We study the brutal 1991-2002 Sierra Leone civil war using nationally representative household data on conflict experiences, postwar economic outcomes, local politics and collective action. Individuals whose households directly experienced more intense war violence are robustly more likely to attend community meetings, more likely to join local political and community groups, and more likely to vote. Tests using prewar controls and alternative samples suggest that selection into victimization is unlikely to be driving the results. More speculatively, the findings could help partially explain the rapid postwar political and economic recoveries observed in Sierra Leone and after several other recent African civil wars.
Bundy, Donald A. P., Michael Kremer, Hoyt Bleakley, Matthew C. H. Jukes, and Edward Miguel. 2009. "Deworming and Development: Asking the Right Questions, Asking the Questions Right." PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 3 (1): e362.
Two billion people are infected with intestinal worms. In many areas, the majority of schoolchildren are infected, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for school-based mass deworming. The key area for debate is not whether deworming medicine works–in fact, the medical literature finds that treatment is highly effective, and thus the standard of care calls for treating any patient known to harbor an infection. As the authors of the Cochrane systematic review point out, a critical issue in evaluating current soil-transmitted helminth policies is whether the benefits of deworming exceed the costs or whether it would be more prudent to use the money for other purposes. While in general we think the Cochrane approach is very valuable, we argue below that many of the underlying studies of deworming suffer from three critical methodological problems: treatment externalities in dynamic infection systems, inadequate measurement of cognitive outcomes and school attendance, and sample attrition. We then argue that the currently available evidence from studies that address these issues is consistent with the consensus view expressed by other reviews and by policymakers that deworming is a very cost-effective way to increase school participation and has a high benefit to cost ratio.
Burke, Marshall B., Edward Miguel, Shanker Satyanath, John A. Dykema, and David B. Lobell. 2009. "Warming Increases the Risk of Civil War in Africa." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (49): 20670-20674.
Armed conflict within nations has had disastrous humanitarian consequences throughout much of the world. Here we undertake the first comprehensive examination of the potential impact of global climate change on armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. We find strong historical linkages between civil war and temperature in Africa, with warmer years leading to significant increases in the likelihood of war. When combined with climate model projections of future temperature trends, this historical response to temperature suggests a roughly 54% increase in armed conflict incidence by 2030, or an additional 393,000 battle deaths if future wars are as deadly as recent wars. Our results suggest an urgent need to reform African governments' and foreign aid donors' policies to deal with rising temperatures.
We study a randomized evaluation of a merit scholarship program in which Kenyan girls who scored well on academic exams had school fees paid and received a grant. Girls showed substantial exam score gains, and teacher attendance improved in program schools. There were positive externalities for girls with low pretest scores, who were unlikely to win a scholarship. We see no evidence for weakened intrinsic motivation. There were heterogeneous program effects. In one of the two districts, there were large exam gains and positive spillovers to boys. In the other, attrition complicates estimation, but we cannot reject the hypothesis of no program effect.
This study exploits a new longitudinal dataset to examine selective migration among 1,500 Kenyan youth originally living in rural areas. We examine whether migration rates are related to individual "ability", broadly defined to include cognitive aptitude as well as health, and then use these estimates to determine how much of the urban-rural wage gap in Kenya is due to selection versus actual productivity differences. Whereas previous empirical work has focused on schooling attainment as a proxy for cognitive ability, we employ an arguably preferable measure, a pre-migration primary school academic test score. Pre-migration randomized assignment to a deworming treatment program provides variation in health status. We find a positive relationship between both measures of human capital (cognitive ability and deworming) and subsequent migration, though only the former is robust at standard statistical significance levels. Specifically, an increase of two standard deviations in academic test score increases the likelihood of rural-urban migration by 17%. Accounting for migration selection due to both cognitive ability and schooling attainment does not explain more than a small fraction of the sizeable urban-rural wage gap in Kenya, suggesting that productivity differences across sectors remain large.