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.
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.
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.
In this paper, we summarize the results of a recent household appliance survey conducted in Western Kenya to provide descriptive evidence on how rural households with and without grid connections, and those with home solar systems, compare in terms of the appliances they own and the appliances they aspire to own. Our data indicate that home solar users own quite different appliances compared to grid-connected households, and suggest that home solar does not satisfy the full range of household energy needs, given current appliance technologies. We also document planned expansions in centralized electricity generating capacity in a number of Sub-Saharan African countries, including Kenya. We find that the environmental advantages of decentralized solar are likely to be relatively small in countries like Kenya, where a large proportion of existing and planned grid electricity is generated without fossil fuels.
Lee, Kenneth, Edward Miguel, and Catherine Wolfram. (2016). "Appliance Ownership and Aspirations among Electric Grid and Home Solar Households in Rural Kenya", American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings, 106(5): 89-94, doi: 10.1257/aer.p20161097.
In the past decade, nearly 20 studies have found a strong, persistent pattern in surveys and behavioral experiments from over 40 countries: individual exposure to war violence tends to increase social cooperation at the local level, including community participation and prosocial behavior. Thus while war has many negative legacies for individuals and societies, it appears to leave a positive legacy in terms of local cooperation and civic engagement. We discuss, synthesize and reanalyze the emerging body of evidence, and weigh alternative explanations. There is some indication that war violence especially enhances in-group or "parochial" norms and preferences, a finding that, if true, suggests that the rising social cohesion we document need not promote broader peace.
Bauer, Michal, Christopher Blattman, Julie Chytilova, Joseph Henrich, Edward Miguel, and Tamar Mitts. (2016). "Can War Foster Cooperation?", Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30(3): 249-274, doi: 10.1257/jep.30.3.249.
There is limited empirical evidence on whether cash transfers to poor pregnant women improve children's birth outcomes and potentially help weaken the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Using a unique array of program and social security administrative micro- data matched to longitudinal vital statistics in Uruguay, we estimate that participation in a generous social assistance program led to a sizable reduction in the incidence of low birthweight. The effect is due to faster intrauterine growth rather than longer gestational length. Our findings are consistent with improved maternal nutrition during pregnancy being a key driver of improved birthweight.
Amarante, Verónica, Marco Manacorda, Edward Miguel, and Andrea Vigorito. 2016. "Do Cash Transfers Improve Birth Outcomes? Evidence from Matched Vital Statistics, Program and Social Security Data", American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 2016, 8(2): 1-43, doi:10.1257/pol.20140344 [lead article].
The WHO has recently debated whether to 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). There is consensus that the relevant deworming drugs are safe and effective, so the key question facing policymakers is whether the expected benefits of MDA exceed the roughly $0.30 per treatment cost. The literature on long run educational and economic impacts of deworming suggests that this is the case. However, a recent meta-analysis by Taylor-Robinson et al. (2015) (hereafter TMSDG), disputes these findings. The authors conclude that while treatment of children known to be infected increases weight by 0.75 kg (95% CI: 0.24, 1.26; p=0.0038), there is substantial evidence that MDA has no impact on weight or other child outcomes. We update the TMSDG analysis by including studies omitted from that analysis and extracting additional data from included studies, such as deriving standard errors from p-values when the standard errors are not reported in the original article. The updated sample includes twice as many trials as analyzed by TMSDG, substantially improving statistical power. We find that the TMSDG analysis is underpowered: it would conclude that MDA has no effect even if...
Croke, Kevin, Joan Hamory Hicks, Eric Hsu, Michael Kremer, and Edward Miguel. (2016). "Does Mass Deworming Affect Child Nutrition? Meta-analysis, Cost-effectiveness, and Statistical Power", National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper #22382.