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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Using survey questions to measure preferences: Lessons from an experimental validation in Kenya
AuthorsMichal Bauer, Julie Chytilova, and Edward Miguel
Year2020
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesAfrican Development; Research Methodology

Can a short survey instrument reliably measure a range of fundamental economic preferences across diverse settings? We focus on survey questions that systematically predict behavior in incentivized experimental tasks among German university students (Becker et al. 2016) and were implemented among representative samples across the globe (Falk et al. 2018). This paper presents results of an experimental validation conducted among low-income individuals in Nairobi, Kenya. We find that quantitative survey measures –hypothetical versions of experimental tasks –of time preference, attitude to risk and altruism are good predictors of choices in incentivized experiments, suggesting these measures are broadly experimentally valid. At the same time, we find that qualitative questions –self-assessments –do not correlate with the experimental measures of preferences in the Kenyan sample. Thus, caution is needed before treating self-assessments as proxies of preferences in new contexts.

Bauer, Michal, Julie Chytilova, and Edward Miguel. (2020). "Using survey questions to measure preferences: Lessons from an experimental validation in Kenya", forthcoming European Economic Review.

A study of the impact of data sharing on article citations using journal policies as a natural experiment
AuthorsChristensen, Garret, Allan Dafoe, Edward Miguel, Don A. Moore, and Andrew K. Rose
Year2019
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology

This study estimates the effect of data sharing on the citations of academic articles, using journal policies as a natural experiment. We begin by examining 17 high-impact journals that have adopted the requirement that data from published articles be publicly posted. We match these 17 journals to 13 journals without policy changes and find that empirical articles published just before their change in editorial policy have citation rates with no statistically significant difference from those published shortly after the shift. We then ask whether this null result stems from poor compliance with data sharing policies, and use the data sharing policy changes as instrumental variables to examine more closely two leading journals in economics and political science with relatively strong enforcement of new data policies. We find that articles that make their data available receive 97 additional citations (estimate standard error of 34). We conclude that: a) authors who share data may be rewarded eventually with additional scholarly citations, and b) data-posting policies alone do not increase the impact of articles published in a journal unless those policies are enforced.

Christensen G, Dafoe A, Miguel E, Moore DA, Rose AK (2019) A study of the impact of data sharing on article citations using journal policies as a natural experiment. PLoS ONE, 14(12): e0225883. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225883

Destructive Behavior, Judgment, and Economic Decision-making under Thermal Stress
AuthorsAlm°as, Ingvild, Maximilian Auffhammer, Tessa Bold, Ian Bolliger, Aluma Dembo, Solomon M. Hsiang, Shuhei Kitamura, Edward Miguel, and Robert Pickmans
Year2019
TypeWorking Paper
CategoriesPolitical Economy and Conflict; Environment and Climate; African Development

Accumulating evidence indicates that environmental temperature substantially affects economic outcomes and violence, but the reasons for this linkage are only partially understood. While factors external to human beings (such as agricultural production) are known to respond adversely to high temperatures, extreme temperatures could also directly influence the internal mental processes governing decision-making. We study this by systematically evaluating the effect of thermal stress on multiple dimensions of economic decision-making, judgment, and destructive behavior with 2,000 participants in Kenya and the US who were randomly assigned to different temperatures in a laboratory. We find that heat significantly affects individuals’ willingness to voluntarily destroy other participants’ assets, with pronounced increases among those experiencing heightened political conflict in Kenya. We find that other major dimensions of economic decisionmaking are largely unaffected by temperature.

Alm°as, Ingvild, Maximilian Auffhammer, Tessa Bold, Ian Bolliger, Aluma Dembo, Solomon M. Hsiang, Shuhei Kitamura, Edward Miguel, and Robert Pickmans. (2019). "Destructive Behavior, Judgment, and Economic Decision-making under Thermal Stress", unpublished working paper.

Ethnically biased? Experimental Evidence from Kenya
AuthorsLars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Kjetil Bjorvatn, Simon Galle, Edward Miguel, Daniel Posner, Bertil Tungodden and Kelly Zhang
Year2019
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesPolitical Economy and Conflict; African Development

Ethnicity has been shown to shape political, social, and economic behavior in Africa, but the underlying mechanisms remain contested. We utilize lab experiments to isolate one mechanism—an individual’s bias in favor of coethnics and against non-coethnics—that has been central in both theory and in the conventional wisdom about the impact of ethnicity. We employ an unusually rich research design involving a large sample of 1300 participants from Nairobi, Kenya; the collection of multiple rounds of experimental data with varying proximity to national elections; within-lab priming conditions; both standard and novel experimental measures of coethnic bias; and an implicit association test (IAT). We find very little evidence of an ethnic bias in the behavioral games, which runs against the common presumption of extensive coethnic bias among ordinary Africans and suggests that mechanisms other than a coethnic bias in preferences must account for the associations we see in the region between ethnicity and political, social, and economic outcomes.

Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Kjetil Bjorvatn, Simon Galle, Edward Miguel, Daniel Posner, Bertil Tungodden and Kelly Zhang. (2019). "Ethnically Biased? Experimental Evidence from Kenya", Journal of the European Economic Association, 2019, doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jeea/jvz003.

General Equilibrium Effects of Cash Transfers: Experimental Evidence from Kenya
AuthorsDennis Egger, Johannes Haushofer, Edward Miguel, Paul Niehaus, and Michael Walker
Year2019
TypeWorking Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; African Development; Other

How large economic stimuli generate individual and aggregate responses is a central question in economics, but has not been studied experimentally. We provided one-time cash transfers of about USD 1000 to over 10,500 poor households across 653 randomized villages in rural Kenya. The implied fiscal shock was over 15 percent of local GDP. We find large impacts on consumption and assets for recipients. Importantly, we document large positive spillovers on non-recipient households and firms, and minimal price inflation. We estimate a local fiscal multiplier of 2.7. We interpret welfare implications through the lens of a simple household optimization framework.

Egger, Dennis, Johannes Haushofer, Edward Miguel, Paul Niehaus, and Michael Walker. (2019). "General Equilibrium Effects of Cash Transfers: Experimental Evidence from Kenya", unpublished working paper.

Non-economic factors in violence: Evidence from organized crime, suicides and climate in Mexico
AuthorsBaysan, Ceren, Marshall Burke, Felipe Gonzalez, Solomon Hsiang, and Edward Miguel
Year2019
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesPolitical Economy and Conflict; Environment and Climate

Organized intergroup violence is almost universally modeled as a calculated act motivated by economic factors. In contrast, it is generally assumed that non-economic factors, such as an individual’s emotional state, play a role in many types of interpersonal violence, such as crimes of passion. We ask whether non-economic factors can also explain the well-established relationship between temperature and violence in a unique context where intergroup killings by drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs) and other interpersonal homicides are separately documented. A constellation of evidence, including the limited influence of a cash transfer program as well as comparisons with both other DTO crime and suicides, indicate that economic factors only partially mitigate the relationship between temperature and violence that we estimate in Mexico. We argue that non-economic psychological and physiological factors that are affected by temperature, modeled here as a “taste for violence,” likely play an important role in causing both interpersonal and intergroup violence.

Baysan, Ceren, Marshall Burke, Felipe Gonzalez, Solomon Hsiang, and Edward Miguel. (2019). “Non-economic factors in violence: Evidence from organized crime, suicides and climate in Mexico”, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2019, 168: 434-452, doi: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.10.021.

Pre-results Review at the Journal of Development Economics: Lessons Learned
AuthorsBogdanoski, Aleksander, Andrew Foster, Dean Karlan, and Edward Miguel
Year2019
TypeWorking Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology

A discussion of the 2018-19 JDE Pre-results Review Pilot.

Bogdanoski, Aleksander, Andrew Foster, Dean Karlan, and Edward Miguel. (2020). "Pre-results Review at the Journal of Development Economics: Lessons learned." MeArXiv Pre-print, doi: 10.31222/osf.io/5yacr.

Sell Low and Buy High: Arbitrage and Local Price Effects in Kenyan Markets
AuthorsBurke, Marshall, Lauren Falcao Bergquist, and Edward Miguel
Year2019
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesEnvironment and Climate; African Development

Large and regular seasonal price fluctuations in local grain markets appear to offer African farmers substantial inter-temporal arbitrage opportunities, but these opportunities remain largely unexploited: small-scale farmers are commonly observed to "sell low and buy high" rather than the reverse. In a field experiment in Kenya, we show that credit market imperfections limit farmers' abilities to move grain inter-temporally. Providing timely access to credit allows farmers to buy at lower prices and sell at higher prices, increasing farm revenues and generating a return on investment of 29%. To understand general equilibrium effects of these changes in behavior, we vary the density of loan offers across locations. We document significant effects of the credit intervention on seasonal price fluctuations in local grain markets, and show that these GE effects shape individual level profitability estimates. In contrast to existing experimental work, the results indicate a setting in which microcredit can improve farm profitability, and suggest that GE effects can substantially shape microcredit's effectiveness. In particular, failure to consider these GE effects could lead to underestimates of the social welfare benefits of microcredit interventions.

Burke, Marshall, Lauren Falcao Bergquist, and Edward Miguel. (2019). "Sell Low and Buy High: Arbitrage and Local Price Effects in Kenyan Markets", Quarterly Journal of Economics, 134(2): 785-842, doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjy034.

Using RCTs to Estimate Long-Run Impacts in Development Economics
AuthorsAdrien Bouguen, Yue Huang, Michael Kremer, and Edward Miguel
Year2019
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Health, Education and Human Capital; African Development

We assess evidence from randomized control trials (RCTs) on long-run economic productivity and living standards in poor countries. We first document that several studies estimate large positive long-run impacts, but that relatively few existing RCTs have been evaluated over the long-run. We next present evidence from a systematic survey of existing RCTs, with a focus on cash transfer and child health programs, and show that a meaningful subset can realistically be evaluated for long-run effects. We discuss ways to bridge the gap between the burgeoning number of development RCTs and the limited number that have been followed up to date, including through new panel (longitudinal) data, improved participant tracking methods, alternative research designs, and access to administrative, remote sensing, and cell phone data. We conclude that the rise of development economics RCTs since roughly 2000 provides a novel opportunity to generate high-quality evidence on the long-run drivers of living standards.

Bouguen, Adrien, Yue Huang, Michael Kremer, and Edward Miguel. (2019). “Using RCT’s to Estimate Long-Run Impacts in Development Economics”, Annual Review of Economics, 11: 523-561, doi: https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-economics-080218-030333.

Transparency, Reproducibility, and the Credibility of Economics Research
AuthorsGarret S. Christensen, Edward Miguel
Year2018
TypePublished 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. 2018. "Transparency, Reproducibility, and the Credibility of Economics Research", Journal of Economic Literature, 56(3): 920-980.