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Last week’s annual Center for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) conference brought together researchers from the African continent and around the world for the presentation of nearly 300 papers about nearly every aspect of African societies, from agriculture to education to firms to health to trade. (A number of papers from other countries across the globe snuck in as well, from Mexico to Indonesia.) It is, to my knowledge, the largest annual conference on African economics in the world, and it’s a great way to get a sense of the latest findings. Below I provide a micro-summary of almost every paper presented at the conference.

Of course, these micro-summaries cannot capture the richness and nuance of the papers, so if a finding interests you, I hope that you’ll follow the links to the papers and read in more detail. Some of the papers are also marked as preliminary (once you click through to them), so treat those findings accordingly.

Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, and more Health, Agriculture, Education, Labor, Gender, and more

Many papers cross topical boundaries. I’ve cross-liste­­­­d some papers in multiple sections to make it easier to find them. If you attended the conference and want to highlight an aspect of a paper that isn’t captured here, feel free to mention it in the comments!

Click on any section below to expand for more information.

Households and human capital

Education

  • Learning is associated with economic growth, but that relationship is strongest in upper middle-income countries. (Angrist et al.)

  • School feeding in Ghana increased both math and literacy test scores, especially for the poorest children. (Aurino et al.)

  • Incentives to teacher in hard-to-reach schools in Peru reduced teacher attrition by 1-2 percentage points. (This study accounts for spillovers, without which the results would have appeared larger.) (Castro & Esposito)

  • If you ask students in Uganda about their academic ability, 81 percent overestimate. (Celik-Katrniak)

  • Major rainfall fluctuations experienced in utero in India may reduce math scores by age 15 and likely reduce socioemotional skills. (Chang & Favara)

  • "Students [in South Africa] are randomly assigned to follow video lectures with identical narrated slides & script but given by lecturers of different race & gender." Student evaluations are worse for black lecturers, esp. from black students. (Chisadza, Nicholls, & Yitbarek)

  • “Divorce does not affect the probability to attend formal school [in Senegal]… However, it reduces the likelihood to have a secondary education.” (Crespin-Boucaud & Hotte)

  • Part of why conditional cash transfers on an attendance target are effective may be because they give parents better info. An attendance information (with no cash) intervention gave 75 percent of the gains of a CCT. And there’s more! Cash transfers to parents conditional on children's school attendance boosted attendance—but not learning—in Mozambique. But attendance info to parents + cash incentives to kids boosted attendance AND learning. (de Walque & Valente)

  • More education in Benin lowered acceptance of intimate partner violence. (Deschênes & Hotte)

  • How much does it cost to deliver early child education? In Kenya, $14.83 USD in public centers, or 0.16 SD of learning per dollar. (Donfouet et al.)

  • Many education interventions that do not target girls end up benefitting girls just as much as targeted interventions. (Evans & Yuan)

  • Giving incentives for students to take French and math textbooks home (and bring them back) ↑ French scores (but not math scores) in DRC. Teacher perceptions of textbook usefulness also rose. (Falisse, Huysentruyt, & Olofsgard)

  • What happens when you provide school-age girls in Zambia with a bicycle? Girls spend 35 percent ↓ time per day traveling. Girls miss 30 percent ↓ days of school. Measures of empowerment ↑. (Fiala et al.)

  • The Comprehensive Sexuality Education program in Zambia, for kids age 11-18, ↓ reported risky sex behaviors, and ↑ correct HIV knowledge. (Fosto et al.)

  • What do government bans against harmful practices do? In Senegal, a ban on female genital cutting (accompanied by several prosecutions) is associated with a drop in the practice and more girls in school. (Garcia-Hombrados & Salgado Chavez)

  • In Peru, increasing awareness of bullying, encouraging students to stand against it, and promoting an online reporting program led to ↑ reporting, ↓ dropouts, & ↑ student test scores. (Gutierrez, Molina, & Ñopo)

  • Interviews with teachers & principals in Eastern Cape, South Africa suggest that principals could do more to be effective instructional leaders. (Hompashe)

  • Offering a public recognition certificate to volunteer tutors in Bangladesh led to higher dropout of volunteers who are career focused. But student performance still improved as the certificates motivated performance among other volunteers! (Islam et al.)

  • Mentorship, girls' groups, and socio-emotional training for adolescent girls in Liberia led to ↑ primary school completion and ↑ transition to secondary school. (Koroknay-Palicz & Montalvao)

  • Bridge schools in Lagos, Nigeria, had better management, better teacher-student engagement, and lower corporate punishment than either public schools or other private schools. (Lipcan & Crawfurd)

  • In Kenya, boys outperform girls in primary school mathematics. Ng’ang’a’s work suggests that the problem may not be that girls have access to few resources but rather that they get a lower return on the resources they do have access to. (Ng'ang'a)

  • In upper secondary school in India, “girls are 20 percentage points less likely than boys to study in technical streams" like science & commerce (even after you control for test scores). Stream choice → outcomes in adult life (inc earnings). (Sahoo & Klasen)

  • “Although household factors account for a significant share of total test score variation” for “one million children in three low-income East African countries… variation in school quality and positive sorting between households and schools are, together, no less important.” (Anand et al.)

Food and nutrition

  • Based on data from 85,000 children in 10 East African countries, “child health improves rapidly at the early stages of urbanization” but at high levels of urbanization, improvement deteriorate for some countries. (Ameye & de Weerdt)

  • “Using data from dairy farmers in rural Senegal, we find that understanding both who makes production and consumption decisions as well as why this person (or the couple) is the one who decides provides more insights than simply considering who makes the decision.” (Bernard et al.)

  • “Exposure to food imports from the U.S. explains four percent of the rise in obesity prevalence among Mexican women between 1988 and 2012.” (Giuntella, Rieger, & Rotunno)

  • “Exposure to 10 percent inflation in staple food prices during in-utero decreases the survival of children under the age of five by about 5.4 percent” in Ethiopia. (Kidane and Woldemichael)

  • “Participatory research significantly and positively influence farmers' willingness to pay for improved soybean varieties” in Ghana. (Martey)

  • What is the link between weather shocks, food prices, and traders' expectations? (Pierre, Letta, & Montalbano)

  • “Consumers are willing to pay positive price premiums for food safety certifications” for chicken and tilapia in Accra, Ghana. (Ragasa et al.)

Gender

  • “Increases in urbanization and women’s education are associated with decreases in husband’s dominance in decision-making,” based on data from 28 African countries. (Andriano, Behrman, & Monden)

  • The Arab Spring democratic movement in Egypt led to “a significant improvement in women’s final say regarding decisions on health, socialization and household expenditure, as well as a decline in the acceptation of domestic violence and girls’ circumcision, in the regions most affected by the protests.” (Bargain, Boutin, & Champeaux)

  • Price subsidies and information about co-titling land between a wife and husband both increased demand for land titling in rural Uganda as well as for co-titling. (Cherchi et al.)

  • Data from Mexico show that “(1) an increase in GDP is associated with higher personal freedom, (2) a better income distribution improves the participation of woman in household decisions, (3) male-to-female ratio affects the perception of gender roles; and (4) economic growth reduces the likelihood of sexual violence.” (Murillo)

  • In Nigeria, “although women who work are at a higher risk of experiencing spousal abuse, women engaged in more prestigious occupations however experience fewer forms of violence… Men engaged in more prestigious occupations, compared to men engaged in less prestigious occupations, are less likely to be abusive to their wives.” (Owoo)

Health

  • In Benin, twin children are “venerated and worshiped as deities… I find a twins preferential treatment in parental investment in children health.” (Alidou)

  • A high-frequency, “opt-out” HIV testing intervention that changes beliefs about partner’s safety accelerates marriage and fertility, increasing the probabilities of marriage and pregnancy by 26 and 27 percent for baseline-unmarried women over 28 months. (Angelucci & Bennett)

  • Measures of health service utilization are wrong when they don't account for seasonal variation in disease incidence. Here's evidence from South Africa. (Ataguba)

  • Microcredit makes it easier for Indian households to make sanitation investments. (Augsburg, Caeyers, & Malde)

  • More and better sewage systems are a win, right? Not so fast! In Peruvian districts “that experienced greater sewerage diffusion, infant and under-five mortality rates increased. These unintended lethal consequences seem to be linked to the construction works required to install sewerage lines, which exposed the population to hazards.” (Bancalari)

  • In early childhood, parents in Indonesia are more likely to completely vaccinate those among their children with higher birthweight. (Banerjee & Majid)

  • “Health workers reviewed video vignettes of medical cases involving poor and non-poor patients under a variety of bonus schemes. Bonuses to serve the poor have less impact on effort than bonuses to serve the non-poor.” (Banuri et al.)

  • “Providing sanitary pads” in 30 schools in Western Kenya “reduces absenteeism by 5.4 percentage points.” (Benshaul-Tolonen et al.)

  • From data on children from 34 countries + prices on locally produced commodities: “Households allocate more resources to children born in good times relative to their siblings." (Berman, Rotunno, & Ziparo)

  • Cash transfers improved children's communication and mothers' labor force participation in northern Nigeria. (Carneiro et al.)

  • Female condoms offer marginally lower protection and higher unit cost than male condoms—which are already widely available—but lower discomfort and stigma to men. As predicted by our model, we find strongest adoption among women with low household bargaining power. (Cassidy et al.)

  • Cash transfers in Indonesia reduced the suicide rate by 18 percent. (Christian, Hensel, & Roth)

  • “In Rwanda, intimate partner violence rates are double, and in Nigeria, up to 37 percent greater, when measured using the indirect list method compared to the direct methods used in most surveys.” (Cullen)

  • “A policy in Ghana that made health facility births free [led to] large effects on take-up of facility births, and some effects on mortality and health, particularly among the poorest mothers.” (Friedman & Keats)

  • “I find no evidence of forest loss increasing malaria rates in children" in Tanzania. (Gibson)

  • “Cash transfers [in Kenya] to women of on average USD 709 PPP led to a 0.26 SD decrease in physical violence, and transfers to men to a 0.18 SD decrease. In contrast, sexual violence was reduced after transfers to the woman (0.22 SD), but not to the man.” (Haushofer et al.)

  • Two different two-week interventions among women in Kenya, one reducing present bias (i.e., helping people to value the future more) and another on executive function (i.e., helping them to set goals), both increased use of chlorinated water and reduced childhood diarrhea. (Haushofer, John, & Orkin)

  • Women with anemia during pregnancy in rural India have children with weaker motor skills. (Heesemann & Vollmer)

  • "How misallocated is public infrastructure investment?" In Indonesia, "misallocation is rising leading up to Indonesia’s post-Suharto reforms but levels off afterwards... Pre-reform biases toward certain villages, including those associated with Suharto-era patronage, are substantially lower after the reforms." (Hsiao)

  • Statistical discrimination or taste-based discrimination? An experiment in India suggests that “47 to 80 percent of patients statistically discriminate” against physicians. (Islam et al.)

  • Performance-based financing or just more financing to health facilities? In Nigeria, the impacts were similar. (Kandpal et al.)

  • Sex workers in Senegal with higher risk aversion—as measured by “two simple widely-used experimental economic tasks”—“demand more preventive services and are less likely to engage in risky sex and, as a result, are less likely to be infected with sexually transmitted infections.” (Lépine & Treibich)

  • “Of a total of 238 effect estimates that we coded from these [39 mental health trials in low- & middle-income countries], more than half are positive and statistically significant, with an unconditional average effect size of 0.22 standard deviations.” (Lund et al.)

  • Non-contributory healthcare increases internal migration in Mexico but not international migration. (Mahé)

  • A potentially better matching method than that used in past research suggests that the Child Support Grant in South Africa reduces stunting. (Oyenubi)

  • A new database highlights the geographical distribution of health challenges among Brazilian truck drivers. (Schettini, Dyer, & Jani)

  • Do illiterate moms learn from their literate kids? "An illiterate mother who lives with a literate kid is 6.2 and 4.4 percentage points more likely to correctly diagnose her child’s height and weight for age, respectively,” in Ethiopia. (Seid)

  • “Mothers’ early childhood famine exposure” in Ethiopia “reduces their children’s height-for-age z-score, schooling, locus of control and self-esteem. These effects are persistent from age one through early adolescence.” (Tafere)

  • When the government of Malawi contracted maternal health services to faith-based providers, women substituted from public facilities to faith-based facilities, but total number of facility deliveries didn't change. (Tafesse et al.)

  • How does HIV/AIDS among parents and children affect children's schooling? Missed school days, financial troubles, caring for sick parents, & lack of motivation. (Zinyemba, Pavlova, & Groot)

Household dynamics

  • A test of a collective model for household decisionmaking predicts choices pretty well in Bangladesh. (Bargain, Lacroix, & Tiberti)

  • People in Malawi, Mozambique, and Cote d’Ivoire tend to marry similar people in terms of “personality traits, cognitive function, time and risk preferences.” (Boxho et al.)

  • When women and men in rural Tanzania have different risk and time preferences, women tend to have less “involvement in household decision-making.” (D'Exelle & Ringdal)

  • Results of a lottery for government housing at the city outskirts in Ethiopia show that “nearly half of lottery winners trade slum housing in the city centre for improved housing on the outskirts of cities. In addition, they make upgrades to their apartments, adding a number of amenities that they did not enjoy in their slum housing.” (Franklin)

  • “In contrast with previous evidence, we find that children of the first wife [in polygamous households in Nigeria] work about three to five hours more per week and are less likely to attend school than children of other mothers.” (Golan & Isopi)

  • “Improved cooperation” in the household in Tanzania and Uganda “has substantial positive effects on household income per capita and on the likelihood of household food security.” (Lecoutere & Van Campenhout)

  • A food and cash transfer in Uganda increased child labor as children helped their parents in agriculture. It did not affect schooling but rather reduced leisure. (Natali)

  • “Exposure to drought [in Malawi] in adolescence has an accelerating effect on young adult women’s transitions into first unions—including both marriage and cohabitation—and an accelerating effect on transitions into first births within marriage.” (Andriano & Behrman)

  • Informal associations “improve food consumption per capita and dietary diversity by a significant value for households exposed to shocks” in rural Nigeria. (Efobi, Atata, & Ajefu)

  • “The farm input subsidy program in Malawi” increases child labor. (Frempong)

  • In Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme, “cash transfers have no effect on food prices” and “there is some evidence that food transfers reduce food prices.” (Hoddinott et al.)

  • In rural Ethiopia, low rainfall leads the rich to sell their small livestock, whereas high rainfall leads the poor to decrease their livestock holdings. (Iritani)

  • In Zambia, “increasing the number of financial access points increased the probability of using formal financial services by individuals whose source of income was farming or family.” (Nanziri)

Intimate partner violence

  • More education in Benin lowered acceptance of intimate partner violence. (Deschênes & Hotte)

  • “In Rwanda, intimate partner violence rates are double, and in Nigeria, up to 37 percent greater, when measured using the indirect list method compared to the direct methods used in most surveys.” (Cullen)

  • More conflict outside the home led to more violence inside the home in Nigeria. (Hui)

  • A cash transfer program in Mali "causes significant decreases in [intimate partner violence] in polygamous households—where physical violence decreases by 7 percentage points, emotional violence decreases by 12 percentage points, and controlling behaviors decrease by 16 percentage points—but has limited effects in nonpolygamous households." (Heath, Hidrobo, & Roy)

  • Cash transfers in Ghana decreased frequency of intimate partner violence, and they decreased whether or not women had experienced ANY intimate partner violence in monogamous households. (Peterman, Valli, & Palermo)

  • In Nigeria, “although women who work are at a higher risk of experiencing spousal abuse, women engaged in more prestigious occupations however experience fewer forms of violence… Men engaged in more prestigious occupations, compared to men engaged in less prestigious occupations, are less likely to be abusive to their wives.” (Owoo)

Migration and refugees

  • How do cash transfers affect migration? This review shows that it depends on the type of transfer: place-based transfers decrease migration, but other types of transfers increase it. (Adhikari & Gentilini)

  • “Bridge construction [in Bangladesh] induced marriage-related migration (not economic migration) among rural women, but only for those women coming from families above a poverty threshold.” (Amirapu, Asadullah, & Wahhaj)

  • In South Africa, immigration “has a negative impact on the performance of the incumbent African National Congress.” Also, “the number of xenophobic protests and violent events increase with immigration.” (Bedasso & Jaupart)

  • “Mobility of children [in Uganda] during their primary school years, or early middle school years, has a detrimental effect on educational outcomes, increasing delay in schooling.” (Ferrone & Giannelli)

  • In China, “lineage networks increase migration for all social groups by increasing credit access, and this pattern is more salient for the poor.” (Foltz, Guo, & Yao)

  • In Comoros, “cash transfers targeted to poor households increased migration to Mayotte—the neighbouring and richer French Island.” (Gazeaud, Mvukiyehe, & Sterck)

  • Refugees in Kenya who receive mobile money transfers (as opposed to food rations) consume more calories but have similar dietary diversity. (MacPherson & Sterck)

  • “After the Greco-Turkish war of 1919–1922, 1.2 million Greek Orthodox were forcibly resettled from Turkey to Greece, increasing the Greek population by more than 20 percent within a few months… Localities with a greater share of refugees in 1923 have today higher earnings, higher levels of household wealth, greater educational attainment, as well as larger financial and manufacturing sectors.” (Murard & Sakalli)

  • After Apartheid ended in South Africa, increased female migrant flows had “an overall large positive effect on hourly income for non-migrant men and women, with stronger effects for women.” (Sharp)

Poverty

  • Nine years after giving grants for youth in Uganda to start businesses, those who didn't receive grants had caught up on income! Nevertheless, "grants had lasting impacts on assets, skilled work, and possibly child health, but had little effect on mortality, fertility, health or education." (Blattman, Fiala, & Martinez)

  • In Africa “on average, [female headed households] are much more reliant on remittances, have fewer and smaller livestock, less land, and less household and hired labor.” (Brown & van de Walle)

  • “Better job access increases the extend of backyarding”—when “an existing formal homeowner rents a portion of his yard area to occupants who live in a dwelling constructed either by formal or informal methods” in South Africa.  (Brueckner, Rabe, & Selod)

  • Financial inclusion reduces poverty in Nigeria. (Churchill, Nuhu, & Smyth)

  • “72 percent to 91 percent of Nigeria’s poor are at risk of spending their entire life below the poverty line.” (Dapel)

  • “Food price inflation [in South Sudan] had a negative and statistically significant impact on girls’ primary and secondary school attendance,” particularly for girls far from school. (Etang)

  • Households phased out of a cash transfer program in Zambia eventually converged to the income level of households who had never received it. (Handa et al.)

  • A cash transfer program in Mali "causes significant decreases in [intimate partner violence] in polygamous households—where physical violence decreases by 7 percentage points, emotional violence decreases by 12 percentage points, and controlling behaviors decrease by 16 percentage points—but has limited effects in nonpolygamous households." (Heath, Hidrobo, & Roy)

  • In the wake of a foreign company building a large biofuel plantation in Sierra Leone, “households that are employed at the plantation” see “their incomes and assets increase,” but other households in the community see a drop in income, leading to rising inequality. (Hofman et al.)

  • “Positive affect is a significant and positive predictor of altruism.” (Kinyanjui)

  • South Asia has overtaken sub-Saharan Africa in the fight against child marriage. (Le Nestour, Fiala, & Wodon)

  • In a cash transfer program in Zambia, a proxy means test alone is much more effective at identifying the poor than a combination of proxy means test and categorical targeting. (McNabb & Rattenhuber)

  • “Muslim widows [in Nigeria] enjoy a higher nutritional status than Christian widows, particularly in rural areas.” (Milazzo & van de Walle)

  • Moving from agricultural into the service sector in Ghana did not reduce individuals’ poverty level. (Osei & Atta-Ankomah)

  • In Tajikistan, “survey respondents systematically under-report the incidence and severity of electricity outages, but systematically over-report the incidence and severity of outages during periods of abnormally widespread outages of long duration.” (Seitz, Kudo, & Azevedo)

  • Rural households significantly underreport income in surveys (across 20 countries), especially “households that have more children, in which the head is female, or are less educated.” Agricultural income is most underreported. (Tiberti)

Social networks

  • Past and future participants in village lab-in-the-field experiments communicate, boosting collaboration. This paper offers advice to manage the bias from those spillovers. (Coutts)

  • “Ethnic minorities have smaller and less diversified networks than the majority” in Vietnam. (Hoang, Pasquier-Doumer, & Saint-Macary)

Transfers

  • Part of why conditional cash transfers on an attendance target are effective may be because they give parents better info. An attendance information (with no cash) intervention gave 75 percent of the gains of a CCT. And there’s more! Cash transfers to parents conditional on children's school attendance boosted attendance but not learning in Mozambique. But attendance info to parents + cash incentives to kids boosted attendance AND learning. (de Walque & Valente)

  • What happens when you provide school-age girls in Zambia with a bicycle? Girls spend 35 percent↓ time per day traveling. Girls miss 30 percent ↓ days of school. Measures of empowerment ↑. (Fiala et al.)

  • Cash transfers improved children's communication and mothers' labor force participation in northern Nigeria. (Carneiro et al.)

  • Cash transfers in Indonesia reduced the suicide rate by 18 percent. (Christian, Hensel, & Roth)

  • “Cash transfers [in Kenya] to women of on average USD 709 PPP led to a 0.26 SD decrease in physical violence, and transfers to men to a 0.18 SD decrease. In contrast, sexual violence was reduced after transfers to the woman (0.22 SD), but not to the man.” (Haushofer et al.)

  • In Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme, “cash transfers have no effect on food prices” and “there is some evidence that food transfers reduce food prices.” (Hoddinott et al.)

  • How do cash transfers affect migration? This review shows that it depends on the type of transfer: place-based transfers decrease migration, but other types of transfers increase it. (Adhikari & Gentilini)

  • In Comoros, “cash transfers targeted to poor households increased migration to Mayotte—the neighbouring and richer French Island.” (Gazeaud, Mvukiyehe, & Sterck)

  • Cash transfers in Ghana decreased frequency of intimate partner violence, and they decreased whether or not women had experienced ANY intimate partner violence in monogamous households. (Peterman, Valli, & Palermo)

  • For transfers within extended families in Burkina Faso, “the relationship between recipient income and the transfer response” in nonlinear. (Bocoum et al.)

  • Refugees in Kenya who receive mobile money transfers (as opposed to food rations) consume more calories but have similar dietary diversity. (MacPherson & Sterck)

  • Nine years after giving grants for youth in Uganda to start businesses, those who didn't receive grants had caught up on income! Nevertheless, "grants had lasting impacts on assets, skilled work, and possibly child health, but had little effect on mortality, fertility, health or education." (Blattman, Fiala, & Martinez)

  • In a cash transfer program in Zambia, a proxy means test alone is much more effective at identifying the poor than a combination of proxy means test and categorical targeting. (McNabb & Rattenhuber)

  • A food and cash transfer in Uganda increased child labor as children helped their parents in agriculture. It did not affect schooling but rather reduced leisure. (Natali)

 

Governments, Institutions, and Conflict

Conflict

  • “The Dodd-Frank Act roughly doubled the probability of conflict…within the DRC.” (Bloem)

  • “History, context, and geopolitical dynamics matter more than gravity variables when it comes to explaining conflicts between nations.” (Hoeffler & Sterck)

  • More conflict outside the home led to more violence inside the home in Nigeria. (Hui)

  • “A lack of economic opportunities—measured by unemployment rates disaggregated by country and education level—explains foreign enrollment in…the Islamic State group (also known as ISIS/ISIL or Daesh).” (Jelil et al.)

  • Conflict exposure in Nigeria “is related to higher food insecurity and decreased consumption… Poor households are more likely to stay poor after a conflict event, but non-poor households are better able to prevent themselves from falling into poverty.” (Kaila & Azad)

  • “Those abducted during conflict [in northern Uganda] are more likely to engage in pro-social behaviors… Assistance received after the conflict and the experience of holding a leadership position while with the rebels are the main channels.” (Kijima, Makanga, & Yamauchi)

  • Chad's 2005-2010 armed conflict increased stunting, potentially "through mothers' access to health facilities and utilization of health services." (Mboutchouang Kountchou, Wang Sonne, & Djal Gadom,)

  • Burundi's civil conflict in 2015 reduced economic growth by 8.9 percentage points. (Ndoricimpa & Ndayikeza)

  • Increasing agricultural productivity will not be enough to achieve regional integration among countries on the Nile Basin. (Osman, Ferrari, & McDonald)

  • Cash transfers in Ghana decreased frequency of intimate partner violence, and they decreased whether or not women had experienced ANY intimate partner violence in monogamous households. (Peterman, Valli, & Palermo)

  • Civil war in Sierra Leone pushed many more households in conflict areas into poverty. But 10 years later, the effect had shrunk. (Reilly & Sam)

  • “Rising mineral prices increase battles over artisanal mines” in eastern DRC. “The expansion of industrial mining decreases battles, suggesting that companies can secure their concessions.” But it triggers riots and sometimes violence against civilians. (Stoop, Verpoorten, & Van der Windt)

Foreign aid

  • Is your aid additional? Here's the circumstantial evidence you need to figure it out. (Carter, Van de Sijpe, & Calel)

  • “Oil and gas rich countries receive more Chinese development finance.” (Jaupart)

  • “I find suggestive evidence that local populations with the highest malaria burden do not receive their share of aid for malaria” in DRC. (Lordemus)

  • An index to determine the rate of return across different aid allocations, with an application to the OECD. (Roope & Smith)

  • “The Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) disburses larger amounts of aid when natural disasters affect the birth region of the countries’ leader.” (Bommer, Dreher, & Perez-Alvarez)

Inequality

  • “Income inequality initially has a positive impact on growth up to an average Gini coefficient threshold of 35.92 beyond which it negatively impacts on growth.” (Balcilar et al.)

  • “Minimum wages have been key to shoring up wage growth at the bottom of the distribution” in South Africa. (Bhorat et al.)

  • “The skills of an individual in these countries depends more on the human capital levels of the parents’ ethnic group (ethnic capital) than on parental investment.” (Funjika & Getachew)

  • Using a new method, this paper demonstrates “how the richest, highly educated, and urban population has disproportionally contributed to high and increasing inequality in Mozambique in recent years.” (Gradín)

  • “Ethnic stratification is empirically related to low levels of trust in other people and institutions at the local level in Africa.” (Hodler et al.)

  • “The increase in girls’ primary education explains half of the increase in female labor force participation between 2006 and 2011” in Senegal. (Malta et al.)

  • “The earnings trajectories of more recent cohorts of men and women are above those of older cohorts showing that younger cohorts have experienced gains in earnings over time. The gains in earnings, however, are higher for women than for men.” (Mosomi)

Institutions

  • “Mobile money use leads to a significant reduction in bribes” in Kenya. (Barasa)

  • Greater road density at the height of the Roman Empire (e.g., around 117 AD) “goes along with (a) greater modern road density, (b) greater settlement formation in 500 CE, and (c) greater economic activity in 2010.” (Dalgaard et al.)

  • “Burkina Faso’s political efforts at discouraging FGC reduced its prevalence in the long term. However, these efforts had no distinct impacts on a range of women’s health and marital outcomes.” (Kudo)

  • A survey to government officials in Ethiopia about their constituents’ characteristics finds that “the errors of public officials are large, with 49 percent of officials making errors that are at least 50 percent of objective benchmark data. The provision of briefings reduces these errors by a quarter of a standard deviation, but…organizational incentives mediate their effectiveness.” (Rogger & Somani)

  • In Algeria, "entrepreneurial start-ups decreased post reforms." More analysis for Tunisia and Egypt. (Shami)

  • Across Africa, “individuals whose ancestors have a history of political complexity show significantly higher levels of trust in institutional figures.” (Tedeschi)

  • Participation in a youth cash-for-work program in Côte d'Ivoire "significantly increases the likelihood of attending community meetings by 20 percent, trust in family members by 17 percent, and trust in colleagues by 25 percent." (Kimou, Ballo, & Barry)

Natural resources

  • A healthy manufacturing sector can protect an area from the collapse of commodity prices, as seen here with evidence from the collapse of coal mining in the UK in the late 20th century. (Aragón, Rud, & Toews)

  • Forget the resource curse: worry about the presource curse! Oil discoveries have “a significant negative effect on short-run growth, driven by underperformance in countries with weaker institutions.” (Cust & Mihalyi)

  • The resource curse isn’t for everyone! “Only about a quarter of the countries in our sample experienced a negative effect of oil and gas production on total GDP per capita. In contrast, oil and gas production boosted total GDP per capita for more than half of the countries.” (Cust, Halonen, & Harding)

  • A forest “area almost twice the size of Austria has been cleared due to mines worldwide.” BUT “increased commodity prices lead to a reduction in forest loss.” (Cust, Harding, & Krings)

  • “One additional artisanal [gold mine in Ghana] increases nearby household per-adult income by one percent.” (Guenther)

  • “Differences in tax policies are thus sufficient to account for cross-country gaps in marginal products” across countries in the oil industry. (Stefanski & Toews)

Political economy

  • In the wake of the discovering natural resources in Mozambique, “information given to leaders increases elite capture and rent-seeking, while information/deliberation given to citizens increases mobilization/accountability-related outcomes and decreases conflict.” (Armand et al.)

  • “Exposure to repression under dictatorship increases support for democracy and contributes to regime change when a democratic window of opportunity arises,” based on evidence from the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. (Bautista et al.)

  • Ethiopian communities closer to the roads that Italians designed and financed between 1935 and 1940 “are significantly richer today.” (Bertazzini)

  • Foreign aid increased the share of votes for the incumbent in Uganda. (Chauvet & Horigoshi)

  • Democratic leaders are more likely to smile in their official portrait. Candidates in close elections smile even more. (Collin)

  • “There is more public goods provision and political competition in villages with more fragmented social networks” in Filipino villages. (Cruz, Labonne, & Querubin)

  • “In the long-run democracy does indeed have a positive average effect on per capita income,” although a new method gives a lower effect than previous estimates. (Eberhardt)

  • Surprising results in elections can be a result of the interaction of multiple issues: data from South Africa show that allowing the interaction of race and income mutes the impact of “racial identity for the major parties.” (Fedderke & Giannaros)

  • At a call center in Morocco, honest workers are contaminated by their dishonest peers. Honest workers and dishonest workers tend to cluster together. (Ferrali)

  • A new model suggests that “under democracy, higher ethnic diversity leads to greater provision of the general public good while lower diversity implies higher provision of the ethnically-targetable good… The opposite relation obtains under dictatorship.” (Ghosh & Mitra)

  • “People who are told they are relatively poorer than they thought are less concerned about inequality and are not more supportive of redistribution,” based on a survey experiment with 30,000 participants in 10 countries. (Hoy & Mager)

  • Saturday community work in Rwanda was associated with adopting modern contraceptive methods and acquiring mosquito nets, as long as the rainfall wasn’t heavy. (Linek)

  • “Dry weather shocks [in Africa increase] the probability and intensity of bribe payments to police and public officials.” (Mensah & Amuakwa-Mensah)

  • “Why do individuals vote in elections with foregone conclusions when they are neither bought nor coerced? …Using lab-in-the-field voting experiments together with survey data, I document the strong influence of a social norm of voting in… Tanzania and Uganda… Norm compliance is driven by those most dependent on their local community.” (Rosenzweig)

  • Lab games played on Amazon Mechanical Turk suggest that “taxation is not only a means to generate government revenue, but may also increase citizens’ demand for accountability.” (Sjursen)

  • In South Africa, “coethnic municipalities are associated with higher growth in infrastructure relative to non-coethnic municipalities.” (Walters, Bittencourt, & Chisadza)

  • Lab-in-the-field games in Kenya suggest that “citizens prefer politicians to be honest, but have high expectations of politician charity, even though it is strongly associated with corruption.” (Zhang)

 

Macroeconomics

Fiscal policy

  • Does fiscal policy affect poverty? A model and an example: In Niger, a fiscal policy shift increased poverty by 3+ percentage points. (Coulibaly, Hounsa, & Sanoh)

  • What do we learn from the Debt, Investment, and Growth (DIG) model and the Natural-Resource extension (DIGNAR) to it, after applications in 65 countries? (Gurara, Melina, & Zanna)

  • “Gender budgeting,” or building gender issues into fiscal policy, increased girls’ education and reduced time spent collecting water in Rwanda and Uganda. (Kolovich & Martinez Leyva)

Monetary policy

  • “The paper proposes a process to track policy consistency and preserve monetary policy autonomy, and offers remedial measures for recurring inconsistencies,” building on Botswana’s experience. (Mannathoko)

  • New models applied to South Africa suggest that “households excluded from the asset markets are more vulnerable to business cycles fluctuation especially because of their inability to insure against labour market idiosyncratic risks.” (Mohimont)

  • “The South African credit cycle is weakly countercyclical, suggesting the business cycle may lead private sector credit growth.” (Pahla)

Public finance

  • “Coerced labor made up a significant part of colonial revenues and expenditures” in Nigeria. Higher labor demand may have increased convict labor in the colonial period, but not in the post-colonial period. (Archibong & Obikili)

  • Text message reminders to taxpayers in Tanzania increased payment. (Collin et al.)

  • “We find evidence of a causal impact of the tax system [in West Bengal, India] on the structure of supplier networks, and of complementarities in firms’ tax choices within these networks.” (Gadenne, Nandi, & Rathelot)

  • “Simulation results [for Kenya] indicate that a mixed management rule, involving a fixed allocation of oil revenues to a resource fund and the combination of a high share of resources allocated to a strategic fund with governance reforms aimed at increasing the degree of efficiency of public investment, would maximize the effect on growth without putting at risk public debt sustainability.” (Halland, Awiti, & Lim)

  • In Rwanda, “taxpayer education results in significant and large increases in knowledge, which starts from a very low level at baseline… The program contributes to improve compliance behaviour.” (Mascagni, Mukama, & Santoro)

  • There is no simple “relationship between [tax] evasion and the statutory tax rate,” but there IS a “positive and statistically significant relationship between the two when we use the actual effective tax rate that takes into account exemptions in the Ethiopian trade tax system.” (Mengistu, Molla, & Mascagni)

  • “An original panel dataset based on the text of country reports by the International Monetary Fund. It consists of a total of 2594 Article IV consultation and program review documents. The reports were published between 2004 and 2017 and cover 189 countries.” (Mihalyi & Mate)

  • “Risk, cost, bank capitability, banking sector concentration, and government borrowing [are] important drivers of downward stickiness in the lending rates” for banks in Uganda. (Nampewo)

  • In a new model, “introduction of matching contributions to informal workers improves old age consumption by redistributing consumption from period of relatively high and stable income but subject to overspending to old age where income is low and uncertain.” (Opoku & Hsu)

Trade

  • Across Africa, “trade openness and imports of manufactured goods are significantly related to lower fertility.” (Bittencourt, Clance, & Getachew)

  • How do changes in coffee prices affect producers? Answer: it depends on the country! (Dessie)

  • “The biggest boost from AGOA to African countries’ exports was for apparel products.” (Fernandes et al.)

  • “The association between ICT and trade is stronger when the exporter is a “North” (advanced) economy, suggesting that advanced economies seem to have benefited more from the expansion of ICT in the last few decades.” (Giri, Tavares, & Xi)

  • “The entire [African] continent would gain more than 1.1 percent of total welfare from better organising its national road systems.” (Graff)

  • “Countries who benefit from the ‘Special Rule for Apparel’ under AGOA with more liberal rules of origin registered significant increases in textile exports. And, the foreign value added content of their exports increased significantly following AGOA.” (Kassa & Owusu)

  • Informal trade persists! At the Kenya-Uganda border, introduction of One-Stop-Border-Posts (aiming to reduce delays and corruption) reduced informal trade, but only for the quarter after the posts were introduced. (Siu)

  • In response to the South Africa EU Trade and Development Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) “tariff reform, there is a positive aggregate trade effect on South African manufacturing exports into EU10 countries.” (Steenkamp & Edwards)

Other macroeconomic policy

  • Across Africa, “in the short run, positive idiosyncratic shocks to trading partners’ growth significantly increase growth in the average sub-Saharan African country, while in the long-run the annual impact of growth in regional trading partners is smaller in magnitude but longer lived.” (Arizala, Bellon, & MacDonald)

  • “Countries with greater fragility suffer higher macroeconomic volatility and crisis; they also experience weaker growth. When we disaggregate state fragility into its various components, we find that it is the security and social components that have the strongest causal impact on macroeconomic outcomes, while the political component is, at best, weak.” (Chuku & Onye)

  • “Looking at factors that drove growth [in Ghana] since 2000, financial development and infrastructure had the most important impacts.” (Geiger, Trenczek, & Wacker)

  • After Malawi switched from a peg to floating exchange rate regime, “the share of U.S. dollar invoicing increased by 9.4 percent and exchange rate pass-through increased by 47 percent after the regime switch, with highest pass-through to products from high-income countries and exporters with larger overall market share.” (Lapukeni et al.)

  • Inflation targeting countries “with poor institutions are less financially stable than non-targeters only in Emerging and Developing Countries who use little or no macroprudential policies.” (Owoundi, Mbassi, & Owoundi)

  • “Legal origins, malaria ecology, and distance to coast are the three most important factors explaining contemporary development.” (Sterck)

  • “While the long-run effect of FDI on output is significantly positive in investment- and factor-driven economies, its short-run effect is insignificant in the latter type of economies. The effect of FDI on output is insignificant in the fragile category both in the short-run and long-run.” (Yimer)

 

Working and Saving

Agriculture

  • Are errors in plot size measurement due to misreporting or misperception? A new method differentiates in four East African countries. (Abay, Bevis, & Barrett)

  • “Farmers living in the bad road network areas avoid taking risky decisions relative to those who live in more accessible road locations.” (Ambali)

  • “Contract farming [in Benin] has positive and significant impacts on...area planted to rice, yield, the share of output sold in the market, and income earned from rice production,” but adding training and loans to the contracts had a particularly consistent impact. (Arouna, Michler, & Lokossou)

  • Ghana's National Health Insurance Scheme increased agricultural input use and hired labor use on smallholder farms. (Asiedu, Sowah, & Karimu)

  • When a female calf is born (versus a male calf), farmers in Uganda "spend more on their cattle’s health, increase hired labour and are more willing to pay for investments in cattle but not for other activities. These higher investments translate into higher milk production and revenues." (Bertelli)

  • In India, “regional droughts lead to an enormous decline in local agricultural output, which is about twice as large as after a local drought.” (Brey & Hertweck)

  • "Smallholder farmers in Kenya respond to receiving a free hybrid crop insurance conditional on purchase of certified seeds, by...farming more land and increasing total investments." (Bulte et al.)

  • Information about new cultivation techniques spread through social networks in villages in Guinea Bissau, but information did not lead to adoption. (Caeiro)

  • “Providing information to farmers in Uganda through short video messages increases their knowledge about modern inputs, improved technologies, and recommended practices... If the extension information is brought by a woman or a couple, men [are less likely] to take less unilateral decisions related to maize farming.” (Campenhout)

  • A loan to farmers at harvest in Tanzania allowed "farmers to store almost 20 percent more maize and sell 10 percent more maize on average in the lean season." (Channa et al.)

  • Lab-in-the-field experiments in farmers and farm input retailers in Bangladesh reveal that “sellers provide mostly low-quality products and buyers reveal low demand for more expensive, high-quality inputs. Accrediting sellers based on buyer satisfaction leads to higher input quality and more repeat purchases only when combined with loyalty rewards for accredited sellers of the high-quality product, or for their buyers.” (de Brauw & Kramer)

  • “Droughts occurring during the agricultural season significantly increase the number of children born to women living in agrarian communities” in Madagascar. (Dessy et al.)

  • One Acre Fund's combined program of "input loans, crop insurance, and information about improved farming practices" increases yields and profits in Kenya. (Deutschmann et al.)

  • "A 1oC increase average temperature during growing season can reduce millet yield...by about 20 percent... The effect of temperature on millet yield differs between poor and rich countries, with the poor country being at the receiving end of the adverse e ects of weather shocks." (Emediegwu)

  • A community driven development program in the Gambia "accounts for more than a quarter of the forest loss" over five years. (Heß, Jaimovich, & Schündeln)

  • Matching estimates of the impact of a program in Côte d'Ivoire that provided planting material, fertilizer, and training suggest large income effects. (Kanga, Moussa, & Sanogo)

  • “Compared to yield measures based on either farmer-reporting or sub-plot crop cutting, satellite-based yield measures explain as much or more variation in (gold-standard) yields based on full-plot crop cuts" in Uganda. (Kilic)

  • How best to measure root and tuber crop production in Malawi? Traditional diary keeping outstrips other methods. (Kilic et al.)

  • A new tool uses machine learning with data from 18 countries to predict where fertilizer use will be worth the money. (McCullough et al.)

  • “An efficient reallocation of land and capital among existing farmers [in Uganda] would result in a 119 percent increase in agricultural” total factor productivity. (Morando)

  • “Both de jure and de facto land rights significantly increase the likelihood of planting perennial commercial crops, and also increase the land allocated to commercial crops” in Uganda. (Mwesigye & Barungi)

  • The climate-smart agriculture practices (within Conservation Agriculture) "that play a pivotal role" in reducing "rural poverty are minimum tillage, cereal-legume intercropping, and their combination" in Ethiopia. (Tesfaye, Blalock, & Tirivayi)

  • “Social norms restrict rental rates [for land in Malawi] and hence restrict market response to other considerations.” (Krah et al.)

Credit, savings, and insurance

  • “Rainfall uncertainty dampens households’ demand for agricultural credit” in Ethiopia. (Abay et al.)

  • Consumers in India discount tea more than cash—in other words, they value future tea less than future cash. (Abdellaoui et al.)

  • “Mobile money adoption remains low in Niger, despite the fact that it is less costly as compared with informal mechanisms and mobile phone ownership is high.” (Aker, Prina, & Welch)

  • Lab-in-the-field experiments in rural Ethiopia show that people donate less to recipients if those recipients have rejected an offer of formal insurance. (Anderberg & Morsink)

  • Microloans labelled for sanitation in rural India did lead to increased sanitation investments, but “around half of the loans are not utilised for sanitation investments.” (Augsburg et al.)

  • "79 percent of [microcredit] clients who were offered the flexible-repayment contract over the fixed-repayment contract [in Pakistan] accepted it." (Bari et al.)

  • Introducing mobile money to rural communities in Mozambique made households less vulnerable to adverse weather, increased migration, and increased migrant remittances. (Batista & Vicente)

  • “Only when farmers [in Ethiopia] adopt a package comprised of insurance, credit and inputs, do they significantly increase their investment in modern agricultural technologies and, consequently, productivity grows.” (Belissa, Lensink, & Marr)

  • What kind of drought insurance to cereal farmers in Ghana want? Hypothetical queries to find out. (Boateng-Gyambiby)

  • An employer-based savings account in Malawi which deducts from wages, offering zero interest, and providing a lump sum at the end of the main agricultural season increases savings and assets. (Brune, Chyn, & Kerwin)

  • Games reveal that "ambiguity plays an important role in index insurance design" in Kenya. (Cecchi, Lensink, & Slingerland)

  • In the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the supply of funds in rotating savings and credit institutions (ROSCAs) "remained remarkably stable." Point for informal insurance! (Czura & Klonner)

  • In Benin, “mobile money accounts substantially improve income, savings, food consumption and financial well-being while the [traditional, formal microfinance] accounts made no substantial difference on those outcomes, except for food consumption in households.” (Dayé & LeMay-Boucher)

  • Large, surprising fluctuations in rainfall (i.e., shocks) reduce Ethiopian farmers' tolerance for risk. (di Falco & Vieider)

  • Microcredit to women in Sierra Leone increases their "hope about economic welfare, life aspirations, life satisfaction, and household durable assets.” (Garcia, Lensink, & Voors)

  • Will urban migrants in Burkina Faso insure their rural relatives' crops? Twenty-two percent will, with higher rates if the payout went directly to the relatives. (Kazianga & Wahhaj)

  • An increase in liquidity requirements for Ethiopian banks increased deposits, loans, and branches. (Limodio & Strobbe)

  • “The insurance premium, education level, gender, age, household size, marital status, religion, risk exposure and structural factors are the determinants of demand for micro-insurance in Cameroon.” (Nana Djomo & Ngouana Koudjou)

  • In lab games in the field in Uganda, farmers show moral hazard with informal insurance but not formal insurance. (Nanyiti)

  • Nine months after receiving a microloan through a mobile money account, women entrepreneurs had "15 percent higher business profits and 11 percent higher levels of business capital" than women who did not get their loan through a mobile money account. (Riley)

  • "A start-up loan for enterprises run by women [in Pakistan] ... increases the likelihood of setting up an enterprise by 12 percentage points but only in the short run." (Said et al.)

Firms

  • Comparing worker cooperatives to conventional firms in Ethiopia, cooperatives are more likely to be formed by women, have lower investment rates, and have lower productivity than conventional firms. They score higher in business practices but not in working conditions. (Abebe & Gebreeyesus)

  • A representative survey of 8,000+ micro and small enterprises in Ethiopia shows that “credit constraints and the presence of family workers are negatively related with the business and management scores.” (Abebe & Tekleselassie)

  • A mindset-oriented business training in Ethiopia succeeded in changing women entrepreneurs minds in Ethiopia, but only with certain trainers (e.g., those who have owned a business of their own). (Alibhai et al.)

  • Credit, training, and both together improve the performance of micro and small enterprises in Ethiopia, but the effect only appears for male-owned firms. (Araar et al.)

  • Product innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa have a positive impact on employment, mostly temporary and unskilled employment. (Avenyo, Konte, & Mohnen)

  • “Agglomeration effects are a strong driver for the location of French firms throughout African regions.” (Bala, Tenikue, & Nafari)

  • “Firms run by women who perceived skill shortages to be a key barrier to opening or running a firm posted weaker performance than firms run by women who did not perceive skills to be a barrier [in Eswatini]… Business training has a positive and statistically significant impact on performance of men but not women entrepreneurs.” (Brixiová & Kangoyez)

  • Lab-in-the-field experiments in Ghana show that men will invest more in their spouses' business directly (by contributing) than indirectly (by taking over household expenses) if the spouse has an individual business opportunity. (Campos, Davies, & Gassier)

  • Districts in India that received infrastructure grants subsequently had firms with higher profits and employment. They also had more migrants. (Chaurey & Le)

  • Between 1999 and 2014, misallocations by firms in labor, land, and equipment decreased. (Chaurey et al.)

  • Data from 12,000 firms across 51 countries suggest that "urban productivity increases by about 5 percent to 6 percent with each doubling of city population.” (Collier, Jones, & Spijkerman)

  • Regulation of the mobile telecommunications sector in South Africa benefits consumers, according to simulations. (Hawthorne & Grzybowski)

  • Firms that received capital grants in Sri Lanka and Ghana were more productive and were "more likely to incorporate techologically more advanced assets into their capital stock." (Janes, Koelle, & Quinn)

  • In the cinder block industry in Ethiopia, “the expansion of the local market boosts industry-wide… productivity, while increases in transport costs and licensing fees reduce [productivity].” The results are less consistent in other industries. (Jones et al.)

  • Higher road density increases productivity of Indian firms, especially smaller firms. (Kailthya & Kambhampati)

  • “Exposure to intense electricity outages induces firms to innovate…as well as increase the decision to investment” into research and development across Africa. (Karimu, Mensah, & Abor)

  • “Between 2003 and 2014 the number of firms enumerated [in Ghana] nearly quadrupled…whilst the average firm size…more than halved.” (Kerr & McDougall)

  • When large firms participated in Tunisia's Industrial Upgrading Program, owners retained most of the benefits. With small firms, those gains went to workers. (Marshalian & Marouani)

  • A major player in East and Southern Africa's cement industry has set up plants in four countries, potentially increasing trade and convergence in prices. (Paelo et al.)

  • New data on firm management in Africa suggests that few adopt best management practices, but there is a wide distribution. (Scur & Teodorovicz)

Labor

  • Organizing job fairs and using an algorithm to recommend seekers to employers in Ethiopia “succeed in generating interviews yet lead to few hires.” Interestingly, “high-school leavers… reduce their expectation after the fairs, accept more offers, and are more likely to hold a permanent or formal job at endline.” (Abebe et al.)

  • Randomly assigning some job seekers in Ethiopia “to receive additional support during the application and onboarding process at three factories… increased the likelihood of being employed.” It also raised incomes by almost 30 percent. But health outcomes and perceptions of the desirability of factor work fell. (Abebe, Buehren, & Goldstein)

  • A subsidized rice program in Indonesia increases “the probability of schooling for girls though it does not have a significant impact on the probability of [child labor].” (Baryshnikova & Jawardana)

  • “Occupations in [Filipino] villages with high social fragmentation are disproportionately less likely to be dominated by a single social group.” (Caria & Labonne)

  • After assessing workseekers skills in urban South Africa, “giving information to workseekers has large effects on their beliefs about their skills, no effects on their job search behavior, and limited effects on their employment outcomes. Helping workseekers signal their skills to firms substantially increases their employment rate and earnings.” (Carranza et al.)

  • A subsidized apprenticeship program in Cote d’Ivoire doesn’t just replace existing workers, it “expands access to apprenticeships and increases the net number of positions in firms.” (Crépon & Premand)

  • In a textile training course in Kenya, an increase in engine noise of 10 dB “reduces productivity by approximately 5 percent.” The impact seems to come through cognitive function rather than effort. (Dean)

  • Among school feeding teams in South Africa, “private feedback on performance is more effective at eliciting effort in a prosocial setting than competing for a public award.” (Delavallade & Burns)

  • “South Africa’s Employment Tax Incentive… aimed to address high youth unemployment rates by reducing the cost of hiring young workers… We see a positive and statistically significant effect on youth and non-youth employment in firms with fewer than 200 employees.” (Ebrahim, Leibbrandt, & Ranchhod)

  • “Lack of technical skills does not seem to be biggest obstacle youth face in entering the labor force. Given that most rural tasks (farm or nonfarm) do not require a high degree of technical skill, we can expect that this would be even truer in rural areas.” (Fox)

  • An oversupply of candidates to light manufacturing jobs in Ethiopia meant that researchers could randomized who received an offer. “Factory jobs actually increase the likelihood of pregnancy” among married women after 12 months. (Halvorsen)

  • “The majority of skilled job-seekers [in Sierra Leone] opt for early-career employment working for a donor organisation, INGO or NGO in the development sector.” These results “point to an internal brain drain effect where higher ability workers are more likely to choose the development sector over the public and private sector.” (Harris)

  • “Wealthier and larger household are more likely to return to on-farm labor following a [death or rainfall] shock than their poorer and smaller cohorts, who instead diversify the household labor portfolio through migration and continued reliance on off-farm earnings.” (Josephson)

  • From a global database over 30 years, “most of the financial sector reforms have increased the growth rate of labor productivity.” (Konté, Kouamé, & Mensah)

  • Providing “capital, training, and activities to encourage social cohesion” to vulnerable groups in Côte d’Ivoire…facilitates savings” and “led to small increases in the number of small businesses.” (Marguerie & Premand)

  • Across African countries, “productivity growth has been generally low since the 1960s with moderate contributions from structural change [a move to manufacturing in this case] across the entire period.” (Mensah et al.)

  • “Transport investment positively affects wages in Kenya, but that most of the impact is attributed to increases in tradeable sector wages, and thus to already relatively more developed cities.” (Milsom)

  • Distribution of deficient boats by aid organizations after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia led to a spike in the return to fishing, which increased fishing intensity by those who were on the job. (Nose)

  • Representation matters: In India, an additional female politician in a district while a woman is age 15-24 results in a 42 percent ↑ in the probability of that woman working in wage employment. (Priyanka)

  • “Work hours at age 8 are a good predictor of working hours at age 15” in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. “Social protection programs do not affect work time except in Peru, where those receiving a conditional cash transfer work fewer hours.” (Revollo & Porter)

  • For youth in South Africa, “social contacts are more involved in providing information on available vacancies rather than helping in getting employed.” (Schöer)

  • A training program in Bangladesh had a large impact “on employment when combined with an apprenticeship…or stipend.” (Shonchoy, Fujii, & Raihan)

Mobile money

  • Refugees in Kenya who receive mobile money transfers (as opposed to food rations) consume more calories but have similar dietary diversity. (MacPherson & Sterck)

  • “Mobile money use leads to a significant reduction in bribes” in Kenya. (Barasa)

  • “Mobile money adoption remains low in Niger, despite the fact that it is less costly as compared with informal mechanisms and mobile phone ownership is high.” (Aker, Prina, & Welch)

  • Introducing mobile money to rural communities in Mozambique made households less vulnerable to adverse weather, increased migration, and increased migrant remittances. (Batista & Vicente)

  • In Benin, “mobile money accounts substantially improve income, savings, food consumption and financial well-being while the [traditional, formal microfinance] accounts made no substantial difference on those outcomes, except for food consumption in households.” (Dayé & LeMay-Boucher)

  • Nine months after receiving a microloan through a mobile money account, women entrepreneurs had "15 percent higher business profits and 11 percent higher levels of business capital" than women who did not get their loan through a mobile money account. (Riley)

 

Disclaimer

CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.