nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2021‒10‒18
thirteen papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. How to Best Nudge Taxpayers? The Impact of a Tailored Letter Experiment in Eswatini By Santoro, Fabrizio; Groening, Edward; Mdluli, Winnie; Shongwe, Mbongeni
  2. Climate Shocks, Migration, and Labor Markets: A Gender Analysis from West Africa By Elmallakh, Nelly; Wodon, Quentin
  3. The Impact of the Crisis-inducted Reduction in Air Pollution on Infant Mortality in India: A Policy Perspective By Olexiy Kyrychenko
  4. School meals as a market for smallholder agriculture: Experimental evidence from Ghana By Gelli, Aulo; Masset, Edoardo; Adamba, Clement; Alderman, Harold; Arhinful, Daniel K.; Aurino, Elisabetta; Folson, Gloria; Osei-Akoto, Isaac; Asante, Felix A.
  5. Childbirth and women's labour market transitions in India (revised) By Rosa Abraham; Rahul Lahoti; Hema Swaminathan
  6. Revealing the diversity and complexity behind long-term income inequality in Latin America: a new dataset, 1920-2011 By Astorga Junquera, Pablo
  7. Cooperation in the commons: Community-based rangeland management in Namibia By D. Layne Coppock; Lucas Crowley; Susan L. Durham; Dylan Groves; Julian C. Jamison; Dean Karlan; Brien E. Norton; R. Douglas Ramsey
  8. Nutrition-sensitive social protection programs within food systems By Olney, Deanna K.; Gelli, Aulo; Kumar, Neha; Alderman, Harold; Go, Ara; Raza, Ahmed; Owens, Jessica; Grinspun, Alejandro; Bhalla, Garima; Benammour, Omar
  9. Promoting school readiness through a preschool feeding program: A nutritional nudge to improve at-risk preschooler’s cognitive development in Armenia By Knauer, Heather A.; Balasanyan, Sona; Bakhshinyan, Elmira; Alderman, Harold
  10. Toward Cleaner Production: Can Mobile Phone Technology Help Reduce Inorganic Fertilizer Application? Evidence Using a National Level Dataset By Nawab Khan; Ram L. Ray; Hazem S. Kassem; Muhammad Ihtisham; Abdullah; Simplice Asongu; Stephen Ansah; Shemei Zhang
  11. Effect of Trade on Income Inequality in sub-Saharan Africa: A note By Ogundari, Kolawole
  12. The Effect of Job Loss and Unemployment Insurance on Crime in Brazil By Diogo Britto; Paolo Pinotti; Breno Sampaio
  13. Interpreting the Caste-based Earning Gaps in the Indian Labour Market: Theil and Oaxaca Decomposition Analysis By Pallavi Gupta; Satyanarayan Kothe

  1. By: Santoro, Fabrizio; Groening, Edward; Mdluli, Winnie; Shongwe, Mbongeni
    Abstract: Very little is known about why taxpayers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remit their taxes. In collaboration with the Eswatini Revenue Authority (SRA), this study implements a nationwide randomised controlled trial nudging more than 20,000 income tax payers with behaviourally-informed mailings. This study attempts to shed new light on the drivers of SSA taxpayers’ compliance, and how can these be leveraged by resource-constrained tax authorities. While the tax nudge literature has boomed in OECD countries and Latin America, only a handful of studies can be found on SSA – this paper contributes significantly to these. First, thanks to the wealth of administrative data available, this study is the first of its kind to target three different categories of taxpayers at the same time – non-filers, nil-filers and active; most of the existing literature focusses on positive filers. Second, we tailor the content of letters to be specific to each taxpayer category. Third, we are able to target both companies and individuals, and explore heterogeneity of results along a number of dimensions, including past filing behaviour. We find that non-filers significantly respond to the nudges, while nil- and active filers do not. The best performing nudges build on the deterrence and taxpayer-assistance paradigms. Perverse responses are found from large companies. With the causal evidence produced, we are able to formulate policy recommendations on how best to target the complex ecosystem of income tax payers.
    Keywords: Economic Development, Finance, Governance,
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Elmallakh, Nelly; Wodon, Quentin
    Abstract: This paper investigates the effects of shocks, predominantly climate shocks, on labor market outcomes in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). We focus on migration ows within the WAEMU countries to disentangle the differential effects of shocks on migrants and non-migrants. Our analysis combines survey data from Ivory Coast|as the main migrant receiving country|and from all the other 7 migrant sending countries of the WAEMU. Using an OLS fixed effects model, our results show that migration in the WAEMU is associated with a decline in female labor participation, as it is primarily motivated by marriage. However, we find an increase in female labor force participation and a narrowing of the gender gap in migrant households that are negatively affected by shocks. Our findings relate to the literature on the impact of shocks on the labor division between women and men and show that shocks may disrupt long-standing gender roles. The results are robust to accounting for the double selection into shocks and migration using a Propensity Score Matching technique that allows for a within comparison between treated and untreated units.
    Keywords: shocks,migration,climate,employment,labor market,women,West Africa
    JEL: F22 J21 J43 J61 Q54
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Olexiy Kyrychenko
    Abstract: Credible estimates of the health effects associated with changes in air pollution exposure are of considerable importance for research and policy agendas, especially for developing countries. This paper estimates the impact of the sharp reduction in particulate air pollution driven by the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 on district-level infant mortality in India. Utilizing plausibly exogenous geographic variation in the crisis-induced changes in air quality and novel data from household surveys and satellite-based sources, I find that the infant mortality rate fell by 24% more in the most affected districts, implying 1338 fewer infant deaths than would have occurred in the absence of the crisis. Analysis of the mechanisms indicates that the PM2.5 reductions affected infant mortality mainly through respiratory diseases and two biological mechanisms: in utero and postbirth PM2.5 exposure. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the estimated decline in infant mortality translates into a three-year after crisis total of 312.5 million U.S. dollars. The resulting health benefits could be used as a benchmark for assessing the effectiveness of the policies designed to improve air quality in India.
    Keywords: air pollution; infant mortality; crisis; India;
    JEL: Q53 I12 O13
    Date: 2021–09
  4. By: Gelli, Aulo; Masset, Edoardo; Adamba, Clement; Alderman, Harold; Arhinful, Daniel K.; Aurino, Elisabetta; Folson, Gloria; Osei-Akoto, Isaac; Asante, Felix A.
    Abstract: Governments and international development partners investing over $40 USD billion a year in school meals have shown interest in linking these programs with agriculture sector development, through what has become known as “Home-Grown†school feeding (HGSF). Nevertheless, evidence on the effectiveness of HGSF and agriculture is limited. This article reports on the findings of a three-year cluster randomized trial implemented in 58 districts of Ghana including a panel of 1,668 households. Communities were randomly assigned to 1) standard school meals; 2) HGSF or 3) control with no intervention. Post-intervention, the caterer-level analysis highlighted major challenges related to delayed program disbursements, resulting in a mismatch between budgeted and actual caterer outlay on food purchases per pupil equivalent to approximately 50% of the budgeted per child per day allocation. For caterers, by far the largest procurement channel was through traders, though there is evidence that HGSF may have increased the share of value purchased directly from smallholders. We find no strong evidence that the school feeding program or HGSF affected smallholders market structure, farm, non-farm and household income. When interpreting these null results, it is important to consider the findings of two parallel studies that showed positive effects of this national program on school children’s learning, cognition, and nutrition outcomes. The national program can still be considered as an effective social protection strategy with multiple objectives, even if the agriculture objectives remain aspirational.
    Keywords: GHANA; WEST AFRICA; AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA; AFRICA; school feeding; markets; smallholders; agriculture; impact assessment; school meals; school children; children; nutrition; intervention; home-grown school feeding; impact evaluation
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Rosa Abraham; Rahul Lahoti; Hema Swaminathan
    Abstract: The impact of childbirth on women's employment has been discussed extensively in the context of developed countries. Constraints on mothers' labour market participation and consequent fall in earnings are characterized as the 'motherhood penalty'. This phenomenon is relatively less explored in developing countries primarily because of the lack of suitable data. In this paper, we use primary data from India, collected via a life history calendar administered to men and women separately.
    Keywords: child penalty, Childbirth, event study, India, Motherhood, Labour market participation
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Astorga Junquera, Pablo
    Abstract: The period between 1920 and 1980 is of great importance for the study of inequality in Latin America because of the occurrence of state-led, protected industrialisation amid structural, demographic and institutional transformations. Although there are valuable contributions at the country level, the study of income inequality from a broad regional perspective has been hindered by limitations of comparable metrics. To address this gap a new dataset has been assembled including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela. The approach adopted distinguishes four occupational groups: the top group includes employers, managers and professionals; the remaining three groups are defined according to the workers' skill level, largely receiving wage income. This allows for the calculation of inequality between and within groups, as well as overall Ginis for all income and wage income. The frequency of the series is annual, making it possible to track closely inequality trajectories. Despite being a high-inequality region, this new evidence reveals great diversity of outcomes across the six countries and complexity within the occupational structure. There is no single inequality metric that captures the whole story. Looking forward, this dataset opens the door to undertake econometric analysis to unpick the inequality contribution of key drivers such as the terms of trade and structural change.
    Keywords: Income Inequality; Economic Development; Latin America
    JEL: O54 O15 J31
    Date: 2021–10–05
  7. By: D. Layne Coppock (Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University); Lucas Crowley (Innovations for Poverty Action); Susan L. Durham (Ecology Center, Utah State University); Dylan Groves (Department of Political Science, Columbia University); Julian C. Jamison (Department of Economics, University of Exeter); Dean Karlan (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University); Brien E. Norton (Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University); R. Douglas Ramsey (Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University)
    Abstract: Classic theories suggest that common pool resources are subject to overexploitation. Community-based resource management approaches may ameliorate "tragedy of the commons" effects. Using a randomized evaluation in Namibia's communal rangelands, we find that a comprehensive four-year program to support community-based rangeland and cattle management led to persistent and large improvements for eight of thirteen indices of social and behavioral outcomes. Effects on rangeland health, cattle productivity and household economics, however, were either negative or nil. Positive impacts on community resource management may have been offset by communities' inability to control grazing by non-participating herds and inhibited by an unresponsive rangeland sub-system. This juxtaposition, in which measurable improvements in community resource management did not translate into better outcomes for households or rangeland health, demonstrates the fragility of the causal pathway from program implementation to intended socioeconomic and environmental outcomes. It also points to challenges for improving climate change-adaptation strategies.
    JEL: C93 H41 O13 Q24 Q56
    Date: 2021–10–12
  8. By: Olney, Deanna K.; Gelli, Aulo; Kumar, Neha; Alderman, Harold; Go, Ara; Raza, Ahmed; Owens, Jessica; Grinspun, Alejandro; Bhalla, Garima; Benammour, Omar
    Abstract: Investments in social assistance programs (SAPs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are increasing. As investments increase, the objectives of these programs are expanding from focusing on reducing poverty to addressing other social issues such as improving diets and nutrition. At the same time, there is increasing interest in addressing all forms of malnutrition within the framework of food systems. Given the intersections between SAPs and food systems, we reviewed the effectiveness of SAPs (agriculture asset transfers, cash transfers, in-kind transfers, vouchers, public works and school meals programs) for reducing all forms of malnutrition across the lifecycle within a food systems framework. As several programs included multiple treatment arms, each representing a unique program design, we used study arm as the unit of analysis and assessed the proportion of study arms with positive or negative program impacts on diet and nutrition outcomes among men, women and children. The majority of the studies included in this review were from evaluations of agriculture asset, cash and in-kind transfer programs. There was clear evidence of positive impacts on women’s and children’s diet-related outcomes. Very few studies assessed program impact on women’s nutritional status outcomes. However, there was some evidence of impacts on increasing body mass index and hemoglobin concentration (Hb) with in-kind transfer programs. Among children, several study arms across the agriculture asset, cash and in-kind transfer programs found positive impacts on increasing height-for-age Z-score (33%-45% of study arms) and weight-for-height Z-score (33%-50% of study arms) and decreasing the prevalence of wasting (43%-60% of study arms). Cash and in-kind transfer programs also found positive effects on reducing stunting prevalence in 33% and 45% of study arms, respectively. Lastly, a few study arms assessed program impact on increasing Hb with some evidence of positive impacts in in-kind and school feeding programs. There was a paucity of relevant evidence of the effectiveness of voucher and public works programs on diet and nutrition outcomes, for men’s outcomes and on micronutrient status. Several challenges remain in understanding the potential for SAPs to improve diet and nutrition outcomes within food systems including the heterogeneity of program and evaluation designs, populations targeted by the programs and included in evaluations and indicators used to assess impact. Addressing these challenges in future evaluations is important for informing program and policy actions to improve the effectiveness of SAPs within food systems for improving diet and nutrition outcomes across the lifecycle.
    Keywords: nutrition; food systems; social protection; food supply chains; cash transfers; food enviroment; school feeding; social safety nets; in-kind transfers; social assistance
    Date: 2021
  9. By: Knauer, Heather A.; Balasanyan, Sona; Bakhshinyan, Elmira; Alderman, Harold
    Abstract: Many school feeding programs target child hunger, nutritional deficiencies, attendance, and education outcomes but often do not examine their effects on cognitive development. In this cluster-randomized controlled trial, we tested the effects of adding a morning snack to a school lunch program on the fluid intelligence of 951 children ages 4 to 6 years. While there were no significant effects on development overall, the morning snack improved short-term memory (STM) and total score on the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, Fourth Edition (WPPSI-IV) among children from the lowest quartile of household expenditures (STM: 0.35SD, p = 0.020; WPPSI-IV: 0.65SD, p = 0.087), and those whose mothers completed secondary school or less (STM: 0.35SD, p = 0.002; total WPPSI-IV: 0.81SD, p = 0.011). For at risk preschoolers, school snack programs may help meet their developmental needs.
    Keywords: ARMENIA; ASIA; school feeding; school meals; children; cognitive development; preschool children; nutrition; WPPSI
    Date: 2021
  10. By: Nawab Khan (Sichuan Agricultural University,Sichuan, China); Ram L. Ray (Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, USA); Hazem S. Kassem (King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia); Muhammad Ihtisham (Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China); Abdullah (PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Pakistan); Simplice Asongu (Yaoundé, Cameroon); Stephen Ansah (Sichuan Agricultural University, China); Shemei Zhang (Sichuan Agricultural University, China)
    Abstract: Increasing agricultural production and optimizing inorganic fertilizer (IF) use are imperative for agricultural and environmental sustainability. Mobile phone usage (MPU) has the potential to reduce IF application while ensuring environmental and agricultural sustainability goals. The main objectives of this study were to assess MPU, mobile phone promotion policy, and whether the mediation role of human capital can help reduce IF use. This study used baseline regression analysis and propensity score matching, difference-in-differences (PSM-DID) to assess the impact of MPU on IF usage. However, the two-stage instrumental variables method (IVM) was used to study the effects of mobile phone promotion policy on IF usage. This study used a national dataset from 7,987 rural households in Afghanistan to investigate the impacts of MPU and associated promotion policies on IF application. The baseline regression outcomes showed that the MPU significantly reduced IF usage. The evaluation mechanism revealed that mobile phones help reduce IF application by improving the human capital of farmers. Besides, evidence from the DID technique showed that mobile phone promotion policies lowered IF application. These results remained robust after applying the PSM-DID method and two-stage IVM to control endogenous decisions of rural households. This study results imply that enhancing the accessibility of wideband in remote areas, promoting MPU, and increasing investment in information communication technologies (ICTs) infrastructure can help decrease the IF application in agriculture. Thus, the government should invest in remote areas to facilitate access to ICTs, such as having a telephone and access to a cellular and internet network to provide an environment and facility to apply IF effectively. Further, particular policy support must focus on how vulnerable populations access the internet and mobile phone technologies.
    Keywords: mobile phone usage; propensity score matching; difference-in-difference; inorganic fertilizer usage; human capital; sustainable development; Afghanistan
    Date: 2021–01
  11. By: Ogundari, Kolawole
    Abstract: The paper examines the effect of trade on income inequality in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries. We employ a balanced panel of 11 countries covering 1980-2008 and use a fractional regression model for panel data as a method of estimation. The empirical results show that trade decreases income inequality, which might be an indication that our findings support the Stolper-Samuelson (SS) theorem in the Heckscher-Ohlin (HO) model in SSA. We also found evidence that lack of democracy (i.e., the existence of autocracy) increases income inequality, while higher educational attainment decreases income inequality in the study
    Keywords: fractional regression, income inequality, education, political right, trade, SSA
    JEL: E1 E6 F1 F18
    Date: 2021–10–14
  12. By: Diogo Britto (Diogo Britto); Paolo Pinotti (Paolo Pinotti); Breno Sampaio (Breno Sampaio)
    Abstract: We investigate the effect of job loss and unemployment benefits on crime, exploiting unique individual-level data on the universe of workers and criminal cases in Brazil over the 2009-2017 period. We find that the probability of criminal prosecution increases on average by 23% for workers displaced upon mass layoffs, and by slightly less for their cohabiting sons. Using causal forests, we show that the effect is driven entirely by young and low tenure workers, while there is no heterogeneity by education and income. Regression discontinuity estimates indicate that unemployment benefit eligibility completely offsets potential crime increases upon job loss, but this effect completely vanishes immediately after benefit expiration. Our findings point at liquidity constraints and psychological stress as main drivers of criminal behavior upon job loss, while substitution between time on the job and leisure does not seem to play an important role.
    Keywords: unemployment, crime, unemployment insurance, registry data
    JEL: K42 J63 J65
  13. By: Pallavi Gupta (BSE Institute Ltd., Mumbai, INDIA); Satyanarayan Kothe (Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy, University of Mumbai, INDIA)
    Abstract: The UN states that inequalities are determined along with income by other factors - gender, age, origin, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, class, and religion. India, since the ancient period, has socio-political stratification that induced socio-economic inequality and continued till now. There have been attempts to reduce socio-economic inequality through policy interventions since the first plan, still there are evidences of social and economic discrimination. This paper examines earning gaps between the forward castes and the traditionally disadvantaged caste workers in the Indian labour market using two distinct estimation methods. First, we interpret the inequality indicator of the Theil index and decompose Theil to show within and between-group inequalities. Second, a Threefold Oaxaca Decomposition is employed to break the earnings differentials into components of endowment, coefficient and interaction. Earnings gaps are examined separately in urban and rural divisions. Within-group, inequalities are found larger than between groups across variables; with a higher overall inequality for forward castes. A high endowment is observed which implies pre-market discrimination in human capital investment such as nutrition and education. Policymakers should first invest in basic quality education and simultaneously expand post-graduate diploma opportunities, subsequently increasing the participation in the labour force for the traditionally disadvantaged in disciplines and occupations where the forward castes have long dominated.
    Date: 2021–10

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