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 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 "Twenty Year Economic Impacts of Deworming", unpublished working paper.
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.
This paper studies the political and social impacts of increased education by utilizing a randomized girls’ merit scholarship programme in Kenya that raised test scores and secondary schooling. Consistent with the view that education empowers the disadvantaged to challenge authority, we find that the programme reduced the acceptance of domestic violence and political authority. Young women in programme schools also increased their objective political knowledge. We find that this rejection of the status quo did not translate into greater perceived political efficacy, community participation or voting intentions. Instead, there is suggestive evidence that the perceived legitimacy of political violence increased.
Friedman, Willa, Michael Kremer, Edward Miguel, and Rebecca Thornton. 2015. "Education as Liberation?" Economica, 83(329): 1-30, 10.1111/ecca.12168.
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.
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.
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.