Publications by Type: Journal Article

Sheely, Ryan. Submitted. “How Do Institutions Shape Public Goods Maintenance? Evidence from Rural Kenya.” British Journal of Political Science.
Hanna, Rema, and Shing-yi Wang. 2017. “Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service: Evidence from India.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 9 (3): 262-290. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Students in India who cheat on a simple laboratory task are more likely to prefer public sector jobs. This paper shows that cheating on this task predicts corrupt behavior by civil servants, implying that it is a meaningful predictor of future corruption. Students who demonstrate pro-social preferences are less likely to prefer government jobs, while outcomes on an explicit game and attitudinal measures to measure corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. A screening process that chooses high-ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption. The findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption.
Hanna, Rema, Benjamin A. Olken, and Gabriel Kreindler. 2017. “Citywide effects of high-occupancy vehicle restrictions: Evidence from “three-in-one” in Jakarta.” Science 357 (6346): 89-93. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Widespread use of single-occupancy cars often leads to traffic congestion. Using anonymized traffic speed data from Android phones collected through Google Maps, we investigated whether high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) policies can combat congestion. We studied Jakarta’s “three-in-one” policy, which required all private cars on two major roads to carry at least three passengers during peak hours. After the policy was abruptly abandoned in April 2016, delays rose from 2.1 to 3.1 minutes per kilometer (min/km) in the morning peak and from 2.8 to 5.3 min/km in the evening peak. The lifting of the policy led to worse traffic throughout the city, even on roads that had never been restricted or at times when restrictions had never been in place. In short, we find that HOV policies can greatly improve traffic conditions.


Hanna, Rema, and Iqbal Dhaliwal. 2017. “The devil is in the details: The successes and limitations of bureaucratic reform in India.” Journal of Development Economics 107 (January 2017): 1-21. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Using a biometric technology to monitor the attendance of public health workers in India resulted in a 15 percent increase in staff presence, particularly for lower-level staff. The monitoring program led to a reduction in low-birth weight babies, highlighting the importance of improving provider presence. But, despite the government initiating this reform, there was ultimately a low demand by the government to use the higher quality attendance data available in real time to enforce their existing human resource policies (e.g. leave or salary deductions) due to logistical challenges and a not unrealistic fear of generating staff discord or increase in staff attrition, especially among doctors, who showed the least improvement in attendance. While we observed some gains from this type of monitoring program, technological solutions by themselves will not improve attendance of government staff without a willingness to use the data generated to enforce existing penalties.
Khwaja, Asim Ijaz, Tahir Andrabi, and Jishnu Das. 2017. “Report Cards: The Impact of Providing School and Child Test Scores on Educational Markets.” American Economic Review 107 (6): 1535-1563. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We study the impact of providing school report cards with 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 test scores is consistent with canonical models of asymmetric information. Information provision facilitates better comparisons across providers, and improves market efficiency and child welfare through higher test scores, higher enrollment, and lower fees.
Pande, Rohini. 2017. “Why Are Indian Children So Short? The Role of Birth Order and Son Preference.” American Economic Association 107 (9): 2600-2629. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Co-authored by two economists–Associate Professor Seema Jayachandran of Northwestern University and Professor Rohini Pande of Harvard Kennedy School—the article examines the role that gendered parental preferences play in child stunting in India, a phenomenon which prior research has demonstrated casts a long shadow over an individual's life: on average, people who are shorter as children are less healthy, have lower cognitive ability, and earn less as adults.
Pande, Rohini, Sharon Barnhardt, and Erica Field. 2017. “Moving to Opportunity or Isolation? Network Effects of a Randomized Housing Lottery in Urban India.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 9 (1): 1-32. Publisher's Version
Pande, Rohini, Sean Lewis-Faupel, Yusuf Neggers, and Benjamin A. Olken. 2016. “ Can Electronic Procurement Improve Infrastructure Provision? Evidence from Public Works in India and Indonesia.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 8 (3): 258-283. Publisher's Version can_electronic_procurement_pande.pdf
Hanna, Rema, and Paulina Oliva. 2016. “Implications of Climate Change for Children in Developing Countries.” Future of Children 26 (1). Publisher's Version implications_of_climate_hanna.pdf
Pande, Rohini, Timothy Besley, Jessica Leight, and Vijayendra Rao. 2016. “Long-Run Impacts of Land Regulation: Evidence from Tenancy Reform in India .” Journal of Development Economics 118: 72-87. Publisher's Version
Khwaja, Asim, Rajkamal Iyer, Erzo F.P. Luttmer, and Kelly Shue. 2016. “Screening Peers Softly: Inferring the Quality of Small Borrowers.” Management Science 62 (6): 1554-1577. Publisher's Version screening_peers_softly_khwaja.pdf
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.

Hanna, Rema, Eva Arceo, and Paulina Oliva. 2016. “Does the Effect of Pollution on Infant Mortality Differ Between Developing and Developed Countries? Evidence from Mexico City.” The Economic Journal 126 (591): 257-280. 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.

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 124 (2). Publisher's VersionAbstract
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.
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.

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.

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.


Tax Farming Redux: Experimental Evidence of Performance Pay for Tax Collectors Appendix
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.