nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2023‒03‒20
ten papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. What Makes a Program Good? Evidence from Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs in Five Developing Countries By Marina Bassi; Lelys Dinarte-Diaz; Maria Marta Ferreyra; Sergio Urzua
  2. Rebel Governance and Development: The Persistent Effects of Distrust in El Salvador By Antonella Bandiera; Lelys Dinarte-Diaz; Juan Miguel Jimenez; Sandra V. Rozo; Maria Micaela Sviatschi
  3. Mind your language: Political discourse affects deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon By Magalhães de Oliveira, Gustavo; Sellare, Jorge; Börner, Jan
  4. Cash and Conflict – Large-Scale Experimental Evidence from Niger By Patrick Premand; Dominic Rohner
  5. The Contribution of Short-Cycle Programs to Student Outcomes: Evidence from Colombia By Lelys Dinarte-Diaz; Maria Marta Ferreyra; Tatiana Melguizo; Angelica Sanchez
  6. The Fertility Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Structural Change By Büttner, Nicolas; Grimm, Michael; Günther, Isabel; Harttgen, Kenneth; Klasen, Stephan
  7. Rainy days and learning outcomes: Evidence from sub-saharan Africa By Y. Bekkouche; Kenneth Houngbedji; Oswald Koussihouede
  8. The Political Economy of Slum Growth: Evidence from Brazil By Alves, Guillermo
  9. Intergenerational Persistence of Health: Evidence from India By Kumar, Santosh; Nahlen, Bernard
  10. International Commodity Prices Transmission to Consumer Prices in Africa By Thibault Lemaire; Paul Vertier

  1. By: Marina Bassi; Lelys Dinarte-Diaz; Maria Marta Ferreyra; Sergio Urzua
    Abstract: Short-cycle higher education programs (SCPs) can play a central role in skill development and higher education expansion, yet their quality varies greatly within and among countries. In this paper we explore the relationship between programs’ practices and inputs (quality determinants) and student academic and labor market outcomes. We design and conduct a novel survey to collect program-level information on quality determinants and average outcomes for Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Peru. Categories of quality determinants include training and curriculum, infrastructure, faculty, link with productive sector, costs and funding, and practices on student admission and institutional governance. We also collect administrative, student-level data on higher education and formal employment for SCP students in Brazil and Ecuador and match it to survey data. Using machine learning methods, we select the quality determinants that predict outcomes at the program and student levels. Estimates indicate that some quality determinants may favor academic and labor market outcomes while others may hinder them. Two practices predict improvements in all labor market outcomes in Brazil and Ecuador—teaching numerical competencies and providing job market information—and one practice—teaching numerical competencies—additionally predicts improvements in labor market outcomes for all survey countries. Since quality determinants account for 20-40 percent of the explained variation in student-level outcomes, quality determinants might have a role shrinking program quality gaps. Findings have implications for the design and replication of high-quality SCPs, their regulation, and the development of information systems.
    Keywords: higher education, short-cycle degrees, quality
    JEL: I22 I23 I26 J24
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Antonella Bandiera (ITAM); Lelys Dinarte-Diaz (Development Research Group, The World Bank); Juan Miguel Jimenez (University of British Columbia); Sandra V. Rozo (Development Research Group, The World Bank); Maria Micaela Sviatschi (Princeton University, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: How does rebel governance affect long-term development? Rebel forces have controlled territory and imposed their own institutions in many countries over the past decades affecting millions of people. We investigate the economic, social, and political consequences of temporary territorial control by guerrillas during the Salvadoran Civil War. During that time, guerrillas displaced state authorities and created their own informal institutions that encouraged autonomy and self-sufficiency from the state and external actors. Using a spatial regression discontinuity design, we show that areas once under guerrilla control have experienced worse economic outcomes over the last 20 years than adjacent areas controlled by the formal state. Our results suggest that reliance on non-state governance reinforced norms of distrust of external actors, producing overdependence on subsistence farming and disengagement from postwar governments. Results do not revert despite increased postwar public investment in formerly guerrilla areas. We argue that when non-state actors develop alternative governance institutions, these can prompt adverse development effects through lasting norms of distrust of out-groups.
    Keywords: Armed non-state actors, norms, economic development
    JEL: N3 O10
    Date: 2023–02
  3. By: Magalhães de Oliveira, Gustavo; Sellare, Jorge; Börner, Jan
    Abstract: Land users make decisions in an increasingly dynamic environment. Changes in expectations are driven by market and non-market factors, but research on market related drivers of land use change so far dominates in the literature. This paper examines how political discourses affect deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon region. Relying on novel data from Twitter, we present the first causal evidence of political discourse on deforestation. Our analysis relies on municipal level monthly panel data for 2019 with alternative remotely sensed measures of forest loss and vegetation fires as outcome variables. The effect of political discourse on these outcomes is identified using a shift-share regression approach. High exposure to laissez-faire political discourses increases forest loss by 2.3-3%, and fires by 2.2%. Our findings are robust across land tenure regimes, varying levels of policy enforcement, and alternative shift-share measures. Moreover, excluding dry season periods from the analysis does not change the main result. Land use in the Brazilian Amazon is highly sensitive to whether, how, and when authorities communicate their will to enforce environmental policy regulations. ‘Walking the talk’ remains imperative to protect the world’s tropical forests, but this study suggests that policy makers must carefully choose their words while walking.
    Keywords: Environmental Economics and Policy
    Date: 2023–03–06
  4. By: Patrick Premand (Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) Department, World Bank); Dominic Rohner (University of Lausanne and CEPR)
    Abstract: Conflict undermines development, while poverty, in turn, breeds conflict. Policy interventions such as cash transfers could lower engagement in conflict by raising poor households’ welfare and productivity. However, cash transfers may also trigger appropriation or looting of cash or assets. The expansion of government programs may further attract attacks to undermine state legitimacy. To investigate the net effect across these forces, this paper studies the impact of cash transfers on conflict in Niger. The analysis relies on the large-scale randomization of a government-led cash transfer program among nearly 4, 000 villages over seven years, combined with geo-referenced conflict events that draw on media and nongovernmental organization reports from a wide variety of international and domestic sources. The findings show that cash transfers did not result in greater pacification but—if anything—triggered a short-term increase in conflict events, which were to a large extent driven by terrorist attacks by foreign rebel groups (such as Boko Haram) that could have incentives to “sabotage” successful government programs.
    Keywords: Conflict, Terrorism, Cash Transfers, Sahel
    JEL: D74 I38
    Date: 2023–02
  5. By: Lelys Dinarte-Diaz; Maria Marta Ferreyra; Tatiana Melguizo; Angelica Sanchez
    Abstract: Short-cycle higher education programs (SCPs), lasting two or three years, capture about a quarter of higher education enrollment in the world and can play a key role enhancing workforce skills. In this paper, we estimate the program-level contribution of SCPs to student academic and labor market outcomes, and study how and why these contributions vary across programs. We exploit unique administrative data from Colombia on the universe of students, institutions, and programs to control for a rich set of student, peer, and local choice set characteristics. We find that program-level contributions account for about 60-70 percent of the variation in student-level graduation and labor market outcomes. Our estimates show that programs vary greatly in their contributions, across and especially within fields of study. Moreover, the estimated contributions are strongly correlated with program outcomes but not with other commonly used quality measures. Programs contribute more to formal employment and wages when they are longer, have been provided for a longer time, are taught by more specialized institutions, and are offered in larger cities.
    Keywords: short-cycle programs, value added, quality, higher education
    JEL: I22 I23 I26 J24
    Date: 2023
  6. By: Büttner, Nicolas (ETH Zurich); Grimm, Michael (University of Passau); Günther, Isabel (ETH Zurich); Harttgen, Kenneth (ETH Zurich); Klasen, Stephan (University of Göttingen)
    Abstract: Despite the recent economic growth in many countries on the African continent, the region has seen a slow fertility transition. In this study, we explore whether the lack of structural economic change can explain this slow fertility transition. We create a unique panel data set combining Demographic and Health Surveys, Household Income Surveys, and nighttime light intensity data, as an indicator for industrialization, from 57 countries at the sub-national regional level over three decades to analyze the driving forces of fertility transitions across low- and middle-income countries. Our results confirm that household wealth, reduced child mortality, and female basic education are crucial for fertility reductions. Yet, our analysis also highlights the important role of increased female labor force participation in the formal sector, industrialization, increased female secondary education, and the expansion of health insurance coverage. Urbanization appears to have a limited, if any, effect. Our simulations indicate that if high-fertility countries in sub-Saharan Africa had experienced similar structural economic change as low- and middle-income countries with low fertility, their fertility levels could be up to 50% lower.
    Keywords: demographic transition, fertility, structural change, human capital, sub-Saharan Africa
    JEL: D13 J11 J13 J22 O12
    Date: 2023–02
  7. By: Y. Bekkouche; Kenneth Houngbedji (DIAL - Développement, institutions et analyses de long terme, LEDa - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Oswald Koussihouede
    Abstract: We combined information on daily rainfall at school locations and standardized test scores to study how learning outcomes at primary schools are affected by precipitation during school days in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our results suggest that student test scores are lower in schools that are exposed to more rainy days during the academic year. Students in locations that had more rainy school days are also more likely to experience grade repetition. We tested the mechanisms through which rainfall affects learning outcomes in our study area and found that teachers are more likely to be absent in locations with more rainy school days. We discuss the implications of these results and draw attention to policy options to mitigate learning loss during rainy school days.
    Keywords: Education, Children, Climate, I21, Q54
    Date: 2023–01–30
  8. By: Alves, Guillermo
    Abstract: One-fourth of the world’s urban population lives in slums and the number of slum residents grew from 650 million in 1990 to 1 billion in 2018. Existing explanations for slum growth focus on rural-urban migration and poverty. While these factors are relevant for rapidly urbanizing low-income countries, slum growth is frequent in highly urbanized, middle-income countries in Latin America. This paper provides evidence from Brazil that local government actions can increase slum growth without changes in poverty or immigration. Using a regression discontinuity design in close elections, I find that victories by a center-left, pro-poor party in the 2000 municipal election strongly increased the share of households living in slums in 2010 compared to 2000. I explore the mechanisms behind this result with a novel panel of census tracts and data on municipalities’ policies, expenditures, and sociodemographics. A more permissive attitude towards the formation of new slums is the main candidate to explain the observed effect.
    Keywords: Economía, Investigación socioeconómica, Pobreza, Vivienda,
    Date: 2023
  9. By: Kumar, Santosh (University of Notre Dame); Nahlen, Bernard (University of Notre Dame)
    Abstract: Using nationally representative data, we estimate intergenerational persistence in health in India. Results from the instrumental variable method show that children of anemic mothers are more likely to be anemic, with an intergenerational health correlation of 0.26. Results are robust to the inclusion of confounding factors including the mother's height. We find that the correlation between mothers' anemic status and children's anemic status differs by wealth quintile, indicating that economic status may play a role in the persistence of poor health across generations in developing countries.
    Keywords: intergenerational mobility, health, anemia, India
    JEL: I10 I14 O15
    Date: 2023–02
  10. By: Thibault Lemaire (UP1 UFR02 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - École d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Paul Vertier (Banque de France - Banque de France - Banque de France)
    Abstract: Global commodity prices spikes can have strong macroeconomic effects, particularly in developing countries. This paper estimates the global commodity prices pass-through to consumer price inflation in Africa. Our sample includes monthly data for 48 countries over the period 2002m02-2021m04. We consider 17 commodity prices separately to take into account both the heterogeneity in price variations and the cross-correlations between them, and to depart from aggregate indices that use weights unrepresentative of consumption in African countries. Using local projections in a panel dataset, we find a maximum passthrough of 24%, and a long-run pass-through of about 20%, higher than usually found in the literature. We also consider country-specific regressions to test whether estimated pass-through are related to countries' observable characteristics.
    Keywords: Commodity prices, food prices, energy prices, inflation, pass-through, Africa
    Date: 2023–01–18

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