David Yanagizawa-Drott

Yanagizawa-Drott, David, and Filipe Campante. Submitted. “Intergenerational Transmission of War”.Abstract

Does war service by one generation affect service by the next generation in later wars? Using data from major U.S. 20th-century wars, we exploit that closeness to age 21 at a time of war is a key determinant of the likelihood of participation. We find that a generation’s war service experience positively affects service by the next generation, with each war having substantially impacted those that followed. The  evidence is consistent with cultural transmission, and indicates that a history of  wars can help overcome the collective action problem of getting citizens to  volunteer for war service.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David, Tessa Bold, Kayuki C. Kaizzi, and Jakob Svensson. Submitted. “Low Quality, Low Returns, Low Adoption: Evidence from the Market for Fertilizer and Hybrid Seed in Uganda”.Abstract

To reduce poverty and food insecurity in Africa requires raising productivity in agriculture. Systematic use of fertilizer and hybrid seed is a pathway to increased productivity, but adoption of these technologies remains low. We investigate whether the quality of agricultural inputs can help explain low take-up. Testing modern products purchased in local markets, we find that 30% of nutrient is missing in fertilizer, and hybrid maize seed contains less than 50% authentic seeds. We document that such low quality results in negative average returns. If authentic technologies replaced these low-quality products, average returns for smallholder farmers would be over 50%.

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.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David, and Filipe Campante. 2014. “Do Campaign Contribution Limits Matter? Evidence from the McCain-Feingold Act”.Abstract

We propose a novel method to estimate the impact of campaign contribution limits, and use it to study the effect on U.S. House Elections of the increased limits introduced by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform (”McCain-Feingold”) Act enacted after the 2002 elections. We first estimate the amount of contributions that had been left unrealized by the presence of the relatively strict limit and were then brought into existence by the reform, and then analyze whether and how the change affected election outcomes and the behavior of politicians. The results indicate that aggregate contributions were 25 percent higher as a result of the higher limit, and that this increase disproportionally went to Republican candidates. We further show that the contributions brought in by the reform led to significantly higher turnout in the 2004 elections (2.6% increase in response to a 10% increase in individual contributions). This effect was essentially driven by an increase in the mobilization of Republican voters, with no evidence of increased mobilization of Democratic voters, consistent with the fact that the Republican candidates on average attracted more of the contributions induced by the reform. A roll-call analysis further shows that incumbent Democratic legislators responded, in the 2003-2004 Congress, by becoming relatively less liberal in places with more new contributions induced by the reform. Together, our results provide evidence that raising limits on individual campaign contributions can affect elections and the incentives faced by politicians in ways that increase political participation, but disproportionally benefit certain political parties.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David, and Thorsten Rogall. 2014. “The Legacy of Political Mass Killings: Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide”.Abstract

We study how political mass killings affect later economic performance, using data from the Rwandan Genocide. To establish causality, we build on and exploit village-level variation in reception of a state-sponsored radio station (RTLM) that explicitly, and successfully, incited killings of the ethnic Tutsi minority population. Our results show that households in villages that experienced higher levels of violence induced by the broadcasts have higher living standards six years after the genocide. They own more assets, such as land, livestock and durable goods. Output per capita from agricultural production is higher, and  consumption levels are greater. These results are consistent with the Malthusian hypothesis that mass killings can raise living standards by reducing the population size and redistributing productive assets from the deceased to the remaining population. However, we also find that the violence affected the age distribution in villages, raised fertility rates among female survivors, and reduced cognitive skills of children. Together, our results show that political mass killings can have positive effects on living standards among survivors in the short run, but that these effects may disappear in the long run.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David. 2014. “Propaganda and Conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 129 (4): 1947-1994. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper investigates the role of mass media in times of conflict and state-sponsored mass violence against civilians. We use a unique village-level dataset from the Rwandan Genocide to estimate the impact of a popular radio station that encouraged violence against the Tutsi minority population. The results show that the broadcasts had a significant impact on participation in killings by both militia groups and ordinary civilians. An estimated 51,000 perpetrators, or approximately 10 percent of the overall violence, can be attributed to the station. The broadcasts increased militia violence not only directly by influencing behavior in villages with radio reception, but also indirectly by increasing participation in neighboring villages. In fact, spillovers are estimated to have caused more militia violence than the direct effects. Thus, the paper provides evidence that mass media can affect participation in violence directly due to exposure, and indirectly due to social interactions.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David, Andreas Madestam, Daniel Shoag, and Stan Veuger. 2013. “Do Political Protests Matter? Evidence from the Tea Party Movement.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 128 (4): 1633-1685. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Can protests cause political change, or are they merely symptoms of underlying shifts in policy preferences? We address this question by studying the Tea Party movement in the United States, which rose to prominence through coordinated rallies across the country on Tax Day, April 15, 2009. We exploit variation in rainfall on the day of these rallies as an exogenous source of variation in attendance. We show that good weather at this initial, coordinating event had significant consequences for the subsequent local strength of the movement, increased public support for Tea Party positions, and led to more Republican votes in the 2010 midterm elections. Policymaking was also affected, as incumbents responded to large protests in their district by voting more conservatively in Congress. Our estimates suggest significant multiplier effects: an additional protester increased  the number of Republican votes by a factor well above one. Together our results  show that protests can build political movements that ultimately affect policymaking, and that they do so by influencing political views rather than solely through the revelation of existing political preferences.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David. 2013. “Propaganda vs. Education; A Case Study of Hate Radio in Rwanda.” Oxford Handbook of Propaganda Studies, ed. Jonathan Auerbach and Russ Castronovo, 378-394. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 378-394.Abstract

sponsored propaganda on political violence. It provides evidence of the hypothesis that basic education can limit the effectiveness of propaganda by increasing access to alternative media sources. It builds on the case study of the Rwandan Genocide in Yanagizawa-Drott (2011), and shows that the propaganda disseminated by the “hate radio” station RTLM did not affect participation in violence in villages where education levels, as measured by literacy rates, were relatively high. A discussion of the potential underlying mechanisms driving the results is presented. The methodological challenges of identifying causal effects of mass media and propaganda are also described, including recent innovations using statistical methods that may be used to overcome those challenges.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David, and Jakob Svensson. 2012. “Estimating Impact in Partial vs. General Equilibrium: A Cautionary Tale from a Natural Experiment in Uganda”.Abstract

This paper provides an example where sensible conclusions made in partial equilibrium are offset by general equilibrium effects. We study the impact of an intervention that distributed information on urban market prices of food crops through rural radio stations in Uganda. Using a differences-in-differences approach and a partial equilibrium assumption of unaffected urban market prices, the conclusion is the intervention lead to a substantial increase in average crop revenue for farmers with access to the radio broadcasts, due to higher farm-gate prices and a higher share of output sold to traders. This result is consistent with a simple model of the agricultural market, where a small-scale policy intervention  effects the willingness to sell by reducing information frictions between farmers and rural-urban traders. However, as the radio broadcasts were received by millions of farmers, the intervention had an aggregate effect on urban market prices, thereby falsifying the partial equilibrium assumption and conclusion. Instead, and consistent with the model when the policy intervention is large-scale, market prices fell in response to the positive supply response by farmers with access to the broadcasts, while crop revenues for farmers without access decreased as they responded to the lower price level by decreasing market participation. When taking the general equilibrium effect on prices and farmers without access to the broadcasts into account, the conclusion is the intervention had no impact on average crop revenue, but large distributional consequences.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David, and Andreas Madestam. 2012. “Shaping the Nation: The Effect of Fourth of July on Political Preferences and Behavior in the United States”.Abstract

This paper examines whether social interactions and cultural practices affect political views and behavior in society. We investigate the issue by documenting a major social and cultural event at different stages in life: the Fourth of July celebrations in the United States during the 20th century. Using absence of rainfall as a proxy for participation in the event, we find that days without rain on Fourth of July in childhood shift adult views and voting in favor of the Republicans and increase turnout in presidential elections. The effects we estimate are highly persistent throughout life and originate in early age. Rain-free Fourth of Julys experienced as an adult also make it more likely that people identify as Republicans, but the effect depreciates substantially after a few years. Taken together, the evidence suggests that political views and behavior derive from social and cultural experience in early childhood, and that Fourth of July shapes the political landscape in the Unites States.

Bjorkman-Nyqvist, Martina, Jakob Svensson, and David Yanagizawa-Drott. 2012. “The market for (fake) antimalarial medicine: evidence from Uganda”.Abstract

Counterfeit and sub-standard antimalarial drugs present a growing threat to public health. This paper investigates the mechanisms that determine the prevalence of fake antimalarial drugs in local markets, their effects, and potential interventions to combat the problem. We collect drug samples from a large set of local markets in Uganda using covert shoppers and employ Raman spectroscopy to test for drug quality. We find that 37 percent of the local outlets sell fake antimalarial drugs. Motivated by a simple model, we conduct a market-level experiment to test whether authentic drugs can drive out fake drugs from the local market. We find evidence of such externalities: the intervention reduced prevalence of substandard and counterfeit drugs in incumbent outlets by half. We also provide suggestive evidence that misconceptions about malaria lead consumers to overestimate antimalarial drug quality, and that opportunistic drug shops exploit these misconceptions by selling substandard and counterfeit drugs. Together, our results indicate that high quality products can drive out low quality ones, but the opposite is true when consumers are less able to infer product quality.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David. 2012. “Propaganda and conflict: theory and evidence from the Rwandan genocide”.Abstract

This paper investigates the role of mass media in times of conflict and state-sponsored violence. A model of collective violence is presented where mass media has the potential to increase participation in conflict by facilitating coordination, in addition to any direct effect on behavior due to content. Guided by the insights of the model, the paper uses a unique nation-wide village-level dataset from the Rwandan Genocide to estimate the impact of radio broadcasts that called for the extermination of the Tutsi minority, and are commonly believed to have played a signi…ficant role in fueling the violence. The results show that the broadcasts increased participation in the killings. They indicate that approximately 10 percent, or an estimated 51,000 perpetrators, of the participation in the violence during the Rwandan Genocide can be attributed to the effects of the radio. Violence that inherently requires more coordination, such as militia and army violence, was also more affected by the broadcasts. Together with a set of results presented in the paper, the evidence indicates that mass media can in part affect conflict by functioning as a coordination device.

Svensson, Jakob, and David Yanagizawa-Drott. 2009. “Getting Prices Right: The Impact of the Market Information Service in Uganda.” Journal of the European Economic Association 7 (2-3): 435-445. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Market Information Service project in Uganda collected data on prices for the main agricultural commodities in major market centers and disseminated the information through local FM radio stations in various districts. Exploiting the variation across space between households with and without access to a radio, we find evidence suggesting that better-informed farmers managed to bargain for higher farm-gate prices on their surplus production.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David, and Nancy Qian. 2009. “The Strategic Determinants of U.S. Human Rights Reporting: Evidence from the Cold War.” Journal of the European Economic Association 7 (2-3): 446-457. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper uses a country-level panel dataset to test the hypothesis that the United States biases its human rights reports of countries based on the latters’ strategic value. We use the difference between the U.S. State Department’s and Amnesty International’s reports as a measure of U.S. "bias". For plausibly exogenous variation in strategic value to the U.S., we compare this bias between U.S. Cold War (CW) allies to non-CW allies, before and after the CW ended. The results show that allying with the U.S. during the CW significantly improves reports on a country’s human rights situation from the U.S. State Department relative to Amnesty International.

Ahlerup, Pelle, Ola Olsson, and David Yanagizawa-Drott. 2009. “Social Capital vs Institutions in the Growth Process.” European Journal of Political Economy 25 (1): 1-14. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Is social capital a substitute or a complement to formal institutions for achieving economic growth? A number of recent micro studies suggest that interpersonal trust has its greatest impact on economic performance when court institutions are relatively weak. The conventional wisdom from most macro studies, however, is that social capital is unconditionally good for growth. On the basis of the micro evidence, we outline an investment game between a producer and a lender in an incomplete-contracts setting. A key insight is that social capital will have the greatest effect on the total surplus from the game at lower levels of institutional strength and that the effect of social capital vanishes when institutions are very strong. When we bring this prediction to an empirical cross-country growth regression, it is shown that the marginal effect of social capital (in the form of interpersonal trust) decreases with institutional strength. Our results imply that a one standard deviation rise in social capital in weakly institutionalized Nigeria should increase economic growth by 1.8 percentage points, whereas the same increase in social capital only increases growth by 0.3 percentage points in strongly institutionalized Canada.