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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Economic Shocks and Democratization in Africa
AuthorsManuel Barron, Edward Miguel and Shanker Satyanath
Year2013
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesPolitical Economy and Conflict; Environment and Climate; African Development

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.

Healing the Wounds: Learning from Sierra Leone's Post-war Institutional Reforms
AuthorsKatherine Casey, Rachel Glennerster, and Edward Miguel
Year2013
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. Forthcoming. "Healing the Wounds: Learning from Sierra Leone's Post-war Institutional Reforms." In NBER Volume on African Economic Successes, edited by Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David Weil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Political Competition and Ethnic Identification in Africa (Book Chapter)
AuthorsBenn Eifert, Edward Miguel, and Daniel N. Posner
Year2013
TypeBook Chapter
CategoriesPolitical Economy and Conflict; African Development

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.

Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict
AuthorsSolomon M. Hsiang, Marshall Burke, and Edward Miguel
Year2013
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Political Economy and Conflict; Environment and Climate

A rapidly growing body of research examines whether human conflict can be affected by climatic changes. Drawing from archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology, we assemble and analyze the 60 most rigorous quantitative studies and document, for the first time, a remarkable convergence of results. We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world. The magnitude of climate's influence is substantial: for each 1 standard deviation (1σ) change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%. Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2 to 4σ by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change.

Hsiang, Solomon M., Marshall Burke, and Edward, Miguel. 2013. "Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict." Science, 10.1126/science.1235367.

Reconciling Temperature-conflict Results in Kenya
AuthorsSolomon M. Hsiang, Marshall Burke, and Edward Miguel
Year2013
TypeWorking Paper
CategoriesPolitical Economy and Conflict; Environment and Climate; African Development

Theisen (JPR, 2012) recently constructed a novel high-resolution data set of intergroup and political conflict in Kenya (1989-2004) and examined whether the risk of conflict onset and incidence responds to annual pixel-level variations in temperature and precipitation. Thiesen concluded that only extreme precipitation is associated with conflict incidence and that temperature is unrelated to conflict, seemingly at odds with recent studies that found a positive association at the pixel scale (O'laughlin et al., PNAS 2012), at the country scale (Burke et al., PNAS 2009), and at the continental scale (Hsiang et al., Nature 2011) in Africa. Here we show these ndings can be reconciled when we correct the erroneous coding of temperature-squared in Thiesen. In contrast to the original conclusions presented in Theisen, both conflict onset and conflict incidence are significantly and positively associated with local temperature in this new and independently assembled data set.

Hsiang, Solomon M; Burke, Marshall; Miguel, Edward. (2013). Reconciling Temperature-conflict Results in Kenya. CEGA Working Paper Series No. WPS-032. Center for Effective Global Action. University of California, Berkeley.

Incentivizing Safe Sex: a Randomized Trial of Conditional Cash Transfers for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention in Rural Tanzania
AuthorsDamien de Walque, William H. Dow, Rose Nathan, Ramadhani Abdul, Faraji Abilahi, Erick Gong, Zachary Isdahl, Julian Jamison, Boniphace Jullu, Suneeta Krishnan, Albert Majura, Edward Miguel, Jeanne Moncada, Sally Mtenga, Mathew Alexander Mwanyangala, Laura Packel, Julius Schachter, Kizito Shirima, and Carol A. Medlin
Year2012
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesAfrican Development; Health, Education and Human Capital

OBJECTIVE: The authors evaluated the use of conditional cash transfers as an HIV and sexually transmitted infection prevention strategy to incentivise safe sex. DESIGN: An unblinded, individually randomised and controlled trial. SETTING: 10 villages within the Kilombero/Ulanga districts of the Ifakara Health and Demographic Surveillance System in rural south-west Tanzania. PARTICIPANTS: The authors enrolled 2399 participants, aged 18-30 years, including adult spouses. INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomly assigned to either a control arm (n=1124) or one of two intervention arms: low-value conditional cash transfer (eligible for $10 per testing round, n=660) and high-value conditional cash transfer (eligible for $20 per testing round, n=615). The authors tested participants every 4 months over a 12-month period for the presence of common sexually transmitted infections. In the intervention arms, conditional cash transfer payments were tied to negative sexually transmitted infection test results. Anyone testing positive for a sexually transmitted infection was offered free treatment, and all received counselling. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary study end point was combined prevalence of the four sexually transmitted infections, which were tested and reported to subjects every 4 months: Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycoplasma genitalium. The authors also tested for HIV, herpes simplex virus 2 and syphilis at baseline and...

de Walque, Damien, William H. Dow, Rose Nathan, Ramadhani Abdul, Faraji Abilahi, Erick Gong, Zachary Isdahl, Julian Jamison, Boniphace Jullu, Suneeta Krishnan, Albert Majura, Edward Miguel, Jeanne Moncada, Sally Mtenga, Mathew Alexander Mwanyangala, Laura Packel, Julius Schachter, Kizito Shirima, and Carol A. Medlin. 2012. "Incentivizing Safe Sex: a Randomized Trial of Conditional Cash Transfers for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention in Rural Tanzania." BMJ Open 2:e000747.

Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on Aid Impacts Using a Preanalysis Plan
AuthorsKatherine Casey, Rachel Glennerster, and Edward Miguel
Year2012
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Political Economy and Conflict; African Development

Despite their importance, there is limited evidence on how institutions can be strengthened. Evaluating the effects of specific reforms is complicated by the lack of exogenous variation in institutions, the difficulty of measuring institutional performance, and the temptation to "cherry pick" estimates from among the large number of indicators required to capture this multifaceted subject. We evaluate one attempt to make local institutions more democratic and egalitarian by imposing participation requirements for marginalized groups (including women) and test for learning-by-doing effects. We exploit the random assignment of a governance program in Sierra Leone, develop innovative real-world outcome measures, and use a preanalysis plan (PAP) to bind our hands against data mining. The intervention studied is a "community-driven development" program, which has become a popular strategy for foreign aid donors. We find positive short-run effects on local public goods and economic outcomes, but no evidence for sustained impacts on collective action, decision making, or the involvement of marginalized groups, suggesting that the intervention did not durably reshape local institutions. We discuss the practical trade-offs faced in implementing a PAP and show how in its absence we could have generated two divergent, equally erroneous interpretations of program impacts on institutions.

Casey, Katherine, Rachel Glennerster, and Edward Miguel. 2012. "Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on Aid Impacts Using a Preanalysis Plan." Quarterly Journal of Economics 127 (4): 1755-1812.

Willingness to pay for cleaner water in less developed countries: systematic review of experimental evidence
AuthorsClair Null, Michael Kremer, Edward Miguel, Jorge Garcia Hombrados, Robyn Meeks, and Alix Petersen Zwane
Year2012
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Health, Education and Human Capital; Environment and Climate

Diarrheal diseases kill two million children every year despite the availability of effective and inexpensive technologies to improve water quality and limit the spread of pathogens. There is a growing literature on the effectiveness of such technologies but important gaps remain in understanding the demand for these products and the adoption decision. This review expands upon and complements several existing summary articles by focusing on willingness to pay for cleaner water. Willingness to pay can be measured by price randomizations that induce people to reveal their valuation in real purchase decisions or by other methods such as contingent valuation exercises in hypothetical situations and discrete choice analysis. The review conducts a systematic search for experimental evidence on willingness to pay for cleaner water.

Clair Null, Michael Kremer, Jorge Garcia Hombrados, Robyn Meeks, Edward Miguel, and Alix Petersen Zwane. (2012). “Willingness to pay for cleaner water in less developed countries: systematic review of experimental evidence”, 3ie Systematic Review 006.

Being Surveyed Can Change Later Behavior and Related Parameter Estimates
AuthorsAlix Peterson Zwane, Jonathan Zinman, Eric Van Dusen, William Pariente, Clair Null, Edward Miguel, Michael Kremer, Dean S. Karlan, Richard Hornbeck, Xavier Gine, Esther Duflo, Florencia Devoto, Bruno Crepon, and Abhijit Banerjee
Year2011
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesResearch Methodology; Health, Education and Human Capital; Environment and Climate; Other

Does completing a household survey change the later behavior of those surveyed? In three field studies of health and two of microlending, we randomly assigned subjects to be surveyed about health and/or household finances and then measured subsequent use of a related product with data that does not rely on subjects' self-reports. In the three health experiments, we find that being surveyed increases use of water treatment products and take-up of medical insurance. Frequent surveys on reported diarrhea also led to biased estimates of the impact of improved source water quality. In two microlending studies, we do not find an effect of being surveyed on borrowing behavior. The results suggest that limited attention could play an important but context-dependent role in consumer choice, with the implication that researchers should reconsider whether, how, and how much to survey their subjects.

Zwane, Alix Peterson, Jonathan Zinman, Eric Van Dusen, William Pariente, Clair Null, Edward Miguel, Michael Kremer, Dean S. Karlan, Richard Hornbeck, Xavier Gine, Esther Duflo, Florencia Devoto, Bruno Crepon, and Abhijit Banerjee. 2011. "Being Surveyed Can Change Later Behavior and Related Parameter Estimates." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (5): 1821-1826.

Civil War Exposure and Violence
AuthorsEdward Miguel, Sebastian M. Saiegh, and Shanker Satyanath
Year2011
TypePublished Paper
CategoriesPolitical Economy and Conflict; Other

In recent years scholars have begun to focus on the consequences of individuals' exposure to civil war, including its severe health and psychological consequences. Our innovation is to move beyond the survey methodology that is widespread in this literature to analyze the actual behavior of individuals with varying degrees of exposure to civil war in a common institutional setting. We exploit the presence of thousands of international soccer (football) players with different exposures to civil conflict in the European professional leagues, and find a strong relationship between the extent of civil conflict in a player's home country and his propensity to behave violently on the soccer field, as measured by yellow and red cards. This link is robust to region fixed effects, country characteristics (e.g. rule of law, per capita income), player characteristics (e.g. age, field position, quality), outliers, and team fixed effects. Reinforcing our claim that we isolate the effect of civil war exposure rather than simple rule breaking or something else entirely, there is no meaningful correlation between our measure of exposure to civil war and soccer performance measures not closely related to violent conduct. The result is also robust to controlling for civil wars before a player's...

Miguel, Edward, Sebastian M. Saiegh, and Shanker Satyanath. 2011. "Civil War Exposure and Violence." Economics & Politics 23 (1): 59-73.