Asia, South

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.

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

Hanna, Rema, and Shing-yi Wang. 2014. “Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service”.Abstract

In this paper, we demonstrate that university students who cheat on a simple task in a laboratory setting are more likely to state a preference for entering public service. Importantly, we also show that cheating on this task is predictive of corrupt behavior by real government workers, implying that this measure captures a meaningful propensity towards corruption. Students who demonstrate lower levels of prosocial preferences in the laboratory games are also more likely to prefer to enter the government, while outcomes on explicit, two-player games to measure cheating and attitudinal measures of corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. We find that a screening process that chooses the highest ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption among the applicant pool. Our findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption. They also emphasize that screening characteristics other than ability may be useful in reducing corruption, but caution that more explicit measures may offer little predictive power.

Khwaja, Asim Ijaz, Tahir Andrabi, and Jishnu Das. 2014. “Report Cards: The Impact of Providing School and Child Test Scores on Educational Markets”.Abstract

We study the impact of providing school and child test scores on subsequent test scores, prices, and enrollment in markets with multiple public and private providers. A randomly selected half of our sample villages (markets) received report cards. This increased test scores by 0.11 standard deviations, decreased private school fees by 17 percent and increased primary enrollment by 4.5 percent. Heterogeneity in the treatment impact by initial school quality is consistent with canonical models of asymmetric information. Information provision facilitates better comparisons across providers, improves market efficiency and raises child welfare through higher test scores, higher enrollment and lower fees.

Pande, Rohini, Michael Greenstone, Raahil Madhok, and Hardik Shah. 2013. Water Pollution and Public health in India: The Potential for a Market-friendly Approach. Harvard South Asia Institute, 61-67.
Pande, Rohini, and Seema Jayachandran. 2013. “Choice Not Genes: Probable Cause for the India-Africa Child Height Gap.” Economic and Political Weekly, 48, 34, 77-79. Publisher's Version pande_r_-_choice_not_genes.pdf
Pande, Rohini, Ben Feigenberg, Erica Field, John Papp, and Natalia Rigol. 2013. “Does the Classic Micro finance Model Discourage Entrepreneurship Among the Poor? Experimental Evidence from India.” American Economic Review, October 2013 103 (6): 2196-2226. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Do the repayment requirements of the classic microfinance contract inhibit investment in high-return but illiquid business opportunities among the poor? Using a field experiment, we compare the classic contract which requires that repayment begin immediately after loan disbursement to a contract that includes a two-month grace period. The provision of a grace period increased short-run business investment and long-run prots but also default rates. The results, thus, indicate that debt contracts that require early re-payment discourage illiquid risky investment and thereby limit the potential impact of microfinance on micro enterprise growth and household poverty.

Duflo, Esther, Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande, and Nichols Ryan. 2013. “What Does Reputation Buy? Differentiation in a Market for Third-party Auditors.” American Economic Review 103 (3): 314-319. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We study differences in quality in the market for third-party environmental auditors in Gujarat, India. We find that, despite the low overall quality, auditors are heterogeneous and some perform well. We posit that these high-quality auditors survive by using their good name to insulate select client plants from regulatory scrutiny. We find two pieces of evidence broadly consistent with this hypothesis: (i) though estimates are not precise, higher-quality auditors appear to be paid more both in their work as third-party auditors and in their complementary work as consultants; and (ii) plants with high-quality auditors incur fewer costly penalties from the regulator.

Duflo, Esther, Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande, and Nicholas Ryan. 2013. “Truth-Telling by Third-party Auditors and the Response of Polluting Firms: Experimental Evidence from India.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 128 (4): 1-48. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In many regulated markets, private, third-party auditors are chosen and paid by the firms that they audit, potentially creating a conflict of interest. This paper reports on a two- year field experiment in the Indian state of Gujarat that sought to curb such a conflict by altering the market structure for environmental audits of industrial plants to incentivize accurate reporting. There are three main results. First, the status quo system was largely corrupted, with auditors systematically reporting plant emissions just below the standard, although true emissions were typically higher. Second, the treatment caused auditors to report more truthfully and very significantly lowered the fraction of plants that were falsely reported as compliant with pollution standards. Third, treatment plants, in turn, reduced their pollution emissions. The results suggest reformed incentives for third-party auditors can improve their reporting and make regulation more effective.

Hanna, Rema, and Leigh L Linden. 2012. “Discrimination in grading.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 4 (4): 146-168. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We report the results of an experiment that was designed to test for discrimination in grading in India. We recruited teachers to grade exams. We randomly assigned child "characteristics" (age, gender, and caste) to the cover sheets of the exams to ensure that there is no relationship between these observed characteristics and the exam quality. We find that teachers give exams that are assigned to be lower caste scores that are about 0.03 to 0.08 standard deviations lower than those that are assigned to be high caste. The teachers' behavior appears consistent with statistical discrimination.

Duflo, Esther, Rema Hanna, and Stephen Ryan. 2012. “Incentives work: getting teachers to come to school.” American Economic Review 102 (4): 1241-1278. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We use a randomized experiment and a structural model to test whether monitoring and financial incentives can reduce teacher absence and increase learning in rural India. In treatment schools, teachers' attendance was monitored daily using cameras, and their salaries were made a nonlinear function of attendance. Absenteeism by teachers fell by 21 percentage points relative to the control group, and children's test scores increased by 0.17 standard deviations. We estimate a structural dynamic labor supply model and nd that teachers responded strongly to the nancial incentives, and that this alone can explain the dierence between the two groups. Our model is used to compute cost-minimizing compensation policies

Chandra, Amitabh, Jinkook Lee, P Arokiasamy, Peifeng Hu, Jenny Liu, and Kevin Feeney. 2012. “Markers and drivers: cardiovascular health of middle-aged and older indians.” Aging in Asia: findings from new and emerging data initiatives. The National Academies Press, 387-414. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Using the 2010 pilot study of the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI), the authors examine the socioeconomic and behavioral risk factors for poor cardiovascular health among middle-aged and older Indians, focusing on self-reported and directly measured hypertension. The LASI pilot survey (N=1,683) was fielded in four states: Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, and Rajasthan. These four states were chosen to capture regional variations and socioeconomic and cultural differences. They find significant inter-state differences across multiple measures of cardiac health and risk factors for hypertension, including body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and health behaviors. In contrast to the findings from developed countries, they find education and other markers of higher socioeconomic status (SES) to be positively associated with hypertension. Among the hypertensive, however, they find that those at higher SES are less likely to be undiagnosed and more likely to be in better control of their blood pressure than respondents with low SES. They also find significant inter-state variations in hypertension prevalence, diagnosis, and management that remain even after accounting for socio economic differences, obesity, and health behaviors. They conclude by discussing these findings and their implications for public health and economic development in India and the developing country context more generally.

Pande, Rohini, Lori Beaman, Esther Duflo, and Peptia Topalava. 2012. “Female Leadership Raises Aspirations and Educational Attainment for Girls: A Policy Experiment in India.” Science 335 (6068): 582-586. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Exploiting a randomized natural experiment in India, we show that female leadership influences adolescent girls’ career aspirations and educational attainment. A 1993 law reserved leadership positions for women in randomly selected village councils. Using 8,453 surveys of adolescents aged 11-15 and their parents in 495 villages, we find that, compared to villages that were never reserved, the gender gap in aspirations closed by 25% in parents and 32% in adolescents in villages assigned to a female leader for two election cycles. The gender gap in adolescent educational attainment is erased and girls spent less time on household chores. We find no evidence of changes in young women’s labor market opportunities, suggesting that the impact of women leaders primarily reflects a role model effect.

Pande, Rohini, Erica Field, John Papp, and Jeanette Park. 2012. “Repayment Flexibility Can Reduce Financial Stress: A Randomized Control Trial with Microfinance clients in India.” PLoS One 7 (9): 1-7. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Financial stress is widely believed to cause health problems. However, policies seeking to relieve financial stress by limiting debt levels of poor households may directly worsen their economic well-being. We evaluate an alternative policy – increasing the repayment flexibility of debt contracts. A field experiment randomly assigned microfinance clients to a monthly or a traditional weekly installment schedule (N=200). We used cell phones to gather survey data on income, expenditure, and financial stress every 48 hours over seven weeks. Clients repaying monthly were 51 percent less likely to report feeling ‘‘worried, tense, or anxious’’ about repaying, were 54 percent more likely to report feeling confident about repaying, and reported spending less time thinking about their loan compared to weekly clients. Monthly clients also reported higher business investment and income, suggesting that the flexibility encouraged them to invest their loans more profitably, which ultimately reduced financial stress

Khwaja, Asim Ijaz, Tahir Andrabi, and Jishnu Das. 2012. “Students Today, Teachers Tomorrow: Identifying Constraints on the Provision of Education.” Journal of Public Economics 100 (1): 1-14. Publisher's VersionAbstract

With an estimated one hundred and fifteen million children not attending primary school in the developing world, increasing access to education is critical. This pap er highlights a supply-side factor - the availability of low-cost teachers - and the resulting ability of the market to affordable education. We first show that private schools are three times more likely to emerge in villages with government girls' secondary schools (GSSs). Identication is obtained by using official school construction guidelines as an instrument for the presence of GSSs. In contrast, private school presence shows little or no relationship with girls' primary or boys' primary and secondary government schools. In support of a supply-channel, we then show that, villages which received a GSS have over twice as many educated women, and private school teachers' wages are 27 percent lower in these villages. In an environment with low female education and mobility, GSSs substantially increase the lo cal supply of skilled women lowering wages locally and allowing the market to oer affordable education. These findings highlight the prominent role of women as teachers in facilitating educational access and resonate with similar historical evidence from develop ed economies. The students of to day are the teachers of tomorrow

Khwaja, Asim Ijaz, Atif R. Mian, and Abid Qamar. 2011. “Bank Credit and Business Networks”. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We construct the topology of business networks across the population of firms in an emerging economy, Pakistan, and estimate the value that membership in large yet diffuse networks brings in terms of access to bank credit and improving financial viability. We link two firms if they have a common director. The resulting topology includes a "giant network" that is order of magnitudes larger than the second largest network. While it displays "small world" properties and comprises 5 percent of all firms, it accesses two-thirds of all bank credit. We estimate the value of joining this giant network by exploiting "incidental" entry and exit of firms over time. Membership increases total external financing by 16.6 percent, reduces the propensity to enter financial distress by 9.5 percent, and better insures firms against industry and location shocks. Firms that join improve financial access by borrowing more from new lenders, particularly those already lending to their (new) giant-network neighbors. Network benefits also depend critically on where a firm connects to in the network and on the firm's pre-existing strength.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, and Tristan Zajonc. 2011. “Do Value-Added Estimates Add Value? Accounting for Learning Dynamics.” American Economic Journal of Applied Economics 3 (3): 29-54. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper illustrates the central role of persistence in estimating and interpreting value-added models of learning. Using data from Pakistani public and private schools, we apply dynamic panel methods that address three key empirical challenges: imperfect persistence, unobserved heterogeneity, and measurement error. Our estimates suggest that only one-fifth to one-half of learning persists between grades and that private schools increase average achievement by 0.25 standard deviations each year. In contrast, value-added models that assume perfect persistence yield severely downward estimates of the private school effect. Models that ignore unobserved heterogeneity or measurement error produce biased estimates of persistence.

Pande, Rohini, Michael Greenstone, Aparna Krishnan, Nicholas Ryan, and Anant Sudarshan. 2011. “Improving Human Health through a Market Friendly Emissions Scheme.” Seminar Volume for International Seminar on Global Environment and Disaster Management: Law and Society Supreme Court of India, Ministry of Environment and Forest and Law Ministry). Publisher's Version
Kwaja, Asim Ijaz, Tahir Andrabi, and Jishnu Das. 2011. “What Did You Do All Day? Maternal Education and Child Outcomes.” Journal of Human Resources 47 (4): 873-912. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Does maternal education have an impact on children’s educational outcomes even at the very low levels found in many developing countries? We use instrumental variables analysis to address this issue in Pakistan. We find that children of mothers with some education spend 72 more minutes per day on educational activities at home. Mothers with some education also spend more time helping their children with school work. In the subset that have test scores available, children whose mothers have some education have higher scores by 0.23–0.35 standard deviations. We do not find support for channels through which education affects bargaining power within the household.

Olken, Benjamin A, and Rohini Pande. 2011. “Corruption in Developing Countries.” Annual Review of Economics 4: 479-509. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Recent years have seen a remarkable expansion in economists’ ability to measure corruption. This, in turn, has led to a new generation of well-identified, microeconomic studies. We review the evidence on corruption in developing countries in light of these recent advances, focusing on three questions: how much corruption is there, what are the efficiency consequences of corruption, and what determines the level of corruption. We find robust evidence that corruption responds to standard economic incentive theory, but also that effects of anti-corruption policies often attenuate as officials find alternate strategies to pursue rents.