nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2018‒01‒15
fifteen papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Trade barriers and informality of trade: evidence from Benin's borders By Sami Bensassi; Joachim Jarreau; Cristina Mitaritonna
  2. Optimal data collection for randomized control trials By Pedro Carneiro; Sokbae Lee; Daniel Wilhelm
  3. The Impact of Peace: Evidence from Nigeria By Hönig, Tillman
  4. Mostly Harmless? A Subnational Analysis of the Aid-Conflict Nexus By Stijn van Weezel
  5. Wealthier, Happier and More Self-Sufficient: When Anti-Poverty Programs Improve Economic and Subjective Wellbeing at a Reduced Cost to Taxpayers By Titus Galama; Robson Morgan; Juan E. Saavedra
  6. Violence exposure and deprivation: Evidence from the Burundi civil war By Marion Mercier; Rama Lionel Ngenzebuke; Hugues Philip Verwimp
  7. The Effects of Land Markets on Resource Allocation and Agricultural Productivity By Chaoran Chen; Diego Restuccia; Raül Santaeulàlia-Llopis
  8. The Effect of Civil War Violence on Aid Allocations in Uganda By Stijn van Weezel
  9. The Long-Run Effects of Agricultural Productivity on Conflict, 1400-1900 By Iyigun, Murat; Nunn, Nathan; Qian, Nancy
  10. Maternal Depression, Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial By Baranov, Victoria; Bhalotra, Sonia R.; Biroli, Pietro; Maselko, Joanna
  11. Roads and the Spread of AIDS in Africa By Elodie Djemai
  12. The Effect of Age-Specific Sex Ratios on Crime: Instrumental Variable Estimates from India. By Barua, Rashmi; Goel, Prarthna; Sane, Renuka
  13. Resource Transfers to Local Governments: Political Manipulation and Voting Patterns in West Bengal By Anusha Nath; Dilip Mookherjee
  14. Land Tenure Insecurity as an Investment Incentive: The Case of Migrant Cocoa Farmers and Settlers in Ivory Coast. By Catherine Bros; Alain Desdoigts; Hugues Kouassi Kouadio
  15. Confronting the wall of patriarchy : does participatory intrahousehold decision-making empower women in agricultural households? By Lecoutere, Els; Wuyts, Eva

  1. By: Sami Bensassi (University of Birmingham); Joachim Jarreau (Université Paris-Dauphine, PSL Research University, IRD, LEDa, DIAL); Cristina Mitaritonna (CEPII, Paris, France)
    Abstract: Informal cross-border trade is large, ubiquitous, and persistent in Africa. This paper studies the role of trade barriers in this state of aairs. We use a unique survey of informal transactions across Benin's land borders, which pro- vides the rst direct and comprehensive account of trade volumes and product coverage for this type of trade. We combine this data with ocial trade records and exploit variation across products and countries to measure the impact of tari and non-tari barriers to trade on informality. Increasing taris on a given product by 10% makes it 12% to 14% more likely that this product is imported informally rather than formally. Non-tari measures also increase informality. Our results also suggest that compliance costs, aside from taris and regulations, contribute to explain informality.
    Keywords: Informal trade, Regional Integration, Trade facilitation, Evasion, Africa.
    JEL: O17 F15 H26
    Date: 2017–10
  2. By: Pedro Carneiro (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London); Sokbae Lee (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Columbia University and IFS); 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 procedure seeks to minimize the resulting average treatment effect estimator's mean squared error and/or maximize 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: 2017–10–23
  3. By: Hönig, Tillman
    Abstract: This paper studies the consequences of peace – or conversely, conflict – on four outcomes on fundamental economic relevance: Education, health, self-employment income and household expenditures. While the empirical literature on the consequences of conflict involving cross-country regression studies may deliver suggestive big picture evidence on links between conflict and economic outcomes, establishing causation remains problematic. By contrast, my study builds on the rather recent micro-empirical literature and proposes to use a natural experiment in Nigeria to evaluate the consequences of a reduction of conflict. The amnesty policy implemented by the Nigerian government in the Niger Delta Region in 2009 is used as a policy shock to assess the effect of a conflict reduction on the outcomes of interest. Using a constructed synthetic control region from the states that are not part of the Niger Delta region and therefore unaffected by the policy as a within-country counterfactual to the Niger Delta region, the natural experiment setting enables me to interpret the results causally and estimate the peace benefits the amnesty policy generated. I find that peace through the amnesty policy generated an increase in education by 0.53 years of schooling, a 67% increase in self-employment income and a 19% increase in household expenditures four years later.
    Keywords: Conflict; Peace; Education; Health; Household expenditures; Self-employment income; Nigeria;
    JEL: D12 D74 I15 I25 J31 O12
    Date: 2017–09–05
  4. By: Stijn van Weezel
    Abstract: Although most aid projects are aimed at local development, most research on the aid-conflict nexus is based on the country-year as unit of analysis. In contrast, this study examines the link between aid commitments and conflict intensity at the local level for three African countries between 1999-2008, using data from a unique dataset containing information on local aid allocations. The data shows that in general the spatial interdependence between aid and conflict is low, as aid is allocated relatively close to the capital and conflicts tend to occur in the peripheral areas. Fitting a Bayesian linear regression model the empirical analysis finds that there is no strong correlation between changes in lagged aid commitments and changes in conflict intensity. Looking at the extensive margin the results do show that fungible aid is correlated with increased conflict risk, in line with rent-seeking behaviour, but the estimated magnitude of the coefficient is very small. The results are stronger at the district level compared to the province level, suggesting that the possible link between aid and conflict is highly localised.
    Keywords: Foreign aid; Armed conflict; Africa
    JEL: C11 D74 F35 O55
    Date: 2017–12
  5. By: Titus Galama (University of Southern California); Robson Morgan (University of Southern California); Juan E. Saavedra (University of Southern California)
    Abstract: We document how an anti-poverty program improves economic and subjective wellbeing, and self-sufficiency. Familias en Accion Urbano, a conditional cash transfer program implemented at scale in the country of Colombia, uses a means-test cutoff score selection rule that provides exogenous variation in program participation. We reproduce the score assignment rule in a nationally representative living standards household survey that measures multiple dimensions of economic and evaluative wellbeing. Three years into the program, beneficiary households at the margin report greater income, consumption and formal employment participation for both the household head and partner. Household income increased by ten times the amount of the government transfer, likely because of gains in formal employment. Beneficiary households at the margin also report greater overall satisfaction with life, greater happiness and greater satisfaction with food. These results support the hypothesis that among households with basic unmet needs, policies that have a permanent impact on income and consumption may also have a lasting impact on subjective wellbeing and self-sufficiency. Moreover, relatively small subsidies, further offset by additional government tax receipt, may generate substantial benefits to poor families at a reduced cost to taxpayers.
    Keywords: subjective well-being, self-sufficiency, evaluation of social programs, score assignment rule
    JEL: H53 I30 I32 I38 O38 O54
    Date: 2017–12
  6. By: Marion Mercier (Universite Paris-Dauphine PSL Research University, LEDa, DIAL, Paris; and IZA, Bonn); Rama Lionel Ngenzebuke (Harvard University, T.H. CHAN School of Public Health); Hugues Philip Verwimp (SBS-EM, ECARES, Universite Libre de Bruxelles)
    Abstract: We investigate the relationship between exposure to con ict and household deprivation, using original three-wave household-level panel data for Burundi which report local-level violence exposure. First, the data reveal that aggregate poverty has not changed between 1998 and 2012, while food poverty has increased and we observe multiple household-level transitions into and out of poverty. Second, households living in localities exposed to the war since 1993 subsequently exhibit a signi cantly higher level of deprivation than non-exposed households, this di erence being persistent years after the con ict termination. Moreover, the correlation between violence and household deprivation is robust to within-household estimations. Third, the analysis of the household-level poverty dynamics following the most recent period of violence reveals that the likelihood to pull through of poor households is hampered by exposure to high-intensity violence, while the risk to fall into poverty of non-poor households is ampli ed by exposure to low-intensity violence. We discuss a mechanism based on the nature of violence which could explain this result, and derive some policy implications regarding poverty alleviation in the aftermath of civil wars.
    Keywords: Deprivation; Poverty dynamics; Civil war; Panel data; Africa; Burundi
    JEL: C81 I32 O12 N47
    Date: 2017–11
  7. By: Chaoran Chen; Diego Restuccia; Raül Santaeulàlia-Llopis
    Abstract: We assess the role of land markets on factor misallocation in Ethiopia -where land is owned by the state- by exploiting policy-driven variation in land rentals across time and space arising from a recent land certification reform. Our main finding from detailed micro data is that land rentals significantly reduce misallocation and increase agricultural productivity. These effects are nonlinear across farms -impacting more those farms farther away from their efficient operational scale. The effect of land rentals on productivity is 70 percent larger when controlling for non-market rentals -those with a pre-harvest rental rate of zero. Land rentals significantly increase the adoption of new technologies, especially fertilizer use.
    Keywords: productivity, agriculture, land markets, rentals, misallocation, micro data
    JEL: E02 O11 O13 O55 Q1
    Date: 2017–12
  8. By: Stijn van Weezel
    Abstract: In recent years there has been an increase in the number of studies using microlevel data to analyse the aid-conflict nexus at local level, however most of these studies focus on how conflict dynamics are influenced by aid allocations whereas there is relatively little analysis on how conflict affects subnational aid allocations. Estimating the effect of conflict on aid can be difficult given possible reverse causality, therefore this study exploits an exogenous driven shock in conflict intensity in Uganda to estimate the effect of aid allocations at subnational level. Using district level data for Uganda between 2002-2010, and information on both foreign aid commitments and disbursements, the results show that conflict is negatively related to aid allocations: Conflict-struck regions see both lower commitment and disbursement levels in the wake of conflict. Although the sudden outburst of violence in Uganda can help identifying the effect of conflict on aid allocations, one caveat of this approach is that it is hard to know to what extent the results generalise.
    Keywords: Civil conflict; Foreign aid; Uganda; Differences-in-differences
    JEL: D74 F35 H72 N47
    Date: 2017–11
  9. By: Iyigun, Murat (University of Colorado, Boulder); Nunn, Nathan (Harvard University); Qian, Nancy (Northwestern University)
    Abstract: This paper provides evidence of the long-run effects of a permanent increase in agricultural productivity on conflict. We construct a newly digitized and geo-referenced dataset of battles in Europe, the Near East and North Africa covering the period between 1400 and 1900 CE. For variation in permanent improvements in agricultural productivity, we exploit the introduction of potatoes from the Americas to the Old World after the Columbian Exchange. We find that the introduction of potatoes permanently reduced conflict for roughly two centuries. The results are driven by a reduction in civil conflicts.
    Keywords: conflict, natural resources, long-run development
    JEL: D74 O13 Q34
    Date: 2017–11
  10. By: Baranov, Victoria (University of Melbourne); Bhalotra, Sonia R. (University of Essex); Biroli, Pietro (University of Zurich); Maselko, Joanna (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
    Abstract: We evaluate the long-term impact of treating maternal depression on women’s financial empowerment and parenting decisions. We leverage experimental variation induced by a cluster-randomized control trial that provided psychotherapy to perinatally depressed mothers in rural Pakistan. It was one the largest psychotherapy interventions in the world, and the treatment was highly successful at reducing depression. We locate mothers seven years after the end of the intervention to evaluate its long-run effects. We find that the intervention increased women’s financial empowerment, increasing their control over household spending. Additionally, the intervention increased both time- and monetary-intensive parental investments, with increases in investments tending to favor girls.
    Keywords: parenting, early life, empowerment, women’s labor supply, maternal depression, mental health, child development, randomized controlled trial, Pakistan
    JEL: I15 I30 O15
    Date: 2017–11
  11. By: Elodie Djemai (PSL, Université Paris-Dauphine, LEDa, UMR DIAL)
    Abstract: We use GIS and HIV data from ve African countries to estimate the e ect of road proximity on HIV infection. We nd a negative e ect of the distance to the nearest paved road on the probability of being infected with HIV: a one standard-deviation rise in the distance (approximately 2.3 kilometers) reduces the probability of infection by 0.34-2.3 percentage points. Using slope as an instrument for road distance continues to produce a negative and signi cant estimated coecient. Alternative instrumental variables include historical routes and hypothetical lines connecting major cities as of 1890-1900. However this relationship may also re ect selection and reverse causality in individual choice of location, and we extensively discuss the role of migration. While the number of lifetime sexual partners is signi cantly in uenced by the presence of roads, in recent years the e ect of road distance in access to protection has disappeared.
    Keywords: HIV/AIDS epidemic, infrastructure, geography, risk-taking, Sub-Saharan Africa
    JEL: I10 R23 C21
    Date: 2017–12
  12. By: Barua, Rashmi (Jawaharlal Nehru University); Goel, Prarthna (Jawaharlal Nehru University & Indraprastha University); Sane, Renuka (National Institute of Public Finance and Policy)
    Abstract: Using data from 1961 to 2001, we show the impact on crime of two age-specific sex ratios corresponding to pre-marital (ages 10 to 16) and marriageable (ages 20 to 26) age groups in India. To deal with the endogeneity of sex ratios, we use an Instrumental Variable (IV) strategy that exploits district level variation in historical area under wheat-rice cultivation, and time-variation in relative producer prices of wheat-rice. We find that an increase in 10-16 age sex ratio by one female per 1000 males leads to a 1.5% decline in violent crime, and a decline of almost 1% for both non-violent and property crimes. The results are not robust to alternate specifications for the effect of sex ratio in the 20-26 age group. These estimates suggest that the imbalance in the sex ratio in India between 1961 and 2001 have resulted in a 28.5% increase in violent crimes and 21% increase in non-violent and property crimes.
    Keywords: Sex Ratio ; Crime ; Instrumental Variables
    JEL: J16 J18 C26
    Date: 2017–11
  13. By: Anusha Nath (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and University of Minnesota); Dilip Mookherjee (Boston University)
    Abstract: This paper examines how electoral competition in parliamentary constituencies aects allocation of resources to local governments and subsequent impacts on voter behavior. We examine the consequences of treating the 2007 redistricting of electoral boundaries in rural West Bengal as a shock to political competition between the Left Front (LF) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the parliamentary constituency that a village is located in. 21 villages out of a sample of 89 villages were redistricted by a non-partisan Election Commission to a dierent constituency. Using electoral victory margins in the previous 2004 election as a measure of political competition, we find that resources transferred by LF-controlled district governments to LF-dominated village governments for citizen benefit programs increased significantly if moved to an electoral constituency where the LF was in a weaker competitive position. These changes in benefit flows help predict corresponding changes in vote shares, consistent with the view that resource transfers to GPs were motivated by electoral considerations. Stronger changes were exhibited for recurring private benefits (mainly employment program (NREGA) funds) compared to one-time private benefits and local public goods (water, housing, roads, BPL cards). The evidence is consistent with models of electoral opportunism based on pork-barrel politics and/or clientelistic relational contracts between parties and voters, particularly the latter.
    Date: 2017
  14. By: Catherine Bros (ERUDITE - Université Paris-Est); Alain Desdoigts (IEDES - Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne); Hugues Kouassi Kouadio (École nationale supérieure de statistiques et d'économie appliquée (ENSEA) Abidjan)
    Abstract: This study sets forth a positive relationship between tenure insecurity and investments over dierent time horizons among cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast. This positive relationship stands in stark contrast to results found in many related studies. We argue this dierence stems from the type of crops considered and, in particular, whether one considers annual and/or perennial crops. Given that cultivating perennial crops such as cocoa requires large upfront investments over a long period of time, it is of paramount importance to retain control over the land in the long run, especially when the trees reach full maturity. According to some theoretical arguments, investing is a way to retain such control when the farmer does not have administrative rights. Our results show that cocoa farmers whose status remains precarious in terms of tenure security (migrants) have a higher propensity to invest, especially when the tree is about to yield substantially. This study thus underlines the need to account for the life cycle of crops and the associated revenue streams when assessing the relationship between tenure (in-)security and investment.
    Keywords: Tenure security, investment time horizons, crop life cycle, outsiders, Ivory Coast.
    JEL: Q15 O13 O17 O55 D23
    Date: 2017–10
  15. By: Lecoutere, Els; Wuyts, Eva
    Abstract: This study investigates the impact of introducing participatory intrahousehold decision-making on the empowerment of women in agricultural households in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Ugandan coffee farming households. Participatory intrahousehold decision-making is expected to empower women through increasing their voice and lifting collective action problems, which otherwise compromise efficiency and equity of the household farm. With a mixed methods approach this study captures the impact on multiple dimensions of empowerment, including women’s perceptions of the process, meaning and value. Women portrayed three possible pathways towards empowerment in their household: “Breaking through the wall of patriarchy” – the preferred pathway but conditional on being married to a cooperative husband - “Circumventing” it, or having “No choice but to take full responsibility” in case of husbands who are ill or migrant workers. On the basis of a randomized encouragement of couples to participate in an intervention introducing participatory intrahousehold decision-making, we quantitatively demonstrated the catalyzing effects on different domains of women’s empowerment, including involvement in strategic household decisions, women’s control over household income, personal income and assets. Women’s decision-making power about cash crop production, another strategic domain that women value, increased to some extent. These impacts support women in following a pathway to empowerment by “Breaking through the wall of patriarchy”, but are also valuable for women for whom that pathway is out of reach. Policies and programmes introducing participatory intrahousehold decision-making have the potential to empower women in domains they value and should be combined with effective ways to accomplish women’s wish to gain economic power to actively contribute to the development of their household.
    Keywords: women empowerment; intrahousehold decision-making
    Date: 2017–11

This nep-dev issue is ©2018 by Jacob A. Jordaan. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.