nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2020‒04‒13
eleven papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. The Heterogeneous Effects of Conflict on Education: A Spatial Analysis in Sub-Saharan Africa By Unfried, Kerstin; Kis-Katos, Krisztina
  2. Do Public Program Benefits Crowd Out Private Transfers in Developing Countries? A Critical Review of Recent Evidence By Plamen Nikolov; Matthew Bonci
  3. Does Climate Change Make Foodgrain Yields More Unpredictable? Evidence from India By Saumya Verma; Shreekant Gupta; Partha Sen
  4. The Effect of Open-Air Waste Burning on Infant Health: Evidence from Government Failure in Lebanon By Mouganie, Pierre; Ajeeb, Ruba; Hoekstra, Mark
  5. Flickering Lifelines: Electrification and Household Welfare in India By Sedai, Ashish Kumar; Nepal, Rabindra; Jamasb, Tooraj
  6. Key Players in Economic Development By Amarasinghe, Ashani; Hodler, Roland; Raschky, Paul A.; Zenou, Yves
  7. Demand and supply side factors for accelerating varietal turnover: An evidence from soybean in India By Nuthalapati, Chandra Sekhara Rao; Sonkar, Vinay Kumar; Kumar, Anjani
  8. Modeling impacts of faster productivity growth to inform the CGIAR initiative on Crops to End Hunger By Wiebe, Keith; Sulser, Timothy B; Dunston, Shahnila; Rosegrant, Mark W.; Fuglie, Keith; Willenbockel, Dirk; Nelson, Gerald C.
  9. Financial Inclusion and Extreme Poverty in the MENA Region: A Gap Analysis Approach By Emara, Noha; Moheildin, Mahmoud
  10. Maternal Investments in Children: The Role of Expected Effort and Returns By Bhalotra, Sonia R.; Delavande, Adeline; Gilabert, Paulino Font; Maselko, Joanna
  11. Parental investments, socioemotional development and nutritional health in Chile By Caro, Juan Carlos

  1. By: Unfried, Kerstin (University of Göttingen); Kis-Katos, Krisztina (University of Goettingen)
    Abstract: In this paper, we identify under which conditions and to what extent armed conflicts harm the long-run educational attainment of children in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. By combining 66 rounds of DHS surveys with geo-coded conflict information, our study contextualizes the findings of a series of country-specific case studies on the effects of conflict on education, and provides evidence on the mechanisms through which these effects occur. Our main identification strategy compares educational losses of youth living within the same household, while also controlling for local weather shocks and countrywide dynamics in education. The effects of conflict on education are strongly context dependent. High-intensity conflicts reduce local educational attainment, on average, although this effect becomes insignificant in strong autocracies. By contrast, education is generally unaffected by localized low-intensity conflict. Human capital loss due to conflict is most severely felt in weak states, and in response to non-state based conflicts, highlighting the importance of state capacity in mediating the educational costs of local conflicts.
    Keywords: education, years of schooling, conflict, Sub-Saharan Africa
    JEL: I25 D74 O12
    Date: 2020–03
  2. By: Plamen Nikolov (State University of New York (at Binghamton)); Matthew Bonci (University of Pennsylvania)
    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 risk protection, 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, crowd-out effect, inter vivos transfers
    JEL: D64 H31 H55 J14 J22 J26 O15 O16 R20
    Date: 2020–03
  3. By: Saumya Verma; Shreekant Gupta; Partha Sen
    Abstract: How would climate change affect India’s agriculture which accounts for sixty percent of employment? We study the impact of climate change on the level and variability of yields of rice (India’s major food crop) and two key millet crops (sorghum and pearl millet), using an all India district level panel dataset from 1966-2011. A stochastic production function is estimated with exogenous climate anomalies. We find that climate change adversely affects both the level and variability of crop yields - rice yields are reduced by rainfall extremes whereas extremely high temperatures make yields of all three crops highly variable with the biggest impact on millets.
    Keywords: agriculture, climate change, foodgrain yields, India, millets, rice, stochastic production function
    JEL: Q54 O13 D24
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Mouganie, Pierre (American University of Beirut); Ajeeb, Ruba (American University of Beirut); Hoekstra, Mark (Texas A&M University)
    Abstract: An estimated 40 percent of the world's garbage is burned in open-air fires, which are responsible for as much as half of the global emissions of some pollutants. However, there is little evidence on the health consequences of open-air waste burning. In this paper, we estimate the effect of in utero exposure to open-air waste burning on birth outcomes. We do so by examining the consequences of the Lebanese garbage crisis of 2015, which led to an abrupt, unanticipated increase in waste burning in residential neighborhoods in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. To identify effects, we exploit variation in exposure across neighborhoods before and after the crisis. Results indicate exposure had large impacts on birth outcomes; in utero exposure to at least one open-air waste burn increased premature births by 4 percentage points (50%) and low birth weight by 5 to 8 percentage points (80 - 120%). Given previous research documenting the long-run effects of prenatal shocks on adult health, human capital, and labor market outcomes, this suggests open-air waste burning imposes significant costs on populations worldwide.
    Keywords: prenatal health, in utero pollution exposure, open-air waste burning
    JEL: I18 H41
    Date: 2020–03
  5. By: Sedai, Ashish Kumar (Department of Economics, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, USA); Nepal, Rabindra (Department of Economics, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia); Jamasb, Tooraj (Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School)
    Abstract: Access to reliable energy is central to improvements in living standards and is a Sustainable Development Goal. This study moves beyond counting the electrified households and examines the effect of the hours of electricity households receives on their welfare. We hypothesize that additional hours of electricity have different effects on the poor, the middle income and the rich, as well as in rural and urban areas. The methods used are panel fixed effects instrumental variables, cross sectional fixed effects instrumental variables, and logistic regression with data from the Indian Human Development Survey 2005-2012. We focus on extensive and the intensity margins, i.e. how access and additional hours of electricity affect household welfare in terms of consumption expenditure, income, assets and poverty status. The results show large gaps between the benefits and costs of electricity supply among consumer groups. We also find that electricity theft is positively correlated with the net returns from electrification. Progressive pricing with targeted subsidies for the poor can increase household welfare while reducing the financial losses of the State Electricity Boards.
    Keywords: Reliable energy; Electrification; Household welfare; Panel fixed effects; Instrumental variables approach
    JEL: D12 D31 E21 I32
    Date: 2020–03–26
  6. By: Amarasinghe, Ashani (Monash University); Hodler, Roland (University of St. Gallen); Raschky, Paul A. (Monash University); Zenou, Yves (Monash University)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the role of networks in the spatial diffusion of local economic shocks in Africa. We show that road and ethnic connectivity are particularly important factors for diffusing economic spillovers over longer distances. We then determine the key players, i.e., which districts are key in propagating local economic shocks across Africa. Using these results, we conduct counterfactual policy exercises to evaluate the potential gains from policies that increase economic activity in specific districts or improve road connectivity between districts.
    Keywords: transportation, natural resources, key player centrality, spatial spillovers, networks, Africa
    JEL: O13 O55 R12
    Date: 2020–03
  7. By: Nuthalapati, Chandra Sekhara Rao; Sonkar, Vinay Kumar; Kumar, Anjani
    Abstract: Soybeans were promoted on a large scale in India in order to augment farmers’ incomes in poverty-stricken areas and to combat dietary protein deficiencies. Soybean cultivation in India is a unique success story, having expanded in area from zero in 1970 to 11.5 million hectares by the first decade of this millennium At this juncture, the major concern of policymakers is to sustain cultivation of soybeans by ensuring reasonable growth in yield and farm incomes in the face of competitive yield improvements in comparable crops such as corn. This paper tries to understand the varietal adoption patterns and the stages of diffusion of existing varieties. It uses a large primary data set of 1,410 farm households in central and western India to unravel the underlying pathways for accelerating varietal turnover. It employs a dynamic framework by harnessing duration analysis. The average age of the adopted varieties is 8.4 years, which is relatively high and implies slower varietal turnover. Survival functions show that adoption of the leading varieties has reached the saturation stage and that policy intervention at this point can thus have a rapid impact in terms of varietal replacement. The analysis of rate of change of varietal replacement through hazard functions throws up interesting conclusions that are relevant to the formulation of new policies. Examination of all three conceptualized pathways—farm characteristics, sources of information, and perceived traits of the varieties and of genetic improvements—suggest the need for substitution of existing varieties with new improved varieties. While the drivers of varietal change do not vary with size of farm, regional differences are relevant. This paper discusses the potential impact of policy on production and income.
    Keywords: INDIA; SOUTH ASIA; ASIA; soybeans; supply balance; varieties; models; technology; agricultural extension; varietal adoption; duration model; variety traits; soybeans varities
    Date: 2020
  8. By: Wiebe, Keith; Sulser, Timothy B; Dunston, Shahnila; Rosegrant, Mark W.; Fuglie, Keith; Willenbockel, Dirk; Nelson, Gerald C.
    Abstract: In 2017-2018, a group of international development funding agencies launched the Crops to End Hunger initiative to modernize public plant breeding in lower-income countries. To inform that initiative, USAID asked the International Food Policy Research Institute and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service to estimate the impacts of faster productivity growth for 20 food crops on income and other indicators in 106 countries in developing regions in 2030. We first estimated the value of production in 2015 for each crop using data from FAO. We then used the IMPACT and GLOBE economic models to estimate changes in the value of production and changes in economy-wide income under scenarios of faster crop productivity growth, assuming that increased investment will raise annual rates of yield growth by 25% above baseline growth rates over the period 2015-2030. We found that faster productivity growth in rice and wheat increased economy-wide income in the selected countries in 2030 by 59 billion USD and 27 billion USD respectively, followed by banana and yams with increases of 9 billion USD each. While these amounts represent small shares of total GDP, they are 2-15 times current public R&D spending on food crops in developing countries. Income increased most in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Faster productivity growth in rice and wheat reduced the population at risk of hunger by 11 million people and 6 million people respectively, followed by plantain, pulses and cassava with reductions of about 2 million people each. Changes in adequacy ratios were relatively large for carbohydrates (already in surplus) and relatively small for micronutrients. In general, we found that impacts of faster productivity growth vary widely across crops, regions and outcome indicators, highlighting the importance of identifying the potentially diverse objectives of different decision makers and recognizing possible tradeoffs between objectives.
    Date: 2020–04–01
  9. By: Emara, Noha; Moheildin, Mahmoud
    Abstract: Eradicating extreme poverty remains one of the most significant and challenging Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region. The latest World Bank statistics from 2018 show that extreme poverty in MENA increased from 2.6% to 5% between 2013 and 2015. MENA ranks third among developing regions for extreme poverty, and fell short of halving extreme poverty by 2015 – the target established by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, the precursor to the SDGs. Using system General Method of Moments dynamic panel estimation methodology on annual data for 11 MENA countries and 23 emerging markets (EMs) over the period 1990 – 2017, this study begins by estimating the impact of financial inclusion – using measures of access and usage – on the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030, the first goal of the SDGs. The results of the study indicate that, on one hand, financial access measures have a positive, statistically significant impact on reducing extreme poverty for the full sample as well as the MENA region. On the other hand, financial usage measures are only statistically significant in reducing extreme poverty for the full sample, but not for the MENA region. The second part of the study employs a gap analysis against four poverty targets—0%, 1.5%, 3%, and 5%—and shows that no MENA country and few EM countries will be able to close the extreme poverty gap and reach the target of 0% by 2030 by depending solely on improvements in financial access. These targets are based on the two benchmarks set by the World Bank and the UN, with intermediaries to capture error and give a fuller picture of what is possible. However, if improvements in financial inclusion alone can bring every EM and MENA country except Djibouti and Romania to bring the most accessible target of reducing global extreme poverty to no more than 5% by 2030. Policy considerations can be directed towards developing and promoting the infrastructure needed for the widespread delivery and usage of financial services, especially for the MENA and EM countries lagging behind the extreme poverty target. Special attention should be paid to the support of digital financial inclusion for its ability to help individuals cope with shocks without reducing consumption. Delivery and usage of financial technology is predicted to magnify the impact of financial inclusion on poverty reduction both directly – as shown in this paper – and indirectly – through channels related to other SDGs. Additionally, governments in the MENA region must take data quality and availability more seriously if they expect to reverse the acceleration of extreme poverty in the digital age.
    Keywords: Financial Inclusion; Extreme Poverty; MENA Region SDGs; Gap Approach
    JEL: C23 G21 O43
    Date: 2020–03–15
  10. By: Bhalotra, Sonia R. (University of Essex); Delavande, Adeline (University of Technology, Sydney); Gilabert, Paulino Font (University of Essex); Maselko, Joanna (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
    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.
    Keywords: beliefs, subjective expectations, maternal investment, child development, early life, maternal depression, effort costs, psychic costs
    JEL: I12 I15 J24
    Date: 2020–03
  11. By: Caro, Juan Carlos
    Abstract: I use a national administrative dataset covering all children attending public funded pre-schools in Chile to estimate production functions for socioemotional skills and body mass index z-scores as a function of parental time investments, while accounting for endogeneity. Estimates are computed at each decile of the distribution allowing for heterogeneity on factor productivity. Results suggests that accounting for child characteristics and family composition, access to public goods, social support and self-efficacy are important drivers of parental time allocation. In turn, increased frequency of parental time investments can substantially boost socioemotional development and reduce obesity risk, particularly for vulnerable children. Children in the bottom of the socioemotional skills distribution could gain 0.4 standard deviations for an one standard deviation increase in time investments. Similar increase can lead to a reduction of 0.8 SD in body mass index z-score among severely obese students. Additional analyses indicates that socioemotional skills can significantly favor the adoption of health behaviors and improved task performance.
    Keywords: Health, socioemotional development, Nutritional Status, Child development, Human capital, School meal program
    JEL: I12 J13 J24
    Date: 2020

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