Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lit in Review: SSA Development

Wantchekon, Leonard, "Deliberative Electoral Campaigns and Transition from Clientelism: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Benin." Wantchekon got permission from the major presidential political candidates in Benin to run an experiment on their campaigns. The randomly selected treatment villages had two town hall-style discussions about important political topics while control villages had the standard rallies. Among the interesting conclusions from his research, rallies cost $15/person to hold but town hall meetings only $2/person; turnout is 5% higher after town halls; and average spending (cash and gifts) to voters was not statistically different between treatment and control groups so that's not what's driving it. It seems that town hall meetings may be the more efficient way to go in national elections.

Aye and Gupta, "The Effects of Monetary Policy on Real Farm Prices in South Africa." They find using a VAR model that both anticipated and unanticipated monetary policy impacts farm prices in the way we would expect (more money supply --> higher prices, big surprise; but lower money supply does not lower prices) but while statistically significant they don't explain much of the variation in what is happening from 1970 to 2010. I wonder if they would have gotten much different results if they looked at  1975-2005 instead and took out the two major episodes of international food price volatility. How much are they driving the small impacts? They also do not attempt to explain how anticipated monetary shocks could have a significant impact or why negative money shocks don't have price impacts. I would hypothesize at least for the latter that it is because of an inflationary shock to supply that the monetary authority chose lower money supply growth, so we wouldn't see a change that direction because of endogeneity problems.

Clemens and Demombynes' latest salvo in the Millennium Villages conflict: the MVP released a paper for the first time comparing progress in the villages to progress in the rest of SSA. Unfortunately, they still do this improperly. What would they have found doing it more properly?
In rural areas of the Ashanti region where the MVP site is located, stunting has been falling just as much as at the project site. The Millennium Village contains less than 1% of Ashanti Region’s population, so even allowing for a generous “spillover” effect of MVP programs to neighboring areas, it is implausible that the village is driving the trend across Ashanti. Comparing the project site to the national trend is likely to overstate the impact of the project.
Blattman reports on the results of an experiment in Kenya by Friedman, KIremer, Miguel, and Thornton, giving education grants to girls in secondary school. In addition to improved test scores and later marriage years, they find improved knowledge of politics and therefore ... more legitimacy for political violence as a way of solving political problems. Ooh. Blattman notes that his own work is starting to find a similar trend in Ugandan women.

Nicita, Olarreaga, and Porto examine "Pro-poor trade policy in Sub-Saharan Africa." They find that the average (of 6) country's trade policies are biased in favor of poorer households, but that developed countries' barriers are biased in favor of richer African households. This suggests, potentially, that reducing average trade barriers in Africa may harm the poor

No comments:

Post a Comment