nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2021‒01‒11
eighteen papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Why Do People Stay Poor? By Clare Balboni; Oriana Bandiera; Robin Burgess; Maitreesh Ghatak; Anton Heil
  2. Natural resource prices and welfare: Evidence from Indonesia’s coal and palm oil boom By Donny Harrison Pasaribu
  3. Seasonality, Academic Calendar and School Drop-outs in Developing Countries By Seiro Ito; Abu S. Shonchoy
  4. Corruption and Mental Health: Evidence from Vietnam By Sharma, Smriti; Singhal, Saurabh; Tarp, Finn
  5. Misallocation in the Public Sector? Cross-Country Evidence from Two Million Primary Schools By Torsten Figueiredo Walter
  6. More is more livelihood interventions and child labor in the agricultural sector By Chiodi, Vera.; Escudero, Verónica.
  7. Violent Conflict and Vaccinations: Evidence from Iraq By George Naufal; Michael Malcolm; Vidya Diwakar
  8. The effects of contract farming on diets and nutrition in Ghana By Ruml, Anette; Debela, Bethelhem Legesse; Qaim, Matin
  9. Children of War: Conflict and Child Welfare in Iraq By Reham Rizk; Colette Salemi
  10. Are smallholder farmers credit constrained? Evidence on demand and supply constraints of credit in Ethiopia and Tanzania By Balana, Bedru; Mekonnen, Dawit Kelemework; Haile, Beliyou; Hagos, Fitsum; Yiman, Seid; Ringler, Claudia
  11. Globalization and Female Empowerment: Evidence from Myanmar By Molina, Teresa; Tanaka, Mari
  12. Measuring Energy Poverty in South Africa Based on Household Required Energy Consumption By Yuxiang Ye; Steven F. Koch
  13. Is Excess (Fe)Male Mortality Caused by the Prenatal Environment, Child Biology, or Parental Discrimination? New Evidence from Male-Female Twins By Roland Pongou
  14. Illusion of Gender Parity in Education: Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in Bangladesh By Sijia Xu; Abu S. Shonchoy; Tomoki Fujii
  15. Women’s empowerment, extended families and male migration in Nepal: Insights from mixed methods analysis By Doss, Cheryl R.; Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela; Pereira, Audrey; Pradhan, Rajendra
  16. The Origins of Cognitive Skills and Non-cognitive Skills: The Long-Term Effect of in-Utero Rainfall Shocks in India By Chang, Grace; Favara, Marta; Novella, Rafael
  17. Violence-Induced Migration and Peer Effects in Academic Performance By María Padilla-Romo; Cecilia Peluffo
  18. How do migrations affect under-five mortality in rural areas? Evidence from Niakhar, Senegal By Ulrich Nguemdjo; Bruno Ventelou

  1. By: Clare Balboni; Oriana Bandiera; Robin Burgess; Maitreesh Ghatak; Anton Heil
    Abstract: There are two views as to why people stay poor. The equal opportunity view emphasizes that differences in individual traits like talent or motivation make the poor choose low productivity jobs. The poverty traps view emphasizes that access to opportunities depends on initial wealth and hence poor people have no choice but to work in low productivity jobs. We test the two views using the random allocation of an asset transfer program that gave some of the poorest women in Bangladesh access to the same job opportunities as their wealthier counterparts in the same villages. The data rejects the null of equal opportunities. Exploiting small variation in initial endowments, we estimate the transition equation and find that, if the program pushes individuals above a threshold level of initial assets, then they escape poverty, but, if it does not, they slide back into poverty. Structural estimation of an occupational choice model reveals that almost all beneficiaries are misallocated at baseline and that the gains arising from eliminating misallocation would far exceed the costs. Our findings imply that large one-off transfers that enable people to take on more productive occupations can help alleviate persistent poverty.
    Keywords: poverty traps, misallocation
    JEL: O10
    Date: 2020–03
  2. By: Donny Harrison Pasaribu
    Abstract: This study measures the impact of coal and palm oil prices during the 2000s commodity boom in Indonesia on regional poverty, household consumption, employment and wages. The strategy is to exploit the within-country variation in exposure to each commodity, interacted with exogenous changes in global commodity prices. I focus on two of Indonesia’s main export commodities, coal and palm oil. I find that an increase in the price of coal and palm oil both decrease the poverty rate in districts that produce them relative to districts that do not. However, the mechanisms through which they affect poverty are different.
    Keywords: Natural resource booms, welfare, poverty, subnational impacts
    JEL: O13 Q33 Q32 O53
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Seiro Ito (Institute of Developing Economies); Abu S. Shonchoy (Department of Economics, Florida International University)
    Abstract: Rural families face tradeoffs when deciding whether to keep children in school or have them work in the ï¬ eld. School calendars can magnify this tradeoff by not accommodating agricultural harvesting cycles within the schedule. We show this misalignment has a signiï¬ cant and sizable effect on school continuation. In Bangladesh, a rise in seasonal labor demand due to the Aman paddy harvesting typically coincides with the yearly ï¬ nal examination of schools. Employing the lunar calendar variation of Ramadan school holidays as a natural experiment framework — that forced schools to re-schedule ï¬ nal examinations to a pre-harvest season in 1999 — and comparing it with a typical year of 2002, we ï¬ nd that annual exams overlapping with major local harvesting period inflate the school dropout by 6.5 to 8.4 percentage points between the agricultural and non-agricultural households. Age-speciï¬ c cohort analysis using a nationally representative household survey also supports this evidence. Exploiting state-level academic calendar variation, we executed a similar analysis for India and found supporting evidence to validate our ï¬ ndings. Our paper suggests the careful design of school calendars in developing countries by adequately addressing local seasonality.
    Keywords: enrollment, child labor, seasonal labor-demand, school calendar, ramadan, drop-out
    Date: 2020–12
  4. By: Sharma, Smriti (Newcastle University); Singhal, Saurabh (Lancaster University); Tarp, Finn (University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: While there is substantial corruption in developing countries, the costs imposed by corruption on individuals and households are little understood. This study examines the relationship between exposure to local corruption and mental health, as measured by depressive symptoms. We use two large data sets – one cross-sectional and one panel – collected across rural Vietnam. After controlling for individual and regional characteristics, we find strong and consistent evidence that day-to-day petty corruption is positively associated with psychological distress. Our results are robust to a variety of specification checks. Further, we find that the relationship between corruption and mental health is stronger for women, and that there are no heterogeneous effects by poverty status. An examination of the underlying mechanisms shows that reductions in income and trust associated with higher corruption may play a role. Finally, using a difference-in-difference estimation strategy, we also provide suggestive evidence that a recent high profile anti-corruption campaign had significant positive effects on mental health. Overall, our findings indicate that there may be substantial psychosocial and mental health benefits from efforts to reduce corruption and improve rural governance structures.
    Keywords: corruption, anti-corruption, mental health, depression, Vietnam
    JEL: I3 I15 O12 D73 P3
    Date: 2020–12
  5. By: Torsten Figueiredo Walter
    Abstract: This paper examines how the allocation of teachers across public primary schools differs between countries and the extent to which this can explain differences in educational outcomes. First, I build a new global school-level data set that comprises nearly two million schools representing public primary education in 91 countries. I document that pupil-teacher ratios (PTRs) in developed countries are low on aggregate and vary little between schools. In contrast, in developing countries aggregate PTRs are high and differences in PTRs between schools are large. Even at the local level, within second-tier administrative units, differences in PTRs between schools are substantial. While PTRs are higher in rural areas, PTR differences between schools within both urban and rural areas are much larger than differences in average PTRs between urban and rural areas. High PTRs are typically found in areas with low levels of wealth and adult literacy, and poor school infrastructure. Second, I build a model of education production to assess if complementarities between teachers, school infrastructure and household inputs can rationalize the prevailing inequalities in the relative number of teachers within developing countries. Simulations suggest that more equal teacher allocations could in fact increase, rather than decrease, aggregate learning in many poor countries. Obtaining equivalent gains through reductions in aggregate PTRs, while holding relative PTRs between schools fixed, on the other hand, would require large teacher workforce increases.
    Keywords: Development, Education, Inequality, Misallocation, State Capacity
    JEL: I25 H52 O15
    Date: 2020–06
  6. By: Chiodi, Vera.; Escudero, Verónica.
    Abstract: What works to reduce child labor in agriculture? In this paper, we evaluate two randomized livelihood intervention programs, aimed to reduce child labor, particularly in its most exploitative forms, in rural areas of Peru and the Philippines. In the first randomized experiment, we evaluate a livelihood intervention provided to farmers in Peru that use the labor of their children on their family farms, accompanied by an education intervention aimed to improve the quality of schools and an awareness-raising intervention. In the second randomized experiment, we evaluate the incremental effect of the livelihood intervention implemented within a similar program in the Philippines, focused on the sugarcane agricultural sector. We find that when livelihood interventions were provided alone, they did not manage to improve economic conditions, and hence generally failed to reduce child labor rates in rural areas. However, when the livelihood intervention was combined with measures to improve the quality of education in Peru, we see a reduction in hazardous child labor and child labor overall. Awareness-raising interventions, aimed at changing the perceptions of parents through community interaction, appear to have also had an effect in the reduction of child labor, and these effects were reinforced by education interventions. Results indicate that a comprehensive approach including livelihood support with education and awareness-raising components is a more effective way to reduce child labor and hazardous labor for children in the agricultural sector.
    Date: 2020
  7. By: George Naufal (Texas A&M University); Michael Malcolm (West Chester University); Vidya Diwakar (Overseas Development Institute)
    Abstract: Using a generalized difference-in-differences approach, we find that children residing in highconflict areas in Iraq are more likely to be vaccinated against tuberculosis and measles than children residing in low-conflict areas. We draw household data on vaccination from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys and we identify high-conflict area-years using geolocational conflict data from the Iraq Body Count project. While previous literature generally finds that conflict harms public health, a potential explanation for our result is heavy presence of international aid organizations in conflict areas, a phenomenon which researchers have noted in other contexts.
    Date: 2020–12–20
  8. By: Ruml, Anette; Debela, Bethelhem Legesse; Qaim, Matin
    Abstract: Contract farming is becoming increasingly important in developing countries, to coordinate transactions along agricultural supply chains. In this paper, we examine the diet and nutrition implication of engaging in contract farming among smallholder farmers in Ghana. Previous studies have analyzed the effects of contract farming on farm production and household income. However, little is known about the effects of contract farming on household and individual nutrition. We know of no study that has analyzed the effects of contract farming on household and individual dietary diversity, as well as on anthropometric measures. Our study further contributes to the existing literature by investigating differences in effects across different types of contracts, which has largely been neglected. Results show that producing oil palm under contract has implications for household and individual nutrition. However, the effect depends on the type of contract. Resource-providing contracts lead to higher dietary diversity at the household level, as well as for female household members. Our findings also reveal that children in households with resource providing contracts have a higher height-for-age z-score (HAZ) and weight-for-age z-score (WAZ), suggesting positive long-term nutritional benefits for small children aged 2-6 years. The effects of marketing contracts are less clear. The results indicate positive effects on women’s dietary diversity and on the child’s weight-for-age z-score. Additionally, we find positive nutrition effects if the contracted farmer is female.
    Keywords: Farm Management, Food Security and Poverty
    Date: 2021–01
  9. By: Reham Rizk (Universities of Canada in Egypt); Colette Salemi (University of Minnesota)
    Abstract: What are the impacts of violent conflict on child health and nutrition? In this paper, we examine conflict events from 2013 to 2018 in Iraq. We match household microdata from the 2018 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey with conflict event data derived from the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDLET) to estimate the number of conflicts a child age 0-4 in the MICS data was exposed to during her lifetime. To account for endogenous conflict event locations, we use a two-stage least squares estimation approach in which governorate distance to the Syrian border serves as our instrument. Our results suggest that a 1% increase in conflict frequency results in a significant reduction in height-for-age z-scores of -0.15. We repeat our estimates using alternative conflict data as a robustness check, and the sign and significance of the result holds, though these alternative estimates are smaller in magnitude. Our mechanism analysis suggests that more exposed children were statistically less likely to have been breastfed.
    Date: 2020–12–20
  10. By: Balana, Bedru; Mekonnen, Dawit Kelemework; Haile, Beliyou; Hagos, Fitsum; Yiman, Seid; Ringler, Claudia
    Abstract: Credit constraint is considered by many as one of the key barriers to adoption of modern agricultural technologies, such as chemical fertilizer, improved seeds, and irrigation technologies, among smallholders. Past research and much policy discourse associates agricultural credit constraints with supply-side factors, such as limited access to credit sources or high costs of borrowing. However, demand-side factors, such as risk-aversion and financial illiteracy among borrowers, as well as high transaction costs, can also play important roles in credit-rationing for smallholders. Using primary survey data from Ethiopia and Tanzania, this study examines the nature of credit constraints facing smallholders and the factors that affect credit constraints. In addition, we assess whether credit constraints are gender-differentiated. Results show that demand-side credit constraints are at least as important as supply-side factors in both countries. Women are more likely to be credit constrained (from both the supply and demand sides) than men. Based on these findings, we suggest that policies should focus on addressing both supply- and demand-side credit constraints, including through targeted interventions to reduce risk, such as crop insurance and gender-sensitive policies to improve women’s access to credit.
    Keywords: ETHIOPIA; TANZANIA; EAST AFRICA; AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA; AFRICA; adoption; agriculture; technology; gender; smallholders; supply balance; credit; farmers; irrigation; agricultural techonologies; credit constraints; small-scale irrigation
    Date: 2020
  11. By: Molina, Teresa (University of Hawaii at Manoa); Tanaka, Mari (Hitotsubashi University)
    Abstract: This paper examines whether globalization promotes female empowerment by improving the jobs available to women. Previous work has documented that exporting causally improved working conditions at predominantly female garment factories in Myanmar. In this study, restricting to garment factory neighborhoods, we find that women living near exporting factories are significantly more likely to be working, have lower tolerance of domestic violence, and are less likely to be victims of domestic violence. Using distance to the international airport as an instrument for proximity to an exporting factory, we find similar results: higher employment rates, lower tolerance of domestic violence, and a decrease in the experience of physical violence.
    Keywords: female empowerment, domestic violence, globalization, trade, Myanmar
    JEL: J12 F66
    Date: 2020–12
  12. By: Yuxiang Ye (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa); Steven F. Koch (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa)
    Abstract: Energy poverty is a major concern in most of developing countries while its measurement has not been fully addressed due to the complexity of energy basic needs estimation. This study contributes to the literature by measuring energy poverty with focus on household required energy consumption using widely available household budget survey data. We apply the Foster-Greer-Thorbecke (FGT) poverty measures in a developing but somewhat energy advanced context, South Africa. Our energy poverty line is based on household dependent required energy consumption, and we use data from a recent South African Living Conditions Survey. We find that headcount energy poverty is extensive, as is the gap and the severity of energy poverty. Decomposition results suggest that energy poverty rates decrease with income, and lower income groups contribute more to total poverty than higher income groups across all the three poverty indexes. Our results are consistent with those from previous research, which suggests that our measure of required energy may be a reasonable option for understanding energy poverty.
    Keywords: Energy poverty, Required energy consumption, FGT poverty measures
    Date: 2020–12
  13. By: Roland Pongou (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON)
    Abstract: Male-female differences in early age mortality continue to be an important source of child inequality in the world, and are a likely cause of gender disparities in human capital accumulation. Recent literature highlights the important role of the prenatal environment in inducing these differences, in addition to biological influences and gender discrimination in the allocation of resources. However, the distinct roles of these three sets of factors have not been quantified in a unified framework. We propose a new methodology for decomposing male-female differences in mortality into the distinct effects of the prenatal environment, child biology, and parental preferences. We implement this methodology by comparing the mortality sex gap among male-female twins versus all twins in India, a country where daughters are discriminated against, and sub-Saharan Africa, a region where sons and daughters have been found to be valued by their parents about equally. We uncover three main findings: (1) both the prenatal environment and biology increase the mortality risk of boys in these regions; (2) the relative importance of the prenatal environment increases with age, while the effect of biology decreases and even reverses in later childhood; and (3) parental discrimination against girls in India significantly raises their mortality; however, failure to control for the effect of the prenatal environment, biological influences, and the endogeneity of sex determination (due to parental factors and sex-selective abortion) leads traditional methodological approaches to underestimate the effect of discrimination on excess female mortality by 173 percent in the period from birth to 1 year, and by 23 percent between the ages of 1 and 5. Taken together, the findings provide novel quantitative evidence on the relative importance of nature versus nurture in the mortality gap between males and females, and show that the impact of discrimination against girls in certain societies has been underrated.
    Keywords: Male-female differences in mortality; nature versus nurture; prenatal environment; child biology; discrimination against girls; twins; decomposition methodology.
    Date: 2020
  14. By: Sijia Xu (East China University of Science and Technology); Abu S. Shonchoy (Department of Economics, Florida International University); Tomoki Fujii (Singapore Management University)
    Abstract: Gender parity in education—an important global development goal—is often measured through school enrollment. However, this can be misleading as girls may lag behind boys in other measures. We investigate this with Bangladeshi survey data by decomposing households' education decisions into enrollment, education expenditure, and its share for the quality of education. We ï¬ nd a strong profemale bias in enrollment but promale bias in the other two decisions. This contradirectional gender bias is partly explained by conditional cash transfer programs, which promoted girls' secondary school enrollment but did not narrow the gaps in the intrahousehold allocation of education resources.
    Keywords: education parity, conditional cash transfer, gender, Bangladesh
    JEL: D15 H52 I28 J16 O15
    Date: 2020–12
  15. By: Doss, Cheryl R.; Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela; Pereira, Audrey; Pradhan, Rajendra
    Abstract: Women’s empowerment is dynamic across the life course, affected not only by age but also by women’s social position within the household. In Nepal, high rates of male outmigration have further compounded household dynamics, although the impact on women’s empowerment is not clear. We use qualitative and quantitative data from Nepal to explore the relationship between women’s social location in the household, caste/ethnicity, husband’s migration status, and women’s empowerment. The study first examines the factors affecting overall empowerment as measured by the Abbreviated Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (A-WEAI), followed by more detailed qualitative and quantitative analysis of how each factor affects individual domains including asset ownership, access to and decisions on credit, control over use of income, group membership, input in productive decisions, and work load. We find that women’s empowerment is strongly associated with caste/ethnic identity and position in the household, but this dynamic interacts with husband’s migration status. Despite patriarchal norms of high caste groups, high caste women are more empowered than others, reflecting the disempowering effects of poverty and social exclusion for low caste and ethnic groups. Daughters-in-law in joint households are more likely to be empowered when their husbands are residents in the household and disempowered when their husbands are migrants, while wives in nuclear households are more likely to be empowered when their husbands are migrants. While qualitative findings indicate daughters-in-law are disempowered compared to their mothers-in-law, especially in time use, the quantitative results do not show significant differences, suggesting that we need to move toward an understanding of agency over time and intensity of work, rather than simply hours worked. Identifying the factors that contribute to disempowerment of women of different social positions has important implications for the design of interventions and programs that seek to improve women’s empowerment.
    Keywords: NEPAL; SOUTH ASIA; ASIA; empowerment; gender; women; women's empowerment; migration; caste systems; ethnic groups; mixed model method; Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index
    Date: 2020
  16. By: Chang, Grace (London School of Economics); Favara, Marta (University of Oxford); Novella, Rafael (Inter-American Development Bank)
    Abstract: Skills are an important predictor of labour, education, and wellbeing outcomes. Understanding the origins of skills formation is important for reducing future inequalities. This paper analyses the effect of shocks in-utero on human capital outcomes in childhood and adolescence in India. Combining historical rainfall data and longitudinal data from Young Lives, we estimate the effect of rainfall shocks in-utero on cognitive and non-cognitive skills development over the first 15 years of life. We find negative effects of rainfall shocks on receptive vocabulary at age 5, and on mathematics and non-cognitive skills at age 15. Also, shocks occurred after the first trimester are more detrimental for skills development. Our findings support the implementation of policies aiming at reducing inequalities at very early stages in life.
    Keywords: skills formation, in-utero, rainfall shocks, India
    JEL: J24 I14
    Date: 2020–12
  17. By: María Padilla-Romo (Department of Economics, University of Tennessee); Cecilia Peluffo (Department of Economics, University of Florida)
    Abstract: We document that local violence generates spillover e ects beyond areas where violence takes place, via out-migration from violence-a ected areas and peer exposure to violence. We study out-migration due to drug-tracking-related violence in Mexico between 2006 and 2013. We use violence-induced student migration as an exogenous source of variation in peer exposure to violence to estimate its e ects on student academic performance in relatively safe areas. Our results show that municipalities that face more violence experience higher rates of student out-migration. In receiving schools in areas not directly a ected by violence, adding a new peer who was exposed to local violence to a class of 20 students decreases incumbents' academic performance by 1.2 percent of a standard deviation. Negative e ects are more pronounced among girls and high-achieving students.
    Keywords: Local violence; out-migration; in-migration; peer effects
    JEL: I24 I25 O15
    Date: 2020–12
  18. By: Ulrich Nguemdjo (Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, AMSE and Aix-Marseille Univ, LPED, Marseille, France.); Bruno Ventelou (Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, AMSE, Marseille, France.)
    Abstract: This study analyses the relationship between a household member’s migration and child mortality within the family left behind in rural areas. Exploring the richness of the Niakhar Health and Demographic Surveillance System panel, we use high-frequency migration data to investigate the effects of migration on child mortality at the household level over 16 years. Migrations, particularly short-term migrations, are positively associated with the survival probability of under-five children in the household. Also, we find that working age women's short-term migrations impact child mortality more than working age men's short-term migrations. This observation supports hypotheses in the economic literature on the predominant role of women in rural households in obtaining welfare improvements. Moreover, we detect crossover effects between households of the same compound –in line with the idea that African rural families share part of their migration-generated gains with an extended community of neighbors. Lastly, we investigate the effect of a mother's short-term migration on the survival of her under-5 children. The aggregate effect of a mother’s migration on child survival is still positive, but much weaker. Specifically, mother migration during pregnancy seems to enhance the wellbeing of the child, considered immediately after birth. However, when the child is older (more than one year), the absence of the mother tends to decrease the probability of survival.
    Keywords: Niakhar, Senegal, short- and long-term migrations, child mortality
    JEL: I15
    Date: 2020–12

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