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.
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.
In a study of the effect of civil war exposure on local collective action outcomes in Sierra Leone, Bellows and Miguel (2009) employ a coefﬁcient stability approach to assess the importance of omitted variable bias building on Altonji et al. (2005a). Here we clarify the econometric assumptions underlying Bellows and Miguel (2009), and extend their analysis using data on dependent variable reliability ratios and the method developed in Oster (2015).
Gonzalez, Felipe and Edward Miguel. 2015. "War and Local Collective Action in Sierra Leone: A Comment on the Use of Coefficient Stability Approaches." 2015, Journal of Public Economics, 128: 30-33, 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.05.004.
We discuss how evidence and theory can be combined to provide insight on the appropriate subsidy level for health products, focusing on the specific case of deworming. Although intestinal worm infections can be treated using safe, low-cost drugs, some have challenged the view that mass school-based deworming should be a policy priority. We review well-identified research which both uses experimental or quasiexperimental methods to demonstrate causal relationships and adequately accounts for epidemiological externalities from deworming treatment, including studies of deworming campaigns in the Southern United States, Kenya, and Uganda. The existing evidence shows consistent positive impacts on school participation in the short run and on academic test scores, employment, and income in the long run, while suggesting that most parents will not pay for deworming treatment that is not fully subsidized. There is also evidence for a fiscal externality through higher future tax revenue, which may exceed the cost of the program. Our analysis suggests that the economic benefits of school-based deworming programs are likely to exceed their costs in places where worm infestations are endemic. This would likely be the case even if the benefits were only a fraction of estimates in the existing literature.
Amrita Ahuja, Sarah Baird, Joan Hamory Hicks, Michael Kremer, Edward Miguel, and Shawn Powers. (2015). "When Should Governments Subsidize Health? The Case of Mass Deworming", World Bank Economic Review, 10.1093/wber/lhv008.
We survey recent progress toward research transparency in the social sciences and make the case for standards and practices that help realign scholarly incentives with scholarly values. There is growing appreciation for the advantages of experimentation in the social sciences, but accompanying these changes is a growing sense that incentives, norms, and institutions under which social science operates undermine gains from improved research design. We describe promising, bottom-up innovations in the social sciences, including the three core practices of: disclosure; registration and preanalysis plans; and open data and materials. We also assess common objections to the move toward greater transparency, and argue that new practices need to be implemented in a way that does not stifle creativity or create excess burden. [Link to abstract] [Link to PDF reprint] [Link to full text]
E. Miguel, C. Camerer, K. Casey, J. Cohen, K. M. Esterling, A. Gerber, R. Glennerster, D. P. Green, M. Humphreys, G. Imbens, D. Laitin, T. Madon, L. Nelson, B. A. Nosek, M. Petersen, R. Sedlmayr, J. P. Simmons, U. Simonsohn, M. Van der Laan. 2014. "Promoting Transparency in Social Science Research." Science, 10.1126/science.1245317.
A comment by Buhaug et al. attributes disagreement between our recent analyses and their review articles to biased decisions in our meta-analysis and a difference of opinion regarding statistical approaches. The claim is false. Buhaug et al.’s alteration of our metaanalysis misrepresents findings in the literature, makes statistical errors, misclassifies multiple studies, makes coding errors, and suppresses the display of results that are consistent with our original analysis. We correct these mistakes and obtain findings in line with our original results, even when we use the study selection criteria proposed by Buhaug et al. We conclude that there is no evidence in the data supporting the claims raised in Buhaug et al.
Hsiang, Solomon M., Marshall Burke, and Edward Miguel. (2014). "Reconciling climate-conflict meta-analyses: reply to Buhaug et al.", Climatic Change, DOI 10.1007/s10584-014-1276-z.
Cane, Mark A., Marshall Burke, Solomon M. Hsiang, David B. Lobell, Kyle C. Meng, Edward Miguel, Shanker Satyanath, “Temperature and violence”, Nature Climate Change, 2014, 4, 234-235, 10.1038/nclimate2171.
We combine data from a randomized evaluation and a laboratory experiment to measure the causal impact of human capital on respect for earned property rights, a component of social preferences with important implications for economic growth and development. We find that higher academic achievement reduces the willingness of young Kenyan women to appropriate others' labor income, and shifts players toward a 50-50 split norm in a modified dictator game. This study demonstrates that education may have long-run impacts on social preferences, norms and institutions beyond the human capital directly produced.
Jakiela, Pamela, Edward Miguel, and Vera L. te Velde. 2014. "You've Earned It: Estimating the Impact of Human Capital on Social Preferences," Experimental Economics, 10.1007/s10683-014-9409-9.
Scholars have identified ethnic divisions as a leading cause of underdevelopment, due partially to their adverse effects on public goods. We investigate this issue in post-war Sierra Leone, one of the world's poorest and most ethnically diverse countries. To address concerns over endogenous local ethnic composition, we use an instrumental variables strategy using earlier census data on ethnicity and include several historical and geographic covariates. Perhaps surprisingly, we find that local diversity is not associated with worse public goods provision across multiple outcomes and specifications, with precisely estimated zeros. We investigate the role of historical factors in generating the findings.
Glennerster, Rachel, Edward Miguel, and Alexander D. Rothenberg. 2013. "Collective Action in Diverse Sierra Leone Communities." Economic Journal 123 (568): 285-316.
The literature on the determinants of democratization was long dominated by a view that claimed a central role for economic development (“modernization”). Acemoglu et al. (2008, 2009) have recently challenged the robustness of empirical support for the modernization hypothesis. As an alternative they claim that democratization is likely to occur in moments of economic crisis. An article in a leading economics journal by Bruckner and Ciccone (2011) appears to offer strong support for this latter view; it claims that lagged adverse GDP shocks generated by poor rainfall generate “windows of opportunity” for democratization in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa. In this paper, we present evidence that this provocative finding does not survive several sensible robustness checks, leading us to doubt if the paper offers new insights into the process of democratization.
Manuel Barron, Edward Miguel and Shanker Satyanath. 2013. "Economic Shocks and Democratization in Africa", Political Science Research and Methods, Available on CJO 2013 doi:10.1017/psrm.2013.27.
Ethnic identities are believed to be powerful motivators of behavior in Africa, but the source of their salience in political and social affairs remains debated. One perspective holds that ethnic identities are salient in Africa because they reflect traditional loyalties to kith and kin. By this view, ethnic identities are hardwired - intrinsically part of who people are - and their salience follows directly from their link to people's natural makeup. A contrary perspective argues that ethnicity is salient because it is functional. The world is a competitive place, proponents of this position hold, and in that world ethnicity serves as a useful tool for mobilizing people, policing boundaries, and building coalitions that can be deployed in the struggle for power and scarce resources. By this view, the salience of ethnicity is intrinsically bound up in political competition. In keeping with the conventional wisdom in the scholarly literature (e.g. Bates 1983; Horowitz 1985; Young 1976), we find strong evidence in favor of the latter perspective. In departure from that literature, however, we draw our conclusions from cross-national survey data rather than case studies and anecdotal evidence. This approach permits us to generalize across settings and puts us in a much stronger...
Eifert, Benn, Edward Miguel, and Daniel N. Posner. 2013. "Political Competition and Ethnic Identification in Africa." In Voting and Democratic Citizenship in Africa, edited by Michael Bratton, 61-78. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.