nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2023‒04‒17
ten papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Conducting (Long-term) Impact Evaluations in Humanitarian and Conflict Settings: Evidence from a complex agricultural intervention in Syria By Aysegül Kayaoglu; Ghassan Baliki; Tilman Brück
  2. The Protective Role of Index Insurance in the Experience of Violent Conflict: Evidence from Ethiopia By Tekalign Gutu Sakketa; Dan Maggio; John McPeak
  3. Large-Scale Education Reform in General Equilibrium: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from India: Comment By David Roodman
  4. Predicting Poverty with Missing Incomes By Paolo Verme
  5. Murder nature: Weather and violent crime in rural Brazil By Phoebe W. Ishak
  6. How does Monitoring and Evaluation Affect Racial Health Inequality? Evidence from PMAQ Program in Brazil By Chen, Taoshan
  7. School-based malaria chemoprevention as a cost-effective approach to improve cognitive and educational outcomes: a meta-analysis By Noam Angrist; Matthew C. H. Jukes; Sian Clarke; R. Matthew Chico; Charles Opondo; Donald Bundy; Lauren M. Cohee
  8. Health Insurance and Agricultural Investments: Evidence from Rural Thailand By Liu, K.; Prommawin, B.; Schroyen, F.
  9. Exploring Micronutrient Deficiency Risks in Africa using Projections of the Food System By Gabriel, Sherwin
  10. Does ICT access and usage reduce growth inefficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa? By Désiré Avom; Gilles Dufrénot; Sylvie Eyeffa

  1. By: Aysegül Kayaoglu (ISDC - International Security and Development Center, Germany; Department of Economics, Istanbul Technical University, Türkiye; IMIS, University of Osnabrück, Germany); Ghassan Baliki (ISDC - International Security and Development Center, Germany); Tilman Brück (Humboldt-University of Berlin, Germany; ISDC - International Security and Development Center, Berlin, Germany; Thaer-Institute, Humboldt-University of Berlin, Germany; Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ), Germany)
    Abstract: The number of vulnerable people in humanitarian emergencies worldwide is increasing due to the rising frequency and intensity of risk exposure. At the same time, most interventions in humanitarian emergency and conflict settings (HECS) are short-term in nature, as if people only require temporary help to overcome adversity. Yet there is an acute scarcity of rigorous impact evaluations in HECS testing if assistance works well (or at all). Moreover, the few available studies only cover a small range of countries and contexts. Furthermore, the knowledge gap concerning the long-term impacts of crisis interventions is even more pronounced. These gaps are primarily caused by the unavailability of (long-term) panel data in emergencies and by the challenges of constructing feasible counterfactuals. Our paper contributes to the literature in four ways. First, we review recent research on covariate balancing to assist researchers in conducting a rigorous impact evaluation in HECS with non-randomized treatment assignments and significant covariate imbalances between the treatment and control groups due to targeting. We thus suggest methods to overcome the challenges associated with conflict or humanitarian contexts. Second, employing a range of such methods for one case study, we offer rigorous evidence on the long-term causal impacts of agricultural interventions in a humanitarian crisis setting. Third, we show that agricultural or livestock interventions have different impacts in the long term, which implies that the combined interventions might have a more sustainable impact on households. In other words, our analyses demonstrate that short-term humanitarian assistance can indeed have long-term development impacts. Fourth, we offer innovative evidence for the case of Syria, using unique panel data with four waves of treated and untreated households, thus expanding the range of countries ever studied in the literature on humanitarian emergencies.
    Keywords: causal inference, matching, entropy balancing, conflict, food security, resilience, agricultural interventions
    JEL: C18 C3 D1 I31 O13 Q1
    Date: 2023–03
  2. By: Tekalign Gutu Sakketa (German Institute of Development and Sustainability); Dan Maggio (Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University); John McPeak (Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University)
    Abstract: Droughts are among the leading causes of livestock mortality and conflict among pastoralist populations in east africa. To foster climate resiliency in these populations, index based livestock insurance (ibli) products have become popular. These products, which allow herders to hedge climate risk, often utilize remote-sensed data to trigger indemnity payouts, thus ameliorating moral hazard issues associated with standard insurance products. We study how one such program, implemented in the southern ethiopia, impacted the experience of violent conflict among participating households. Using causal mediation analysis, we show first that there is a strong link between rangeland conditions and violent conflict; a one-unit decrease in the standardized normalized difference vegetation index (zndvi) in the previous season is associated with a 0.3-1.7 percentage point increase in the likelihood of conflict exposure. Within the mediation framework, we leverage a randomized encouragement experiment and show that insurance uptake reduces the conflict risk created by poor rangeland conditions by between 17 and 50 percent. Our results suggest that social protection programs, particularly index insurance programs, may act as a protective factor in areas with complex risk profiles, where households are exposed to both climatic and conflict risks, which themselves may interact.
    Keywords: pastoralism, conflict, weather, index insurance, causal mediation
    JEL: D74 G52 O13 Q54
    Date: 2023–03
  3. By: David Roodman
    Abstract: This paper reanalyzes Khanna (2023), which studies labor market effects of schooling in India through a regression discontinuity design. In graphical preliminaries, reversing overrides of the plotting software's defaults greatly reduces the appearance of discontinuities. Absent from the data are four districts close to the discontinuity; restoring them cuts the reduced-form impacts on schooling and log wages by 62% and 75%. Using a consistent variance estimator, and clustering it at the geographic unit of treatment, further weakens the inference of positive impact. The estimates of general equilibrium effects and elasticities of substitution are not unbiased and have effectively infinite variance.
    Date: 2023–03
  4. By: Paolo Verme (World Bank)
    Abstract: Poverty prediction models are used by economists to address missing data issues in a variety of contexts such as poverty profiling, targeting with proxy-means tests, cross-survey imputations such as poverty mapping, or vulnerability analyses. Based on the models used by this literature, this paper conducts an experiment by artificially corrupting data with different patterns and shares of missing incomes. It then compares the capacity of classic econometric and machine learning models to predict poverty under these different scenarios. It finds that the quality of predictions and the choice of the optimal prediction model are dependent on the distribution of observed and unobserved incomes, the poverty line, the choice of objective function and policy preferences, and various other modeling choices. Logistic and random forest models are found to be more robust than other models to variations in these features, but no model invariably outperforms all others. The paper concludes with some reflections on the use of these models for predicting poverty.
    Keywords: Income modeling, Income Distributions, Poverty Predictions
    JEL: D31 D63 E64 O15
    Date: 2023–03
  5. By: Phoebe W. Ishak (AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: This paper examines the effect of weather shocks on violent crime using disaggregated data from Brazilian municipalities over the period 1991–2015. Employing a distributed lag model that takes into account temporal correlations of weather shocks and spatial correlation of crime rates, I document that adverse weather shocks in the form of droughts lead to a significant increase in violent crime in rural regions. This effect appears to persist beyond the growing season and over the medium run in contrast to the conventional view perceiving weather effects as transitory. To explain this persistence, I show that weather fluctuations are positively associated not only with agriculture yields, but also with the overall economic activity. Moreover, evidence shows the dominance of opportunity cost mechanism reflected in the fluctuations of the earnings especially for the agriculture and unskilled workers, giving credence that it is indeed the income that matters and not the general socio-economic conditions. Other factors such as local government budget capacity, (un)-employment, poverty, inequality, and psychological factors do not seem to explain violent crime rates.
    Keywords: Weather shocks, Violent crime, Labor market, Brazil
    Date: 2022–09
  6. By: Chen, Taoshan (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: This study provides novel evidence on how monitoring and evaluation affects racial health inequality, with data from the Primary Care Access and Quality (PMAQ) Program in Brazil. By using the heterogeneity-robust estimator from de Chaisemartin and D'Haultfoeuille (2022), this study considers the non-staggered and non-binary characteristics of the treatment. The results show that an increase in monitoring and evaluation intensity can reduce racial health inequality, achieved by improving the health conditions for non-white individuals and deterioration of the health conditions for white individuals. It is suggested for policy makers to increase the allocation of health resources to ensure that while racial health inequality is reduced, both white and non-white individuals can benefit from an improvement in primary health care, rather than narrowing the gap by reducing the quality of care for one group.
    Keywords: Racial Health Inequality ; Monitoring and Evaluation ; Primary Care Access and Quality (PMAQ) Program JEL classifications: I14 ; I18
    Date: 2023
  7. By: Noam Angrist; Matthew C. H. Jukes; Sian Clarke; R. Matthew Chico; Charles Opondo; Donald Bundy; Lauren M. Cohee
    Abstract: There is limited evidence of health interventions impact on cognitive function and educational outcomes. We build on two prior systematic reviews to conduct a meta-analysis, exploring the effects of one of the most consequential health interventions, malaria chemoprevention, on education outcomes. We pool data from nine study treatment groups (N=4, 075) and outcomes across four countries. We find evidence of a positive effect (Cohen's d = 0.12, 95% CI [0.08, 0.16]) on student cognitive function, achieved at low cost. These results show that malaria chemoprevention can be highly cost effective in improving some cognitive skills, such as sustained attention. Moreover, we conduct simulations using a new common metric (learning-adjusted years of development) to compare cost-effectiveness across diverse interventions. While we might expect that traditional education interventions provide an immediate learning gain, health interventions such as malaria prevention can have surprisingly cost-effective education benefits, enabling children to achieve their full human capital potential.
    Date: 2023–03
  8. By: Liu, K.; Prommawin, B.; Schroyen, F.
    Abstract: Exploiting the 2001 universal health insurance reform in Thailand as a source of identification, we estimate the effects of health insurance coverage on agricultural production decisions and welfare. Our estimates suggest that the reform led to long-run increases in total cultivation investments and output, and that households shifted their cultivation portfolio towards riskier crops. We explain these findings using a model of agricultural investment, highlighting the important roles of health insurance in terms of mitigating background medical expenditure risk and improving health. We also find that the reform improved households’ welfare by reducing debts and defaults on loans.
    Keywords: Health insurance, Risk-taking, Cultivation, Investments.
    JEL: D1 G5 H51 I13 Q12
    Date: 2023–03–20
  9. By: Gabriel, Sherwin
    Abstract: Micronutrient deficiencies (MND) remain an important challenge in the 21st century, complicated by climate, economic, and demographic change. However, the lack of recent and reliable survey data challenge understanding of the magnitude and risks posed by MNDs. We examine projections of food availability to 2050, for 49 African countries, under various climate and socio-economic futures, using a global, multi-market partial equilibrium model. Food availability is used to estimate micronutrient availability, accounting for edible portions, nutrient loss, and country-specific characteristics of consumed foods. Projections from an ensemble of sixty scenarios are analysed and assessed against recommended daily intake to gauge nutrient adequacy. Of the panel of 13 micronutrients analysed, inadequate calcium, vitamin A, riboflavin, folate, and zinc appear to be the most prevalent in 2050. Further, estimates are sensitive to socio-economic growth, which have stronger effects on households' food availability than changes in production driven by alternative greenhouse gas concentrations. As the composition of micronutrient availability by crop varies by country, the characteristics of specific food projections need to be considered when recommending interventions in the food system. The method can also be used to assess alternative scenarios of dietary evolution, and whether food system interventions to enhance nutrient density or availability may meaningfully reduce shortfalls in nutrient availability. The analysis is limited to national average food availability, and further disaggregation of household food availability, by geography or income group, allows for more specific identification of MNDs, and for appropriate interventions.
    Keywords: Environmental Economics and Policy, Food Security and Poverty
    Date: 2022
  10. By: Désiré Avom (Université de Yaoundé II); Gilles Dufrénot (AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CEPII - Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales - Centre d'analyse stratégique); Sylvie Eyeffa (Université de Yaoundé II)
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether or not the access to and use of ICT can help African countries reduce their growth inefficiencies. Inefficiency is measured, on the one hand, by the gap between a country's growth rate and its own frontier, and on the other hand by the relative position of each country compared to the best achievers. We find that if countries were doing a better job of controlling corruption and improving citizen participation in politics, they would achieve higher growth efficiency performance by using ICT. When countries are compared with each other, considering the growth "frontier" as countries in the sample, then growth differentials are explained primarily by non-ICT factors of growth (human capital, schooling rates, capital growth rates, etc.). The role of ICT factors is secondary. But they contribute to growth to a greater extent for the best achievers (compared to the lowest and middle achievers) because they are better endowed with ICT factors than the others.
    Keywords: ICT, African countries, growth inefficiency, frontier, quantiles
    Date: 2023–03–01

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