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.
This essay begins with a discussion of the recent social science literature on the impact of ethnic, racial, and religious divisions, and then proposes a set of policies that less-developed countries should follow to help them overcome ethnic conflict. It advocates the adoption of “nation-building” policies that foster the development of a common national identity. The case of Tanzania, and the contrast of Tanzania with its East African neighbor, Kenya, is the focus of this essay. It is argued that Tanzania’s serious approach to forging a common national identity attractive across ethnic groups — which takes the form of extensive linguistic, educational, and institutional reforms — offers a model for other less-developed countries that inherited ethnic divisions in the post-independence period. An overview of empirical evidence based on original field data collection is presented, which shows that this nation-building approach has allowed ethnically diverse communities in rural Tanzania to achieve considerable success in local fund-raising for primary schools, while ethnically diverse Kenyan communities have largely failed in this task.
Miguel, Edward. 2006. "Ethnic Diversity and Poverty Reduction." In Understanding Poverty, edited by Abhijit Banerjee, Roland Benabou, and Dilip Mookherjee, 169-184. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
We estimate the impact of poverty on crime in 19th century Bavaria, Germany. Rainfall is used as an instrumental variable for grain (rye) prices to address econometric identification problems in the existing literature. The rye price was a major determinant of living standards during this period. The rye price has a positive effect on property crime: a one standard deviation increased property crime by 8%. OLS estimates are twice as large as instrumental variable estimates, highlighting the value of our empirical approach. Higher rye prices lead to significantly less violent crime, though, and we argue that higher beer prices, caused by the higher rye prices, are a likely explanation.
Mehlum, Halvor, Edward Miguel, and Ragnar Torvik. 2006. "Poverty and Crime in 19th Century Germany." Journal of Urban Economics 59 (3): 370-388.
Scholars of economic development have argued that war can have adverse impacts on later economic performance: war destroys physical capital and infrastructure and disrupts human capital accumulation, and it may also damage institutions by creating political instability, destroying the social fabric and endangering civil liberties (World Bank, 2003). Understanding war’s impact on development is particularly important for Sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds of all nations suffered from armed conﬂict during the 1980s and 1990s. The proliferation of armed conﬂict in the world’s poorest region begs the question of what role conﬂict may be playing in Africa’s disappointing economic performance. Yet the net long-run effects of war are ambiguous from the point of view of economic theory. To the extent that war impacts are limited to the destruction of capital, the neoclassical model predicts rapid economic growth postwar, converging back to steady-state growth. Several recent papers that study war impacts—including in Japan (Donald R. Davis and David E. Weinstein, 2002) and Vietnam (Miguel and Gerard Roland, 2005)—ﬁnd few persistent local impacts of U.S. bombing, with heavily bombed areas experiencing rapid recovery to prewar population and economic trends.This is consistent with the neoclassical model if war’s main consequence is to destroy capital. War could also affect...
Bellows, John and Edward Miguel. 2006. "War and Institutions: New Evidence from Sierra Leone." American Economic Review 96 (2): 394-399.
A new stylized fact in development economics is the importance of social capital in promoting economic growth. This paper examines the effect of social capital on industrialization in Indonesia. We analyze a rich set of social capital and social interaction measures, including voluntary associational activity and levels of trust and informal cooperation. The main finding is that initial social capital does not predict subsequent industrial development across 274 Indonesian districts. Though these findings are for only a single nation and may not apply everywhere, they call into question recent claims regarding social capital and economic development.
Miguel, Edward, Paul Gertler, and David I. Levine. 2005. "Does Social Capital Promote Industrialization? Evidence from a Rapid Industrializer." Review of Economics and Statistics 87 (4): 754-762.
This paper examines ethnic diversity and local public goods in rural western Kenya. The identification strategy relies on the stable historically determined patterns of ethnic land settlement. Ethnic diversity is associated with lower primary school funding and worse school facilities, and there is suggestive evidence that it leads to poor water well maintenance. The theoretical model illustrates how inability to impose social sanctions in diverse communities leads to collective action failures, and we find that school committees in diverse areas do impose fewer sanctions on defaulting parents. We relate these results to the literature on social capital and economic development and discuss implications for decentralization in less developed countries.
Miguel, Edward, and Mary Kay Gugerty. 2005. "Ethnic Diversity, Social Sanctions, and Public Goods in Kenya." Journal of Public Economics 89 (11-12): 2325-2368.
The volume Health and Economic Growth: Findings and Policy Implications is evidence of the growing awareness within economics of the important connections between health and poverty in less developed countries. The aim of this chapter is to review recent evidence on one potential channel through which health may affect income: education.
Miguel, Edward. 2005. "Health, Education, and Economic Development." In Health and Economic Growth: Findings and Policy Implications, edited by Guillem López-Casasnovas, Berta Rivera and Luis Currais, 140-168. Cambridge: MIT Press.
This study uses rainfall variation to estimate the impact of income shocks on murder in rural Tanzania. Extreme rainfall (drought or flood) leads to a large increase in the murder of "witches"--typically elderly women killed by relatives--but not other murders. The findings provide novel evidence on the role of income shocks in causing violent crime, and religious violence in particular.
Miguel, Edward. 2005. "Poverty and Witch Killing." Review of Economic Studies 72 (4): 1153-1172.
Social scientists studying entrepreneurship have emphasized three distinct sets of variables: the institutional environment, sociological variables, and personal and psychological characteristics. We are conducting surveys in five large developing and transition economies to better understand entrepreneurship. In this short paper, using over 2,000 interviews from a pilot study in Russia, we find evidence that the three sets of variables matter: perceptions of the local institutional environment, social network effects, and individual characteristics are all important in determining entrepreneurial behavior.
Djankov, Simeon, Edward Miguel, Yingyi Qian, Gerard Roland, and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya. 2005. "Who are Russia's Entrepreneurs?." Journal of the European Economic Association 3 (2-3): 587-597.
Estimating the impact of economic conditions on the likelihood of civil conflict is difficult because of endogeneity and omitted variable bias. We use rainfall variation as an instrumental variable for economic growth in 41 African countries during 1981-99. Growth is strongly negatively related to civil conflict: a negative growth shock of five percentage points increases the likelihood of conflict by one?half the following year. We attempt to rule out other channels through which rainfall may affect conflict. Surprisingly, the impact of growth shocks on conflict is not significantly different in richer, more democratic, or more ethnically diverse countries.
Miguel, Edward, Shanker Satyanath, and Ernest Sergenti. 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach." Journal of Political Economy 112 (4): 725-753.
This article examines how government policies affect ethnic relations by comparing outcomes across two nearby districts, one in Kenya and one in Tanzania, using colonial-era boundary placement as a "natural experiment." Despite similar geography and historical legacies, governments in Kenya and Tanzania have followed radically different language, education, and local institutional policies, with Tanzania consistently pursuing more serious nation building. The evidence suggests that nation building has allowed diverse communities in rural Tanzania to achieve considerably better local public goods outcomes than diverse communities in Kenya. To illustrate, while Kenyan communities at mean levels of diversity have 25 percent less local school funding than homogeneous communities on average, the comparable figure in the Tanzanian district is near zero. The Kenya-Tanzania comparison provides empirical evidence that serious reforms can ameliorate social divisions and suggests that nation-building should take a place on policy agendas, especially in Africa.
Miguel, Edward. 2004. "Tribe or Nation? Nation Building and Public Goods in Kenya Versus Tanzania." World Politics 56 (3): 327-362.