nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2020‒02‒17
eleven papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Income mobility in the developing world: Recent approaches and evidence By Lanjouw Peter;
  2. A resource-rich neighbor is a misfortune: The spatial distribution of the resource curse in Brazil By Phoebe W. Ishak; Pierre-Guillaume Méon
  3. Effects over the Life of a Program : Evidence from an Education Conditional Cash Transfer Program for Girls By Chhabra,Esha; Najeeb,Fatima; Raju,Dhushyanth
  4. The Targeting Benefit of Conditional Cash Transfers By Bergstrom,Katy Ann; Dodds,William
  5. The Nitrogen Legacy : The Long-Term Effects of Water Pollution on Human Capital By Zaveri,Esha Dilip; Russ,Jason Daniel; Desbureaux,Sebastien Gael; Damania,Richard; Rodella,Aude-Sophie; Ribeiro Paiva De Souza,Giovanna
  6. Free Primary Education, Fertility, and Women's Access to the Labor Market : Evidence from Ethiopia By Chicoine,Luke
  7. Informal work in sub-Saharan Africa: Dead end or steppingstone? By Sen Kunal; Schotte Simone; Danquah Michael
  8. Rural financial intermediation and poverty reduction in Ghana: A micro-level analysis By Danquah Michael; Iddrisu Abdul; Ohemeng Williams; Barimah Alfred
  9. The Spillovers of Employment Guarantee Programs on Child Labor and Education By Li,Tianshu; Sekhri,Sheetal
  10. A community based program promotes sanitation By María Laura Alzúa; Habiba Djebbari; Amy J. Pickering
  11. Beneficiary Views on Cash and In-Kind Payments : Evidence from Ethiopia's Productive Safety By Hirvonen,Kalle Valtteri; Hoddinott,John

  1. By: Lanjouw Peter;
    Abstract: This paper examines income mobility in developing countries.We start by synthesizing findings from the available evidence on relative mobility and poverty dynamics. We then describe evidence on economic mobility obtained via synthetic panels constructed from cross-section data.We echo earlier literature in pointing to substantial movement across income classes by households over time: poverty is not inevitably a chronic condition. However, less clear are the factors driving the observed ‘churning’.In an attempt to make headway, we consider the story of economic mobility in one village in northern India over seven decades. We describe patterns of poverty dynamics and economic mobility in the village, and we highlight some of the processes that have been important in driving these patterns.While this in-depth case study does not permit inferences to broader populations, it may provide a reference point against which findings from studies elsewhere can be compared.
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Phoebe W. Ishak; Pierre-Guillaume Méon
    Abstract: We study the spatial distribution of the effect of oil and gas revenues on Brazilian municipalities, using variations in the international prices of oil and gas to establish causality. Oil and gas revenues increase economic activity, measured by night-time light emissions, in oil-producing municipalities but impose negative spill-overs on neighbouring municipalities. Spill-overs dominate beyond 150 km from oil activities and compensate direct effects in micro-regions. In oil municipalities, oil and gas revenues increase royalties, population, local real prices, crime, and real wages, essentially in manufacturing and services. Spillovers are negative on wages and prices and positive on royalties and crime.
    Keywords: Natural resources curse; oil; spill-over effects; Night-time lights; Brazil
    JEL: O11 O13 Q32
    Date: 2020–01–31
  3. By: Chhabra,Esha; Najeeb,Fatima; Raju,Dhushyanth
    Abstract: While most evaluations of education programs in developing countries examine effects one or two years after a program has been introduced, this study does so over an extended duration of a program. Administered in Punjab, Pakistan, the program offers cash benefits to households conditional on girls'regular attendance in secondary grades in government schools. The study evaluates the evolution of the program's effects on girls'secondary school enrollment numbers over roughly a decade of its existence. The program was targeted to districts with low adult literacy rates, a targeting mechanism that provides an observed, numerical program assignment variable and results in a cutoff value. Recent advances in regression discontinuity designs allow the study to appropriately fit key features of the data. The study finds that the program had positive effects on girls? secondary school enrollment numbers throughout the period and that these effects were stable. This pattern is observed despite a loss of more than 60 percent in the real value of the cash benefit over the period. The findings are consistent with potential behavioral explanations, such as the program making girls'education salient to households or catalyzing a shift in social norms around girls'education.
    Date: 2019–12–19
  4. By: Bergstrom,Katy Ann; Dodds,William
    Abstract: Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) are a popular type of social welfare program that make payments to households conditional on human capital investments in children. Compared to unconditional cash transfers (UCTs), CCTs may exclude some low-income households as access is tied to normal investments in children. This paper argues that conditionalities on children's school enrollment offer an unexplored targeting benefit over UCTs: CCTs target money to households that forgo a discrete amount of child income. This paper shows that the size of this targeting benefit is directly related to the distribution of parental incomes, the size of forgone child incomes, and two elasticities already popular in the literature: the income effect of a UCT and the price effect of a CCT. These elasticities are estimated for a large CCT program in rural Mexico, Progresa, using variation in transfers to younger siblings to identify income effects. In this setting, the analysis finds that the targeting benefit is almost as large as the cost of excluding some low-income households; this implies that 41 percent of the Progresa budget should go to a CCT over a UCT based on targeting grounds alone.
    Date: 2020–01–06
  5. By: Zaveri,Esha Dilip; Russ,Jason Daniel; Desbureaux,Sebastien Gael; Damania,Richard; Rodella,Aude-Sophie; Ribeiro Paiva De Souza,Giovanna
    Abstract: The fallout of nitrogen pollution is considered one of the largest global externalities facing the world, impacting air, water, soil, and human health. This paper combines data from the Demographic and Health Survey data set across India, Vietnam, and 33 African countries to analyze the causal links between pollution exposure experienced during the very earliest stages of life and later-life health. The results show that pollution exposure experienced in the critical years of development?from birth until age three?is associated with decreased height as an adult, a well-known indicator of overall health and productivity, and is robust to several statistical checks. Because adult height is related to education, labor productivity, and income, this also implies a loss of earning potential. The analysis begins within an assessment in India, where the data are more available, and is then extended to geographic settings including Vietnam and 33 countries in Africa. The results are consistent and show that early-life exposure to nitrogen pollution in water can lower height-for-age scores during childhood in Vietnam and during infancy in Africa. These findings add to the evidence on the enduring consequences of water pollution and identify a critical area for policy intervention.
    Date: 2020–02–06
  6. By: Chicoine,Luke
    Abstract: This article investigates the causal relationship between women's schooling and fertility by exploiting variation generated by the removal of school fees in Ethiopia. The increase in schooling caused by the reform is identified using both geographic variation in the intensity of its impact and temporal variation generated by the timing of the implementation. The model finds that the removal of school fees led to an increase in schooling for Ethiopian women and that each additional year of schooling led to a reduction in fertility. An investigation of the underlying mechanisms linking schooling and fertility finds that the decline in fertility is associated with an increase in labor market opportunity and a reduction in women's ideal number of children.
    Keywords: Educational Sciences,Health Care Services Industry,Primary Education,Economics of Education,Education Finance,Rural Labor Markets,Labor Markets
    Date: 2020–01–07
  7. By: Sen Kunal; Schotte Simone; Danquah Michael
    Abstract: Despite rapid economic growth in recent decades, informality remains a persistent phenomenon in the labour markets of many low- and middle-income countries. A key issue in this regard concerns the extent to which informality itself is a persistent state.Using panel data from Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda, this paper presents one of the very few analyses providing evidence on this question in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. Our results reveal an important extent of heterogeneity in the transition patterns observed for workers in upper-tier versus lower-tier informality.Given the limited alternative job opportunities available, particularly to those in lower-tier informal self-employment who often remain locked in a situation of inferior pay and conditions, specific policies that seek to enhance the livelihoods of workers in this most disadvantaged segment may be more relevant in the sub-Saharan context than policies that aim to reduce the regulatory barriers to formalization.
    Keywords: Informality,Sub-Saharan Africa,Labour market dynamics,Labour market segmentation
    Date: 2019
  8. By: Danquah Michael; Iddrisu Abdul; Ohemeng Williams; Barimah Alfred
    Abstract: The financial sector in rural areas, where most of the poor people in sub-Saharan Africa are found, has transformed massively in recent times, notably through the increased penetration of several types of rural financial intermediaries in addition to rural and community banks and microfinance institutions.Using recent household survey data, we ascertain the access of rural populations to various types of financial services, and the influence of rural financial intermediation on poverty reduction, in Ghana. By accounting for the potential endogeneity of access to financial services, we show that rural households with access to basic financial services are significantly more likely to be non-poor than those without such access.In order to more sustainably tackle the goal, highlighted in the Sustainable Development Goals, of eliminating global hunger or extreme poverty, the poor must be allowed to obtain meaningful access to financial services through the design of efficient pro-poor financial products.
    Date: 2020
  9. By: Li,Tianshu; Sekhri,Sheetal
    Abstract: Many developing countries use employment guarantee programs to combat poverty. This paper examines the consequences of such employment guarantee programs for the human capital accumulation of children. It exploits the phased roll-out of India's flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) to study the effects on enrollment in schools and child labor. Introduction of MGNREGA results in lower relative school enrollment in treated districts. The authors find that the drop in enrollment is driven by primary school children. Children in higher grades are just as likely to attend school under MGNREGA, but their school performance deteriorates. Using nationally representative employment data, they find evidence indicating an increase in child labor highlighting the unintentional perverse effects of the employment guarantee schemes for Human capital.
    Keywords: Education Finance,Economics of Education,Educational Sciences,Labor Markets,Child Labor Law,Labor Standards,Rural Labor Markets,Child Labor,Educational Institutions&Facilities,Effective Schools and Teachers
    Date: 2020–01–07
  10. By: María Laura Alzúa (CEDLAS-FCE-Universidad Nacional de la Plata – Conicet, La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina); Habiba Djebbari (Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, EHESS, Ecole Centrale, AMSE, Marseille, France.); Amy J. Pickering (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA)
    Abstract: Basic sanitation facilities are still lacking in large parts of the developing world, engendering serious environmental health risks. Interventions commonly deliver in-kind or cash subsidies to promote private toilet ownership. In this paper, we assess an intervention that provides information and behavioral incentives to encourage villagers in rural Mali to build and use basic latrines. Using an experimental research design and carefully measured indicators of use, we find a sizeable impact from this intervention: latrine ownership and use almost doubled in intervention villages, and open defecation was reduced by half. Our results partially attribute these effects to increased knowledge about cheap and locally available sanitation solutions. They are also associated with shifts in the social norm governing sanitation. Taken together, our findings, unlike previous evidence from other contexts, suggest that a progressive approach that starts with ending open defecation and targets whole communities at a time can help meet the new Sustainable Development Goal of ending open defecation.
    Keywords: sanitation, behavioral change, community-based intervention, social norm
    Date: 2020–01
  11. By: Hirvonen,Kalle Valtteri; Hoddinott,John
    Abstract: Economists often default to the assumption that cash is always preferable to an in-kind transfer. Do beneficiaries feel the same way? This paper addresses this issue using longitudinal household data from Ethiopia where a large-scale social safety net intervention (PSNP) operates. Even though most payments are made in cash, and even though the (temporal) transaction costs associated with food payments are higher than payments received as cash, most beneficiaries stated that they prefer their payments only or partly in food. Higher food prices induce shifts in stated preferences towards in-kind transfers. More food secure households, those closer to food markets and to financial services are more likely to prefer cash. Though shifts occur, the stated preference for food is dominant: In no year do more than 17 percent of households prefer only cash. There is suggestive evidence that stated preferences for food are also driven by self-control concerns.
    Date: 2020–01–28

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