Essays in Development Economics
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CitationGray-lobe, Guthrie. 2020. Essays in Development Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation explores three topics in development economics. Chapter 1 provides evidence on the relationship between the design of cash transfer programs and educational investments in children. I re-analyze the results of Haushofer and Shaprio (2016) to show that forced saving through transfer programs reduces pupil absence from class and improves parental psychological well-being. Using results from an incentivized preference elicitation survey, I show that many parents in Kenya prefer transfer programs with forced saving, suggesting that they anticipate the benefits of forced saving. Chapter 2 presents joint work (with Willa Friedman and Michael Kremer) empirical evidence on the costs and benefits of allowing government workers to choose where they are posted. Volunteers to a youth service program that posted college graduates in Kenyan public primary schools were allowed to express preferences over location of assignment. We find that using volunteer preferences in assignment improves welfare and retention. We show that algorithmic assignment according to applicant preferences can be a highly cost effective way to improve some aspects of program effectiveness. However, we also find evidence that allowing for applicants to choose their assignments may undermine some programmatic goals. Chapter 3 presents joint work (with Rachel Heath and Mushfiq Mobarak) on the role of social homogeneity and fractionalizaton on the ability of groups of people to realize welfare improving gains from trade. We show that seasonal floodplain fisheries have large effects on welfare of landowners. However, we find that many opportunities to adopt aquaculture are unrealized. Surprisingly, fields that are less socially homogeneous are more likely to successfully reach consensus to adopt aquaculture.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365741
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