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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quantitative estimates of the impacts of climate change on economic outcomes are important for public policy. We show that the vast majority of estimates fail to account for well-established uncertainty in future temperature and rainfall changes, leading to potentially misleading projections. We reexamine seven well-cited studies and show that accounting for climate uncertainty leads to a much larger range of projected climate impacts and a greater likelihood of worst-case outcomes, an important policy parameter. Incorporating climate uncertainty into future economic impact assessments will be critical for providing the best possible information on potential impacts.
Burke, Marshall, John Dykema, David Lobell, Edward Miguel, and Shanker Satyanath. 2015. "Incorporating Climate Uncertainty into Estimates of Climate Change Impacts, with Applications to U.S and African Agriculture." Review of Economics and Statistics, 97(2): 461-471, 10.1162/REST_a_00478.
The journal article is central to the research communication process. Guidelines for authors define what aspects of the research process should be made available to the community to evaluate, critique, reuse, and extend. Scientists recognize the value of transparency, openness, and reproducibility. Improvement of journal policies can help those values become more evident in daily practice and ultimately improve the public trust in science, and science itself.
B. A. Nosek, G. Alter, G. C. Banks, D. Borsboom, S. D. Bowman, S. J. Breckler, S. Buck, C. D. Chambers, G. Chin, G. Christensen, M. Contestabile, A. Dafoe, E. Eich, J. Freese, R. Glennerster, D. Goroff, D. P. Green, B. Hesse, M. Humphreys, J. Ishiyama, D. Karlan, A. Kraut, A. Lupia, P. Mabry, T. A. Madon, N. Malhotra, E. Mayo-Wilson, M. McNutt, E. Miguel, E. Levy Paluck, U. Simonsohn, C. Soderberg, B. A. Spellman, J. Turitto, G. VandenBos, S. Vazire, E. J. Wagenmakers, R. Wilson, and T. Yarkoni. “Promoting an Open Research Culture: Author guidelines for journals could help to promote transparency, openness, and reproducibility”, Science, 2015, 26 June 2015 348(6242): 1422-1425, 10.1126/science.aab2374.
Two articles published earlier this year in the International Journal of Epidemiology have re-ignited the debate over the World Health Organization’s long-held recommendation of mass-treatment of intestinal helminths in endemic areas. In this note, we discuss the content and relevance of these articles to the policy debate, and review the broader research literature on the educational and economic impacts of deworming. We conclude that existing evidence still indicates that mass deworming is a cost-effective health investment for governments in low-income countries where worm infections are widespread.
Hicks, Joan Hamory, Michael Kremer, and Edward Miguel. “The Case of Mass Treatment of Intestinal Helminths in Endemic Areas”, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2015, 9(10): e0004214. 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004214.
Ethnic favoritism is seen as antithetical to development. This paper provides credible quantification of the extent of ethnic favoritism using data on road building in Kenyan districts across the 1963-2011 period. Guided by a model it then examines whether the transition in and out of democracy under the same president constrains or exacerbates ethnic favoritism. Across the 1963 to 2011 period, we find strong evidence of ethnic favoritism: districts that share the ethnicity of the president receive twice as much expenditure on roads and have four times the length of paved roads built. This favoritism disappears during periods of democracy.
Burgess, Robin, Remi Jedwab, Edward Miguel, Ameet Morjaria, and Gerard Padró i Miquel. 2015. "The Value of Democracy: Evidence from Road Building in Kenya." 2015, American Economic Review, 105(6): 1817-1851, 10.1257/aer.20131031.
The impact of armed conflict on the environment is of major public policy importance. We use a geographically disaggregated dataset of civil war violence together with satellite imagery of land cover to test whether war facilitated or prevented forest loss in Sierra Leone. The conflict data set allows us to establish where rebel groups were stationed and where battles and attacks occurred. The satellite data enables to us to monitor the change in forest cover (total, primary, and secondary) in all of Sierra Leone's 151 chiefdoms, between 1990 (prior to the war) and 2000 (just prior to its end). The results suggest that conflict in Sierra Leone acted as a brake on local deforestation: conflict-ridden areas experienced significantly less forest loss relative to their more conflict-free counterparts.
Burgess, Robin, Edward Miguel, and Charlotte Stanton. (2015). "War and deforestation in Sierra Leone", Environmental Research Letters, 10 (2015) 095014.