nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2021‒07‒19
fifteen papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Early-Life Famine Exposure, Hunger Recall and Later-Life Health By Deng, Zichen; Lindeboom, Maarten
  2. Entry and Exit of Informal Firms and Development By Brian McCaig; Nina Pavcnik
  3. Entitled to Property: Inheritance Laws, Female Bargaining Power, and Child Health in India By Shahadath Hossain; Plamen Nikolov
  4. The ugly truth about social welfare payments and households' subjective well-being By Adhikari, Tamanna; Greyling, Talita; Rossouw, Stephanie
  5. The impacts of a multifaceted pre-natal intervention on human capital accumulation in early life By Pedro Carneiro; Lucy Kraftman; Giacomo Mason; Lucie Moore; Imran Rasul; Molly Scott
  6. The Power of Lakshmi: Monetary Incentives for Raising a Girl By Biswas, Nabaneeta; Cornwell, Christopher; Zimmermann, Laura V.
  7. The Seen and the Unseen: Impact of a Conditional Cash Transfer Program on Prenatal Sex Selection By Sayli Javadekar; Kritika Saxena
  8. Mapping urban living standards in developing countries with energy consumption data By Agyemang, Felix; Fox, Sean; Memon, Rashid
  9. Pastoralist violence in North and West Africa By Matthew Pflaum
  10. Return Migrants and the Wage Premium: Does the Legal Status of Migrants Matter? By Elmallakh, Nelly; Wahba, Jackline
  11. The Effects of a Large-Scale Mental-Health Reform: Evidence from Brazil By Dias, Mateus; Fontes, Luiz Felipe
  12. Poor vs Non-Poor Households in Uruguay: Welfare Differences from Food Price Changes By Echeverría, Lucía; Molina, José Alberto
  13. Coordination and the poor maintenance trap: an experiment on public infrastructure in India By Alex Armand; Britta Augsburg; Antonella Bancalari
  14. Wealth Inequality in South Africa, 1993-2017 By Aroop Chatterjee; Léo Czajka; Amory Gethin
  15. Land titling and litigation By Benito Arruñada; Marco Fabbri; Michael Faure

  1. By: Deng, Zichen (Norwegian School of Economics); Lindeboom, Maarten (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
    Abstract: We use newly collected individual-level hunger recall information from the China Family Panel Survey to estimate the causal effect of undernourishment on later-life health. We develop a Two-Sample Instrumental Variable (TSIV) estimator that can deal with heterogeneous samples. We find a non-linear relationship between mortality rates, a commonly used famine indicator, and the individual hunger experience. The nonlinearity in famine exposure may explain the variation in the famine's effect on later life health found in previous studies. We also find that exposure to famine-induced hunger early in life leads to worse health among females fifty years later. This effect is much larger than the reduced-form effect found in previous studies. For males, we find no impact.
    Keywords: famine, hunger, developmental origins, two-sample instrumental variable
    JEL: I12 J11 C21 C26
    Date: 2021–06
  2. By: Brian McCaig; Nina Pavcnik
    Abstract: Non-farm informal businesses comprise the majority of the firm distribution in developing countries. We document novel stylized facts about entry and exit of informal, non-farm firms using nationally representative panel data over 15 years and across regions with varying levels of local economic development in Vietnam. First, we find that informal businesses exhibit rates of entry and exit around 14-18% annually. Entry and exit rates are similar and highly correlated at a point in time, within industries, and within regions. They both decline over time and across space with economic development. Second, although market selection influences which firms survive, entry and exit has little net effect on aggregate (revenue) productivity or hiring of workers outside the household. This owes to overlapping labor productivity of entering and exiting firms and low subsequent productivity growth and hiring among the surviving entrants. Nonetheless, entry and exit are associated with large changes in individual income. Third, the large overlap in revenue of entering and exiting informal businesses and the high correlation between entry and exit rates are related to the education of owners and their economic activities before and after operating an informal business. Informal business owners are less educated on average than wage workers in the formal sector, but more educated than agricultural workers. The transitions in and out of operating an informal business reflect the underlying structure of economic activities of the working age population, with education gaps also playing a role. The most common transition into non-farm businesses is to and from self-employment in agriculture. The likelihood of this transition declines with economic development, highlighting the role of net entry from agriculture into informal non-farm businesses in structural change.
    JEL: J46 L2 O17 O53
    Date: 2021–07
  3. By: Shahadath Hossain; Plamen Nikolov
    Abstract: Child height is a significant predictor of human capital and economic status throughout adulthood. Moreover, non-unitary household models of family behavior posit that an increase in women's bargaining power can influence child health. We study the effects of an inheritance policy change, the Hindu Succession Act (HSA), which conferred enhanced inheritance rights to unmarried women in rural India, on child height. We find robust evidence that the HSA improved the height and weight of children. In addition, we find evidence consistent with a channel that the policy improved the women's intrahousehold bargaining power within the household, leading to improved parental investments for children. These study findings are also compatible with the notion that children do better when their mothers control a more significant fraction of the family. Therefore, policies that empower women can have additional positive spillovers for children's human capital.
    Date: 2021–06
  4. By: Adhikari, Tamanna; Greyling, Talita; Rossouw, Stephanie
    Abstract: Social welfare payments (SWP) were designed with policy priority to transfer revenue to vulnerable groups, thereby addressing poverty and inequality. Previous studies have shown that SWPs alleviate poverty, but investigating their effect on well-being is sparse. We investigate the relationship between SWPs and the mean subjective well-being (SWB) of a household and analyse it across household income quintiles. We use the National Income Dynamics Study dataset, which is representative of South Africa. South Africa is an example of extremes, as it suffers from poverty, inequality, and low levels of SWB; yet, paradoxically, it has an exemplary social welfare system. We use a range of analytical methods, including ordered probit regressions and a quasi-experimental technique. We find that the highest household income quintiles claim SWPs meant for the poor, most likely leading to increased inequality. Additionally, SWPs are positively related to SWB for quintiles one to four, but the relationship is negative in the highest quintile.
    Keywords: Subjective well-being,social welfare payment,quasi-experiment,South Africa
    JEL: I31 J13 J18
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Pedro Carneiro (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London); Lucy Kraftman (Institute for Fiscal Studies); Giacomo Mason (Institute for Fiscal Studies); Lucie Moore (Institute for Fiscal Studies); Imran Rasul (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London and IFS); Molly Scott (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies)
    Abstract: We evaluate an intervention targeting early life nutrition and well-being for households in extreme poverty in Northern Nigeria. The intervention leads to large and sustained improvements in children’s anthropometric and health outcomes, including an 8% reduction in stunting four years post-intervention. These impacts are partly driven by information-related channels. However, the certain and substantial ‡ow of cash transfers is also key. They induce positive labor supply responses among women, and enables them to undertake productive investments in livestock. These provide protein rich diets for children, and generate higher household earnings streams long after the cash transfers expire.
    Date: 2020–12–14
  6. By: Biswas, Nabaneeta; Cornwell, Christopher; Zimmermann, Laura V.
    Abstract: Worldwide, 1.6 million girls are "missing" at birth every year. One policy tool to improve the sex ratio is a conditional cash transfer that pays parents to invest in daughters, but existing evidence on their effectiveness is sparse. Using a difference-in-differences framework, we evaluate the Dhanlakshmi scheme, an Indian CCT program that strongly encouraged girl births without restricting fertility. Dhanlakshmi improved the sex ratio at birth, with only a small fertility increase. The girl-birth effect was concentrated among the first two parities and partially persisted after the program was discontinued. Post-birth outcomes like immunization and education also improved.
    Keywords: conditional cash transfer,son preference,sex ratio,gender bias,India
    JEL: D13 H53 I15 I18 J16
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Sayli Javadekar (University of Bath); Kritika Saxena (IHEID, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva)
    Abstract: How is prenatal sex selective behaviour influenced by the presence of cheap fetal gender identification technology and financial incentives? We analyze a conditional cash transfer program in India called Janani Suraksha Yojna. By providing access to prenatal sex detection technology like the ultrasound scans, and simultaneously providing cash incentives to both households and community health workers for every live birth, this program altered existing trends in prenatal sex selection. Using difference-in-differences and triple difference estimators we find that the policy led to an increase in female births. This improvement comes at a cost, as we observe an increase in under-5 mortality for girls born at higher birth orders, indicating a shift in discrimination against girls from pre-natal to post-natal. Our calculations show that the net effect of the policy was that nearly 300,000 more girls survived in treatment households between 2006 and 2015. Finally, we find that the role played by community health workers in facilitating the program is a key driver of the decline in prenatal sex selection.
    Keywords: Sex selection; gender; health; India; missing girls; prenatal sex detection; sex-selection; community health workers
    JEL: J13 J16 I12 I28
    Date: 2021–07–02
  8. By: Agyemang, Felix; Fox, Sean; Memon, Rashid
    Abstract: Data deficits in developing countries impede evidence-based urban planning and policy, as well as fundamental research. We show that residential electricity consumption data can be used to partially address this challenge by serving as a proxy for relative living standards at the block or neighbourhood scale. We illustrate this potential by combining infrastructure and land use data from Open Street Map with georeferenced data from ~2 million residential electricity meters in the megacity of Karachi, Pakistan to map median electricity consumption at block level. Equivalent areal estimates of economic activity derived from high-resolution night lights data (VIIRS) are shown to be a poor predictor of intraurban variation in living standards by comparison. We argue that electricity data are an underutilised source of information that could be used to address empirical questions related to urban poverty and development at relatively high spatial and temporal resolution. Given near universal access to electricity in urban areas globally, this potential is significant
    Date: 2021–06–20
  9. By: Matthew Pflaum (University of Florida)
    Abstract: This study examines the geographical and temporal evolution of violence in which pastoralists are engaged. Building upon an analysis of over 36,000 violent events in North and West Africa between January 1997 and April 2020 in which 206 pastoralist groups were involved, this paper provides a regional report on wider patterns of pastoralist violence over the last two decades. Pastoralist violence has both expanded and intensified in the region, as is evidenced by the rapid increase in number of events and fatalities over the past decade. A comprehensive understanding of pastoralists’ roles in this violence is thus crucial to facilitating more effective polices towards sustainable peace.
    Keywords: North Africa, Pastoralism, political violence, security, West Africa
    JEL: Q34 N47 D74 R52
    Date: 2021–07–13
  10. By: Elmallakh, Nelly (World Bank); Wahba, Jackline (University of Southampton)
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of the legal status of overseas migrants on their wages upon return to the home country. Using unique data from Egypt, which allows us to distinguish between return migrants according to their type of international migration, documented versus undocumented, we examine the impact of the illegal status on wages upon return. Relying on a conditional mixed process model, which takes into account the selection into emigration, into return, and into the legal status of temporary migration, we find that, upon return, undocumented migrants witness a wage penalty compared to documented migrants, as well as relative to non-migrants. Our results are the first to show the impact of undocumented migration on the migrant upon return to the country of origin.
    Keywords: return migration, undocumented migration, illegality, wages, Egypt
    JEL: F22 J30
    Date: 2021–06
  11. By: Dias, Mateus; Fontes, Luiz Felipe
    Abstract: This paper studies the Brazilian psychiatric reform, which reorganized mental healthcare provision by the public system building a network of community-based services centered on the Psychosocial Care Centers (CAPSs). Our research design exploits the roll-out of CAPSs in a differences-in-differences framework. We show that these centers improved outpatient mental healthcare utilization and reduced hospital admissions due to mental and behavioral disorders. Those reductions were more pronounced for long-stay admissions and among patients with schizophrenia. Additionally, centers delivering substance abuse treatment reduced deaths caused by alcoholic liver disease. Finally, we also find that this shift away from inpatient care increased homicides.
    Keywords: Mental Health, Community care, Psychiatric Reform, CAPS
    JEL: I10 I12 I18
    Date: 2020–11
  12. By: Echeverría, Lucía; Molina, José Alberto
    Abstract: Evidence suggests that household responses to price and income changes are significantly sensitive across income levels and rural-urban location. In this paper, we focus on poor households vs. non-poor households using two definitions of poverty, objective and subjective. We evaluate the differential responses of poor households vs. non-poor households to changes in food expenditures and prices and simulate the welfare losses from food price changes across poverty definitions. We use the QUAIDS model to estimate food elasticities with data from the National Expenditure and Household Income Survey, 2016-2017, from Uruguay. Expenditure elasticities at the food level reveal that bread and dairy products are a necessity-food category, regardless of the poverty status and across poverty definitions, while beverages are a luxury good. The demand sensitivity for the rest of the food categories differs by poverty status and poverty definitions. Uncompensated own-price elasticities indicate that when poverty is defined objectively, then changes in demand due to changes in price are greater for poor households (except for meat products). However, poor households, under the subjective definition, are more sensitive than non-poor households only to changes in beverage prices. Additionally, changes in household economic welfare due to price increases vary according to poverty status. On average, the percentage of total income needed to avoid a loss in economic welfare of poor households, defined by the objective method, is double that required by the non-poor households, for all price changes. However, differences are much smaller when using the subjective approach to measure poverty.
    Keywords: Poverty,Food consumption,Demand system,Welfare,Uruguay
    JEL: D12 I31 I32
    Date: 2021
  13. By: Alex Armand; Britta Augsburg; Antonella Bancalari
    Abstract: Poorly maintained public infrastructure is common in poorer countries, but very little is known about the obstacles leading to such equilibrium. By experimentally identifying the impact of incentives for maintenance for both providers and potential users, this paper provides one of the first economic analyses of provider–user dynamics in the presence of local coordination failure. We randomly allocate shared sanitation facilities in two major Indian cities to either a control or two treatments: the first incentivizes maintenance among providers, while the second adds a sensitization campaign about the returns of a well-maintained facility among potential users. Using a wide range of survey, behavioral and objective measurements, we show that maintenance does not favor collective action. The treatments raise the quality of facilities and reduce free riding, but at the cost of user selection, with consequences for public health. While potential users’ willingness to pay and cooperation are unaffected, their demand for public intervention increases. Sensitization raises awareness among potential users, but does not alter their behavior.
    Keywords: Infrastructure, maintenance, free riding, willingness to pay, basic services, water and sanitation, information, health.
    JEL: D12 C39 I15 I18 O18 Q53
    Date: 2021
  14. By: Aroop Chatterjee (WITS - University of the Witwatersrand [Johannesburg]); Léo Czajka (UCL - Université Catholique de Louvain); Amory Gethin (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, WIL - World Inequality Lab)
    Abstract: This paper estimates the distribution of personal wealth in South Africa by combining microdata covering the universe of income tax returns, household surveys, and macroeconomic balance sheets statistics. We document unparalleled levels of wealth concentration. The top 10% own 86% of aggregate wealth and the top 0.1% close to one third. The top 0.01% of the distribution (3,500 individuals) concentrate 15% of household net worth, more than the bottom 90% as a whole. Such levels of inequality can be accounted for in all forms of assets at the top end, including housing, pension funds and financial assets. We find no sign of decreasing inequality since the end of apartheid. This article is arevisedversion of the article"Estimating the Distribution of Household Wealth in South Africa"(World Inequality Lab Working Paper 2020/06)
    Date: 2021–06
  15. By: Benito Arruñada; Marco Fabbri; Michael Faure
    Abstract: We study a large-scale land titling reform implemented as a randomized control-trial to isolate its causal effects on litigation. The reform consisted of demarcating land parcels, registering existing customary rights, and granting additional legal protection to rightholders. We find that, ten years after implementation, the reform doubled the likelihood of households experiencing land-related litigation, but disputes do not escalate into more frequent violent episodes. We suggest that this litigation increase is likely to reflect the complementarity of land titling by registration and by judicial procedures aimed at further clarifying property rights, as the reform registered titles to all parcels but left many of these titles subject to adverse claims. This raised the demand for complementary litigation aimed at perfecting titles for low value parcels which, under the customary system, it was individually optimal to keep unclarified. Consistent with this explanation, we find that the observed increase in litigation takes place among households characterized by low levels of wealth and market integration, who are likely to own land of lower value.
    Keywords: Experimental survey, informal institutions, land rights formalization, land tenure reform, litigation, randomized control trial
    JEL: K11 K4 Q15
    Date: 2021–07

This nep-dev issue is ©2021 by Jacob A. Jordaan. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.