17 Records out of 22207 Records

Pro-poor risk management : essays on the economics of index-based risk transfer products [Kenya].

Author: Chantarat, Sommarat

Awarding University: Cornell University, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2009

Holding Libraries: Dissertation Abstracts International ;

Subject Terms: Economics ; Essays ; Risk assessment ; Risk management ;

Abstract:

This dissertation explores innovations in index-based risk transfer products (IBRTPs) as a means to address an important insurance market failure that leaves many poor and vulnerable populations exposed to considerable uninsured risk. IBRTPs can address problems of covariate risk, asymmetric information and high transaction costs that have precluded the emergence of formal insurance market in low-income areas, where uninsured risk remains a leading cause of persistent poverty. A brief introductory chapter situates this dissertation in the broader, emergent literature on IBRTPs. The second chapter explains how the strong relation between widespread human suffering and weather shocks creates an opportunity to develop famine indexed weather derivatives to finance improved emergency response to humanitarian crises. The third chapter explains how these instruments might be designed and used by operational agencies for famine prevention in response to slow-onset disasters. It uses household data to develop a famine index based on child anthropometric data that is strongly related to rainfall variability and other exogenous measures that are reliably available at low cost; that index can be used to trigger payments to improve the timeliness and cost-effectiveness of humanitarian response. The fourth chapter develops commercially viable index based livestock insurance (IBLI) to protect livestock assets for northern Kenyan pastoralists. The underlying herd mortality index is constructed off a statistical model that relates longitudinal household-level herd mortality data to remotely sensed vegetation index data. The resulting index performs well out of sample. Pricing and risk exposure analysis also demonstrate the commercial potential of the product, which has been taken up by financial institutions in Kenya for marketing in early 2010. The fifth chapter explores the household-level performance of IBLI. It uses simulations parameterized based on household panel data, risk preference estimates elicited in field experiments and remote sensing vegetation data to explore how well IBLI performs in preserving household wealth in this setting characterized by bifurcated livestock growth dynamics characteristic of poverty traps. Willingness to pay and aggregate demand for the contract are also estimated. This analysis shows that bifurcation in livestock herd dynamics leads to nonlinear insurance valuation regardless of risk preferences.

Three essays in development economics [Kenya].

Author: Ferre, Celine

Awarding University: University of California, Berkeley, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2008

Holding Libraries: Dissertation Abstracts International ;

Subject Terms: Economics ; Essays ; Development economics ;

Abstract:

This dissertation presents three topics of development economics that try to unravel different aspects of poverty dynamics: internal migration towards urban centers, early fertility reduction and urbanization are three fundamental potential factors of poverty reduction. In Chapter 1, we look at whether internal immigration fostered poverty in urban centers, looking at headcount ratio, basic infrastructure access, polarization, and municipality budget. We use data on Brazilian migration between 1995 and 2000. We instrument the proportion of new immigrants using a combination of three variables: unemployment volatility at origin, proportion of population who left the place of origin, and travel distance between origin and arrival. We find that domestic immigration reduced poverty in urban centers, increased infrastructure access, but did not increase local polarization. The positive effect is mainly due to categories of migrants that have adaptive skills and characteristics complementary to locals'. In Chapter 2, we investigate whether education could reduce early fertility in the context of Kenya, using data from the DHS surveys of 1989 to 2003. We instrument the number of years of education with the 1985 education reform, which increased by one year time spent in primary school. We find that one more year spent in school decreases by 10 percentage points the probability of teenage childbearing, or a reduction of 15% of teenage fertility rates. One additional year of schooling curbs the probability of pregnancy each year by 7.3% (respectively 5.6) for women with at least a primary (secondary) degree. Investing in education can therefore have positive spillovers on health. In Chapter 3, we draw upon small area poverty estimation to investigate the relationship between poverty and city size in six developing countries. We find substantial variation in the incidence and depth of consumption poverty across city sizes in five of the six countries. For all five countries where the data permits a disaggregation of the incidence of public service access, there is also considerable variation across city sizes. In all cases, poverty is lowest and service availability is greatest in the largest cities, precisely those where governments, the middle-classes, opinion-makers and airports are disproportionately located.

Essays in experimental development economics [Kenya].

Author: Jakiela, Pamela

Awarding University: University of California, Berkeley, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2008

Holding Libraries: Dissertation Abstracts International ;

Subject Terms: Economics/Development economics/Essays/ ;

Abstract:

Experimental economic methods are used to explore individual decision-making in poor communities with limited access to the formal credit and insurance markets. I explore preferences for sharing in the United States and rural Kenya using experimental dictator games which measure altruism and inequality-aversion in non-strategic environments. In a sample of U.S. undergraduates, I find that the context of a dictator game impacts the level of selfishness and altruism observed, but not the willingness to sacrifice efficiency to enhance equity. In a related study, I measure the willingness to reward individual effort, relative to underlying preferences for sharing unearned income, among rural Kenyans and U.S. undergraduates. The results suggest that Kenyan subjects are more generous on the whole, but that they do not reward others for their labor; U.S. subjects, on the other hand, share more with those who have exerted effort than with those who have received lottery winnings--just as they are more generous with their own unearned income than with wages they received for exerting effort. In the final study, I report the results of a framed field experiment testing the impact of microfinance contract structure on moral hazard in project choice. I find that joint liability contracts encourage free-riding and risky investment decisions, but that the costs to the lender are more than compensated for by forcing borrowers to insure each other.

Essays on disease-related working-age adult mortality : evidence from rural Kenya.

Author: Kirimi, Lilian Wambui

Awarding University: Michigan State University, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2008

Holding Libraries: Dissertation Abstracts International ;

Subject Terms: Economics/Essays/Mortality/Disease/Rural areas/Workforce/ ;

Abstract:

The onset of HIV/AIDS has led to a remarkable increase in working-age adult mortality. Using a nationally representative panel data of rural Kenyan farm households surveyed between 1997 and 2007, the first essay of this dissertation examines whether the relationship between socioeconomic characteristics and adult mortality has changed over this period. Hazard analysis is applied to a 10-year period data of 5,755 working-age adults. There is a downward trend in the risk of working-age adult mortality across the observation period, with the decline being faster for men than women. In the early stages of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, wealthier, more educated individuals, those who were mobile and spent extended periods of time away from home were more likely to die of HIV/AIDS-related diseases. A comparison between the findings within the 10-year period and the early stages reveals that the relationship has changed in a number of ways. First, the hazard of death varies only slightly by wealth status and there is a weak significant shift toward an inverse relationship between asset value and mortality in some periods. Second, the hazard of death is converging among men of all education levels. Third, the risk and spread of HIV/AIDS is no longer related to mobility and spending time away from home. Fourth, relative remoteness and isolation from the initial epicenter of HIV/AIDS is no longer associated with lower HIV infection and hazard of death. These changes suggest that over time, mortality risks are converging among groups that could in the past be clearly distinguished with regard to the likelihood HIV infection and AIDS-related mortality. Essay Two determines the dynamics of the impacts of adult death on household composition, cultivated land, value of crop output, household asset base and income. I use panel data over a 7-year time period and a statistical model borrowed from the program evaluation literature that exploits a counterfactual strategy, taking into account the impacts of death across both time and households. In contrast to the Essay 1, in which the individual is the unit of observation, the unit of observation in Essay 2 is the household. Findings indicate that: (i) small negative impacts of adult mortality begin to emerge in the period preceding death, presumably due to pre-death morbidity; (ii) there are substantial and significant negative impacts observed in the year of death, and in most cases, these impacts are larger compared to those in other years before and after death; (iii) impacts are not just a one-time post-death adjustment but rather they persist over time; (iv) negative effects are larger in the period closest to the death event, signifying some recovery over time for some outcomes; (v) contrary to the conventional wisdom that afflicted households will shift to labor-saving crops such as roots and tubers, there is weak evidence of a such a shift but a modest shift away from capital-intensive high-value crops; (vi) sale of small animals and participation in off-farm activities are important coping strategies for afflicted households; and (vii) impacts of adult mortality differ by the gender and position of the deceased adult.

Three essays on the effect of ex-ante soil fertility on smallholder fertilizer use behavior [Kenya].

Author: Marenya, Paswel Phiri

Awarding University: Cornell University, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2008

Holding Libraries: ;

Subject Terms: Economics ; Essays ; Soil fertility ; Farming ; Fertilizers ;

Abstract:

The broad framework of this dissertation is to determine how an important soil biophysical indicator affects returns to fertilizer, secondly, whether farmers accurately perceive these biophysically mediated outcomes and thirdly, how these biophysical impacts on returns to fertilizer interact with farmers' subjective perceptions to affect fertilizer demand among a sample of smallholder farmers in a maize-based system in western Kenya. The aim is to show that these relationships can undermine market incentives for the needed increases in fertilizer use among smallholder farmers. Research results presented in this dissertation show a sigmoid relationship between soil organic matter, a broad proxy for soil fertility status, and economic returns to nitrogen fertilizer application. The results also show that farmers' subjective evaluation of soil fertility and returns to fertilizer are largely based on expected maize yields and estimated marginal returns to fertilizer. Finally, fertilizer demand exhibits significant discontinuities based on a plot-level soil carbon content cutoff point where fertilizer application was found to be significantly higher for high-soil carbon plots. These findings raise the prospect of soil quality mediated poverty traps for low-income farmers, in which degraded soil resources limit both productivity and the returns to investing in maintaining or improving the natural resource base (in this case soil fertility).

Essays on off-farm labor market participation, farm production decisions and household economic wellbeing : empirical evidence from rural Kenya.

Author: Mathenge, Mary W Kiiru

Awarding University: Michigan State University, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2008

Holding Libraries: Dissertation Abstracts International ;

Subject Terms: Economics ; Agricultural economics ; Labour force ; Essays ; Rural areas ;

Abstract:

This study uses household level data collected across different regions of rural Kenya to study household welfare dynamics, engagement in the off-farm labor market and its effects on agricultural intensification for these rural households. The dissertation consists of three separate essays. The first essay estimates a dynamic panel data model of income to determine the pattern of income growth for these rural households. The paper seeks to determine the relationship between educational attainment and the initial economic position of households on their subsequent income growth and mobility. Results show strong evidence of (low) income persistence for the poor and those in the low agricultural potential areas without at least a secondary school education. As expected, higher education seems to reduce income persistence for the very poor and those in the low potential areas, but also enhances convergence for those in the high potential areas. Overall, the results indicates the potential role of education in not only breaking the cycle of poverty for those trapped in it, but also its ability to allow increased recovery from income shocks. Notably, there is no conclusive evidence of the pattern of income growth or the role of education for non-poor households, implying that such are less susceptible to long-term effects of income shocks in either direction. The second essay explores the relationship between off-farm work and farm production decisions. In particular, the study examines the effects of a household's involvement in off-farm work on farm-input use and intensification namely, fertilizer and improved seed on maize production. The empirical question of research in this paper relate to whether off-farm earnings contribute to the financing of productivity enhancing investments in agriculture especially in credit constrained situations. The results from the study suggest differences in the impacts of off-farm work on input use and intensification across different inputs and off-farm activity types. While the results suggests possible use of off-farm earnings for input purchase especially for those without other forms of credit, the 'combined' input package seems to represent a substantially greater commitment and one not possibly attractive to those with higher off-farm earnings. Finally, the third essay seeks to analyze the influence of agricultural and agroecological factors in facilitating access to and earnings from the off-farm labor market for these rural households. The study explores how these farm households respond ex-ante to risky production environments and ex-post to unexpected rainfall shocks. Results indicate that these rural households engage in off-farm work as a long-term strategy to deal with anticipated weather risks to their farming operations. Although the results do not show significant short-term engagements as a result of unexpected rainfall shocks, there is evidence of greater reliance on remittance income and petty agricultural wage labor in response to such unexpected rainfall shocks.

Three seemingly unrelated essays in development economics [Kenya].

Author: Baird, Sarah Jane

Awarding University: University of California, Berkeley, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2007

Holding Libraries: Dissertation Abstracts International ;

Subject Terms: Economics ; Development economics ; Essays ; Comparative studies ;

Abstract:

Mitigating risk, new technology adoption and improving health and education are key mechanisms for lifting households out of poverty in rural areas of developing countries. In this dissertation we use micro-level analysis to investigate these issues in the contexts of Vietnam, India and Kenya. Although all three chapters look at diverse topics in different settings, at the heart of each analysis is an attempt to address issues essential to improving the well-being of households in developing countries. In Chapter 2 we draw on the full-insurance literature to examine the ability of households in Vietnam to smooth consumption when faced with idiosyncratic income shocks. Given the potential vulnerability of households in developing countries to weather shocks, illness and other sources of income variability, it is important to understand the extent to which households can cope with an uncertain income flow. We modify the standard approach taken in the full-insurance literature by focusing on smoothing of quantities, as opposed to expenditures. This is an important distinction because quantities, not expenditures, are what really matter for household welfare. In addition we allow for a more general characterization of preferences. We develop a simple model that leads to an estimation equation which we then test using panel data from Vietnam. We still reject full insurance across all goods, although the degree of insurance varies across goods. In particular we find that households are better able to smooth normal goods, such as rice, as opposed to more luxury goods such as meats. Chapter 3 looks at the factors that drove technology adoption of high yielding variety seeds in India during the Green Revolution. We test alternative models of technology adoption using household level panel data from a nationally representative sample of rural Indian households from 1968-1971, years that correspond with the onset of the Green Revolution. The 'price model' emphasizes input availability and price as the key determinants of the scale of adoption, while the 'learning model' focuses on learning and experience. Using decision rules derived from these two alternative models we find that although both models capture certain aspects of the adoption decision, they each disregard important components of the alternative model. We then propose a third model that combines aspects of these two approaches and use it to characterize the decision both on the scale of adoption as well as whether or not to adopt. Chapter 4 examines the long run health and education impacts of a deworming intervention in primary schools in Western Kenya. We collect a panel dataset of Kenyan youth from 1998 to 2005 to examine the medium to long term impacts of the intervention on health and education outcomes. Our results suggest that deworming treatment does have some medium-run effects, particularly on health. We find positive impacts of deworming on height, weight and a subjective measure of general health. These results seem to be largely driven by benefits to females, students in lower grades in 1998, and students living in higher infection areas, particularly high schistosomiasis areas. We find some impacts of deworming on education outcomes, most notably on dropout rates. Overall, our results suggest that a larger scale deworming project targeted at specific vulnerable sub-groups of the population may have fairly substantial health and education benefits.

Essays on the economics of education and health [Kenya].

Author: Cohen, Jessica Lee

Awarding University: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2007

Holding Libraries: Dissertation Abstracts International ;

Subject Terms: Economics ; Essays ; Education ; Health ;

Abstract:

This dissertation is a collection of three essays exploring the impact of incentives on participation in public education and health programs. The first two essays analyze the demand for Special Education (a program for disabled children) in the U.S., while the third essay explores the demand for subsidized anti-malaria products in Kenya. The first chapter attempts to estimate the direct impact of Special Education (SE) placement on students' social and academic outcomes. Despite the fact that one out of every seven U.S. public school students receives SE services, little is known about the impact of this program on future outcomes. I exploit the strategic incentive to increase SE enrollment induced by a 1996 accountability policy in Chicago Public Schools to identify the impact of SE placement on high school completion, absenteeism and GPA. Pre-accountability performance characteristics of the school determined to what extent sanctions could be avoided by increasing SE placement, since SE students' scores were excluded from accountability measires. I construct an instrument that captures the strength of strategic incentives, and show that low-achieving students in high-incentive schools experienced the largest increase in SE placement. Using instrumental variables analysis and a panel of student data from Chicago Public Schools, I find that SE placement in elementary school reduces the probability of dropping out of high school and absenteeism for the marginal low-achieving student, while results on GPA are inconclusive. I provide evidence that these results are not driven by other changes taking place at high-incentive schools. The results suggest that low-achieving students benefit from SE placement for mild mental disabilities. While the first chapter explores school-level incentives to increase SE enrollment, the second chapter analyzes the impact of financial incentives on parental demand for SE placement. A number of studies have shown the importance of school-based incentives on the supply of SE services made available to students. However, the extent to which parental demand for SE services responds to incentives, and how much of the variation in SE enrollment can be explained by these incentives, is unknown. The 1990 Supreme Court Zebley decision led to a substantial widening of child eligibility criteria for SSI. I use this legislative change, in combination with cross-state variation in the financial gain to enrolling in SSI, as an instrument for child SSI enrollment. This estimation strategy allows me to isolate the direct impact of shifts in SSI benefit supply on SE enrollment. I find that the financial incentives brought on by the Zebley decision led to a 15 percent increase in SE enrollment. I also estimate that a modest 1.5 percent of the cross-state variation in SE enrollment can be explained by differences in financial incentives to enroll in SSI. These results suggest that parents respond to incentives to have their child screened for a disability and placed in SE. The third chapter in this series of essays is joint with Pascaline Dupas and explores how variation in the level of subsidy of health goods impacts the ability of public health campaigns to target vulnerable populations. It is widely believed that cost-sharing-charging a subsidized, positive price-for a health product is necessary to avoid wasting resources on those who will not use the product. We explore this argument in the context of a field experiment in Kenya, in which we randomized the price at which pregnant women could buy anti-malarial insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) at prenatal clinics. We find no evidence that cost-sharing reduces wastage on those that will not use the good: women who received free nets are not less likely to use them than those who paid subsidized positive prices. Cost-sharing does, however, considerably dampen demand. We find that uptake drops by 75 percent when the price of ITNs increases from zero to 75 cents, the

Essays in development economics based on fieldwork in Western Kenya.

Author: Robinson, Jonathan

Awarding University: Princeton University, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2007

Holding Libraries: ;

Subject Terms: Economics/Essays/Development economics/Western Kenya/ ;

Abstract:

This dissertation consists of three chapters based on original data collected through fieldwork in Western Kenya. The dissertation is focused on whether poor individuals in developing countries are able to cope with the considerable risk that they face, and on what constrains their adoption of new technologies which appear to have the potential to considerably improve their incomes. The first chapter, entitled 'Limited Insurance within the Household: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Western Kenya,' employs a field experiment to test whether married couples are able to efficiently insure income risk between themselves. The experiment followed 143 daily income earners and their spouses for 8 weeks. Every week, each individual had a 50% chance of receiving a 150 Kenyan shilling (US $2) income shock. This chapter has 2 main results. First, households do not efficiently pool risk, as male private consumption increases in weeks in which the husband receives the experimental payment but does not change in weeks in which the wife receives the shock. Second, I explore whether limited commitment due to contract unenforceability is a possible explanation for this observed failure of full insurance. I split the sample into 3 Treatment Groups with varying levels of intra-household correlation in the experimental payments. If insurance is constrained by limited commitment, transfers should be highest when spousal incomes are uncorrelated or negatively correlated. I find evidence that women transfer more of the shock to their husbands when the shocks are independent or negatively correlated, a result which suggest that limited commitment is an important constraint on even within-household risk sharing. The second chapter (co-authored with Ethan Yeh), entitled 'Sex Work as a Response to Risk in Western Kenya,' is also concerned with how poor individuals cope with risk. This paper studies whether commercial sex workers in Kenya choose to increase their supply of better compensated but riskier unprotected sex in order to cope with unexpected income shocks. Using a panel dataset constructed from 234 self-reported sex worker diaries, we find that sex workers are more likely to see clients and have anal or unprotected sex on days in which a household member falls ill, or on days just after recovering from the symptoms of an STI. Since the HIV prevalence is 9.8% in this part of Kenya, and since health shocks are extremely common among this sample of sex workers, these choices entail significant health risks and have important implications for the spread of HIV/AIDS. The third paper (co-authored with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer), entitled 'Understanding Technology Adoption: Fertilizer in Western Kenya,' studies why it is that only 31.1% of farmers in Western Kenya have ever used fertilizer, even though it appears to be a profitable investment. This paper reports the results from a series of field experiments designed to determine which barriers are most important in constraining technology adoption. The results suggest that learning demonstrations on farmers' plots have relatively large impacts on fertilizer adoption, but that programs which provide farmers an opportunity to commit their harvest income towards future fertilizer use may have even bigger effects. These savings programs suggest that the inability of farmers to save for even a short period of time is a significant impediment to technology adoption.

Essays in applied environmental and health economics [Kenya].

Author: Yeh, Ethan Yih

Awarding University: University of California, Berkeley, USA

Level : PhD

Year: 2007

Holding Libraries: Dissertation Abstracts International ;

Subject Terms: Economics/Essays/Environmental conditions/Health/Economics/ ;

Abstract:

Public health crises are the most dramatic in developing countries, and this dissertation is concerned with two critical health issues: air pollution and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Both issues are extremely complex, with many players, regulations, and policies impacting millions (if not billions) of people worldwide. Research and knowledge is vitally important in the design of regulations and interventions to reduce the disease burden related to both air pollution and STIs, and I hope these essays are a step in the right direction. These two issues are also related conceptually in economics because of externalities. Air pollution is the classic negative externality because firms or drivers that produce harmful air particulates generally do not incur the costs. Instead, people living near power plants, people living near highways, people with asthma, young children, elderly, tend to bear the brunt of the costs, often in the form of negative health impacts. Similarly, externalities play a large role in the transmission of STIs and the HIV epidemic. For example, risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex, anal sex, or sex with commercial sex workers have significant negative externalities beyond discomfort, stigma, or psychological effects on the parties involved. HIV transmission to an uninfected partner has substantial health consequences for that individual as well as an impact on the larger HIV epidemic. The externalities related to air pollution and sexual behavior are therefore key concepts in policymaking. The first essay concerns New Source Review, a key component of the Clean Air Act in the United States in regulating ambient air pollution from coal-fired power plants. With the large amount of coal-fired generation in China and other countries, it is important to utilize knowledge from existing environmental regulations in the United States in the design of future regulations in developing countries. The second essay examines the effect of indoor air pollution from house-hold biomass fuel use on child mortality in Pakistan. The last two essays investigate risky sexual behaviors among a population of informal and formal commercial sex workers in Western Kenya. In particular, the final essay examines the relationship between sex work and income risk using a unique daily panel dataset