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.
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.
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.
This paper estimates the impact of a large anti-poverty cash transfer program, the Uruguayan PANES, on political support for the government that implemented it. Using the discontinuity in program assignment based on a pretreatment eligibility score, we find that beneficiary households are 11 to 13 percentage points more likely to favor the current government relative to the previous government. Political support effects persist after the program ends. Our results are consistent with theories of rational but poorly informed voters who use policy to infer politicians' redistributive preferences or competence, as well as with behavioral economics explanations grounded in reciprocity.
Manacorda, Marco, Edward Miguel, and Andrea Vigorito. 2011. "Government Transfers and Political Support." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 3 (3): 1-28.
Miguel, Satyanath, and Ernest Sergenti (2004), henceforth MSS, show that economic growth is negatively related to civil conflict in Africa, using annual rainfall variation as an IV for growth. Antonio Ciccone (2011) argues that thanks to rainfall's mean-reverting nature, rainfall levels are preferable to annual changes. We make three points. First, MSS's findings hold using rainfall levels as instruments. Second, Ciccone (2011) does not provide theoretical justification for preferring rainfall levels. Third, the first-stage relationship between rainfall and growth is weaker after 2000, suggesting that alternative instruments are needed when studying recent conflicts. We highlight the accumulating microeconomic evidence that adverse economic shocks lead to political violence.
Miguel, Edward, and Shanker Satyanath. 2011. "Re-examining Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 3 (4): 228-232.
Many effective health products and behaviors available through the private market are not widely adopted in less developed countries. For example, fewer than 10% of households in our Kenyan study area treat their water with dilute chlorine. Using a suite of randomized evaluations, we find that information and marketing interventions do little to boost use of chlorine. However, chlorine take-up is highly sensitive to price, convenience and social context, with more than half of households using chlorine when an individually-packaged supply is delivered free to the home. The highest sustained take-up is achieved by combining free, convenient, salient, and public access through a point-of-collection chlorine dispenser system and a local promoter. More than half of households treat their water and this use continues 30 months later even though promoters are paid only for the first six months. The estimated long-run costs of this intervention at scale, including administrative costs, are between $0.25 and $0.50 per person per year.
Kremer, Michael, Edward Miguel, Sendhil Mullainathan, Clair Null, and Alix Peterson Zwane. 2011. "Social Engineering: Evidence from a Suite of Take-up Experiments in Kenya." Unpublished Working Paper.
Using a randomized evaluation in Kenya, we measure health impacts of spring protection, an investment that improves source water quality. We also estimate households' valuation of spring protection and simulate the welfare impacts of alternatives to the current system of common property rights in water, which limits incentives for private investment. Spring infrastructure investments reduce fecal contamination by 66%, but household water quality improves less, due to recontamination. Child diarrhea falls by one quarter. Travel-cost based revealed preference estimates of households' valuations are much smaller than both stated preference valuations and health planners' valuations, and are consistent with models in which the demand for health is highly income elastic. We estimate that private property norms would generate little additional investment while imposing large static costs due to above-marginal-cost pricing, private property would function better at higher income levels or under water scarcity, and alternative institutions could yield Pareto improvements.
Kremer, Michael, Jessica Leino, Edward Miguel, and Alix Peterson. 2011. "Spring Cleaning: Rural Water Impacts, Valuation, and Property Rights Institutions." Quarterly Journal of Economics 126 (1): 145-205.
We investigate the impact of U.S. bombing on later economic development in Vietnam. The Vietnam War featured the most intense bombing campaign in military history and had massive humanitarian costs. We use a unique U.S. military dataset containing bombing intensity at the district level (N = 584) to assess whether the war damage led to persistent local poverty traps. We compare the heavily bombed districts to other districts controlling for district demographic and geographic characteristics, and use an instrumental variable approach exploiting distance to the 17th parallel demilitarized zone. U.S. bombing does not have negative impacts on local poverty rates, consumption levels, infrastructure, literacy or population density through 2002. This finding indicates that even the most intense bombing in human history did not generate local poverty traps in Vietnam.
Miguel, Edward, and Gerard Roland. 2011. "The Long-run Impact of Bombing Vietnam." Journal of Development Economics 96 (1): 1-15.
In 2004, the Hugo Chávez regime in Venezuela distributed the list of several million voters who had attempted to remove him from office throughout the government bureaucracy, allegedly to identify and punish these voters. We match the list of petition signers distributed by the government to household survey respondents to measure the economic effects of being identified as a Chávez political opponent. We find that voters who were identified as Chávez opponents experienced a 5 percent drop in earnings and a 1.3 percentage point drop in employment rates after the voter list was released.
Hsieh, Chang-Tai, Edward Miguel, Daniel Ortega, and Francisco Rodriguez. 2011. "The Price of Political Opposition: Evidence from Venezuela's Maisanta." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 3 (2): 196-214.
Most nations have experienced an internal armed conflict since 1960. Yet while civil war is central to many nations' development, it has stood at the periphery of economics research and teaching. The past decade has witnessed a long overdue explosion of research into war's causes and consequences. We summarize progress, identify weaknesses, and chart a path forward. Why war? Existing theory is provocative but incomplete, omitting advances in behavioral economics and making little progress in key areas, like why armed groups form and cohere, or how more than two armed sides compete. Empirical work finds that low per capita incomes and slow economic growth are both robustly linked to civil war. Yet there is little consensus on the most effective policies to avert conflicts or promote postwar recovery. Cross-country analysis of war will benefit from more attention to causal identification and stronger links to theory. We argue that micro-level analysis and case studies are also crucial to decipher war's causes, conduct, and consequences. We bring a growth theoretic approach to the study of conflict consequences to highlight areas for research, most of all the study of war's impact on institutions. We conclude with a plea for new and better data.
Blattman, Christopher, and Edward Miguel. 2010. "Civil War." Journal of Economic Literature 48 (1): 3-57.
This article draws on data from over 35,000 respondents in 22 public opinion surveys in 10 countries and finds strong evidence that ethnic identities in Africa are strengthened by exposure to political competition. In particular, for every month closer their country is to a competitive presidential election, survey respondents are 1.8 percentage points more likely to identify in ethnic terms. Using an innovative multinomial logit empirical methodology, we find that these shifts are accompanied by a corresponding reduction in the salience of occupational and class identities. Our findings lend support to situational theories of social identification and are consistent with the view that ethnic identities matter in Africa for instrumental reasons: because they are useful in the competition for political power.
Eifert, Benn, Edward Miguel, and Daniel N. Posner. 2010. "Political Competition and Ethnic Identification in Africa." American Journal of Political Science 54 (2): 494-510.