Do Rural Roads Create Pathways out of Poverty? Evidence from India (revised September 2017)
Revise and Resubmit, Journal of Development Economics
Awarded Best Poster at Northeast Universities Development Consortium Conference 2013
Popular press: Financial Express
Despite a large policy-thrust towards road provision in developing countries, the impact of roads on poverty alleviation is not well-understood. Using quasi-random road placement from a rural road construction program in India, this paper finds evidence of lower prices and increased availability of non-local goods in treatment areas, suggesting greater market integration. Reduced-form evidence suggests that changes in market access caused rural households to (a) increase the adoption of agricultural technologies, and (b) pull teenaged members out of school to join the labor force. Enrollment gains for younger children point to an improvement in access to public services.
Grain Today, Gain Tomorrow: Evidence from a Storage Experiment with Savings Clubs in Kenya (with Eilin Francis and Jonathan Robinson)
Staple food prices in rural Africa display predictable, sizeable seasonal price changes, from post-harvest troughs to lean season peaks. We experimentally evaluate a group-based grain storage scheme with 132 savings clubs in Kenya. Treatment clubs were offered a communal savings product in which farmers could deposit a fraction of their harvest, to be sold later in the season. Fifty-eight percent of farmers took up the product and treatment farmers were 23 percentage points more likely to store maize for the hungry season (on a base of 69 percent in the control group) and were twice as likely to sell maize.
Half of the world’s adult population is excluded from using even the most basic formal financial services, despite the large potential benefits (Chaia et al., 2009; Demirguc-Kunt and Klapper, 2012). This paper discusses some common reasons behind not having a formal account and reviews regulatory policies introduced to remove the physical, bureaucratic, financial, and trust barriers to the use of formal accounts. We summarize some public and private sector product innovations designed to expand financial inclusion—defined here narrowly as the ownership and use of formal financial accounts—particularly for the poor.
Barriers to Inclusion in the Formal Healthcare Sector: A Supply-side Investigation (coming soon)
PublicationFinancing Businesses in Africa: The Role of Microfinance (with Leora Klapper and Dorothe Singer), Chapter 9 in Microfinance in Developing and Developed Countries: Issues, Policies and Performance Evaluation, Jean-Pierre Gueyie, Ronny Manos and Jacob Yaron, eds., Published by Palgrave Macmillan 2013
This paper evaluates how microfinance performed in providing business financing in 27 Sub-Saharan African countries. It uses data from the 2009 and 2010 Gallup World Poll, a nationally-representative survey of at least 1,000 individuals per country, conducted in up to 157 countries per year. The data, supported by rigorous statistical evidence in related literature on the use of microcredit around the world, demonstrate that economic gains from microcredit have been more modest than what was once believed. On the other hand, the analysis suggests that the poor save in order to start new businesses and that the introduction of formal products for small savings can be a key financial innovation. The authors also analyze the challenges the poor face in setting money aside to save, and discuss what policymakers can do to promote savings.
Works in Progress
Daily Income, Labor Supply and Multiple Accounts: A Mobile Money Field Experiment with Micro-Entrepreneurs in Malawi (with Pia Basurto, Valentina Brailovskaya, and Jonathan Robinson)
Market Linkages, Trade Costs, and Technology Adoption in Rural Tanzania (with Brian Giera, Dahyeon Jeong, Patrick Olobo, Jonathan Robinson, and Alan Spearot)
Time Preferences and Health Management: Identifying Optimal Incentive Schemes (with Rebecca Dizon-Ross and Ariel Zucker)