Publications by Type: Journal Article

Hanna, Rema, Esther Duflo, and Michael Greenstone. Submitted. “Up in Smoke: The Influence of Household Behavior on the Long-Run Impact of Improved Cooking Stoves,” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Resubmitted.Abstract
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.
R. Hanna CID WP #241 (2012)
Rema, Hanna, Vivi Alatas, Abhijit Banerjee, Benjamin A. Olken, Ririn Purnamasari, and Matthew Wai-Poi. Forthcoming. “Self-Targeting: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia,” Accepted at 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.
R. Hanna NBER Working Paper w19127 - Self-Targeting (2013)
Callen, Michael, Clark C. Gibson, Danielle F. Jung, and James D. Long. Forthcoming. “Improving Electoral Integrity with Information and Communications Technology,” Journal of Experimental Political Science, .Abstract
Free and fair elections, the cornerstone of modern democratic government, require officials to count and aggregate ballots accurately. The international community spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year trying to ensure fair elections in developing countries with widespread electoral malpractice. One common donor policy deploys election observers to improve electoral integrity. Such missions, however, have not typically followed scientific designs to detect, nor have they had any consistent effects on, electoral malfeasance. This means that the widely publicized observer verdicts of whether an election is “free or fair” are based largely on anecdotal and unsystematic data.
M. Callen in JEPS on Improving Electoral Integrity
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.
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.
R. Hanna in QJE: "Learning Through Noticing..."
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, 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.
M. Callen in AER on Institutional Corruption in Afghanistan
Hanna, Rema, and Paulina Oliva. 2015. “The Effect of Pollution on Labor Supply: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Mexico,” The Journal of Public Economics, 122 (February 2015): 68-79. Publisher's VersionAbstract
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.
R. Hanna in JPE on Effect of Pollution in Mexico, CID WP #225 (2011)
Hanna, Rema, and Michael Greenstone. 2014. “Environmental Regulations, Air and Water Pollution, and Infant Mortality in India,” American Economic Review, 104 (October 2014) (10): 3038-3072. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Using the most comprehensive developing country dataset ever compiled on air and water pollution and environmental regulations, the paper assesses India's environmental regulations with a difference-in-differences design. The air pollution regulations are associated with substantial improvements in air quality. The most successful air regulation resulted in a modest but statistically insignificant decline in infant mortality. In contrast, the water regulations had no measurable benefits. The available evidence leads us to cautiously conclude that higher demand for air quality prompted the effective enforcement of air pollution regulations, indicating that strong public support allows environmental regulations to succeed in weak institutional settings.
Pande, Rohini, Benjamin Feigenberg, Erica Field, Natalia Rigol, and Shayak Sarkar. 2014. “Do Group Dynamics Influence Social Capital Gains Among Microfinance Clients? Evidence From a Randomized Experiment in Urban India,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33 (4): 932-949. journal_of_policy_analysis_vol_33_no_4_pande_2014.pdf
Banerjee, Abhijit, Donald Green, Jeffrey McManus, and Rohini Pande. 2014. “Are Poor Voters Indifferent to Whether Elected Leaders are Criminal or Corrupt? A Vignette Experiment in Rural India,” Political Communications, 31 (3): 391-407.Abstract
Although in theory, elections are supposed to prevent criminal or venal candidates from winning or retaining office, in practice voters frequently elect and re-elect such candidates. This surprising pattern is sometimes explained by reference to voters’ underlying preferences, which are thought to favor criminal or corrupt candidates because of the patronage they provide. This paper tests this hypothesis using data from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where one in four representatives in the state legislature has a serious criminal record and where political corruption is widespread. Contrary to the voter preference hypothesis, voters presented with vignettes that randomly vary the attributes of competing legislative candidates for local, state, and national office become much less likely to express a preference for candidates who are alleged to be criminal or corrupt. Moreover, voters’ education status, ethnicity, and political knowledge are unrelated to their distaste for criminal and venal candidates. The results imply that the electoral performance of candidates who face serious allegations likely reflects factors other than voters’ preferences for patronage, such as limited information about candidate characteristics or the absence of credible alternative candidates with clean records. 
Callen, Michael, Mohammad Isaqzadeh, James Long, and Charles Sprenger. 2014. “Violence and Risk Preference: Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan,” American Economic Review, 104 (1): 123-148.Abstract
We investigate the relationship between violence and economic risk preferences in Afghanistan combining: (i) a two-part experimental procedure identifying risk preferences, violations of Expected Utility, and specific preferences for certainty; (ii) controlled recollection of fear based on established methods from psychology; and (iii) administrative violence data from precisely geocoded military records. We document a specific preference for certainty in violation of Expected Utility. The preference for certainty, which we term a Certainty Premium, is exacerbated by the combination of violent exposure and controlled fearful recollections. The results have implications for risk taking and are potentially actionable for policymakers and marketers.
Yanagizawa-Drott, David. 2014. “Propaganda and Conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129 (4). 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 havecaused 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.
Greenstone, Michael, and Rema Hanna. 2014. “

Environmental Regulations, Air and Water Pollution, and Infant Mortality in India

,” American Economic Review, 104 (10): 3038-72. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Using the most comprehensive developing country dataset ever compiled on air and water pollution and environmental regulations, the paper assesses India's environmental regulations with a difference-in-differences design. The air pollution regulations are associated with substantial improvements in air quality. The most successful air regulation resulted in a modest but statistically insignificant decline in infant mortality. In contrast, the water regulations had no measurable benefits. The available evidence leads us to cautiously conclude that higher demand for air quality prompted the effective enforcement of air pollution regulations, indicating that strong public support allows environmental regulations to succeed in weak institutional settings.
Callen, Michael, and Nils B. Weidmann. 2013. “Violence and Election Fraud: Evidence from Afghanistan,” British Journal of Political Science, 43 (1): 53-75. Publisher's VersionAbstract
What explains local variation in electoral manipulation in countries with ongoing internal conflict? The theory of election fraud developed in this article relies on the candidates’ loyalty networks as the agents manipulating the electoral process. It predicts (i) that the relationship between violence and fraud follows an inverted U-shape and (ii) that loyalty networks of both incumbent and challenger react differently to the security situation on the ground. Disaggregated violence and election results data from the 2009 Afghanistan presidential election provide empirical results consistent with this theory. Fraud is measured both by a forensic measure, and by using results from a visual inspection of a random sample of the ballot boxes. The results align with the two predicted relationships, and are robust to other violence and fraud measures.
Levy, Dan, Harounan Kazianga, Leigh Linden, and Matt Sloan. 2013. “

The effects of "girl-friendly schools": evidence from the BRIGHT School Construction Program in Burkina Faso

,” American Economic Journal of Applied Economics, 5 (3): 41-62. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We evaluate a 'girl-friendly' primary school program in Burkina Faso using a regression discontinuity design. After 2.5 years, the program increased enrollment by 19 percentage points and increased test scores by 0.41 standard deviations. For those caused to attend school, scores increased by 2.2 standard deviations. Girls' enrollment increased by 5 percentage points more than boys' enrollment, but they experienced the same increase in test scores as boys. The unique characteristics of the schools are responsible for increasing enrollment by 13 percentage points and test scores by 0.35 standard deviations. They account for the entire difference in the treatment effects by gender.
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

,” Review of Economic Studies, 80 (4): 1459-1483. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Do the repayment requirements of the classic micro finance 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 pro ts 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 micro finance on micro enterprise growth and household poverty.
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.
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.