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Issues in Development 

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Meeting Room 306
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Manuela Angelucci, University of Michigan

Short-term impacts of a pay-it-forward livestock transfer and training program in Nepal

Sarah Janzen
Montana State University
Nicholas Magnan
University of Georgia
Sudhindra  Sharma
Independent Analyst
William Thompson
University of Georgia


This study evaluates the short-term impacts of a livestock transfer and training program in Nepal using an RCT with three treatments to capture differential effects of program components. We also evaluate a unique “pay it forward” program rule where recipients are encouraged to share newly acquired knowledge and accumulated wealth to other households in need. After 1.5 years, financial inclusion increases by 0.3 standard deviations and empowerment increases by 0.2 standard deviations among direct beneficiaries. “Pay it forward” impacts are of approximately the same magnitude as direct beneficiaries and observed impacts vary somewhat across program variations.

Impact of Parental Health Shocks on Children’s Educational Outcomes

Shatakshee  Dhongde
Georgia Institute of Technology
Olga Shemyakina
Georgia Institute of Technology


This study examines the impact of parental health shocks on a child's educational attainment using panel data from the Young Lives Study, a longitudinal study of childhood poverty conducted in four low income countries: Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam. We examine the effects of health shocks to caretakers, such as death and illness among parents (mother, father or both), on child’s education outcomes. Educational outcomes are measured using school enrollment and grade attainment. Our analysis reveals that death of both parents significantly lowers the probability of enrollment among younger children (7-8 years old). A sudden death of a mother lowers enrollment among 11-12 years old whereas among older children (14-15 years old), a sudden death of a father significantly reduces the likelihood of children remaining enrolled at school. Similarly grade attainment is adversely affected by parental health shocks.

Household Bargaining and the Uptake of Family Planning Services

Charlotte  Ringdal
Norwegian School of Economics
Ben  D'Exelle
University of East Anglia


Family planning is important in the fight against poverty. Its benefits include preventing pregnancy related health risks, slowing population growth and empowering of women (World Health Organization, 2016). While in many Sub-Saharan countries family planning services have been made free, the increase in the uptake of these services has been limited. The limited success of making family planning services more accessible to poor families is mostly assumed to be the result of 1) in fertility preferences, or more generally preferences for family planning services, combined with 2) women’s low bargaining power (Hindin, 2000; Rasul, 2008; Westoff, 2010; Ashraf et al., 2014).
In this paper, we focus on the effect of involving the husband in the family planning decision-process. In particular, we manipulate the husband's influence over a family-planning decision made in the lab.
To answer the question about whether and to what extent the husband should be involved in the family planning decision-process, we run an experiment, using a sample of 525 couples from rural villages in Mwanza, Northern Tanzania. In the experiment, the participants make a series of choices between an unconditional transfer and a conditional transfer. The unconditional transfer is paid out one month after the date of the experiment. The conditional transfer is also paid out one month after the date of the experiment, but only if the wife or the couple has attended a family planning meeting at the local health center (whether the wife or the couple is required to attend the family planning meeting depends on the treatment).
We implement three between-couple treatments. In all treatments, the couples make a series of choices between the unconditional and the conditional transfer. In the first treatment, ``Individual Wife'', the wife makes all the decisions alone. In the second treatment, ``Joint'', the couples make all the decisions together. Finally, in the third treatment, ``Individual Husband'', the husband makes all the decisions alone. In addition, we implement two within-couple treatments. One where the voucher received only requires that the wife attends the family planning meeting (``Wife voucher''), and one where the voucher requires that both the husband and the wife attend the meeting (``Couple voucher''). The payment is always given to the wife with the Wife voucher, and given to both the husband and the wife with the Couple voucher.
We find that involving the husband in the decision made in the lab increases the likelihood that the conditional transfer is chosen for both types of vouchers. The use of the voucher is generally high (85%), but we see that if the husband and the wife attend the family planning meeting together, the likelihood that they get contraceptives significantly increases. These results suggest that involving the husband might be beneficial both when planning whether to use family planning services or not (lab decision) and when attending a family planning meeting.

Climate Change and Civil Unrest: Evidence From the El Niño Southern Oscillation

Beatriz  Maldonado
College of Charleston
Daniel Hicks
University of Oklahoma


A growing body of research connects short-run deviations in temperature and precipitation
with changes in violence. Less well understood is the extent to which these studies are representative
of the impacts of global climate change. We follow the approach of Hsiang, Meng, and Cane (2011,
Science) to study the existing impacts of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a climactic
phenomenon in which the ocean’s surface temperature becomes irregularly warm or cold as the
climate cycles between El Niño and La Niña events over the span of years. Into the Hsiang et al.,
(2011) framework we incorporate gridded data on civil unrest from the Cline Center’s geocoded Social,
Political, Economic Event Database (SPEED) to study unrest at the local level. Using fixed effects
and a difference-in-difference strategy, our identification relies on comparing regions which are
strongly affected by the ENSO cycle (teleconnected regions) to those weakly impacted by the cycle,
during the presence and absence of El Niño and La Niña periods. Using gridded data allows us to
analyze these effects on a within country basis, as many nations contain both teleconnected and nonteleconnected
We show that climate has a strong causal impact on local unrest activity. El Niño periods
(typically characterized by warmer and drier than average climates) are associated with increases in the
incidence and intensity of civil strife, while the opposing cycle of La Niña (typified by cooler and
wetter than average climates) dramatically mitigates unrest. These results are consistent with the new
long-run findings of Iyigun, Nunn, and Qian (2017) regarding cooling and conflict. Finally, we
incorporate gridded measures of temperature and precipitation, as well as food and commodity prices
to help explore the mechanisms underlying the observed changes in civil unrest.
Silvia Prina
Case Western Reserve University
Manuela Angelucci
University of Michigan
Susan Parker
University of Maryland
JEL Classifications
  • O1 - Economic Development
  • Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology