase in the marriage rate. Our results support various channels through which emigration of household members may affect girls’ and young women’s education: relaxation of budget constraints, increase in household work, change in the head of household, and pressure to marry early. Overall, our study suggests that the net effect of migration on girls’ schooling turns from positive to negative with girls’ age; this implies that migration may be detrimental to women’s empowerment in Tajikistan and casts doubts on whether migration is an appropriate long-term development strategy for this country.
    Date: 2017
  6. By: Brollo, Fernanda; Kaufmann, Katja; La Ferrara, Eliana
    Abstract: Do politicians manipulate the enforcement of conditional welfare programs to influence electoral outcomes? We study the Bolsa Familia Program (BFP) in Brazil, which provides a monthly stipend to poor families conditional on school attendance. Repeated failure to comply with this requirement results in increasing penalties. First, we exploit random variation in the timing when beneficiaries learn about penalties for noncompliance around the 2008 municipal elections. We find that the vote share of candidates aligned with the President is lower in zip codes where more beneficiaries received penalties shortly before (as opposed to shortly after) the elections. Second, we show that politicians strategically manipulate enforcement. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find weaker enforcement before elections in municipalities where mayors from the presidential coalition can run for reelection. Finally, we provide evidence that manipulation occurs through misreporting school attendance, particularly in municipalities with a higher fraction of students in schools with politically connected principals.
    Date: 2017–04
  7. By: Joseph J. Capuno (School of Economics, University of the Philippines Diliman); Carlos Antonio R. Tan, Jr. (School of Economics, University of the Philippines Diliman); Xylee Javier (School of Economics, University of the Philippines Diliman)
    Abstract: Like in many developing countries, diarrheal diseases remain a top cause of child mortality and morbidity in the Philippines. Partly to address this problem, the government has undertaken programs to expand access to safe water and sanitation facilities, especially among poor households. To assess the impact of such interventions on child health, we apply propensity score matching technique on the pooled data from the last five rounds of the National Demographic and Health Survey. We find that improved water and improved sanitation each reduced the probability of child diarrhea in 1993-2008 by around two percentage points. In 2013, improved water reduced the probability by about 7 percentage points, while improved sanitation do not seem to have statistically significant effect. These results lend support to the government’s programs to widen access to safe water and sanitation facilities as measures to improve child health.
    Keywords: Water and sanitation; child health; Philippines
    JEL: I12 I18 O53
    Date: 2016–09
  8. By: Ragasa, Catherine; Lambrecht, Isabel; Kufoalor, Doreen S.
    Abstract: The focus in this paper is on two relatively large maize-based contract farming (CF) schemes with fixed input packages (Masara and Akate) and a number of smaller and more flexible CF schemes in a remote region in Ghana (Upper West). Results show that these schemes led to improved technology adoption and yield increases. In addition, a subset of maize farmers with high yield improvements due to CF participation had high gross margins. However, on average, yields were not high enough to compensate for higher input requirements and cost of capital. On average, households harvest 29–30 bags (100 kg each), or 2.9–3.0 metric tons, of maize per hectare, and the required repayment for fertilizer, seed, herbicide, and materials provided under the average CF scheme is 21–25 bags (50 kg each) per acre, or 2.6–3.0 tons per hectare, which leaves almost none for home consumption or for sale. Despite higher yields, the costs to produce 1 ton of maize under CF schemes remain high on average—higher than on maize farms without CF schemes, more than twice that of several countries in Africa, and more than seven times higher than that of major maize-exporting countries (the United States, Brazil, and Argentina). Sustainability of these CF schemes will depend on, from the firms’ perspective, minimizing the costs to run and monitor them, and from the farmers’ perspective, developing and promoting much-improved varieties and technologies that may lead to a jump in yields and gross margins to compensate for the high cost of credit.
    Keywords: farming systems, contract farming, supply chain, technology, productivity, profitability, maize, farm inputs, agricultural policies, households, agricultural research, technology adoption, GHANA, WEST AFRICA, AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA, AFRICA, Q12 Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets, Q16 Agricultural R&D, Agricultural Technology, Biofuels, Agricultural Extension Services, Q18 Agricultural Policy, Food Policy, C36 Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models: Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    Date: 2017
  9. By: Sarwari, Abdul Nafi; Jinnai, Yusuke
    Abstract: This study evaluates the impacts of a community-based development program on the economic welfare of rural households in Afghanistan. Using a randomized experiment data collected by National Solidarity Program (NSP), this paper uses Ordinary Least Square Method (OLS) to eliminate the selection bias. The results show that the program decreased the economic welfare of rural households in the short-term due to the small amount of cash inflow and high expectations of the rural households. However, the program increased the economic welfare of rural households in the medium-term through the completion of infrastructure and irrigation projects. In particular, the program has increased household income, consumption, and agriculture productivity of the treatment group on average by 20, 11, and 19 percent respectively. Moreover, the study concluded that channeling resources under the community-based development program approach was an effective way to target the rural households in medium-term. Future research is required to capture the political, institutional, and project management problems that could influence the impact of the community-based program.
    Keywords: Ordinary Least Square Method,Community-Based Development,Selection Bias,Economic Welfare
    JEL: D1
    Date: 2017
  10. By: Elizabeth Frankenberg (Duke University); Duncan Thomas (Duke University)
    Abstract: Human capital, including health and nutrition, has played a key role in the literature on poverty traps. Economic shocks that affect human capital during early life are thought to translate into permanently reduced levels of human capital and, thereby, push individuals into poverty. Three potential concerns in this literature are explored with empirical evidence drawn from primary longitudinal survey data collected before and after two major shocks in Indonesia: the 1998 financial crisis and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. First, it is very hard to identify shocks that are unanticipated and uncorrelated with other factors that affect human capital outcomes. Second, and related, there is abundant evidence that individuals, families and communities invest in strategies that are designed to mitigate the impact of such shocks. The nature and effectiveness of the myriad array of these behaviors vary with the context in ways that are not straightforward to measure or model. Third, the impacts of shocks on human capital outcomes in the short and longer-term may differ precisely because of the behavioral changes of individuals and their families so that drawing inferences about the longer-term impacts based on negative impacts in the short term can be very misleading. The picture of remarkable resilience that emerges from investigating the impacts of major shocks on child health and human capital in Indonesia is nothing short of stunning.
    Keywords: Health, poverty traps, natural disaster, resilience, long-term outcomes
    JEL: I10 I20 O10 O15
    Date: 2017–05
  11. By: Chandan Singha (Hindu College, University of Delhi)
    Abstract: The study attempts to assess the key determinants of the decision to adopt soil conservation. The study area is Teesta River Watershed, in Darjeeling District in the Eastern Himalayas. In this watershed, there have been soil conservation interventions both by the individual farmers on their own farm and by the government at the sub-watershed level. The data for this study was collected through a primary survey conducted during 2013. The distinguishing feature of our analysis is that it explicitly accounts for possible neighbourhood effects in influencing adoption. This is captured both by identifying adoption practices among farmers who are immediately upstream, and using spatial econometric techniques that incorporate the spatial distance between neighbouring farms. We use Bayesian formulation of a standard probit model in conjunction with Markov Chain Monte Carlo to estimate the model. The findings suggest strong and positive evidence of neighbourhood impact on farmers in making soil conservation decisions. We also examine if adoption decisions differ between farmers residing in treated and untreated sub-watershed and conclude that they do not. Knowledge about the magnitude and extent of spatial dependency can help the Government in designing better policies to promote the adoption of soil conservation practices at a lower cost.
    Keywords: Soil conservation measure, neighbourhood effect, spatial dependence, sub-watershed
    Date: 2017–05
  12. By: Ambler, Kate; de Brauw, Alan; Godlonton, Susan
    Abstract: Reducing food loss and waste are important policy objectives prominently featured in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. To optimally design interventions targeted at reducing losses, it is important to know where losses are concentrated between the farm and fork. This paper measures farmlevel postharvest losses for three main crops—maize, soy, and groundnuts—among 1,200 households in Malawi. Farmers answered a detailed questionnaire designed to learn about losses during harvest and transport, processing, and storage and which measures both total losses and reductions in crop quality. The findings indicate that fewer than half of households report suffering losses conditional on growing each crop. In addition, conditional on losses occurring, the loss averages between 5 and 12 percent of the farmer’s total harvest. Compared to nationally representative data that measure losses using a single survey question, this study documents a far greater percentage of farmers experiencing losses, though the unconditional proportion lost is similar. We find that losses are concentrated in harvest and processing activities for groundnuts and maize; for soy, they are highest during processing. Existing interventions have primarily targeted storage activities; however, these results suggest that targeting other activities may be worthwhile.
    Keywords: food wastes; postharvest losses; agriculture; production; maize; groundnuts; soybeans; vegetables; nuts; cereals; households; farmers; harvesting; transport; processing; food processing; storage; food storage; crop storage; crops; farm storage; sustainable development, agricultural production,
    Date: 2017
  13. By: María Alejandra Arias (University of Chicago); Ana María Ibáñez (Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia); Andres Zambrano (Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia)
    Abstract: This paper examines the effect of conflict on agricultural production of small farmers. First, an inter-temporal model of agricultural production is developed in which the impact of conflict is transmitted through violent shocks and uncertainty brought about by conflict. We test the model using a unique household survey applied to 4,800 households in four micro-regions of Colombia. Our findings suggest households learn to live amid conflict, albeit at a lower income trajectory. When presence of non-state armed actors prolongs, farmers shift to activities with short-term yields and lower profitability from activities that require high investments. If violence intensifies in regions with presence of non-state armed actors, farmers concentrate on subsistence activities.
    Keywords: conflict, uncertainty, agricultural production, small-farmers, developing economies JEL Classification: D13, D74, Q1
    Date: 2017–03
  14. By: Kacana Sipangule
    Abstract: The last decade has witnessed an increase in the interest in agricultural land in developing countries. While a great deal of attention has been paid to understanding the impacts of this increased interest in agricultural land, very little is known about how local smallholder communities are affected when agribusinesses decrease or cease their operations. A large number of agribusinesses that acquired agricultural land in many sub-Saharan African countries have reduced or ceased their operations in recent years. This paper introduces a new dimension to the literature by investigating how a decrease in the share of land held by an agribusiness in a village affects smallholder plot-level tenure security and investments in rural Tanzanian villages. Drawing on a panel of 5,101 plots, we find that a decrease in the share of land held by an agribusiness significantly increases the probability that a plot has tenure security. Moreover, our results reveal that a decrease in the share of land held by agribusinesses significantly raises the time spent on the plot. This result is primarily driven by the number of household members employed in the agricultural sector but not through changes in tenure security.
    Date: 2017

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