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.
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.
Two billion people are infected with intestinal worms. In many areas, the majority of schoolchildren are infected, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for school-based mass deworming. The key area for debate is not whether deworming medicine works--in fact, the medical literature finds that treatment is highly effective, and thus the standard of care calls for treating any patient known to harbor an infection. As the authors of the Cochrane systematic review point out, a critical issue in evaluating current soil-transmitted helminth policies is whether the benefits of deworming exceed the costs or whether it would be more prudent to use the money for other purposes. While in general we think the Cochrane approach is very valuable, we argue below that many of the underlying studies of deworming suffer from three critical methodological problems: treatment externalities in dynamic infection systems, inadequate measurement of cognitive outcomes and school attendance, and sample attrition. We then argue that the currently available evidence from studies that address these issues is consistent with the consensus view expressed by other reviews and by policymakers that deworming is a very cost-effective way to increase school participation and has a high benefit to cost ratio.
Bundy, Donald A. P., Michael Kremer, Hoyt Bleakley, Matthew C. H. Jukes, and Edward Miguel. 2009. "Deworming and Development: Asking the Right Questions, Asking the Questions Right." PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 3 (1): e362.
We study a randomized evaluation of a merit scholarship program in which Kenyan girls who scored well on academic exams had school fees paid and received a grant. Girls showed substantial exam score gains, and teacher attendance improved in program schools. There were positive externalities for girls with low pretest scores, who were unlikely to win a scholarship. We see no evidence for weakened intrinsic motivation. There were heterogeneous program effects. In one of the two districts, there were large exam gains and positive spillovers to boys. In the other, attrition complicates estimation, but we cannot reject the hypothesis of no program effect.
Kremer, Michael, Edward Miguel, and Rebecca Thorton. 2009. "Incentives to Learn." Review of Economics and Statistics 91 (3): 437-456.
This study exploits a new longitudinal dataset to examine selective migration among 1,500 Kenyan youth originally living in rural areas. We examine whether migration rates are related to individual "ability", broadly defined to include cognitive aptitude as well as health, and then use these estimates to determine how much of the urban-rural wage gap in Kenya is due to selection versus actual productivity differences. Whereas previous empirical work has focused on schooling attainment as a proxy for cognitive ability, we employ an arguably preferable measure, a pre-migration primary school academic test score. Pre-migration randomized assignment to a deworming treatment program provides variation in health status. We find a positive relationship between both measures of human capital (cognitive ability and deworming) and subsequent migration, though only the former is robust at standard statistical significance levels. Specifically, an increase of two standard deviations in academic test score increases the likelihood of rural-urban migration by 17%. Accounting for migration selection due to both cognitive ability and schooling attainment does not explain more than a small fraction of the sizeable urban-rural wage gap in Kenya, suggesting that productivity differences across sectors remain large.
Miguel, Edward, and Joan Hamory. 2009. "Individual Ability and Selection into Migration in Kenya." United Nations Development Programme: Human Development Reports Research Paper 45.
We study the brutal 1991-2002 Sierra Leone civil war using nationally representative household data on conflict experiences, postwar economic outcomes, local politics and collective action. Individuals whose households directly experienced more intense war violence are robustly more likely to attend community meetings, more likely to join local political and community groups, and more likely to vote. Tests using prewar controls and alternative samples suggest that selection into victimization is unlikely to be driving the results. More speculatively, the findings could help partially explain the rapid postwar political and economic recoveries observed in Sierra Leone and after several other recent African civil wars.
Bellows, John, and Edward Miguel. 2009. "War and Local Collective Action in Sierra Leone." Journal of Public Economics 93 (11-12): 1144-1157.
Armed conflict within nations has had disastrous humanitarian consequences throughout much of the world. Here we undertake the first comprehensive examination of the potential impact of global climate change on armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. We find strong historical linkages between civil war and temperature in Africa, with warmer years leading to significant increases in the likelihood of war. When combined with climate model projections of future temperature trends, this historical response to temperature suggests a roughly 54% increase in armed conflict incidence by 2030, or an additional 393,000 battle deaths if future wars are as deadly as recent wars. Our results suggest an urgent need to reform African governments' and foreign aid donors' policies to deal with rising temperatures.
Burke, Marshall B., Edward Miguel, Shanker Satyanath, John A. Dykema, and David B. Lobell. 2009. "Warming Increases the Risk of Civil War in Africa." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106 (49): 20670-20674.