Sheely, Ryan. Submitted. “How Do Institutions Shape Public Goods Maintenance? Evidence from Rural Kenya.” British Journal of Political Science.
Pande, Rohini, Abraham Holland, and Erica Field. Forthcoming. “Microfinance: Points of Promise.” Contemporary and Emerging Issues, for W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Ed. Jean Kimmel.
Khwaja, Asim, Tahir Andrabi, and Jishnu Das. Forthcoming. “Delivering Education: A Pragmatic Framework for Improving Education in Low-Income Countries.” Handbook of International Education.Abstract

Even as primary school enrollments have increased in most low income countries levels of learning remain low and highly unequal. Responding to greater parental demand for quality, low cost private schools have emerged as one of the fastest growing schooling options, challenging the monopoly of state provided education and broadening the set of educational providers. Historically, the rise of private schooling is always deeply intertwined with debates around who chooses what schooling is about and who represents the interests of children. We believe that this time is no different. But rather than first resolve the question of how child welfare is to be adjudicated, we argue instead for a `pragmatic framework’. In our pragmatic framework, policy takes into account the full schooling environment which includes public, private and other types of providers and is actively concerned with first alleviating constraints that prohibit parents and schools from fulfilling their own stated objectives. Using policy actionable experiments as examples, we show that the pragmatic approach can lead to better schooling for children: Alleviating constraints by providing better information, better access to finance or greater access to skilled teachers brings in more children into school and increases test scores in language and Mathematics. These areas of improvement are very similar to those where there is already abroad societal consensus that improvement is required.

PDF icon khwaja_a_-_delivering_education_book_chapter.pdf
Sheely, Ryan. Forthcoming. “Regimes & Randomization: Experimental Evidence from Rural Kenya.” Field Research in Authoritarian Conditions. Eds. Paul Good and Ariel Ahram. Oxford University Press.
Pande, Rohini, Erica Field, Seema Jayachandran, and Natalia Rigol. 2016. “Friendship at Work:Can Peer E ffects Catalyze Female Entrepreneurship?.” American Economic Journal: Public Policy.Abstract

Does the lack of peers contribute to the observed gender gap in entrepreneurial success, and is the constraint stronger for women facing more restrictive social norms? We ordered two days of business counseling to a random sample of customers of India's largest women's bank. A random subsample was invited to attend with a friend. The intervention had a significant immediate impact on participants' business activity, but only if they were trained in the presence of a friend. Four months later, those trained with a friend were more likely to have taken out business loans, were less likely to be housewives, and reported increased business activity and higher household income. The positive impacts of training with a friend were stronger among women from religious or caste groups with social norms that restrict female mobility.

PDF icon friendship_at_work.pdf
Hanna, Rema, Esther Duflo, and Michael Greenstone. 2016. “Up in Smoke: The Influence of Household Behavior on the Long-Run Impact of Improved Cooking Stoves.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 8 (1): 80-114. Publisher's VersionAbstract

It is conventional wisdom that it is possible to reduce exposure to indoor air pollution, improve health outcomes, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions in rural areas of developing countries through the adoption of improved cooking stoves. This is largely supported by observational field studies and engineering or laboratory experiments. However, we provide new evidence, from a randomized control trial conducted in rural Orissa, India (one of the poorest places in India) on the benefits of a commonly used improved stove that laboratory tests showed to reduce indoor air pollution and require less fuel. We track households for up to four years after they received the stove. While we find a meaningful reduction in smoke inhalation in the first year, there is no effect over longer time horizons. We find no evidence of improvements in lung functioning or health and there is no change in fuel consumption (and presumably greenhouse gas emissions). The difference between the laboratory and field findings appears to result from households’ revealed low valuation of the stoves. Households failed to use the stoves regularly or appropriately, did not make the necessary investments to maintain them properly, and usage rates ultimately declined further over time. More broadly, this study underscores the need to test environmental and health technologies in real-world settings where behavior may temper impacts, and to test them over a long enough horizon to understand how this behavioral effect evolves over time.

PDF icon hanna_upinsmoke_aej.pdf
Hanna, Rema, Vivi Alatas, Abhijit Banerjee, Benjamin A. Olken, Ririn Purnamasari, and Matthew Wai-Poi. 2016. “Self-Targeting: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia.” The Journal of Political Economy.Abstract
In this paper, we show that adding a small application cost to a social assistance program can substantially improve targeting because of the self-selection it induces. We conduct a randomized experiment within Indonesia’s Conditional Cash Transfer program that compares two of the most common methods of targeting welfare programs in the developing world: in one, beneficiaries first need to apply for the program, and then an enumerator visits them at home and determines their eligibility based on a proxy-means asset test; in the other, they are visited directly by the enumerator and automatically enrolled if they qualify based on the same proxy-means test. When applications were required, we find that the poor are more likely to apply than the rich, even conditional on whether they would pass the asset test. On net, the villages where applications were required have a much poorer group of beneficiaries than automatic enrollment villages. However, marginally increasing the cost of applying does not necessarily improve targeting: while experimentally increasing the distance to the application site reduces the number of applicants, it screens out both rich and poor in roughly equal proportions. Estimating our model of the enrollment choice suggests that our results are largely driven by the rich forecasting that they have a very small likelihood of passing the asset test, and so not bothering to apply, which in aggregate substantially improves targeting efficiency. The results suggest that the combination of the small cost and the final screening gives this class of mechanisms the ability to achieve many of the benefits of self-selection without imposing onerous ordeals on program beneficiaries.
PDF icon self-targeting_evidence_from_a_field_experiment.pdf
Callen, Michael. 2015. “Catastrophes and Time Preference: Evidence from the Indian Ocean Earthquake.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 118 (October 2015): 199–214. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We provide evidence suggesting that exposure to the Indian Ocean Earthquake tsunami increased patience in a sample of Sri Lankan wage workers. We develop a framework to characterize the various channels through which disaster exposure could affect measures of patience. Drawing on this framework, we show that a battery of empirical tests support the argument that the increase in measured patience reects a change in time preference and not selective exposure to the event, migration related to the tsunami, or other changes in the economic environment which affect experimental patience measures. The results have implications for policies aimed at disaster recovery and for the literature linking life events to economic preferences.

Callen, Michael, Clark C. Gibson, Danielle F. Jung, and James D. Long. 2015. “Improving Electoral Integrity with Information and Communications Technology.” Journal of Experimental Political Science 3 (1). Publisher's VersionAbstract

Irregularities plague elections in developing democracies. The international community spends hundreds of millions of dollars on election observation, with little robust evidence that they consistently improve electoral integrity. We conducted a randomized control trial to measure the effect of an intervention to detect and deter electoral irregularities employing a nation-wide sample of polling stations in Uganda using scalable information and communications technology (ICT). In treatment stations, researchers delivered letters to polling officials stating that tallies would be photographed using smartphones and  ompared against official results. Compared to stations with no letters, the letters  ncreased the frequency of posted tallies by polling center managers in compliance with the law; decreased the number of sequential digits found on tallies – a fraud indicator; and decreased the vote share for the incumbent president, in some specifications. Our results demonstrate that a cost-effective citizen and ICT intervention can improve electoral integrity in emerging democracies.

PDF icon M. Callen in JEPS on Improving Electoral Integrity
Khwaja, Asim, Adnan Q. Khan, and Benjamin A. Olken. 2015. “Tax Farming Redux: Experimental Evidence on Performance Pay for Tax Collectors.” Quarterly Journal of Economics. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Performance pay for tax collectors has the potential to raise revenues, but might come at a cost if it increases the bargaining power of tax collectors vis-a-vis taxpayers. We report the first large-scale field experiment on these issues, where we experimentally allocated 482 property tax units in Punjab, Pakistan into one of three performance-pay schemes or a control. After two years, incentivized units had 9.4 log points higher revenue than controls, which translates to a 46 percent higher growth rate. The scheme that rewarded purely on revenue did best, increasing revenue by 12.9 log points (64 percent higher growth rate), with little penalty for customer satisfaction and assessment accuracy compared to the two other schemes that explicitly also rewarded these dimensions. The revenue gains accrue from a small number of properties becoming taxed at their true value, which is substantially more than they had been taxed at previously. The majority of properties in incentivized areas in fact pay no more taxes, but instead report higher bribes. The results are consistent with a collusive setting in which performance pay increases collectors’ bargaining power over taxpayers, who either have to pay higher bribes to avoid being reassessed, or pay substantially higher taxes if collusion breaks down.

PDF icon Tax Farming Redux: Experimental Evidence of Performance Pay for Tax CollectorsPDF icon Appendix
Hanna, Rema, Eva Arceo, and Paulina Oliva. 2015. “Does the Effect of Pollution on Infant Mortality Differ Between Developing and Developed Countries? Evidence from Mexico City.” The Economic Journal.Abstract

Much of what we know about the marginal effect of pollution on infant mortality is derived from developed country data. However, given the lower levels of air pollution in developed countries, these estimates may not be externally valid to the developing country context if there is a nonlinear dose relationship between pollution and mortality or if the costs of avoidance behavior differs considerably between the two contexts. In this paper, we estimate the relationship between pollution and infant mortality using data from Mexico. We find that an increase of 1 parts per billion in carbon monoxide (CO) over the last week results in 0.0032 deaths per 100,000 births, while a 1 μg/m3 increase in particulate matter (PM10) results in 0.24 infant deaths per 100,000 births. Our estimates for PM10 tend to be similar (or even smaller) than the U.S. estimates, while our findings on CO tend to be larger than those derived from the U.S. context. We provide suggestive evidence that a non-linearity in the relationship between CO and health explains this difference.

PDF icon does_the_effect_of_pollution.pdf
Pande, Rohini, Michael Greenstone, Janhavi Nilekani, Nicholas Ryan, Anant Sudarshan, and Anish Sugathan. 2015. “Lower Pollution, Longer Lives. Life Expectancy Gains if India Reduced Particulate Matter Pollution.” Economic and Political Weekly,February 21m 2015, 50, 8, 40-46. Publisher's VersionAbstract

India’s population is exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution. Using a combination of ground-level in situ measurements and satellite-based remote sensing data, this paper estimates that 660 million people, over half of India’s population, live in areas that exceed the Indian National Ambient Air Quality Standard for fine particulate pollution. Reducing pollution in these areas to achieve the standard would, we estimate, increase life expectancy for these Indians by 3.2 years on average for a total of 2.1 billion life years. We outline directions for environmental policy to start achieving these gains.

Callen, Michael, Joshua E. Blumenstock, Tarek Ghani, and Lucas Koepke. 2015. “Promises and Pitfalls of Mobile Money in Afghanistan: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial.” Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development. ACM. ACM. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Despite substantial interest in the potential for mobile money to positively impact the lives of the poor, little empirical evidence exists to substantiate these claims. In this paper, we present the results of a field experiment in Afghanistan that was designed to increase adoption of mobile money, and determine if such adoption led to measurable changes in the lives of the adopters. The specific intervention we evaluate is a mobile salary payment program, in which a random subset of individuals of a large firm were transitioned into receiving their regular salaries in mobile money rather than in cash.

We separately analyze the impact of this transition on both the employer and the individual employees. For the employer, there were immediate and significant cost savings; in a dangerous physical environment, they were able to effectively shift the costs of managing their salary supply chain to the mobile phone operator. For individual employees, however, the results were more ambiguous. Individuals who were transitioned onto mobile salary payments were more likely to use mobile money, and there is evidence that these accounts were used to accumulate small balances that may be indicative of savings. However, we find little consistent evidence that mobile money had an immediate or significant impact on several key indicators of individual wealth or well-being. Taken together, these results suggest that while mobile salary payments may increase the efficiency and transparency of traditional systems, in the short run the benefits may be realized by those making the payments, rather than by those receiving them.

Pande, Rohini. 2015. “Keeping Women Safe.” Harvard Magazine, January-February, 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Addressing the root causes of violence against women in South Asia

Sheely, Ryan. 2015. “Mobilization, Participatory Planning Institutions, and Elite Capture: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Rural Kenya.” World Development, March 2015 67. Publisher's Version
Yanagizawa-Drott, David, and Filipe Campante. 2015. “Does Religion Affect Economic Growth and Happiness? Evidence from Ramadan.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 130 (2): 615-658. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We study the economic effects of religious practices in the context of the observance of Ramadan fasting, one of the central tenets of Islam. To establish causality, we exploit variation in the length of daily fasting due to the interaction between the rotating Islamic calendar and a country’s latitude. We report two key, quantitatively meaningful results: (i) longer Ramadan fasting has a negative effect on output growth in Muslim countries, and (ii) it increases subjective well-being among Muslims. We find evidence that these patterns are consistent with a standard club good explanation for the emergence of costly religious practices: increased strictness of fasting screens out the less committed members, while the more committed respond with an increase in their relative levels of participation. together, our results underscore that religious practices can affect individual  behavior and beliefs in ways that have negative implications for economic performance, but that nevertheless increase subjective well-being among followers.

PDF icon does_religion_affect_economic_growth_-_y-d_in_qje_2015.pdf
Hanna, Rema, and Paulina Oliva. 2015. “Moving Up the Energy Ladder: The Effect of a Permanent Increase in Assets on Fuel Consumption Choices in India.” American Economic Review 105 (5 (May 2015): 242-46. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Rising household wealth may potentially impact both total fuel consumption and fuel-type composition, resulting in significant health and environmental implications. Using data from a field experiment in India, we explore the effects of a transfer program that provided poor, rural households with greater levels of assets and cash. Total fuel consumption rose as a result of the transfers. Households shifted from using electricity rather than kerosene as their primary form of light, but total kerosene consumption also rose. In contrast, we did not observe a shift to cleaner cooking fuels.

PDF icon moving_up_energy_ladder.pdf
Hanna, Rema, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Joshua Schwartstein. 2015. “Learning Through Noticing: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 129 (3): 1311-1353. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We consider a model of technological learning under which people “learn through noticing”: they choose which input dimensions to attend to and subsequently learn about from available data. Using this model, we show how people with a great deal of experience may persistently be off the production frontier because they fail to notice important features of the data they possess. We also develop predictions on when these learning failures are likely to occur, as well as on the types of interventions that can help people learn. We test the model’s predictions in a field experiment with seaweed farmers. The survey data reveal that these farmers do not attend to pod size, a particular input dimension. Experimental trials suggest that farmers are particularly far from optimizing this dimension. Furthermore, consistent with the model, we find that simply having access to the experimental data does not induce learning. Instead, behavioral changes occur only after the farmers are presented with summaries that highlight previously unattended-to relationships in the data.

PDF icon R. Hanna in QJE: "Learning Through Noticing..."
Callen, Michael, Jean Imbs, and Paolo Mauro. 2015. “Pooling Risk Among Countries.” Journal of International Economics 96 (1): 88-99. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Suppose that international sharing risk—worldwide or with large numbers of countries—were costly. How much risk-sharing could be gained in small sets (or “pools”) of countries? To answer this question, we compute the means and variances of poolwide gross domestic product growth, for all possible pools of any size drawn from a sample of 74 countries, and compare them with the means and variances of consumption growth in each country individually. From the difference, we infer potential diversification and welfare gains. As much as two-thirds of the first best, full worldwide welfare gains can be obtained in groupings of as few as seven countries. The largest potential gains arise from pools consisting of countries in different regions and including countries with weak institutions. We argue that international risk-sharing fails to emerge because the largest potential gains are among countries that do not trust each other's willingness and ability to abide by international contractual obligations.

Callen, Michael, and James D. Long. 2015. “Institutional Corruption and Election Fraud: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan.” American Economic Review 105 (1): 354-81. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We investigate the relationship between political networks, weak institutions, and election fraud during the 2010 parliamentary election in Afghanistan combining: (i) data on political connections between candidates and election officials; (ii) a nationwide controlled evaluation of a novel monitoring technology; and (iii) direct measurements of aggregation fraud. We find considerable evidence of aggregation fraud in favor of connected candidates and that the announcement of a new monitoring technology reduced theft of election materials by about 60 percent and vote counts for connected candidates by about 25 percent. The results have implications for electoral competition and are potentially actionable for policymakers.

PDF icon M. Callen in AER on Institutional Corruption in Afghanistan