nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2020‒04‒06
twelve papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Maternal Investments in Children: The Role of Expected Effort and Returns By Bhalotra, Sonia; Delavande, Adeline; Font-Gilabert, Paulino; Maselko, Joanna
  2. Climate shocks, coping responses and gender gap in human development By Haile, Kaleab; Tirivayi, Nyasha; Nillesen, Eleonora
  3. For real? Income and non-income effects of cash transfers on the demand for food. By Dietrich, Stephan; Schmerzeck, Georg
  4. Which Indian Children are Short and Why? Social Identity, Childhood Malnutrition and Cognitive Outcomes By Ashwini Deshpande; Rajesh Ramachandran
  5. Female Education, Marital Assortative Mating and Dowry: Theory and Evidence from India By Prarthna Agarwal Goel
  6. Deforestation and Resource Conflicts in Papua New Guinea By John Gibson
  7. Malawi's challenging employment landscape By Baulch, Bob; Benson, Todd; Erman, Alvina; Lifeyo, Yanjanani; Mkweta, Priscilla
  8. Household fuel choice and use: A multiplediscrete-continuous framework By Melkamu Daniel , Aemiro
  9. Do Public Program Benefits Crowd Out Private Transfers in Developing Countries? A Critical Review of Recent Evidence By Nikolov, Plamen; Bonci, Matthew
  10. Why Guarantee Employment? Evidence from a Large Indian Public-Works Program By Zimmermann, Laura
  11. Demand for Information on Environmental Health Risk, Mode of Delivery, and Behavioral Change : Evidence from Sonargaon, Bangladesh By Tarozzi,Alessandro; Maertens,Ricardo; Ahmed,Kazi Matin Uddin; van Geen,Alexander
  12. The Relationship between Female Labor Force Participation and Violent Conflicts in South Asia By Robertson,Raymond; Lopez-Acevedo,Gladys C.; Morales,Matias

  1. By: Bhalotra, Sonia; Delavande, Adeline; Font-Gilabert, Paulino; Maselko, Joanna
    Abstract: We investigate the importance of subjective expectations of returns to and effort costs of the two main investments that mothers make in newborns: breastfeeding and stimulation. We find heterogeneity across mothers in expected effort costs and expected returns for outcomes in the cognitive, socio-emotional and health domains, and we show that this contributes to explaining heterogeneity in investments. We find no significant heterogeneity in preferences for child developmental outcomes. We simulate the impact of various policies on investments. Our findings highlight the relevance of interventions designed to reduce perinatal fatigue alongside interventions that increase perceived returns to investments.
    Date: 2020–03–25
  2. By: Haile, Kaleab (UNU-MERIT); Tirivayi, Nyasha (UNU-MERIT); Nillesen, Eleonora (UNU-MERIT, and SBE, Maastricht University)
    Abstract: This study examines the impact of drought on child health and schooling outcomes and investigates the contemporaneous relationship between these two main building blocks of human capital. We merge childlevel longitudinal data from the Ethiopia Rural Socioeconomic Survey (ERSS) with geo-referenced climate data. Our findings from within-child variation estimators reveal that drought has a detrimental impact on the highest grade completed of female children. We show that the negative effect of drought on a female child's completed years of formal schooling is channelled, albeit not entirely, through ill health. Our result is robust to using recursive bivariate estimation with exclusion restriction to correct for biases associated with the endogeneity of child health due to time-varying heterogeneities. Gender bias in the household explains why the direct and mediated schooling e ects of drought are concentrated only on female children. We find that households respond to drought-induced income shocks by decreasing the allocation of resources for the medical treatment of an ill female child. Moreover, households also increase the use of female child labour for non-agricultural activities, which is consistent with a disproportionate increase in school absenteeism of older girls during drought. We discuss how gender-responsive policy design and implementation may help alleviate gender inequality in human development in the face of climate change.
    Keywords: Drought, coping capacity, human capital, human development, gender bias, sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia
    JEL: D13 I31 J16 O15 Q54
    Date: 2019–12–31
  3. By: Dietrich, Stephan (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University); Schmerzeck, Georg (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University)
    Abstract: Cash transfers have become a key policy tool to protect vulnerable populations from malnutrition. Ample evidence shows these programs to have positive impacts on nominal food consumption expenditure. However, with rising food prices, nominal impacts might systematically differ from real impacts. We analyze the effects of Kenya's Hunger Safety Net Program on food demand during a drastic price shock. We find that the impact on nominal food expenditures overstates the impact measured at constant prices. Two factors explain this result: Firstly, households spend most of the transfer on food irrespective of prices, thus increasing losses due to the price shock in absolute terms. Secondly, shifting expenditure towards food categories more strongly affected by the price shock leads to disproportional real losses among treated households. Structural changes in demand associated with transfer modalities account for up to half of the loss in real food expenditures compared to control households.
    Keywords: Cash transfers, Food prices, Demand, Social protection, Kenya
    JEL: D12 I38 O12 Q11
    Date: 2020–02–05
  4. By: Ashwini Deshpande (Ashoka University); Rajesh Ramachandran (Heidelberg University)
    Abstract: This paper addresses four previously under-explored facets related to early childhood malnutrition, as manifested in stunting. First, it provides a new explanation for the \Indian Enigma": why Indian children are shorter than those from poorer countries. Our analysis, based on data for over 213,000 children, finds that the Indian height deficit is driven by the shorter height-for-age of children from the lower-ranked and stigmatised castes. Upper-caste children are taller than the average for low middle income countries, but stunting in the lower-ranked caste groups is 10-15 percentage points higher. This is true even after controlling for variables used in earlier explanations in the literature, viz., birth order and disease environment. Second, using repeated cross sections of national level data for India, we show that between 1998 and 2016 caste gaps in childhood stunting did not decline. Third, using longitudinal data from the Young Lives Project, we estimate the probabilities of transition in and out of stunting at various ages, conditional on being stunted at age 1. We show that children stunted at age 1 are 22% points more likely to be more likely to be stunted at age 15. Finally, we show that stunting at age 1 year significantly lowers cognitive and learning outcomes at ages 5, 8, 12 and 15 years. We explore the role of the enduring stigmatisation of lower-castes as the reason for the persistence of caste gaps. Our results underscore the importance of focusing on social identity and discrimination as key markers of malnutrition, and indicate that the origins of adult life disparities between caste groups lie in early childhood.
    Keywords: caste, stunting, early childhood development, cognition, discrimination
    Date: 2020–03
  5. By: Prarthna Agarwal Goel (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
    Abstract: This paper studies the association between female education, marital assortative mating and dowry in India. Literature suggests that marital assortative mating or ‘who marries whom’ is determined by the characteristics of grooms and brides and the respective households. Literature suggests that men choose to marry females with higher education in expectation of greater wage income in future. This paper proposes that in developing economies, characterized by low female labour force participation and poor returns to female education, female years of schooling is a non-monetary rather than a monetary trait. A better educated female brings down the household cost of production and is positively associated to household utility per unit of cost. Education levels of the potential bride on the other hand are negatively associated with dowry payments. A rise in female education would thus have countering effects on the utility of post marital household. A household would find positive assortative mating optimal if the efficiencies in household cost outweighs the fall in dowry with female education. Based on Becker (1991), we propose a basic theoretical model to explain empirical results. The empirical results for India using IHDS-II data suggest that there exists positive assortative mating in marriage based on education. The association however is found to be weaker in dowry prominent districts. There exists substitution in the education levels of bride and dowry. The cost reduction reinforcing effects are stronger than the dowry substitution effect. We derive instrumental variable estimates to address potential endogeneity.
  6. By: John Gibson (University of Waikato)
    Abstract: Conflicts over natural resources are common in developing countries, due to poorly defined property rights and limited state capacity for preventing conflict and because environmental incomes matter more to livelihoods than in rich countries. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), for example, the subject of the current study, almost one-quarter of households had land disputes in the previous 12 months, with disputes over agricultural and forestry resources, over development projects, and tribal fighting also frequently experienced. About seven percent of the land disputes and 40 percent of the tribal fights resulted in deaths. In this paper, geo referenced household survey data on disputes and conflicts, and remote sensing observations on forest losses in the local area over the prior ten years are used to show the frequency of conflict over natural resources, the distributional incidence of this conflict – whether rich or poor areas are more at risk – and the effect of large-scale environmental change, specifically deforestation, on the subsequent risk of conflict. A sharp increase in log exports, which saw PNG become the largest exporter to China as other countries withdrew from the tropical logs trade, represents an exogenous shock that helps to identify effects of deforestation on conflict rather than the reverse relationship.
    Keywords: conflict; deforestation; household survey; land resources; Papua New Guinea
    JEL: Q34 Q56
    Date: 2020–03–30
  7. By: Baulch, Bob; Benson, Todd; Erman, Alvina; Lifeyo, Yanjanani; Mkweta, Priscilla
    Abstract: Using three rounds of the Integrated Household Survey conducted between 2004 and 2016, this paper examines Malawi’s challenging employment landscape, focusing on its rapidly growing youth. It finds little evidence of a structural transformation in Malawi’s economy or of youth being in the vanguard of any changes in cross-sectoral patterns of employment. Most Malawians spend all of their working years in the agricultural sector – indeed, the share of employment in agriculture in Malawi rose slightly between 2004 and 2016, though the share of full-time jobs inside agriculture declined during this period. Tabular analysis and multivariate modelling of employment choices show that youth are not participating in the limited growth that has occurred in services. Agriculture remains the sector in which most Malawians first obtain employment, and it is only later in their working lives that Malawian workers, particularly males, are in a position to obtain employment outside of agriculture alone. Malawi’s challenging employment landscape for youth is characterized by a scarcity of jobs outside agriculture and insufficient work hours within agriculture.
    Keywords: MALAWI, SOUTHERN AFRICA, AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA, AFRICA, employment, households, surveys, youth, off farm employment, J21 Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure, O12 Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development,
    Date: 2019
  8. By: Melkamu Daniel , Aemiro (CERE - the Center for Environmental and Resource Economics)
    Abstract: This paper provides a joint analysis of multiple fuel types and use choices and explores the socio-demographic and housing characteristics that affect household fuel use decisions. Using household survey data from urban Ethiopia, this paper estimates a mixed multiple discretecontinuous extreme value (MMDCEV) model. The results indicate that households with a female head are more likely to combine traditional biomass fuels (firewood and charcoal) and electricity for different uses, while households with less-educated heads, larger families, and poorer living conditions (fewer rooms) tend to rely on traditional biomass fuels. The results also show that households with an individual electricity meter are significantly less likely to use charcoal. Further, the results show that the satiation effect from increased use of a fuel is relatively higher for firewood and lower for electricity. The findings in this paper can be useful to inform energy policy, including more effective targeting of subsidies for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) purchases and private electricity meter installations, and for interventions that promote adoption of improved biomass cookstoves.
    Keywords: Energy expenditure; fuel choice; fuel substitution; multiple fuel use
    JEL: C25 D13 O13 Q23 Q42 R21
    Date: 2020–03–27
  9. By: Nikolov, Plamen; Bonci, Matthew
    Abstract: Precipitated by rapid globalization, rising inequality, population growth, and longevity gains, social protection programs have been on the rise in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in the last three decades. However, the introduction of public benefits could displace informal mechanisms for riskprotection, which are especially prevalent in LMICs. If the displacement of private transfers is considerably large, the expansion of social protection programs could even lead to social welfare loss. In this paper, we critically survey the recent empirical literature on crowd-out effects in response to public policies, specifically in the context of LMICs. We review and synthesize patterns from the behavioral response to various types of social protection programs. Furthermore, we specifically examine for heterogeneous treatment effects by important socioeconomic characteristics. We conclude by drawing on lessons from our synthesis of studies. If poverty reduction objectives are considered, along with careful program targeting that accounts for potential crowd-out effects, there may well be a net social gain.
    Keywords: life cycle,retirement,social protection,developing countries,crowdout effect,inter vivos transfers
    JEL: D64 H31 H55 J14 J22 J26 O15 O16 R2
    Date: 2020
  10. By: Zimmermann, Laura
    Abstract: Most countries around the world implement some form of a safety net program for poor households. A widespread concern is that such programs crowd out private-sector jobs. But they could also improve workers' welfare by allowing them to take on more risk, for example through self-employment. This paper analyzes the employment impacts of the world's largest public-works program using a novel regression-discontinuity design. The analysis exploits detailed institutional information to describe the allocation formula of the program and to construct a benefit calculator that predicts early and late treatment of districts. The results show that there is little evidence of a crowding out of private-sector jobs. Instead, the scheme functions as a safety net after a bad rainfall shock. Male workers also take on more risk by moving into family employment. This self-revealed preference for a different type of job suggests other potential benefits of safety net programs which so far have received little attention in the literature.
    Keywords: public-works program,anti-poverty program,National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme,NREGA,NREGS,India,regression discontinuity design,safety net,crowding out,risk coping,risk mitigation,insurance
    JEL: H53 H75 I38 J22 J38
    Date: 2020
  11. By: Tarozzi,Alessandro; Maertens,Ricardo; Ahmed,Kazi Matin Uddin; van Geen,Alexander
    Abstract: Millions of villagers in Bangladesh are exposed to arsenic by drinking contaminated water from private wells. Testing for arsenic can encourage switching from unsafe wells to safer sources. This study describes results from a cluster randomized controlled trial conducted in 112 villages in Bangladesh to evaluate the effectiveness of different test selling schemes at inducing switching from unsafe wells. At a price of about USD0.60, only one in four households purchased a test. Sales were not increased by informal inter-household agreements to share water from wells found to be safe, or by visual reminders of well status in the form of metal placards mounted on the well pump. However, switching away from unsafe wells almost doubled in response to agreements or placards relative to the one in three proportion of households who switched away from an unsafe well with simple individual sales.
    Date: 2020–03–24
  12. By: Robertson,Raymond; Lopez-Acevedo,Gladys C.; Morales,Matias
    Abstract: This paper explores the link between the prevalence of violent conflicts and extremely low female labor force participation rates in South Asia. The Labor Force Surveys from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan are merged with the Global Terrorism Database to estimate the relationship between terrorist attacks and female labor supply. Geographical data on exposure to violence are used to compare administrative units exposed to attacks with those not exposed. The analysis finds that one additional attack reduces female labor force participation rates by about 0.008 percentage point, on average. Violence has less impact on male labor participation, thus widening the gender labor participation gap. The paper tests the added -- worker effect theory -- which posits that violence might increase female labor force participation as women try to make up for lost household income?and finds mixed evidence: greater prevalence of attacks may encourage married women to work more hours, but when the environment gets more risky, all women work fewer hours. The paper also finds that violence decreases female labor participation less where it was already higher and has a progressively greater impact on lowering female labor participation where the number of attacks is higher.
    Keywords: Labor Markets,Armed Conflict,International Terrorism&Counterterrorism,Textiles, Apparel&Leather Industry,Pulp&Paper Industry,Plastics&Rubber Industry,Business Cycles and Stabilization Policies,Food&Beverage Industry,Common Carriers Industry,Construction Industry,General Manufacturing,Rural Labor Markets
    Date: 2020–03–26

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