nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2023‒03‒27
twelve papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Long-Term Effects of Rainfall Shocks on Foundational Cognitive Skills: Evidence from Peru By Pazos, Nicolas; Favara, Marta; Sanchez, Alan; Scott, Douglas; Behrman, Jere R.
  2. Here Comes the Rain Again: Productivity Shocks, Educational Investments, and Child Work By Christophe Jalil Nordman; Smriti Sharma; Naveen Sunder
  3. Weather Shocks, Unconditional Cash Transfers and Household Food Outcomes By Ghulam Mustafa
  4. Cash Transfers and Labor Supply: New Evidence on Impacts and Mechanisms By Nguyen, Cuong Viet; Tarp, Finn
  5. Cash and Conflict: Large-Scale Experimental Evidence from Niger By Patrick Premand; Dominic Rohner
  6. Informality, Education-Occupation Mismatch, and Wages: Evidence from India By Shweta Bahl; Ajay Sharma
  7. Income inequality and household debt: Examining the impact of relative income on formal and informal debt in South Africa By Shakeba Foster
  8. A Mother’s Voice: Impacts of Spousal Communication Training on Child Health Investments By Martina Björkman-Nyqvist; Seema Jayachandran; Celine P. Zipfel
  9. The Impact of Computer-Assisted Instruction on Student Performance: Evidence from the Dual-Teacher Program By Li, Haizheng; Liu, Zhiqiang; Yang, Fanzheng; Yu, Li
  10. Donor Contracting Conditions and Public Procurement: Causal Evidence from Kenyan Electrification By Catherine Wolfram; Edward Miguel; Eric Hsu; Susanna B. Berkouwer
  11. Mothers at Peace: International Peacebuilding and Post-conflict Fertility By Vincenzo Bove; Jessica Di Salvtore; Lenadro Elia; Roberto Nisticò
  12. Cooperative Property Rights and Development: Evidence from Land Reform in El Salvador: A Comment By Kjelsrud, Anders; Kotsadam, Andreas; Rogeberg, Ole

  1. By: Pazos, Nicolas (University of Nottingham); Favara, Marta (University of Oxford); Sanchez, Alan (Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE)); Scott, Douglas (University of Oxford); Behrman, Jere R. (University of Pennsylvania)
    Abstract: Global warming is changing precipitation patterns, harming communities strongly tied to agricultural production, particularly in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs). Whilst the long-term effects of being exposed to rainfall shocks early in life on school achievement tests are well-established, there is little population-based evidence from LMICs on the mechanisms through which these shocks operate. This paper analyses the effects of early exposure to rainfall shocks on four foundational cognitive skills (FCSs), including executive functions (EF) that have been found to be key predictors of educational success. These skills were measured via a series of tablet-based tasks administered in Peru as part of the Young Lives longitudinal study (YLS). We combine the YLS data with gridded data on monthly precipitation to generate monthly, community-level rainfall estimates. The key identification strategy relies on temporary climatic shocks being uncorrelated with other latent determinants of FCS development. Our results show significant negative effects of early life exposure to rainfall shocks on EF. We also find evidence of rainfall shocks decreasing households' abilities to invest in human capital, which may affect both FCS and domain-specific test scores. Interestingly, social policies providing affected households with additional resources partially offset the effects of the rainfall shocks.
    Keywords: skills formation, human capital, rainfall, Peru, early childhood
    JEL: J24 Q54 I24 I14
    Date: 2023–02
  2. By: Christophe Jalil Nordman (IRD [France-Nord] - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, IFP - Institut Français de Pondichéry - MEAE - Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, DIAL - Développement, institutions et analyses de long terme); Smriti Sharma; Naveen Sunder
    Abstract: This study uses household-level panel data from a nationally representative survey to estimate the effect of agricultural productivity shocks—as proxied by exogenous annual rainfall deviations—on education expenditures and children's work status in rural India. We find that a transitory increase in rainfall significantly reduces education expenditures and increases the likelihood of child labor across multiple work activities. Additionally, households owning land and those with better credit access increase the use of child labor as rainfall increases because labor (and land) markets are incomplete. The effects of productivity shocks are reinforced for marginalized castes and for less educated households, thereby exacerbating inequalities in education.
    Date: 2022–04–01
  3. By: Ghulam Mustafa (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics)
    Abstract: Weather shocks have become a colossal threat to Pakistan due to its limited financial and technical ability to mitigate and adapt to extreme weather events. These threats are expected to be increasingly scaled up in the coming years. Food insecurity is one of the most significant aspects of household wellbeing, directly affected by climatic variability. The ultra-poor segment of households is highly susceptible to increasing weather shocks. In such a scenario, the role of the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) cash transfer scheme is inevitably essential.
    Keywords: Weather Shocks, Cash Transfers, Household Food,
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Nguyen, Cuong Viet; Tarp, Finn
    Abstract: We study the impact of a national cash transfer program in Vietnam on labor supply using large household surveys and a regression-discontinuity design based on discontinuity in age eligibility. We do not find evidence of a disincentive effect of the cash transfer on labor supply for adults aged 15-64. More importantly, we find robust evidence that the transfer program causes the adults to move from self-employed non-farm work to wage-paying jobs. A likely mechanism is that the transfer program reduces the labor force participation of older people, and they help housework and childcare for younger adults to have wage-paying jobs.
    Keywords: Cash transfer, social security, employment, labor market participation, Vietnam
    JEL: J22 N35 H55
    Date: 2023
  5. By: Patrick Premand; Dominic Rohner
    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 O17
    Date: 2023
  6. By: Shweta Bahl; Ajay Sharma
    Abstract: This article examines the intertwining relationship between informality and education-occupation mismatch and the consequent impact on wages. In particular, we discuss two issues: first, the relative importance of informality and education-occupation mismatch in determining wages, and second, the relevance of EOM for formal and informal workers. The analysis reveals that although both informality and EOM are significant determinants of wages, the former is more crucial for a developing country like India. Further, we find that EOM is one of the crucial determinants of wages for formal workers, but it is not critical for informal workers. The study highlights the need for considering the bifurcation of formal-informal workers to understand the complete dynamics of EOM, especially for developing countries where informality is predominant.
    Date: 2023–02
  7. By: Shakeba Foster
    Abstract: How does income inequality impact the propensity for and levels of formal and informal household debt? This paper assesses this question using the two most recent waves of the South African Living Conditions Survey. A range of linear models as well as a zero-inflated Poisson model are employed, and inequality is measured by a household relative deprivation index, comparing households within provinces.
    Keywords: Income inequality, Household income, Debt
    Date: 2023
  8. By: Martina Björkman-Nyqvist; Seema Jayachandran; Celine P. Zipfel
    Abstract: Building on prior evidence that mothers often have a stronger preference for spending on children than fathers do, we use a randomized experiment to evaluate the impacts of a communication training program for mothers on child health in Uganda. The hypothesis is that the training will enable women to better convey their knowledge and preferences to their husbands and, thereby, boost investments in children's health. We find that the program increases spousal discussion about the family's health, nutrition, and finances. However, this does not increase overall adoption of health-promoting behaviors or improve child anthropometrics. One exception is that the communication training increases women's and children’s intake of protein-rich foods as well as household spending on these foods.
    JEL: D10 I12 O12
    Date: 2023–02
  9. By: Li, Haizheng (Georgia Tech); Liu, Zhiqiang (University at Buffalo, SUNY); Yang, Fanzheng (Central University of Finance and Economics Beijing); Yu, Li (Central University of Finance and Economics)
    Abstract: We present findings from an evaluation study of the Dual-Teacher program, a computer- assisted instruction program, that makes lecture videos and other teaching resources from an elite urban middle school available through the internet to schools in poor and remote areas in China. The unique design of the study allows us to not just estimate the effect of the program on student performance but distinguish the direct effect coming from students' exposure to the lecture videos in class and the indirect effect due to improved instruction quality of the local teacher who uses the lecture videos in lesson preparation. Using the difference-in-differences method, we find that the Dual-Teacher program improves student performance in math by 0.978 standard deviations over the three-year middle school education, of which 0.343 standard deviations are attributable to the indirect effect. We also find that the positive impacts of the program are cumulative and robust to student and teacher characteristics as well as a plethora of other considerations. From a policy perspective, our findings suggest that the Dual-Teacher program is an effective and low cost means to improve education outcomes in underserved areas and hence help close cross-region gaps in education.
    Keywords: computer-assisted instruction, computer-assisted learning, education policy, inequality
    JEL: I21 I24 I28 O15
    Date: 2023–02
  10. By: Catherine Wolfram; Edward Miguel; Eric Hsu; Susanna B. Berkouwer
    Abstract: There is limited causal evidence on the effects of different public procurement regulations on project quality and value-for-money for projects funded by national governments and foreign aid donors. This paper uses policy and experimental variation to study how two key contracting features—namely, contract bundling and monitoring—affect outcomes of a large economic development project. We leverage an unusual feature of Kenya’s nationwide electrification program: the quasi-random allocation of multilateral funding sources across nearby villages. African Development Bank (AfDB) projects used bundled contracts while the World Bank (WB) employed unbundled contracts together with strengthened inspections. To measure impacts, we collect on-the-ground engineering assessments, power quality data, household surveys, and analyze original contracts. The analysis suggests a stark trade-off: WB procedures delayed construction completion by 16 months relative to AfDB sites but improved construction quality by a sizeable 0.6 standard deviations. To disentangle the effects of contract bundling versus monitoring, we conducted randomized audits that enhanced monitoring. The audits improve household connectivity, network size, and voltage at AfDB sites, but have no impact at WB sites, suggesting monitoring and unbundling contracts may be substitutes. Given the apparent trade-off, we investigate how net benefits depend on policymaker time preferences and infrastructure longevity.
    JEL: D73 F35 H5 L94 O19
    Date: 2023–02
  11. By: Vincenzo Bove (University of Warwick); Jessica Di Salvtore (University of Warwick); Lenadro Elia (Marche Polytechnic University.); Roberto Nisticò (Università di Napoli Federico II, CSEF and IZA)
    Abstract: A considerable body of empirical evidence indicates that conflict affects reproductive behaviour, often resulting in an increased fertility rate due to higher child mortality and limited access to healthcare services. Yet, we know much less about the effect of peace in a post-conflict setting. This study explores how the external provision of security affects fertility rates by focusing on the UN intervention in Liberia. By combining birth history data from three rounds of the Demographic and Health Survey with information on road distance to UN military compounds, we find that women who live in the proximity of peacekeepers have lower fertility rates in the deployment period. We find that this is due to parents prioritizing quality over quantity as peacekeepers improve maternal and child health and encourages family planning by (i) enabling donors and humanitarian actor to deliver infrastructures and services, and (ii) facilitating citizens’ access to such services.
    Keywords: conflict; fertility; maternal health; child health; UN operations.
    JEL: J16 J24 D74 F50
    Date: 2023–02–22
  12. By: Kjelsrud, Anders; Kotsadam, Andreas; Rogeberg, Ole
    Abstract: Montero (2022) explores a discontinuity in a land reform in El Salvador and reports two main findings. First, relative to outside-owned haciendas operated by contract workers, the productivity of worker-owned cooperatives is higher for staple crops and lower for cash-crop. Second, cooperative property rights increase workers' incomes and compress wage distributions. In this comment, we show that the latter result rests on two mistakes: three-quarters of the observations are duplicates and income inequality is calculated over too few workers to be meaningful. When corrected, the data sources and research design provide no credible evidence regarding the causal effects of ownership structure on income levels and inequality.
    Date: 2023

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