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

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Elections and Selfishness
AuthorsKjetil Bjorvatn, Simon Galle, Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Edward Miguel, Daniel Posner, Bertil Tungodden, Kelly Zhang
Year2021
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesAfrican Development; Political Economy and Conflict

Elections affect the division of resources in society and are occasions for political elites to make appeals rooted in voters’ self-interest. Hence, elections may erode altruistic norms and cause people to behave more selfishly. We test this intuition using Dictator Games in a lab-in-the-field experiment involving a sample of more than 1,000 individuals in Kenya and Tanzania. We adopt two approaches. First, we experimentally prime participants to think about the upcoming or most recent elections and find that this priming treatment reduces how much money participants are willing to give to other players. Second, we compare results obtained across lab rounds in Kenya taking place right before the country’s 2013 national elections and eight months prior, and find that selfishness is greater in the lab round more proximate to the election. Our results suggest that elections may affect social behavior in important—and previously unrecognized—ways.

Bjorvatn, Kjetil, Simon Galle, Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Edward Miguel, Daniel Posner, Bertil Tungodden, and Kelly Zhang. (2020). "Elections and Selfishness", forthcoming Electoral Studies.

A Framework for Open Policy Analysis
AuthorsFernando Hoces de la Guardia, Sean Grant, and Edward Miguel
Year2020
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology

The evidence-based policy movement promotes the use of empirical evidence to inform policy decision-making. While several social science disciplines are undergoing a “credibility revolution” focused on openness and replication, policy analysis has yet to systematically embrace transparency and reproducibility. We argue that policy analysis should adopt the open research practices increasingly espoused in related disciplines to advance the credibility of evidence-based policymaking. We first discuss the importance of evidence-based policy in an era of increasing disagreement about facts, analysis, and expertise. We present a novel framework for “open” policy analysis (OPA) and how to achieve it, focusing on examples of recent policy analyses that have incorporated open research practices such as transparent reporting, open data, and code sharing. We conclude with recommendations on how key stakeholders in evidence-based policy can make OPA the norm and thus safeguard trust in using empirical evidence to inform important public policy decisions.

Hoces de la Guardia, Fernando, Sean Grant, and Edward Miguel. (2020). "A Framework for Open Policy Analysis", forthcoming Science and Public Policy.

Deepening or Diminishing Ethnic Divides? The Impact of Urban Migration in Kenya
AuthorsKramon, Eric, Sarah Baird, Joan Hamory Hicks, and Edward Miguel.
Year2020
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesAfrican Development; Political Economy and Conflict

The impact of urban migration on ethnic politics is the subject of longstanding debate. “First generation” modernization theories predict that urban migration should reduce ethnic identification and increase trust between groups. “Second generation” modernization perspectives argue the opposite: urban migration may amplify ethnic identification and reduce trust. We test these competing expectations with a three-wave panel survey following more than 8,000 Kenyans over a 15-year period, providing novel evidence on the impact of urban migration. Using individual fixed effects regressions, we show that urban migration leads to reductions in ethnic identification: ethnicity’s importance to the individual diminishes after migrating. Yet urban migration also reduces trust between ethnic groups, and trust in people generally. Urban migrants become “less ethnic” and more suspicious. The results advance the literature on urbanization and politics and have implications for the potential consequences of ongoing urbanization processes around the world.

Kramon, Eric, Sarah Baird, Joan Hamory Hicks, and Edward Miguel. (2020). "Deepening or Diminishing Ethnic Divides? The Impact of Urban Migration in Kenya", forthcoming American Journal of Political Science.

Does Electrification Supercharge Economic Development?
AuthorsLee, Kenneth, Edward Miguel, and Catherine Wolfram
Year2020
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesEnvironment and Climate; African Development

In this paper, we discuss what we can learn from the past decade of microeconomic research on the impacts of household electrification, with the goal of highlighting how future initiatives can be better designed. We begin with an overview of how household electrification has traditionally been captured in official statistics and then turn to some of the historical electrification programs from around the world, paying special attention to those that are most closely related to the settings that have been studied over the past decade or so. Our main point is that providing poor households with access to electricity alone is not enough to improve economic and noneconomic outcomes in a meaningful way. The literature documents large gains from electrification in a number of settings, but in many cases, we cannot rule out the possibility that other factors—either correlated with or visibly part of the electrification efforts—are driving economic outcomes. Universal energy access is arguably an important goal for global equity considerations. But large-scale contemporary initiatives to expand residential access to electricity may not produce meaningful economic impacts unless they are combined with complementary programs that will make electrical appliances more accessible, or they are targeted towards regions that already...

Lee, Kenneth, Edward Miguel, and Catherine Wolfram. (2020). "Does Electrification Supercharge Economic Development?", Journal of Economic Perspectives, 34(1): 122-144, doi: 10.1257/jep.34.1.122.

Experimental Evidence on the Economics of Rural Electrification
AuthorsKenneth Lee, Edward Miguel, and Catherine Wolfram
Year2020
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Environment and Climate; African Development

We present results from an experiment that randomized the expansion of electric grid infrastructure in rural Kenya. Electricity distribution is a canonical example of a natural monopoly. Experimental variation in the number of connections, combined with administrative cost data, reveals considerable scale economies, as hypothesized. Randomized price offers indicate that demand for connections falls sharply with price. Among newly connected households, average electricity consumption is very low, implying low consumer surplus. We do not find meaningful medium-run impacts on economic and noneconomic outcomes. We discuss implications for current efforts to increase rural electrification in Kenya and highlight how various factors may affect interpretation.

Lee, Kenneth, Edward Miguel, and Catherine Wolfram. (2020). "Experimental Evidence on the Economics of Rural Electrification", Journal of Political Economy, 128(4): 1523-1565.

Reevaluating Agricultural Productivity Gaps with Longitudinal Microdata
AuthorsJoan Hamory Hicks, Marieke Kleemans, Nicholas Y. Li, and Edward Miguel
Year2020
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesOther; Health, Education and Human Capital; African Development

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) to explore these gaps. 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 roughly 67 to 92%. Furthermore, 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. (2020). "Reevaluating Agricultural Productivity Gaps with Longitudinal Microdata", forthcoming Journal of the European Economic Association.

Research Transparency is on the Rise in Economics
AuthorsSwanson, Nicholas, Garret Christensen, Rebecca Littman, David Birke, Edward Miguel, Elizabeth Levy Paluck, Zenan Wang
Year2020
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology

This study provides a first assessment of awareness of, attitudes toward, perceived norms regarding, and adoption of open science practices within a broadly representative sample of active economics researchers. We observe a steep increase in adoption over the last decade, with an accelerating trend: as of 2017, 93 percent of economists had used at least one such practice—including posting data, sharing study materials, and study pre-registration—rising from 33 percent a decade earlier. We document extensive variation in adoption across economics subfields. Notably, most economists appear to underestimate the trend toward research transparency in the discipline.

Swanson, Nicholas, Garret Christensen, Rebecca Littman, David Birke, Edward Miguel, Elizabeth Levy Paluck, Zenan Wang (random name order). (2020). ``Research Transparency is on the Rise in Economics'', AEA Papers and Proceedings , 110: 61-65, doi: 10.1257/pandp.20201077.

Self-Control and Demand for Preventive Health: Evidence from Hypertension in India
AuthorsBai, Liang, Benjamin Handel, Edward Miguel, and Gautam Rao
Year2020
TypeWorking Paper
CategoriesOther; Health, Education and Human Capital

Self-control problems constitute a potential explanation for the under-investment in preventive health in low-income countries. Behavioral economics offers a tool to solve such problems: 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. Despite achieving high take-up of such contracts in some treatment arms, we find no effects on actual doctor visits or individual health outcomes. A substantial number of individuals pay for commitment but fail to follow through on the doctor visit, losing money without experiencing health benefits. 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: sophisticated enough to demand some commitment, but overly optimistic about whether a given level of commitment is suffciently 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 their role in health care.

Bai, Liang, Benjamin Handel, Edward Miguel, and Gautam Rao. (2020). "Self-Control and Demand for Preventive Health: Evidence from Hypertension in India", forthcoming Review of Economics and Statistics.

Transparency and Reproducibility: Conceptualizing the Problem (Chapter 6) and Potential Solutions (Chapter 7)
AuthorsChristensen, Garret, and Edward Miguel
Year2020
TypeBook Chapter
CategoriesResearch Methodology

A broad overview of research transparency and open science issues in the social sciences, across two chapters (Chapters 6 and 7).

Christensen, Garret, and Edward Miguel. (2020). "Transparency and Reproducibility: Conceptualizing the Problem (Chapter 6) and Potential Solutions (Chapter 7)", in The Production of Knowledge: Enhancing Progress in Social Science, (eds.) Colin Elman, John Gerring, and James Mahoney. Cambridge University Press.

Twenty Year Economic Impacts of Deworming
AuthorsHamory, Joan, Edward Miguel, Michael Walker, Michael Kremer, and Sarah Baird
Year2020
TypeWorking Paper
CategoriesHealth, Education and Human Capital

This study exploits a randomized school health intervention that provided deworming treatment to Kenyan children and utilizes longitudinal data to estimate impacts on economic outcomes up to 20 years later. The effective respondent tracking rate was 84%. Individuals who received 2 to 3 additional years of childhood deworming experience an increase of 14% in consumption expenditure, 13% in hourly earnings, 9% in non-agricultural work hours, and are 9% more likely to live in urban areas. Most effects are concentrated among males and older individuals. Given deworming's low cost, a conservative annualized social internal rate of return estimate is 37%.

Hamory, Joan, Edward Miguel, Michael Walker, Michael Kremer, and Sarah Baird. (2020). "Twenty Year Economic Impacts of Deworming", unpublished working paper.