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The legacy of war on social and political behaviour
Michal Bauer, Christopher Blattman, Julie Chytilová, Joseph Henrich, Edward Miguel, Tamar Mitts
VoxEU
July 2, 2016

The past decade has seen rapid growth in an interdisciplinary body of research examining the legacy of war on social and political behaviour. This column presents a meta-analysis and synthesis of this research. Evidence from surveys and experiments from over 40 countries reveals a stylised fact: individual exposure to war-related violence tends to increase social cooperation, community participation, and pro-social behaviour. However, these changes...

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Measuring ethnic preferences: New experimental evidence
Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Kjetil Bjorvatn, Simon Galle, Edward Miguel, Daniel Posner, Bertil Tungodden, Kelly Zhang
VoxEU
February 11, 2016

Ethnic divisions have been shown to adversely affect economic performance and political stability, particularly in Africa. However, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Using experimental data from Kenya, this column studies whether one potential mechanism – co-ethnic bias – affects altruism. Strikingly, most tests yield no evidence of co-ethnic bias, suggesting that other mechanisms must be driving the negative association between ethnic diversity and...

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Despite $7 billion to 'Power Africa', why the continent is still in the dark
Kenneth Lee and Edward Miguel
Reuters
July 30, 2015

Power Africa is tackling a critical global challenge. All of Sub-Saharan Africa, with 961 million residents, currently only consumes about as much power as New York City. Expanding energy access will be vital for driving Africa’s economic transformation over the coming decades. Yet our research in Kenya shows that most households and businesses still face major barriers to accessing electricity. In recent years, hundreds of...

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The scientific case for deworming children
Michael Kremer and Edward Miguel
Thomson Reuters Foundation
July 29, 2015

The last few days have seen an outpouring of news stories relating to “worm wars”, the policy debate over whether governments should provide mass treatment for intestinal worm infections in endemic areas. This was sparked when a re-analysis of a 2004 study (which found a strong link between deworming and school attendance) was published last week in the International Journal of Epidemiology. An issue...

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Weather and Violence
Marshall Burke, Solomon Hsiang, and Edward Miguel
New York Times
August 30, 2013

As temperatures rise, tempers flare. Anyone who has experienced the hostility of a swelteringly hot summer day in the city can attest to that. But researchers are now quantifying the causal relationship between extreme climate and human conflict. Whether their focus is on small-scale interpersonal aggression or large-scale political instability, low-income or high-income societies, the year 10,000 B.C. or the present day, the overall conclusion...

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An Open Discussion on Promoting Transparency in Social Science Research
Edward Miguel
CEGA Blog / BITSS Blog
March 20, 2013

This CEGA Blog Forum builds on a seminal research meeting held at the University of California, Berkeley on December 7, 2012. The goal was to bring together a select interdisciplinary group of scholars – from biostatistics, economics, political science and psychology – with a shared interest in promoting transparency in empirical social science research....

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Africa Unleashed: Explaining the Secret of a Belated Boom
Edward Miguel
Foreign Affairs
November 1, 2011

It is well known that the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s were a disaster for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. In a period when other underdeveloped regions, especially Asia, were experiencing steady economic growth, Africa as a whole saw its living standards plummet. Nearly all Africans lived under dictatorships, and millions suffered through brutal civil wars. Then, in the 1990s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic exploded, slashing...

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Development in Dangerous Places: Comment on Collier
Edward Miguel
Boston Review
July 1, 2009

In his essay (and two recent books) Paul Collier lays out a detailed vision for how foreign aid and intervention might promote economic progress in the world’s poorest regions, areas populated by what he has called the “bottom billion.” The key problem, as Collier describes it here, is that: "A group of about 60 small, impoverished, post-colonial countries . . . . are structurally...

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Politics May Strain Health Care Reform
Edward Miguel
Marketplace
March 2, 2009

Audio available via Marketplace (18:18).
Republican majorities in Congress passed the largest expansion of federal government health spending in decades with the Medicare Prescription Drug Act of 2003, with strong support from President Bush. One has to wonder if there are more than economic ideology differences at work on either side. Even Rush Limbaugh said about the stimulus plan: "I don't think it's designed to stimulate...

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Do Conflicts Cause Poverty, or Vice Versa
Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel
Vox
November 29, 2008

Understanding the tangled web of cause and effect that potentially links poverty and violence is a task that has long stymied social scientists. Does war cause poverty, or vice-versa? Or perhaps other factors – such as societal hatreds or divisions – cause both economic stagnation and war. Maybe all three of these are operating at once. This is no matter for ivory-towered thumb twiddling...

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How to Prevent War and Famine
Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel
Forbes
October 15, 2008

With the U.S. financial system in unprecedented turmoil and the economy moving toward recession, ordinary Americans wake up to daily panic about their mortgages and mutual funds. But while we fret for our financial security, the volatility in global asset prices and commodities resulting from the U.S. financial crisis will have global reach, threatening the very survival of Africa’s poorest villagers. Take oil prices, for...

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Don't Forget the Already Poor
Edward Miguel
Marketplace
October 13, 2008

Audio available via Marketplace (19:50).
We're all glued to Wall Street's implosion and for good reason. We're worried about falling home values and our 401k's. The crisis will also hit the world's poorest people in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are least able to buffer the shock. For one, in the recent Vice Presidential debate, Joe Biden said that one consequence of the financial crisis would...

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Political Ties Boost Bottom Lines
Edward Miguel
Marketplace
September 26, 2008

Audio available via Marketplace (20:37).
Critics of our campaign finance system fear growing corruption: are contributions too often the quid pro quo for favorable government regulation or no-bid contracts? New economics research using stock prices finds that political ties can be quite profitable for U.S. firms. The idea is simple: compare companies that cultivate ties with Democrats (through campaign contributions or board memberships or lobbying) to...

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Deciphering the Demand for Safe Drinking Water
Michael Kremer, Edward Miguel, Clair Null, and Alix Zwane
Resources for the Future: Weekly Policy Commentary
September 1, 2008

We take water for granted when it flows from our kitchen faucet, but for millions in less developed countries, safe drinking water remains a matter of life and death. Diarrheal diseases kill around two million children every year, and contaminated water is often to blame. In rural areas where pipe infrastructure is too expensive or too hard to maintain, water collection from sources like...

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Water Technologies
Michael Kremer, Edward Miguel, Clair Null, and Alix Zwane
Boston Review
September 1, 2008

In rural areas where piped-water infrastructure is too expensive or difficult to maintain, the burden of water collection falls primarily on women and young children. Though they may walk hours, the sources they have access to are often dangerously polluted. With so many people relying on the same sources to wash dishes and clothes and to give their livestock something to drink, preserving cleanliness...

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How Economics Can Defeat Corruption
Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel
Foreign Policy
August 13, 2008

It was the odd uniformity of the suitcase's contents that tipped off the baggage inspector: six thick, identical rectangles. They could have been books, but then again, they could have been six bundles of cocaine. And in August 2007, security was tight at the airport in Buenos Aires; the country was in the midst of a presidential election. It was worth taking a closer...

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Africa Benefits from Commodity Costs
Edward Miguel
Marketplace
July 15, 2008

Audio available via Marketplace (11:26).
While high consumer prices for fuel and food capture the headlines, the costs of the basic raw materials for construction and industry -- from copper wiring to rolled steel and timber -- are also at record highs. This squeezes U.S. firms. But not everyone around the world suffers from high global commodity prices. Some benefit positively -- and not just oil...

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Using Foreign Aid to Stop Conflict
Edward Miguel
Marketplace
May 27, 2008

Audio available via Marketplace (19:14).
Food prices in the U.S. have been rising fast. Growing demand for food products in Asia and unusual global climate patterns are driving the increase. While higher prices put a moderate dent in our wallets, food shortages have much more severe consequences in Africa, the poorest part of the world. Most African families still rely on farming to make a living,...

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Is it Africa's Turn?
Edward Miguel
Boston Review
May 1, 2008

Things were certainly looking up when I last visited Busia, a small city in Kenya, in mid-2007. Busia, home to about 60,000 residents, spans Kenya’s western border with Uganda: half the town sits on the Kenyan side and half in Uganda. As befits a border town, Busia is well endowed with gas stations, seedy bars, and hotels catering to the truckers who spend the...

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Corruption and Culture
Edward Miguel and Raymond Fisman
National Post
December 8, 2006

Canada is not a corrupt country. Nigeria is. What is it that keeps us from slipping a 50 to a policeman who pulls us over for speeding, whereas such transactions are the norm on the roads of Lagos? That is, why do Nigerians bribe with impunity, while we in Canada have a collective reputation as a law-abiding society?...

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Bombing Vietnam: The Long-Term Economic Consequences
Edward Miguel and Gérard Roland
Milken Institute Review
December 1, 2006

The 20th century was witness to the most destructive wars in all history. Technological progress in weaponry as well as innovation in their manufacture made it possible to destroy lives and property on an unprecedented scale. What is less clear, though, is whether the unrivaled destructiveness of modern warfare has had enduring consequences on economic capacity. While bombing left many Japanese and...

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Stop Conflict Before It Starts
Edward Miguel
Bloomberg Businessweek
September 17, 2006

Dozens of countries have suffered through civil conflicts in the past few decades. The humanitarian consequences have been staggering: 3 million civilian deaths in Congo and hundreds of thousands more in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Sudan. The direct human impacts for survivors are enormous, and there may be lasting economic setbacks for whole societies. Likewise, the regional spillover effects are devastating for neighboring countries faced...

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Incentives to Learn: Merit Scholarships That Pay Kids to Do Well
Michael Kremer, Edward Miguel, and Rebecca Thorton
Education Next
April 1, 2005

Proposals for education reform generally focus on teachers and curricula. But the most important factor in education may be the student himself or herself. A growing number of states, including Georgia, Michigan, New York, and Massachusetts, have established programs that provide financial rewards in the form of merit scholarships for college for students who perform well academically. However, such programs are controversial with some...

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Cash Talks
Edward Miguel
Forbes
November 24, 2003

A generation of reforms–including more school resources and new curricula–has failed to improve urban schools. In Oakland, Calif., near where I live, 20% of high school students drop out. Only a third meet the minimum requirements for entrance to the California state university system. The dropout problem is especially severe among African-American and Latino high school students, who are twice as likely to drop...

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