Publications

2009
Pande, Rohini, Lori Beaman, Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Esther Duflo, and Petia Topalova. 2009. “Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 124 (4): 1497-1540. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We exploit random assignment of gender quotas for leadership positions on Indian village councils to show that prior exposure to a female leader is associated with electoral gains for women. After ten years of quotas, women are more likely to stand for, and win, elected positions in councils required to have a female chief councilor in the previous two elections. We provide experimental and survey evidence on one channel of influence—changes in voter attitudes. Prior exposure to a female chief councilor improves perceptions of female leader effectiveness and weakens stereotypes about gender roles in the public and domestic spheres.

Khwaja, Asim Ijaz. 2009. “Can Good Projects Succeed in Bad Communities?.” Journal of Public Economics 93 (7-8): 899-916. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The lack of “social capital” is frequently given as an explanation for why communities perform poorly. Yet to what extent can project design compensate for these community-specific constraints? I address this question by examining determinants of collective success in a costly problem for developing economies — the upkeep of local public goods. It is often difficult to obtain reliable outcome measures for comparable collective tasks across well-defined communities. In order to address this I conducted detailed surveys of community-maintained infrastructure projects in Northern Pakistan. The findings show that while community-specific constraints do matter, their impact can be mitigated by better project design. Inequality, social fragmentation, and lack of leadership in the community do have adverse consequences but these can be overcome by changes in project complexity, community participation, and return distribution. Moreover, the evidence suggests that better design matters even more for communities with poorer attributes. The use of community fixed effects and instrumental variables offers a significant improvement in empirical identification over previous studies. These results provide evidence that appropriate design can enable projects to succeed even in “bad” communities.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Tara Vishwanath, and Tristan Zajonc. 2009. “Learning and Educational Achievements in Punjab Schools (LEAPS): Insights to inform the education policy debate,” 1-199. Publisher's VersionAbstract

There have been dramatic changes in the educational landscape of Pakistan in the new millennium. Enrollments are starting to look up with a one percentage point jump in net enrollments between 2001 and 2005. In addition, secular, co-educational and for-profit private schools have become a widespread presence in both urban and rural areas. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of private schools increased from 32,000 to 47,000 and by the end of 2005, one in every three enrolled children at the primary level was studying in a private school.

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.

journal_of_the_european_economic_association_vol_7_no_2-3_yanagizawa-drott_2009_getting_prices_right_-_hks.pdf
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.

journal_of_the_european_economic_association_vol_7_no_2-3_yanagizawa-drott_2009_-_hks.pdf
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.

Blair, Randall, Larissa Campuzano, Dan Levy, and Lorenzo Moreno. 2009. “Toward closing the evaluation gap: lessons from three recent impact evaluations of social programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Well Being and Social Policy 5 (2): 1-23. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Despite recent growing demand from funders and governments, rigorous impact evaluations in Latin America and the Caribbean remain the exception rather than the rule. Many commissioned impact evaluations are methodologically weak, and thus only marginally useful in assessing the impact of social interventions. Other impact evaluations feature strong research methodologies at their conception, but face considerable institutional challenges during key points in the design and implementation phases. This paper identifies some of the barriers that limit the design and implementation of rigorous impact evaluations in this region, as well as several enablers to the successful design and implementation of such evaluations. The paper also outlines some key practices for designing and implementing high-quality impact evaluations in Latin America and the Caribbean. We use a case study methodology that combines our experience designing and implementing impact evaluations in three ongoing or recent social programs in El Salvador, Jamaica, and Mexico.

2008
Pande, Rohini, and Erica Field. 2008. “Repayment Frequency and Default in Microfinance: Evidence from India.” Journal of European Economic Association, April-May 2008 6 (2-3): 501-509. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In stark contrast to bank debt contracts, most micro-finance contracts require that repayments start nearly immediately after loan disbursement and occur weekly thereafter. Even though economic theory suggests that a more flexible repayment schedule would benefit clients and potentially improve their repayment capacity, micro-finance practitioners argue that the fiscal discipline imposed by frequent repayment is critical to preventing loan default. In this paper we use data from a field experiment which randomized client assignment to a weekly or monthly repayment schedule and find no significant effect of type of repayment schedule on client delinquency or default. Our findings suggest that, among micro-finance clients who are willing to borrow at either weekly or monthly repayment schedules, a more flexible schedule can significantly lower transaction costs without increasing client default.

Singhal, Monica. 2008. “Special Interest Groups and the Allocation of Public Funds.” Journal of Public Economics 92 (3-4): 548-564. Publisher's Version
2008. “The Big March: Migratory Flows after the Partition of India.” Economic and Political Weekly, August 30, 2008, 39-49. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Partition of India in 1947 along ostensibly religious lines into India, Pakistan, and what eventually became Bangladesh resulted in one of the largest and most rapid migrations in human history. In this paper district level census data from archives are compiled to quantify the scale of migratory flows across the subcontinent.We estimate total migrator y inf lows of 14.5 million and outflows of 17.9 million, implying 3.4 million “missing” people. The paper also uncovers a substantial degree of regional variability. Flows were much larger along the western border, higher in cities and areas close to the border, and dependent heavily on the size of the “minority” religious group. The migratory flows also display a “relative replacement effect” with in-migrants moving to places that saw greater outmigration.

khwaja_a_-_the_big_march_epw_publish08.pdf
Khwaja, Asim, Tahir Andrabi, Jishnu Das, and Tristan Zajonc. 2008. “Madrassa Metrics: The Statistics and Rhetoric of Religious Enrollment in Pakistan.” Beyond Crisis: A Critical Second Look at Pakistan, Ed. Naveeda Khan, Routledge, May 2008.Abstract

Although consensus on deep determinants of terrorism still eludes us, Islamic religious schools are widely cited as an important contributor to extremism. Nowhere have these statements been more strongly applied than to Pakistan, where religious schools -- commonly known as madrassas -- were responsible for educating the leadership of the Taliban during the 1980s. In recent years, these schools have been called “factories of jihad” and are commonly believed to churn out extremists by the millions. While discussions about Pakistani madrassas are deemed central to the war on terror, two distinct issues remain difficult to resolve: First, do madrassas, through their teaching and training, create terrorists by indoctrinating their students in a particular world-view? Second, are parents increasingly sending the vast majority of their children to madrassas?

madrassas_beyondcrisis_final.pdf
Khwaja, Asim, and Atif Mian. 2008. “Tracing the Impact of Bank Liquidity Shocks: Evidence from an Emerging Market.” American Economic Review 98 (4): 1413-1442. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We examine the impact of liquidity shocks by exploiting cross-bank liquidity variation induced by unanticipated nuclear tests in Pakistan. We show that for the same firm borrowing from two different banks, its loan from the bank experiencing a 1 percent larger decline in liquidity drops by an additional 0.6 percent. While banks pass their liquidity shocks on to firms, large firms—particularly those with strong business or political ties—completely compensate this loss by additional borrowing through the credit market. Small firms are unable to do so and face large drops in overall borrowing and increased financial distress.

khwaja_a_-tracing_the_impact_of_bank_liquidity_shocks_evidence_-_aer_2008.pdf
Khwaja, Asim, David Clingingsmith, and Michael Kremer. 2008. “Mecca and Moderation.” New York Times, May 20, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Does increased religious orthodoxy promote violence and intolerance? Our research on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca suggests this association is wrong. The hajj is one of the most important institutions in Islam and a singular experience for many Muslims. Our recent study of Pakistani pilgrims shows that while performing the hajj leads to greater religious orthodoxy, it also increases pilgrims' desire for peace and tolerance toward others. And this greater tolerance is not just toward fellow Muslims - it also extends to non-Muslims.

khwaja_a_-_mecca_and_moderation_ny_times_2008.pdf
Hanna, Rema, Esther Duflo, and Michael Greenstone. 2008. “Cooking Stoves, Indoor Air Pollution and Respiratory Health in Rural Orissa.” Economic and Political Weekly (Aug. 9-15, 2008), 43, 32, 71-76. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Indoor air pollution emitted from traditional fuels and cooking stoves is a potentially large health threat in rural regions. This paper reports the results of a survey of tradftional stove ownership and health among 2,400 households in rural Orissa. We find a very high incidence of respiratory illness. About one-third of the adults and half of the children in the survey had experienced symptoms of respiratory illness in the 30 days preceding the survey, with 10 per cent of adults and 20 per cent of children experiencing a serious cough. We find a high correlation between using a traditional stove and having symptoms of respiratory illness. We cannot, however, rule out the possibility that the high level of observed respiratory illness is due to other factors that also contribute to a household's decision to use a traditional stove, such as poverty, health preferences and the bargaining power of women in the household.

Hanna, Rema, Marianne Bertrand, Simeon Djankov, and Sendhil Mullainathan. 2008. “Corruption in Driving Licenses in Delhi.” Economic and Political Weekly, 71-76. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper studies the process of obtaining a driving licence in Delhi. On the average, individuals pay about twice the official amount to obtain a licence and very few take the legally required driving test, resulting in many unqualified yet licenced drivers. The magnitude of distortions in the allocation of licences increases with citizens’ willingness to pay for licences. These results support the view that corruption does not merely reflect transfers from citizens to bureaucrats but that it distorts allocation. The paper also shows that partial anti-corruption measures have only a limited impact because players in this system adapt to the new environment. Specifically, a ban on agents at one regional transport office is associated with a high percentage of unqualified drivers overcoming the residency requirement and obtaining licenses at other RTOS.

Hanna, Rema, Esther Duflo, and Michael Greenstone. 2008. “Indoor Air Pollution, Health, and Economic Well-being.” Surveys and Perspectives Integrating Environment and Society, 1, 1, 7-16. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Indoor air pollution (IAP) caused by solid fuel use and or traditional cooking stoves is a global health threat, particularly for women and young children. The WHO World Health Report 2002 estimates that IAP is responsible for 2.7% of the loss of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide and 3.7% in high mortality developing countries. Despite the magnitude of this problem, social scientists have only recently begun to pay closer attention to this issue and to test strategies for reducing IAP. In this paper, we provide a survey of the current literature on the relationship between indoor air pollution, respiratory health and economic well-being. We then discuss the available evidence on the effectiveness of popular policy prescriptions to reduce IAP within the household.

indoor_air_pollution.sapiens_2008.pdf
Hanna, Rema, Marianne Bertrand, Simeon Djankov, and Sendhil Mullainathan. 2008. “Petty Corruption in Public Services: Driving Licenses in Delhi, India.” Transparency International Global Corruption Report 2008, 342-344. Publisher's VersionAbstract

While millions of dollars are spent on anti-corruption programmes each year, some analysts still maintain that corruption is nothing more than a tax: the process may be unjust or frustrating but, in the end, it provides goods and services to those who value them the most. Corruption may even ‘grease the wheels’ and speed up an all too cumbersome regulatory process. A study on how driving licences are issued in Delhi, India, finds this view highly misleading and shows precisely how corruption can dramatically alter the consequences of a policy.

Kremer, Michael, and Dan Levy. 2008. “Peer Effects and Alcohol Use among College Students.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 22 (3): 189-206. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper examines the extent to which college students who drink alcohol influence their peers. We exploit a natural experiment in which students at a large state university were randomly assigned roommates through a lottery system. We find that on average, males assigned to roommates who reported drinking in the year prior to entering college had a Grade Point Average (GPA) one quarter-point lower than those assigned to nondrinking roommates. The effect of initial assignment to a drinking roommate persists into the second year of college and possibly grows. The effect is especially large for students who drank alcohol themselves in the year prior to college. In contrast to the males, females' GPAs do not appear affected by roommates' drinking prior to college. Furthermore, students' college GPA is not significantly affected by roommates' high school grades, admission test scores, or family background. These findings are more consistent with models in which peers change people's preferences than with models in which peers change people's choice sets. Surprisingly, the policy of segregating drinkers by having substance-free housing could potentially lower average GPA in the university.

Field, Erica, and Rohini Pande. 2008. “Repayment Frequency and Default in Microfinance: Evidence From India.” Journal of the European Economic Association 6 (2-3): 501-509. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In stark contrast to bank debt contracts, most micro-finance contracts require that repayments start nearly immediately after loan disbursement and occur weekly thereafter. Even though economic theory suggests that a more flexible repayment schedule would benefit clients and potentially improve their repayment capacity, micro-finance practitioners argue that the fiscal discipline imposed by frequent repayment is critical to preventing loan default. In this paper we use data from a field experiment which randomized client assignment to a weekly or monthly repayment schedule and find no significant effect of type of repayment schedule on client delinquency or default. Our findings suggest that, among micro-finance clients who are willing to borrow at either weekly or monthly repayment schedules, a more flexible schedule can significantly lower transaction costs without increasing client default.

Field, Erica, Matthew Levinson, Rohini Pande, and Sujata Visaria. 2008. “Segregation, Rent Control, and Riots: The Economics of Religious Conflict in an Indian City.” American Economic Review 98 (2): 505-510. Publisher's Version

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