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.
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.
Understanding the possible pitfalls of survey data is critical for empirical research. Among other things, poor data quality can lead to biased regression estimates, potentially resulting in incorrect interpretations that mislead researchers and policymakers alike. Common data problems include difficulties in tracking respondents and high survey attrition, enumerator error and bias, and respondent reporting error. This paper describes and analyzes these issues in Round 1 of the Kenyan Life Panel Survey (KLPS-1), collected in 2003-2005. The KLPS-1 is an innovative longitudinal dataset documenting a wide range of outcomes for Kenyan youths who had originally attended schools participating in a deworming treatment program starting in 1998. The careful design of this survey allows for examination of an array of data quality issues.
Baird, Sarah, Joan Hamory Hicks, and Edward Miguel. (2008). “Tracking, Attrition and Data Quality in the Kenyan Life Panel Survey Round 1 (KLPS-1)”, University of California CIDER Working Paper #C08-151.
We study cultural norms and legal enforcement in controlling corruption by analyzing the parking behavior of United Nations officials in Manhattan. Until 2002, diplomatic immunity protected UN diplomats from parking enforcement actions, so diplomats' actions were constrained by cultural norms alone. We find a strong effect of corruption norms: diplomats from high-corruption countries (on the basis of existing survey-based indices) accumulated significantly more unpaid parking violations. In 2002, enforcement authorities acquired the right to confiscate diplomatic license plates of violators. Unpaid violations dropped sharply in response. Cultural norms and (particularly in this context) legal enforcement are both important determinants of corruption.
Fisman, Raymond, and Edward Miguel. 2007. "Corruption, Norms and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets." Journal of Political Economy 115 (6): 1020-1048.
This chapter is devoted to discussions of how assessments of early childhood development (ECD) interventions in developing countries can be improved and extended. There are estimates that ECD problems are widespread in developing countries, increasing evidence that what happens in early childhood affects significantly options and productivities over the life cycles but very little systematic evidence to support that the impacts of these ECD programs are large or, more importantly, that the benefit-to-cost ratios of ECD interventions are high – particularly in light of the heterogeneous market, policy, and cultural contexts across developing countries that may limit the transferability of inferences from one context to another. Therefore the returns are potentially great not only for those who already are persuaded that more resources should be devoted to EDC interventions in developing countries in order that they can make their case more persuasively but also for those who are concerned more broadly about prioritizing resource allocations across what might seem to be a number of strong but difficult-to-compare alternatives ranging from other human resource investments to physical infrastructure investments to...
Behrman, Jere, Paul Glewwe, and Edward Miguel. (2007). "Methodologies to Evaluate Early Childhood Development Programs", World Bank Doing Impact Evaluation #9.
AIDS deaths could have a major impact on economic development by affecting the human capital accumulation of the next generation. We estimate the impact of parent death on primary school participation using an unusual five-year panel data set of over 20,000 Kenyan children. There is a substantial decrease in school participation following a parent death and a smaller drop before the death (presumably due to pre-death morbidity). Estimated impacts are smaller in specifications without individual fixed effects, suggesting that estimates based on cross-sectional data are biased toward zero. Effects are largest for children whose mothers died and, in a novel finding, for those with low baseline academic performance.
Evans, David K., and Edward Miguel. 2007. "Orphans and Schooling in Africa: A Longitudinal Analysis." Demography 44 (1): 35-57.
Dozens of countries around the world have suffered civil conflicts in the past few decades, with the highest concentration in Sub-Saharan Africa. The direct humanitarian consequences of war for survivors are enormous in physical insecurity, loss of property, and psychological trauma. There may also be lasting economic development costs for societies that experience violent civil conflicts. And the international “spillover” effects of conflicts can be large for neighboring countries faced with refugee flows, lawlessness on their borders, and the illicit trades in drugs, arms, and minerals that proliferate in conflict zones. This insecurity has foreign policy implications for the United States along multiple dimensions. But what causes this insecurity and what can be done about it? In this chapter, I first describe recent academic research that finds a strong link leading from poverty to violence in less developed countries. I then lay out some of the implications of this core finding for public policy and in particular for the design of foreign aid.
Miguel, Edward. 2007. "Poverty and Violence: An Overview of Recent Research and Implications for Foreign Aid." In Too Poor for Peace? Global Poverty, Conflict and Security in the 21st Century, edited by Lael Brainard and Derek Chollet, 50-59. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Many contend that President Bush's reelection and increased vote share in 2004 prove that the Iraq War was either electorally irrelevant or aided him. We present contrary evidence. Focusing on the change in Bush's 2004 showing compared to 2000, we discover that Iraq casualties from a state significantly depressed the President's vote share there. We infer that were it not for the approximately 10,000 U.S. dead and wounded by Election Day, Bush would have won nearly 2% more of the national popular vote, carrying several additional states and winning decisively. Such a result would have been close to forecasts based on models that did not include war impacts. Casualty effects are largest in "blue" states. In contrast, National Guard/Reservist call-ups had no impact beyond the main casualty effect. We discuss implications for both the election modeling enterprise and the debate over the "casualty sensitivity" of the U.S. public.
Karol, David, and Edward Miguel. 2007. "The Electoral Cost of War: Iraq Casualties and the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election." Journal of Politics 69 (3): 633-648.