Ted's main research focus is African economic development, including work on the economic causes and consequences of violence; the impact of ethnic divisions on local collective action; interactions between health, education, environment, and productivity for the poor; and methods for transparent social science research. He has conducted field work in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and India. Many of the datasets used in his research are posted online, either on the relevant article page (on this website) or on Dataverse.
This study estimates long-run impacts of a child health investment, exploiting community-wide experimental variation in school-based deworming. The program increased labor supply among men and education among women, with accompanying shifts in labor market specialization. Ten years after deworming treatment, men who were eligible as boys stay enrolled for more years of primary school, work 17% more hours each week, spend more time in non-agricultural self-employment, are more likely to hold manufacturing jobs, and miss one fewer meal per week. Women who were in treatment schools as girls are approximately one quarter more likely to have attended secondary school, halving the gender gap. They reallocate time from traditional agriculture into cash crops and non-agricultural self-employment. We estimate a conservative annualized financial internal rate of return to deworming of 32%, and show that mass deworming may generate more in future government revenue than it costs in subsidies.
Baird, Sarah, Joan Hamory Hicks, Michael Kremer and Edward Miguel. (2016). "Worms at work: Long-run impacts of a child health investment", Quarterly Journal of Economics, 131(4): 1637-1680, doi: 10.1093/qje/qjw022.
Jullien, Sinclair and Garner (2016) (henceforth JSG) state that they seek to ‘appraise the methods’ of three recent papers that estimate long-run impacts of mass deworming on educational or economic outcomes. This commentary focuses on their discussion of Baird, Hicks, Kremer and Miguel (2016) (henceforth Baird).We welcome scrutiny of our work, and appreciate the opportunity to discuss JSG. Baird finds evidence of gains in some educational and labour outcomes 10 years after a deworming programme in 75 Kenyan primary schools. Some gains are found in the full sample, and others among either males or females, in ways that are sensible given the context, e.g. there are gains in manufacturing employment among males but not females, fewer of whom work in this sector in Kenya. Below we discuss JSG’s claim that the evidence in Baird is unreliable. It is not surprising that any two scholars might interpret a body of results differently, but JSG make a series of claims that appear overstated or are somewhat misleading.
Baird, Sarah, Joan Hamory Hicks, Michael Kremer, and Edward Miguel. (2017). "Commentary: Assessing long-run deworming impacts on education and economic outcomes: a comment on Jullien, Sinclair and Garner (2016)", International Journal of Epidemiology, doi: 10.1093/ije/dyw350.
Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) and schistosomiasis infections affect more than 1 billion people, mainly in low- and middle-income countries, particularly school-age children. This chapter discusses the economics of policy choices surrounding public investments in deworming.
“Economics of Mass Deworming Programs” (co-authors Amrita Ahuja, Sarah Baird, Joan Hamory Hicks, Michael Kremer), Chapter 29 in Disease Control Priorities (third edition): Volume 8, Child and Adolescent Health and Development, (eds.) D. A. P. Bundy, N. de Silva, S. Horton, D. T. Jamison, and G. C. Patton. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2017.
Improved health in low-income countries could considerably improve wellbeing and possibly promote economic growth. The last decade has seen a surge in field experiments designed to understand the barriers that households and governments face in investing in health and how these barriers can be overcome, and to assess the impacts of subsequent health gains. This chapter first discusses the methodological pitfalls that field experiments in the health sector are particularly susceptible to, then reviews the evidence that rigorous field experiments have generated so far. While the link from in utero and child health to later outcomes has increasingly been established, few experiments have estimated the impacts of health on contemporaneous productivity among adults, and few experiments have explored the potential for infrastructural programs to impact health outcomes. Many more studies have examined the determinants of individual health behavior, on the side of consumers as well as among providers of health products and services.
Dupas, Pascaline, and Edward Miguel. "Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries", 2017, Handbook of Field Experiments, (eds.) Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee.
Recent research has pointed to large gaps in labor productivity between the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors in low-income countries, as well as between workers in rural and urban areas. Most estimates are based on national accounts or repeated cross-sections of micro-survey data, and as a result typically struggle to account for individual selection between sectors. This paper uses long-run individual-level panel data from two low-income countries (Indonesia and Kenya). Accounting for individual fixed effects leads to much smaller estimated productivity gains from moving into the non-agricultural sector (or urban areas), reducing estimated gaps by over 80%. Per capita consumption gaps are also small once individual fixed effects are included. Estimated productivity gaps do not emerge up to five years after a move between sectors. We evaluate whether these findings imply a re-assessment of the conventional wisdom regarding sectoral gaps, discuss how to reconcile them with existing cross-sectional estimates, and consider implications for the desirability of sectoral reallocation of labor.
Hicks, Joan Hamory, Marieke Kleemans, Nicholas Y. Li, and Edward Miguel. (2017). "Reevaluating Agricultural Productivity Gaps with Longitudinal Microdata", NBER Working Paper No. 23253.
This paper exploits an unusual transportation setting to generate some of the first revealed preference value of a statistical life (VSL) estimates from a low-income setting. We estimate the trade-offs individuals are willing to make between mortality risk and cost as they travel to and from the international airport in Sierra Leone. The setting and original dataset allow us to address some typical omitted variable concerns, and also to compare VSL estimates for travelers from different countries, all facing the same choice situation. The average VSL estimate for African travelers in the sample is US$577,000 compared to US$924,000 for non-Africans.
León, Gianmarco, and Edward Miguel. 2017. "Risky Transportation Choices and the Value of a Statistical Life", American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 9(1): 202-228, doi: 10.1257/app.20160140.
Self-control problems constitute a potential explanation for the under-investment in preventive health care observed in low-income countries. A commonly proposed policy tool to solve such problems is offering consumers commitment devices. We conduct a field experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of different types of theoretically-motivated commitment contracts in increasing preventive doctor visits by hypertensive patients in rural India. We document varying levels of takeup of the different commitment contracts, but nd no effects on actual doctor visits or individual health outcomes. Thus, a substantial number of individuals pay for commitments, but then fail to follow through on the specified task, losing money without experiencing any health benefit. We develop and structurally estimate a pre-specified model of consumer behavior under present bias with varying levels of naivete. The results are consistent with a large share of individuals being partially naive about their own self-control problems; in other words, they are sophisticated enough to demand some commitment, but overly optimistic about whether a given commitment is sufficiently strong to be effective. The results suggest that commitment devices may in practice be welfare diminishing, at least in some contexts, and serve as a cautionary tale about the role of these contracts in the...
Bai, Liang, Benjamin Handel, Edward Miguel, and Gautam Rao. (2017). "Self-Control and Demand for Preventive Health: Evidence from Hypertension in India", NBER Working Paper #23727.
In April 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) department and Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) department convened a Guidelines Development Group meeting to review the WHO’s recommendations for the control of soil-transmitted helminths in high-risk groups. Subsequent to this meeting, the WHO will announce whether it will reaffirm its long-standing recommendation of mass drug administration (MDA) in areas with more than 20% prevalence of soil-transmitted helminths (hookworm, whipworm, and roundworm). We recently released a new meta-analysis working paper focusing on the effect of MDA on weight gain for children, which was presented at this WHO convening. In light of the mounting evidence on both the short-run impacts on child weight and long-run educational and economic effects of deworming, we believe that the expected benefits of deworming are likely to greatly exceed the cost, and that the long-standing support of WHO and other international donors and organizations for mass deworming remains scientifically justified.
Croke, Kevin, Joan Hamory Hicks, Eric Hsu, Michael Kremer, and Edward Miguel. (2017). "Should the WHO withdraw support for mass deworming?", PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005481.
Many public health interventions provide benefits that extend beyond their direct recipients and impact people in close physical or social proximity who did not directly receive the intervention themselves. A classic example of this phenomenon is the herd protection provided by many vaccines. If these 'spillover effects' (i.e., 'herd effects') are present in the same direction as the effects on the intended recipients, studies that only estimate direct effects on recipients will likely underestimate the full public health benefits of the intervention. Causal inference assumptions for spillover parameters have been articulated in the vaccine literature, but many studies measuring spillovers of other types of public health interventions have not drawn upon that literature. In conjunction with a systematic review we conducted of spillovers of public health interventions delivered in low- and middle-income countries, we classified the most widely used spillover parameters reported in the empirical literature into a standard notation. General classes of spillover parameters include: cluster-level spillovers; spillovers conditional on treatment or outcome density, distance or the number of treated social network links; and vaccine efficacy parameters related to spillovers. We draw on high quality empirical examples to illustrate each of these parameters. We describe study designs to estimate...
Jade Benjamin-Chung, Benjamin F. Arnold, David Berger, Stephen P. Luby, Edward Miguel, John M. Colford Jr., Alan E. Hubbard. 2017. "Spillover effects in epidemiology: parameters, study designs and methodological considerations", International Journal of Epidemiology, doi: 10.1093/ije/dyx201.
Background: Many interventions delivered to improve health may benefit not only direct recipients but also people in close physical or social proximity. Our objective was to review all published literature about the spillover effects of interventions on health outcomes in low-middle income countries and to identify methods used in estimating these effects. Methods: We searched 19 electronic databases for articles published before 2014 and hand-searched titles from 2010 to 2013 in five relevant journals. We adapted the Cochrane Collaboration’s quality grading tool for spillover estimation and rated the quality of evidence. Results: A total of 54 studies met inclusion criteria. We found a wide range of terminology used to describe spillovers, a lack of standardization among spillover methods and poor reporting of spillovers in many studies. We identified three primary mechanisms of spillovers: reduced disease transmission, social proximity and substitution of resources within households. We found the strongest evidence for spillovers through reduced disease transmission, particularly vaccines and mass drug administration. In general, the proportion of a population receiving an intervention was associated with improved health. Most studies were of moderate or low quality. We found evidence of publication bias for certain spillover estimates but not for total or direct...
Jade Benjamin-Chung, Jaynal Abedin, David Berger, Ashley Clark, Veronica Jimenez, Eugene Konagaya, Diana Tran, Benjamin F. Arnold, Alan E. Hubbard, Stephen P. Luby, Edward Miguel and John M. Colford Jr. 2017. "Spillover effects on health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review", International Journal of Epidemiology, doi: 10.1093/ije/dyx039.
Whether changes in climate substantially shape human conflict is a question of considerable recent interest to both academics and policymakers. Despite a substantial body of evidence for a strong association between climate and conflict, it remains widely claimed that large-sample empirical evidence linking climatic conditions and modern human conflict in Africa is mixed and thus any reported evidence for a strong association should be discounted. Theisen, Holterman, and Buhaug (henceforth THB) is one of the studies used to support this claim. Here we show that the results in THB are not inconsistent with earlier studies that report a substantial eect of of climate on conflict. We demonstrate using power calculations and Monte Carlo simulations that even if a large association between climate and conflict existed in the data, the approach of THB would not be able to reliably distinguish this association from a null eect, indicating that the approach taken by THB is statistically underpowered in this context. Therefore THB's analysis provides no basis for discarding earlier analyses and THB's conclusions drawn from this analysis overstate the extent to which they disagree with the literature. We also demonstrate that THB's stated advantage from using exceptionally high resolution data is unlikely to be realized in their analysis, since high resolution rainfall data...
Hsiang, Solomon M., Marshall Burke, Edward Miguel, Kyle C. Meng, Mark A. Cane. 2015. "Analysis of statistical power reconciles drought-conflict results in Africa", CEGA Working Paper #53, December 2015.