Kwaja, Asim, David Clingingsmith, and Michael Kremer. 2009. “Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance In Islam's Global Gathering.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, August, 2009 124 (3): 1133-1170. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We estimate the impact on pilgrims of performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Our method compares successful and unsuccessful applicants in a lottery used by Pakistan to allocate Hajj visas. Pilgrim accounts stress that the Hajj leads to a feeling of unity with fellow Muslims, but outsiders have sometimes feared that this could be accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims. We find that participation in the Hajj increases observance of global Islamic practices such as prayer and fasting while decreasing participation in localized practices and beliefs such as the use of amulets and dowry. It increases belief in equality and harmony among ethnic groups and Islamic sects and leads to more favorable attitudes toward women, including greater acceptance of female education and employment. Increased unity within the Islamic world is not accompanied by antipathy toward non-Muslims. Instead, Hajjis show increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions. The evidence suggests that these changes are more a result of exposure to and interaction with Hajjis from around the world, rather than religious instruction or a changed social role of pilgrims upon return.

Khwaja, Asim, Tahir Andrabi, Jishnu Das, and C. Christine Fair. 2009. “The Madrasa Myth.” Foreign Policy, Aug 27 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

On May 3, 2009 the New York Times published a lengthy description of Pakistan's education system. The article, like so many before it, rehearsed a well-known narrative in which government schools are failing while madrasas are multiplying, providing a modicum of education for Pakistan's poorest children.

Khwaja, Asim, PRASHANT BHARADWAJ, and Atif Mian. 2009. “The Partition of India: Demographic Consequences.” International Migration, June 2009.Abstract

Large scale migrations, especially involuntary ones, can have a sudden and substantial impact on the demographics of both sending and receiving communities. The partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 resulted in one of the largest and most rapid population exchanges in human history. We compile census data to estimate its impact on a district’s educational, occupational, and gender composition. Comparing neighboring districts within a state better isolates the effect of the migratory flows from secular changes. We find large effects within four years. With migrants typically more educated than non-migrants, inflows into a district raised its literacy levels (by 12-16% more than less affected districts in India and Pakistan) while outflows reduced it (by 20% in Pakistan). The effects are asymmetric across regions. With relatively less land vacated by those who left Indian Punjab, Indian districts with large inflows saw a decline of 70% in the growth of agricultural occupations. In contrast, Indian districts with large outflows saw an increase of 56% in the growth of the fraction of agriculturists. Initial differences in migrant characteristics also meant there were large net effects even when a district saw similar two-way flows. Along the gender dimension, Indian districts with large outflows saw a greater increase in gender balance (the percentage of males fell); the corresponding inflows into Pakistani districts also improved the gender balance. While Pakistani in-migrants had higher male ratios relative to the communities they left, these ratios were lower compared to the communities they migrated to. Given the partition was along religious lines - with Muslims leaving India and Hindus and Sikhs leaving what became Pakistan and Bangladesh – it increased religious homogenization within communities. However, our results suggest that this  was accompanied by increased educational and occupational differences within religious groups. We hypothesize that these compositional effects, in addition to an aggregate population impact, are likely features of involuntary migrations and, as in the case of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, can have important long-term consequence.

Levy, Dan, Harounan Kazianga, Leigh Linden, and Matt Sloan. 2009. “Impact Evaluation of Burkina Faso's BRIGHT Program, Final Report.,” Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., June 12, 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This report documents the main findings from the impact evaluation of the BRIGHT program. In general, the main conclusions are that BRIGHT had about a 20 percentage point positive impact on girls’ primary school enrollment, and had positive impacts on Math and French test scores for both girls and boys. The evaluation was conducted by an independent research contractor, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR), and two consultants, Leigh Linden (Columbia University) and Harounan Kazianga (Oklahoma State University). Data for the evaluation were collected by a team of researchers at the University of Ouagadougou led by Jean Pierre Sawadogo. The impact evaluation sought to answer three key questions: (1) What was the impact of the program on school enrollment? (2) What was the impact of the program on test scores? (3) Were the impacts different for girls than for boys? While two other reports have documented that the program was implemented as intended, by and large, this evaluation focuses on assessing its impacts.

Levy, Dan. 2009. “Impact Evaluation of Burkina Faso's BRIGHT Program, Final Report,” Mathematica Policy Research, Inc, May 2009. Publisher's Version
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.

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.

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.

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, 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?

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, 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.

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.