nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2019‒02‒25
thirteen papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Cash, Conditions and Child Development: Experimental Evidence from a Cash Transfer in Honduras By López Bóo, Florencia; Creamer, John
  2. Measuring the Spatial Misallocation of Labor: The Returns to India-Gulf Guest Work in a Natural Experiment By Clemens, Michael A.
  3. Gendered Impacts of Household and Ambient Air Pollution on Child Health: Evidence from Household and Satellite-based Data in Bangladesh By Masamitsu Kurata; Kazushi Takahashi; Akira Hibiki
  4. Weather shocks and agricultural commercialization in colonial tropical Africa: did cash crops alleviate social distress? By Papaioannou, Kostadis J.; de Haas, Michiel
  5. Improving Access and Quality in Early Childhood Development Programs: Experimental Evidence from The Gambia By Blimpo, Moussa P.; Carneiro, Pedro; Jervis, Pamela; Pugatch, Todd
  6. Can Network Theory-based Targeting Increase Technology Adoption? By Lori Beaman; Ariel BenYishay; Jeremy Magruder; Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak
  7. Matching, Cooperation and HIV in the Couple By Jean-Paul Azam; Elodie Djemai
  8. Wealth Gradients in Early Childhood Cognitive Development in Five Latin American Countries By Schady, Norbert; Behrman, Jere R.; Caridad Araujo, Maria; Azuero, Rodrigo; Bernal, Raquel; Bravo, David; López Bóo, Florencia; Macours, Karen; Marshall, Daniela; Paxson, Christina; Vakis, Renos
  9. Early Rainfall Shocks and Later-Life Outcomes: Evidence from Colombia By Carrillo, B.;
  10. The impact of lowering the payroll tax on informality in Colombia By Fernández, C.; Villar, L.
  11. Education and Conflict: Evidence from a Policy Experiment in Indonesia By Rohner, Dominic; Saia, Alessandro
  12. Impact of Climate Variability on Staple Food Crops Production in Northern Togo By ALI, Essossinam
  13. What Aspects of Formality Do Workers Value? Evidence from a Choice Experiment in Bangladesh By Mahmud, Minhaj; Gutierrez, Italo A.; Kumar, Krishna B.; Nataraj, Shanthi

  1. By: López Bóo, Florencia (Inter-American Development Bank); Creamer, John (U.S. Census Bureau)
    Abstract: We explore the effects of a randomly assigned conditional cash transfer in Honduras (Bono 10000) on early childhood development. We find significant impacts on cognitive development in children 0-60 months, with an average effect size of 0.13 SD. We show differential impacts by type of transfer: 0-5-year-old children from families receiving the "health" transfer, which targeted families with 0-5-year-old children only, benefited significantly from the program, whereas 0-5 year-olds in families receiving the "education" transfer, which targeted 6-18 year-olds, perceived no benefit. In comparison with other programs, the effect of this impact is sizeable (0.34 SD on average). Although the overall program appears to have slightly changed some behaviors that might affect children (i.e. decreased probability of maternal employment, and increased maternal self-esteem), we did not find heterogenous impacts of the Bono across these variables. Results are explained mainly by differences in conditions: while the "education" component imposed conditions only on children of schooling age, the "health" transfer required regular health checkups of 0-5 year old children. The "health" transfer families were more likely to attend health checkups, which may have induced behavior changes that improved children's health and cognitive development, including purchasing more nutritious food. These results imply that cash without well-targeted conditions attached, might not be as effective for the development of young children.
    Keywords: Honduras, education, health, early childhood development, children, conditional cash transfers (CCTs), impact evaluation
    JEL: C93 J13 I25 I38
    Date: 2019–01
  2. By: Clemens, Michael A. (Center for Global Development)
    Abstract: 'Guest workers' earn higher wages overseas on temporary low-skill employment visas. This wage effect can quantify global inefficiencies in the pure spatial allocation of labor between poorer and richer countries. But rigorous estimates are rare, complicated by migrant self-selection. This paper tests the effects of guest work on Indian applicants to a construction job in the United Arab Emirates, where a crisis exogenously influenced job placement. Guest work raised the return to labor by a factor of four, implying large spatial inefficiency. Short-term effects on households were modest. Effects on information, debt, and later migration were incompatible with systematic fraud.
    Keywords: income, human capital, migration, labor, mobility, guest work, India, gulf, construction, worker, selection, migrant, temporary, visa, wage, education, crisis, low-skill, unskilled, credit, exploited, naive, regret, slavery, trafficking, debt, coerced, cheated
    JEL: F22 J6 O12 O16 O19
    Date: 2019–01
  3. By: Masamitsu Kurata; Kazushi Takahashi; Akira Hibiki
    Abstract: Reducing health risks from household air pollution (HAP) and ambient air pollution (AAP) is a critical issue in achieving sustainable development worldwide, especially in low-income countries. Children are particularly at high risk because their respiratory and immune systems are not fully developed. Previous studies have identified the adverse impacts of air pollution on child health; however, most have neither focused on HAP and AAP simultaneously nor addressed differences in the timing and magnitude of prenatal and postnatal exposure across genders. This article examines the impacts of prenatal and postnatal exposure to ambient particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 ƒÊm or less (PM2.5) and household use of solid fuels (a main cause of HAP) on child health in Bangladesh. We combine individual-level data from nationally representative surveys with satellite-based high-resolution data on ambient PM2.5. We find that: (1) the use of solid fuels is associated with respiratory illness among girls but not boys; (2) prenatal exposure to ambient PM2.5 adversely affects stunting, without any clear evidence on gender differences; and (3) postnatal exposure consistently increases the risk of both stunting and respiratory illness for both genders. These results provide new evidence on the heterogeneous impacts of AAP and HAP on children in terms of gender and the timing of exposure. The main policy implications are that intervention against HAP would be more effective by targeting girls and that intervention against AAP should cover not only born children but also pregnant mothers. In sum, our findings highlight the importance of protecting women from air pollution and achieving Target 3.9 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
    Date: 2019–01
  4. By: Papaioannou, Kostadis J.; de Haas, Michiel
    Abstract: A rapidly growing body of research examines the ways in which climatic variability influence economic and societal outcomes. This study investigates how weather shocks triggered social distress in British colonial Africa. Further, it intervenes in a long-standing and unsettled debate concerning the effects of agricultural commercialization on the abilities of rural communities to cope with exogenous shocks. We collect qualitative evidence from annual administrative records to explore the mechanisms linking weather extremes to harvest failures and social distress. We also conduct econometric testing on a novel panel dataset of 143 administrative districts across west, south-central and east Africa in the Interwar Era (1920-1939). Our findings are twofold. First, we find robust evidence that rainfall anomalies (both drought and excessive precipitation) are associated with spikes in imprisonment (our proxy for social distress). We argue that the key causal pathway is the loss of agricultural income, which results in higher imprisonment for theft, unrest, debt and tax default. Second, we find that the impact of weather shocks on distress is partially mitigated by the cultivation of export crops. Our findings suggest that, even in the British colonial context, smallholder export crop cultivation led to higher private incomes as well as greater public investment. Our findings speak to a topic of considerable urgency today as the process of global climate change accelerates, generating more severe and unpredictable climatic extremes. An increased understanding and identification of adaptive and mitigating factors, would assist in targeting policy interventions and designing adaptive institutions to support vulnerable rural societies.
    Keywords: Africa; rural livelihoods; economic history; colonialism; social distress; tropical agriculture; agricultural commercialization; environmental history
    JEL: D74 F54 N17 N57 Q17
    Date: 2017–06–01
  5. By: Blimpo, Moussa P.; Carneiro, Pedro; Jervis, Pamela; Pugatch, Todd
    Abstract: This paper studies two experiments of early childhood development programs in The Gambia: one increasing access to services, and another improving service quality. In the first experiment, new community-based early childhood development (ECD) centers were introduced to randomly chosen villages that had no pre-existing structured ECD services. In the second experiment, a randomly assigned subset of existing ECD centers received intensive provider training. We find no evidence that either intervention improved average levels of child development. Exploratory analysis suggests that, in fact, the first experiment, which increased access to relatively low quality ECD services, led to declines in child development among children from less disadvantaged households. Evidence supports that these households may have been steered away from better quality early childhood settings in their homes.
    Keywords: early childhood development,cognitive stimulation,teacher training,The Gambia,randomized control trials,Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool
    JEL: I25 I38 O15 O22
    Date: 2019
  6. By: Lori Beaman (Northwestern University); Ariel BenYishay (College of William and Mary); Jeremy Magruder (UC-Berkeley); Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak (EGC,Yale University)
    Abstract: In order to induce farmers to adopt a productive new agricultural technology, we apply simple and complex contagion diffusion models on rich social network data from 200 villages in Malawi to identify seed farmers to target and train on the new technology. A randomized controlled trial compares these theory-driven network targeting approaches to simpler strategies that either rely on a government extension worker or an easily measurable proxy for the social network (geographic distance between households) to identify seed farmers. Our results indicate that technology diffusion is characterized by a complex contagion learning environment in which most farmers need to learn from multiple people before they adopt themselves. Network theory based targeting can out-perform traditional approaches to extension, and we identify methods to realize these gains at low cost to policymakers.
    Date: 2018–08
  7. By: Jean-Paul Azam (Toulouse School of Economics (UT1-C, IAST, CAPS, IDEI)); Elodie Djemai (PSL, Université Paris-Dauphine, LEDa)
    Abstract: We examine how cooperation within the couple protects the partners from HIV infection using survey data from Southern Africa. The respective impacts of education and cooperation on HIV risk for both wives and husbands are estimated in a joint estimation model. We fully discuss and test the con ictual approach of the couple against a cooperative framework derived from a simple matching model. Our ndings suggest that the larger the number of decisions husbands and wives jointly make, the less likely it is that they are infected with HIV. This is robust to assuming that cooperation is endogenous in the wife equation. Freedom and trust are also signi cantly related to the likelihood of infection for both partners while the women's views about whether marital violence is acceptable are not. These e ects may come from a reduced likelihood of extramarital a airs among men and women living in more cooperative partnerships.
    Keywords: Couples, Matching, HIV infection, Education, Africa
    JEL: I12 J12 D10 O12
    Date: 2019–02
  8. By: Schady, Norbert (Inter-American Development Bank); Behrman, Jere R. (University of Pennsylvania); Caridad Araujo, Maria (Inter-American Development Bank); Azuero, Rodrigo (Inter-American Development Bank); Bernal, Raquel (Universidad de los Andes); Bravo, David; López Bóo, Florencia (Inter-American Development Bank); Macours, Karen (Paris School of Economics); Marshall, Daniela (University of Pennsylvania); Paxson, Christina (Princeton University); Vakis, Renos (World Bank)
    Abstract: Research from the United States shows that gaps in early cognitive and non-cognitive ability appear early in the life cycle. Little is known about this important question for developing countries. This paper provides new evidence of sharp differences in cognitive development by socioeconomic status in early childhood for five Latin American countries. To help with comparability, we use the same measure of receptive language ability for all five countries. We find important differences in development in early childhood across countries, and steep socioeconomic gradients within every country. For the three countries where we can follow children over time, there are few substantive changes in scores once children enter school. Our results are robust to different ways of defining socioeconomic status, to different ways of standardizing outcomes, and to selective non-response on our measure of cognitive development.
    Keywords: cognitive development, poverty, gradients
    JEL: I24 I25
    Date: 2019–01
  9. By: Carrillo, B.;
    Abstract: This paper uses birth cohorts spanning several hundred locations over 40 years to examine the long-term consequences of in utero exposure to abnormal rainfall events in Colombia. The identification strategy exploits exogenous variation in extreme droughts or floods experienced by individuals while in utero in their birth location. The results indicate that individuals prenatally exposed to adverse rainfall shocks are more likely to report serious mental illness, have fewer years of schooling, display increased rates of illiteracy, and are less likely to work. These results are larger in magnitude for individuals born in areas with higher risk of malaria, consistent with the notion that exposure to infectious and parasitic diseases may play an important role.
    Keywords: drought; heavy precipitation; early life health; later-life outcomes;
    JEL: I15 O13 O1
    Date: 2019–02
  10. By: Fernández, C.; Villar, L.
    Abstract: The Colombian government recently reformed the tax law by reducing payroll contributions from 29.5% to 16% and substituting them with a profit tax. The law was passed in December 2012, and two years later the informality rate in the 13 main metropolitan areas diminished from 56% to 51% in December 2014 (using the legal definition of informality). In the whole survey the reduction was a little less pronounced, going from 68% to 64%. This period was also characterized by high, yet also diminishing growth rates; changes in the tax rates, and increasing real minimum wages. It is of the most interest to know how much of this reduction was due to the tax reform. This paper performs this task using a Matching and Difference in Differences methodology. According to the results, the tax reform reduced the informality rate, of the workers affected by the reform in the 13 main metropolitan areas, between 4,3 and 6,8 p.p. which translated in a reduction of the informality rate between 2,0 and 3,1 p.p. given that the treated population was only 45% of the working population of the country in 2012. The impact over the whole survey was between 4,1 and 6,7 which translates into 1,2 to 2,2 p.p. impact on the informality rate of the whole country. Similar results were found using the firm definition of informality. The reform affected mostly salaried workers and employers, males between 25 and 50 years old and workers with low levels of education.
    Keywords: Desempleo, Economía, Educación, Impuestos, Investigación socioeconómica,
    Date: 2018
  11. By: Rohner, Dominic; Saia, Alessandro
    Abstract: This paper studies the impact of school construction on the likelihood of conflict, drawing on a policy experiment in Indonesia, and collecting our own novel dataset on political violence for 289 districts in Indonesia over the period 1955-1994. We find that education has a strong, robust and quantitatively sizeable conflict-reducing impact. It is shown that the channels of transmission are both related to economic factors as well as to an increase in inter-religious trust and tolerance. Interestingly, while societal mechanisms are found to have an immediate impact, economic channels only gain importance after some years. We also show that school construction results in a shift away from violent means of expression (armed conflict) towards non-violent ones (peaceful protests).
    Keywords: Civil War; conflict; education; Fighting; Polarization; protest; Returns to education; Schools
    JEL: C23 D74 H52 I20 N45
    Date: 2019–02
  12. By: ALI, Essossinam
    Abstract: This study assesses the impact of climate variability on staple food crops production in the Northern regions of Togo using cereal and climate data over the period of 1972-2013. The linear mixed model and generalized linear mixed model are used. The results indicate that maize is the most vulnerable cereal affected by the inter-seasonal and the intra-seasonal variability of temperature and precipitation compared to sorghum and rice in the study areas. However, encouraging water management in rain-fed agriculture would increase the rice production in the study areas. Policy towards the adoption of new technology to improve maize yields and cope with climatic risks is needed. The investment in rain-fed water management, promoting the use of drought-tolerant seeds and improvement of agro-meteorological information and their integration in farmers’ decision making are needed.
    Keywords: Climate variability, Staple food crops, Northern Togo
    JEL: Q1 Q18
    Date: 2018–05–16
  13. By: Mahmud, Minhaj (Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS)); Gutierrez, Italo A. (RAND); Kumar, Krishna B. (RAND); Nataraj, Shanthi (RAND)
    Abstract: Using a choice experiment among 2,000 workers in Bangladesh, we to elicit willingness to pay (WTP) for specific job benefits typically associated with formal employment. We find that workers value job stability the most; the average worker would be willing to forego a 27 percent increase in monthly income in order to obtain a 1-year written contract (relative to no contract), or to forego a 12 percent increase to obtain thirty days of termination notice. On average, government workers place a higher value on contracts than do private sector employees, while casual workers particularly value higher pay. Our use of choice experiments to overcome the challenges associated with estimating WTP for specific job benefits from hedonic wage regressions or from observed job transitions is of interest in its own right, especially in a developing country context where data on worker transitions are unavailable and many workers are informally employed.
    Keywords: informality, worker benefits, discrete choice experiments
    JEL: J32 J81
    Date: 2019–01

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