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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Experimental Evidence on the Demand for and Costs of Rural Electrification
AuthorsKenneth Lee, Edward Miguel, and Catherine Wolfram
Year2016
TypeWorking Paper
CategoriesAfrican Development; Environment and Climate

We present results from an experiment that randomized the expansion of electric grid infrastructure in rural Kenya. Electricity distribution is the canonical example of a natural monopoly. Randomized price offers show that demand for electricity connections falls sharply with price. Experimental variation in the number of connections combined with administrative cost data reveals considerable scale economies, as hypothesized. However, consumer surplus is far less than total costs at all price levels, suggesting that residential electrification may reduce social welfare. We discuss how leakage, reduced demand (due to red tape, low reliability, and credit constraints), and spillovers may impact this conclusion.

Lee, Kenneth, Edward Miguel, and Catherine Wolfram. (2016). "Experimental Evidence on the Demand for and Costs of Rural Electrification", NBER Working Paper No. 22292.

Healing the Wounds: Learning from Sierra Leone's Post-war Institutional Reforms
AuthorsKatherine Casey, Rachel Glennerster, and Edward Miguel
Year2016
TypeBook Chapter
CategoriesPolitical Economy and Conflict; African Development

While its recent history of civil war, chronic poverty and corrupt governance would cause many to dismiss Sierra Leone as a hopeless case, the country's economic and political performance over the last decade has defied expectations. We examine how several factors—including the legacy of war, ethnic diversity, decentralization and community-driven development (CDD)—have shaped local institutions and national political dynamics. The story that emerges is a nuanced one: war does not necessarily destroy the capacity for local collective action; ethnicity affects residential choice, but does not impede local public goods provision; while politics remain heavily ethnic, voters are willing to cross ethnic boundaries when they have better information about candidates; decentralization can work even where capacity is limited, although the results are mixed; and for all of its promise, CDD does not appear to transform local institutions nor social norms. All of these findings are somewhat “unexpected,” but they are quite positive in signaling that even one of the world’s poorest, most violent and ethnically diverse societies can overcome major challenges and progress towards meaningful economic and political development.

Casey, Katherine, Rachel Glennerster, and Edward Miguel. 2016. "Healing the Wounds: Learning from Sierra Leone's Post-war Institutional Reforms." In African Successes, Volume I: Government and Institutions, edited by Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David Weil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries
AuthorsPascaline Dupas, Edward Miguel
Year2016
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Health, Education and Human Capital; African Development

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", forthcoming, Handbook of Field Experiments, (eds.) Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee.

Transparency, Reproducibility, and the Credibility of Economics Research
AuthorsGarret S. Christensen, Edward Miguel
Year2016
TypeWorking Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Other

There is growing interest in enhancing research transparency and reproducibility in economics and other scientific fields. We survey existing work on these topics within economics, and discuss the evidence suggesting that publication bias, inability to replicate, and specification searching remain widespread in the discipline. We next discuss recent progress in this area, including through improved research design, study registration and pre-analysis plans, disclosure standards, and open sharing of data and materials, drawing on experiences in both economics and other social sciences. We discuss areas where consensus is emerging on new practices, as well as approaches that remain controversial, and speculate about the most effective ways to make economics research more credible in the future.

Christensen, Garret S., and Edward Miguel. 2016. "Transparency, Reproducibility, and the Credibility of Economics Research", forthcoming Journal of Economic Literature.

Worms at work: Long-run impacts of a child health investment
AuthorsSarah Baird, Joan Hamory Hicks, Michael Kremer, and Edward Miguel
Year2016
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Health, Education and Human Capital; African Development

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.

Climate and Conflict
AuthorsBurke, Marshall, Solomon M. Hsiang, and Edward Miguel
Year2015
TypeOther
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Political Economy and Conflict; Environment and Climate

We review the emerging literature on climate and conflict.We consider multiple types of human conflict, including both interpersonal conflict, such as assault and murder, and intergroup conflict, including riots and civil war. We discuss key methodological issues in estimating causal relationships and largely focus on natural experiments that exploit variation in climate over time. Using a hierarchical meta-analysis that allows us to both estimate the mean effect and quantify the degree of variability across 55 studies, we find that deviations from moderate temperatures and precipitation patterns systematically increase conflict risk. Contemporaneous temperature has the largest average impact, with each 1 sd increase in temperature increasing interpersonal conflict by 2.4% and intergroup conflict by 11.3%.We conclude by highlighting research priorities, including a better understanding of the mechanisms linking climate to conflict, societies’ ability to adapt to climatic changes, and the likely impacts of future global warming.

Burke, M., S.M. Hsiang, E. Miguel. (2015). "Climate and Conflict", Annual Review of Economics. DOI: 10.1146/annurev- economics-080614-115430.

Commentary: Deworming externalities and schooling impacts in Kenya: a comment on Aiken et al. (2015) and Davey et al. (2015)
AuthorsJoan Hamory Hicks, Michael Kremer, and Edward Miguel
Year2015
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Health, Education and Human Capital; African Development

Aiken et al. (2015) and Davey et al (2015) draw the conclusion that the evidence for a relationship between deworming and school attendance is “weak” based on two fundamental errors in their data analysis. First, the authors redefine treatment to include pre-treatment control periods. Second, while the original research design was based on a stepped-wedge analysis that was adequately powered, the re-analysis authors undertake a clearly under-powered alternative analysis which ignores the time series element of the data, and then splits the cross-sectional analysis into two separate components, each of which has inadequate power. Examining the fully powered analysis, they report that in a fully-adjusted logistic regression model making maximum use of the data available, there is strong evidence of an improvement in school attendance.  If either error is corrected, deworming significantly increases school attendance under the full range of statistical analyses considered by Davey et al. Their analysis also underestimates the impact of deworming on school attendance by neglecting violations of the SUTVA assumption generated by transmission of worm infection to nearby schools (as in Miguel and Kremer 2004).

Hicks, Joan Hamory, Michael Kremer, and Edward Miguel. 2015. "Commentary: Deworming externalities and schooling impacts in Kenya: a comment on Aiken et al. (2015) and Davey et al. (2015)", International Journal of Epidemiology, doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv129.

Electrification for 'Under Grid' Households in Rural Kenya
AuthorsKenneth Lee, Eric Brewer, Carson Christiano, Francis Meyo, Edward Miguel, Matthew Podolsky, Javier Rosa, and Catherine Wolfram
Year2015
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesEnvironment and Climate; African Development

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 600 million people live without electricity. Despite ambitions of governments and donors to invest in rural electrification, decisions about how to extend electricity access are being made in the absence of rigorous evidence. Using a novel dataset of 20,000 geo-tagged structures in rural Western Kenya, we provide descriptive evidence that electrification rates remain very low despite significant investments in grid infrastructure. This pattern holds across time and for both poor and relatively well-off households and businesses. We argue that if governments wish to leverage existing infrastructure and economies of scale, subsidies and new approaches to financing connections are necessary.

Kenneth Lee, Eric Brewer, Carson Christiano, Francis Meyo, Edward Miguel, Matthew Podolsky, Javier Rosa, and Catherine Wolfram. "Barriers to Electrification for “Under Grid” Households in Rural Kenya", Development Engineering, 2015, doi:10.1016/j.deveng.2015.12.001.

Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production
AuthorsMarshall Burke, Solomon Hsiang, and Edward Miguel
Year2015
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesEnvironment and Climate; African Development

We show that overall economic productivity is nonlinear in temperature for all countries, with productivity peaking at an annual average temperature of 13 C and declining strongly at higher temperatures. The relationship is globally generalizable, unchanged since 1960, and apparent for agricultural and non-agricultural activity in both rich and poor countries, with important implications. If future adaptation mimics past adaptation, unmitigated warming is expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23% by 2100 and widening global income inequality, relative to scenarios without climate change.

Burke, Marshall, Solomon Hsiang, and Edward Miguel. 2015. "Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production", Nature, doi:10.1038/nature15725.

How strong are ethnic preferences?
AuthorsLars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Kjetil Bjorvatn, Simon Galle, Edward Miguel, Daniel Posner, Bertil Tungodden and Kelly Zhang
Year2015
TypeWorking Paper
CategoriesPolitical Economy and Conflict; African Development

Ethnic divisions have been shown to adversely affect economic performance and political stability, especially in Africa, but the underlying reasons remain contested, with multiple mechanisms potentially playing a role. We utilize lab experiments to isolate the role of one such mechanism—ethnic preferences—which has been central in both theory and in the conventional wisdom about the impact of ethnic differences. We employ an unusually rich research design, collecting multiple rounds of experimental data with a large sample of 1,300 subjects in Nairobi; employing within-lab priming conditions; and utilizing both standard and novel experimental measures, as well as implicit association tests. The econometric approach was pre-specified in a registered pre-analysis plan. Most of our tests yield no evidence of differential altruism towards coethnics relative to non-coethnics. The results run strongly against the common presumption of extensive ethnic bias among ordinary Kenyans, and suggest that other mechanisms may be more important in explaining the negative association between ethnic diversity and economic and political outcomes.

Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Kjetil Bjorvatn, Simon Galle, Edward Miguel, Daniel Posner, Bertil Tungodden and Kelly Zhang. (2015). "How Strong are Ethnic Preferences?", unpublished working paper.