nep-dev New Economics Papers
on Development
Issue of 2023‒07‒24
fourteen papers chosen by
Jacob A. Jordaan
Universiteit Utrecht

  1. Building resilient education systems: evidence from large-scale randomized trials in five countries By Noam Angrist; Micheal Ainomugisha; Sai Pramod Bathena; Peter Bergman; Colin Crossley; Claire Cullen; Thato Letsomo; Moitshepi Matsheng; Rene Marlon Panti; Shwetlena Sabarwal; Tim Sullivan
  2. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Educational Effects of Unconditional Cash Transfers By Chong, Zhi Zheng; Lau, Siew Yee
  3. Improving School Management in Low and Middle Income Countries: A Systematic Review By Anand, Gautam; Atluri, Aishwarya; Crawfurd, Lee; Pugatch, Todd; Sheth, Ketki
  4. Agricultural Productivity and Climate Change: An Evidence of a non-linear Relationship in Sub-Saharan Africa By Jean Galbert, ONGONO OLINGA
  5. Ethnic conflict : the role of ethnic representation By Bhalotra, Sonia; Clots-Figueras, Irma; Iyer, Lakshmi
  6. Pathways to Better Health? Assessing the Impact of Ethiopian Community-Based Health Insurance on Children Health Outcomes By Anteneh, Zecharias; Celidoni, Martina; Rocco, Lorenzo
  7. Unconditional Convergence in the Mexican Manufacturing Sector (1988-2018) By Rivadeneira Alex
  8. Armed Conflict and Early Human Capital Accumulation: Evidence from Cameroon's Anglophone Conflict By Galindo-Silva, Hector; Tchuente, Guy
  9. Does official development assistance benefit the donor economy? New evidence from Japanese overseas infrastructure projects By Shuhei Nishitateno
  10. Colonial origins and quality of education evidence from Cameroon By Yasmine Bekkouche; Yannick Dupraz
  11. Female Early Marriage and Son Preference in Pakistan By Mazhar Mughal; Rashid Javed; Thierry Lorey
  12. Rule–based civil service: evidence from a nationwide teacher reform in Mexico By Bedoya, Juan; de Hoyos, Rafael; Estrada, Ricardo
  13. Strengthening Fragile States: Evidence from Mobile Salary Payments in Afghanistan By Joshua E. Blumenstock; Michael Callen; Anastasiia Faikina; Stefano Fiorin; Tarek Ghani; Michael J. Callen
  14. Social status and egalitarianism in non-lineage-based, agrarian communities in sub-Saharan Africa: An analysis of funeral attendance By Abigail Barr; Mattea Stein

  1. By: Noam Angrist; Micheal Ainomugisha; Sai Pramod Bathena; Peter Bergman; Colin Crossley; Claire Cullen; Thato Letsomo; Moitshepi Matsheng; Rene Marlon Panti; Shwetlena Sabarwal; Tim Sullivan
    Abstract: Education systems need to withstand frequent shocks, including conflict, disease, natural dis-asters, and climate events, all of which routinely close schools. During these emergencies, alternative models are needed to deliver education. However, rigorous evaluation of effective educational approaches in these settings is challenging and rare, especially across multiple coun-tries. We present results from large-scale randomized trials evaluating the provision of education in emergency settings across five countries: India, Kenya, Nepal, Philippines, and Uganda. We test multiple scalable models of remote instruction for primary school children during COVID-19, which disrupted education for over 1 billion schoolchildren worldwide. Despite heterogeneous contexts, results show that the effectiveness of phone call tutorials can scale across contexts. We find consistently large and robust effect sizes on learning, with average effects of 0.30-0.35 standard deviations. These effects are highly cost-effective, delivering up to four years of high-quality instruction per $100 spent, ranking in the top percentile of education programs and policies. In a subset of trials, we randomized whether the intervention was provided by NGO instructors or government teachers. Results show similar effects, indicating scalability within government systems. These results reveal it is possible to strengthen the resilience of education systems, enabling education provision amidst disruptions, and to deliver cost-effective learning gains across contexts and with governments.
    Keywords: education systems , scale , human capital , education in emergencies , COVID-19
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Chong, Zhi Zheng; Lau, Siew Yee
    Abstract: In this review of the educational impact of unconditional cash transfer programmes (UCTs), we systematically search the impact evaluation literature and find 38 papers that evaluate 22 programmes in 18 countries. We quantitatively synthesise the reported effect sizes from these papers using a random-effects meta-analysis model and find a statistically significant positive impact on both enrolment and attendance, suggesting that UCTs are an effective social intervention for policymakers aiming to improve educational attainment. In line with previous research syntheses of cash transfer programmes, we also find significant heterogeneity in effect sizes across studies, which we attempt to explain in a meta-regression with two programme design features and two country-specific characteristics. The results suggest that transfer size and whether the programme is a pilot are irrelevant to UCT impact. We also find no moderating effects of income per capita and the proportion of people living in poverty in the economy, lending no support to a recently developed theoretical framework for UCTs. The findings and limitations of the systematic review and meta-analysis yield three recommendations for future UCT evaluations.
    Keywords: Cash transfer programmes, unconditional cash transfers, education, impact evaluation, systematic review, meta-analysis
    JEL: O12
    Date: 2023–06
  3. By: Anand, Gautam (Global School Leaders); Atluri, Aishwarya (J-PAL); Crawfurd, Lee (Center for Global Development); Pugatch, Todd (Oregon State University); Sheth, Ketki (University of Tennessee)
    Abstract: Improving school quality in low and middle income countries (LMICs) is a global priority. One way to improve quality may be to improve the management skills of school leaders. In this systematic review, we analyze the impact of interventions targeting school leaders' management practices on student learning. We begin by describing the characteristics and responsibilities of school leaders using data from large, multi-country surveys. Second, we review the literature and conduct a meta-analysis of the causal effect of school management interventions on student learning, using 39 estimates from 20 evaluations. We estimate a statistically significant improvement in student learning of 0.04 standard deviations. We show that effect sizes are not related to program scale or intensity. We complement the meta-analysis by identifying common limitations to program effectiveness through a qualitative assessment of the studies included in our review. We find three main factors which mitigate program effectiveness: 1) low take-up; 2) lack of incentives or structure for implementation of recommendations; and 3) the lengthy causal chain linking management practices to student learning. Finally, to assess external validity of our review, we survey practitioners to compare characteristics between evaluated and commonly implemented programs. Our findings suggest that future work should focus on generating evidence on the marginal effect of common design elements in these interventions, including factors that promote school leader engagement and accountability.
    Keywords: school management, school principals, head teachers, systematic review, meta-analysis
    JEL: I21 I25 I28
    Date: 2023–06
  4. By: Jean Galbert, ONGONO OLINGA
    Abstract: This paper focuses on the relationship between agricultural productivity and climate change in sub-Saharan Africa. The main objective is to justify the observed upward trend in agricultural productivity as the temperature is increasing and rainfalls are decreasing. We argue that the relationship between agricultural productivity, temperature, and precipitation is non-linear. Specifically, there are thresholds from which the effect of temperature on agricultural productivity is exceeded by the effect of precipitation. We hypothesize that even if precipitation is decreasing, its level over a year is still sufficient for its positive effect on agricultural productivity to outweigh the negative effect of rising temperatures. Using data from the FAO database on seven different groups of crops, we estimate a Panel Smooth Transition regression model and results show that there is a non-linear relationship between agricultural productivity, temperature, and precipitation. On average, the effect of temperature on agricultural productivity is exceeded by the effect of precipitation observed over a year. We recommend that countries in Sub-Saharan Africa invest in agricultural research to find irrigation techniques that will mitigate the future effects of scarcity of rainwater owed to extremely hot temperatures.
    Keywords: Climate change, agriculture, PSTR
    JEL: C50 N57 O13
    Date: 2023–04–12
  5. By: Bhalotra, Sonia (University of Warwick); Clots-Figueras, Irma (University of Kent); Iyer, Lakshmi (University of Notre Dame)
    Abstract: We investigate the impact of the political representation of minority groups on the incidence of ethnic conflict in India. We code data on Hindu-Muslim violence and Muslim political representation in India and leverage quasi-random variation in legislator religion generated by the results of close elections. We find that the presence of Muslim legislators results in a large and significant decline in Hindu-Muslim conflict. The average result is driven by richer states and those with greater police strength. Our results suggest that the political empowerment of minority communities can contribute to curbing civil conflict.
    Keywords: conflict ; violence ; religion ; political representation ; police ; close elections JEL codes: D72 ; D74 ; J15
    Date: 2023
  6. By: Anteneh, Zecharias; Celidoni, Martina; Rocco, Lorenzo
    Abstract: Publicly financed Community Based-Health Insurance (CBHI) schemes are typically implemented in developing countries to foster healthcare utilization and improve health outcomes among low-income households. Using the Demographic and Health Survey from 2005 to 2016, we estimate the effects of the Ethiopian CBHI on children's health. Difference-in-differences estimates show that CBHI reduced mortality and the probability of being underweight among children under five. We also find that CBHI significantly reduces wasting, a measure of short-term nutritional deficiency or health conditions, but not stunting, known to be an indicator of long-term chronic malnutrition. Potential mechanisms underlying our results are improved maternal health, access to health care, nutrition and a reduced risk of poverty.
    Keywords: community-based health insurance, children health, infant feeding, Difference in Differences approach
    JEL: G52 I13 J13
    Date: 2023
  7. By: Rivadeneira Alex
    Abstract: In this paper, I document the existence of unconditional convergence in labor productivity across Mexican states in three-digit manufacturing industries. The rate of convergence for the period 1988-2018 is 1.18% per year. However, this result does not hold at the aggregate level: I find no unconditional convergence in manufacturing-wide labor productivity across states. Shift-sharing analysis reveals that the primary reason for this is the lack of labor reallocation towards more productive industries, and the underperformance of some of the largest ones. Unconditional convergence at all levels only occurred during 1988-1998. Afterward, the convergence process broke down and was only observed at disaggregated levels. I provide evidence that one possible cause of this breakdown is the so-called "China shock". Additionally, I show that the convergence process, when it happened, has tended to exhibit a catching-down feature, where past-leaders have seen their labor productivity decline.
    Keywords: Growth;Convergence;Manufacturing;Mexico
    JEL: O40 O14 O54
    Date: 2023–07
  8. By: Galindo-Silva, Hector; Tchuente, Guy
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of the Anglophone Conflict in Cameroon on human capital accumulation. Using high-quality individual-level data on test scores and information on conflict-related violent events, a difference-in-differences design is employed to estimate the conflict's causal effects. The results show that an increase in violent events and conflict-related deaths causes a significant decline in test scores in reading and mathematics. The conflict also leads to higher rates of teacher absenteeism and reduced access to electricity in schools. These findings highlight the adverse consequences of conflict-related violence on human capital accumulation, particularly within the Anglophone subsystem. The study emphasizes the disproportionate burden faced by Anglophone pupils due to language-rooted tensions and segregated educational systems.
    Keywords: Anglophone Conflict, Cameroon, human capital accumulation, educational outcomes, language-based conflicts
    JEL: I25 O15 D74 J24
    Date: 2023
  9. By: Shuhei Nishitateno
    Abstract: Given the growing pressure on donors to curtail foreign aid budgets, analyzing the effectiveness of bilateral official development assistance (ODA) in realizing national interests has become more significant than ever. From the viewpoint of economic interests, prior research has revealed that ODA can help expand donor exports and outward foreign direct investments. This study provides evidence that ODA can also help firms from donor countries to win infrastructure projects in recipient countries. Employing unique contract data on Japanese overseas infrastructure projects, I estimate a fixed effects Poisson model with a panel dataset for 158 recipients for the period between 1970 and 2020. The results suggest that 17% of the total number of overseas infrastructure projects contracted to Japanese firms during 1970–2020 were attributable to Japanese ODA disbursement. I also explore the potential mechanism, finding that the Japanese ODA-infrastructure link is strengthened when Japanese loans and grants are simultaneously provided to a recipient country. This finding is consistent with the view that pre-investment studies conducted as part of technical cooperation could generate goodwill effects on Japanese firms during their bidding for Japanese yen loan projects.
    Keywords: Official development assistance, overseas infrastructure projects, Poisson regression model, Japan
    JEL: F35 F21 O18
    Date: 2023
  10. By: Yasmine Bekkouche (ECARES - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics - ULB - Université libre de Bruxelles); Yannick Dupraz (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: We revisit the question of colonial legacies in education by focusing on quality rather than quantity. We study Cameroon, a country where a Francophone education system with French colonial origins coexists with an Anglophone system with British colonial origins. This allows us to investigate the impact of different teaching practices on students' test scores. We find that pupils schooled in the Francophone system perform better in mathematics in Grade 5, with test scores higher by two thirds of a standard deviation. Thanks to detailed school survey data, we are able to account for a wide array of inputs of the education production function, such as the economic and social conditions of students, the material conditions of the schools and classrooms, as well as some information on the teachers' practices and pedagogical culture. We find that Francophone schools have better classroom equipment and that Francophone teachers use more vertical teaching methods, but that these differences cannot explain why Francophone students perform better in mathematics. In the end, we cannot pin down the exact mechanism behind our result.
    Keywords: Education, School quality, Colonial legacies, Africa
    Date: 2023–06–21
  11. By: Mazhar Mughal (ESC PAU - Ecole Supérieure de Commerce, Pau Business School); Rashid Javed; Thierry Lorey
    Abstract: In this study, we employ pooled data from four rounds of Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) to examine whether, and to what extent, does the incidence of early marriage shape the married women's perspectives on gender preference associated with reproduction. We employ a number of econometric techniques (Probit, OLS, Cox Hazard Model, IV Probit and treatment effects) and a large set of model specifications, and find significant evidence supporting the role of early marriage in perpetuating disproportionate preference for boys. Women who married before turning 18 not only state a greater desire for boys but are also less likely to stop reproduction as long as they do not have a boy. Early-age marriage is associated with 7.7-12.5% higher incidence of fertility discontinuation among women without a son. This son-preferring behaviour is stronger at higher birth order and also reflects in differential spacing patterns. Women's education appears to be the strongest channel through which these effects are mediated. The divergence between early-and late-marrying women appears to have sharpened over time. The findings of this study underscore the role played by early marriage in altering the gender-specific attitudes prevalent in the society, and highlight existing gender inequality traps.
    Keywords: Child marriage, Age at marriage, gender bias, son preference, Pakistan
    Date: 2023–05–15
  12. By: Bedoya, Juan; de Hoyos, Rafael; Estrada, Ricardo
    Abstract: This paper studies the effect of a civil service reform on the skills profile of new teachers in Mexico. The reform mandated the use of rule-based recruitment over discretionary hiring. Our results show that the reform led to hiring teachers with higher cognitive skills. We also show that an improvement in the bottom of the skills distribution of new hires drove this change. Two channels explain these effects. First, the reform decreased the prevalence of discretionary hires, who tended to be drawn from the bot tom of the skills distribution. Second, the reform improved the screening efficiency of rule-based hiring, making cognitive skills more important determinants of hiring outcomes.
    Keywords: Docentes, Educación,
    Date: 2023
  13. By: Joshua E. Blumenstock; Michael Callen; Anastasiia Faikina; Stefano Fiorin; Tarek Ghani; Michael J. Callen
    Abstract: Building state capacity is uniquely challenging in fragile states. We report results from a randomized evaluation of a major Afghan government initiative to increase capacity by modernizing its payroll. The reform, which required teachers to biometrically register and receive salary payments via mobile money, did little to reduce payments to non-existent “ghost” workers, but significantly reduced delays. The reform also improved educational outcomes and increased formal financial inclusion. The impacts were not immediate – highlighting the importance of long time-horizons – and were largest in urban areas. The results have implications for state-building and are potentially actionable for policymakers.
    Keywords: mobile money, state-building, corruption
    JEL: D02 D73 C93
    Date: 2023
  14. By: Abigail Barr; Mattea Stein
    Abstract: This paper explores the role of social status in relationships between richer and poorer households in non-lineage-based, agrarian communities by analysing who goes to whose funerals in six resettled Zimbabwean villages. Funerals allow social status to be observed because non-attendance is a sign of disrespect. We find that the richer a household hosting a funeral, the less likely heads of neighbouring households were to attend. This is consistent with the existence of an egalitarian norm that was being violated, to some degree, by the richer households. This norm is stronger among kin but also holds for non-kin. An analysis of assistance provision offers no evidence that some richer households complied with the norm and eschewed punishment. While the egalitarian norm appears weak (punishment for norm violation was exerted but compliance did not follow), patron-client relationships appear not to have emerged in its place.
    Keywords: Social status; Egalitarian norms; Patronage; Sub-Saharan Africa; Funeral attendance
    Date: 2023

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