Journal Articles

Crop Choice, School Participation and Child Labor in Developing Countries: Cotton Expansion in Burkina Faso (with Makamu Francis), forthcoming, American Journal of Agricultural Economics
Abstract: We estimate the effects of changes in cotton adoption on children's schooling and child labor in rural Burkina Faso. Using time and spatial variations, we find evidence that expansion of cotton farming has led to an increase in enrollment and to a reduction of participation in child labor for girls. There are, however, no detectable effects on boys. In theory, cotton adoption could increase household's income, leading to increased demand for schooling and reduced child labor. On the other hand, because children are productive on cotton farms, adoption of cotton could increase the opportunity cost of child time and the demand for child labor. We provide suggestive evidence showing that boys are more productive than girls on cotton farms. Taken together the results suggest that the income effect from cotton adoption might have been larger than the wage effect for girls, hence the overall positive impacts on school enrollment for girls. Online Appendix

School Feeding Programs, Intrahousehold Allocation and the Nutrition of Siblings: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Rural Burkina Faso (with Daminen de Walque and Harold Alderman), Journal of Development Economics, 106 (2014): 15-34
We evaluate the impact of two school feeding schemes on health outcomes of pre-school age children in Burkina Faso: school meals which provide students with lunch each school day, and take home rations which provide girls with 10 kg of cereal flour each month, conditional on 90 percent attendance rate. We investigated the pass through to younger siblings of the beneficiaries and found that take home rations have increased weight-for-age of boys and girls under age 5 by 0.4 standard deviations compared to a control group. In the same age range, school meals did not have any significant effect on weights of siblings. We provide suggestive evidence indicating that most of the gains are realized through intra-household food reallocation.

The Effects of “Girl-Friendly” Schools: Evidence from the BRIGHT School Construction Program in Burkina Faso (with Dan Levy, Leigh Linden and Matt Sloan), forthcoming, American Economic Journal: Applied,
5.3 (2013): 41-62
We evaluate the causal effects of a program that constructed high quality “girl-friendly” primary schools in Burkina Faso, using a regression discontinuity design 2.5 years after the program started. We find that the program increased enrollment of all children between the ages of 5 and 12 by 20 percentage points and increased their test scores by 0.45 standard deviations. The change in test scores for those children caused to attend school by the program is 2.2 standard deviations. We also find that the program was particularly effective for girls, increasing their enrollment rate by 5 percentage points more than boys’, although this did not translate into a differential effect on test scores. Disentangling the effects of school access from the unique characteristics of the new schools, we find that the unique characteristics were responsible for a 13 percentage point increase in enrollment and 0.35 standard deviations in test scores, while simply providing a school increased enrollment by 26.5 percentage points and test scores by 0.323 standard deviations. The unique characteristics of the school account for the entire difference in the treatment effect by gender. (online appendix)

Antiretroviral Therapy Perceived Efficacy and Risky Sexual Behaviors: Evidence from Mozambique, (with Damien de Walque and Mead Over), Economic Development and Cultural Change,
61.1 (2012): 97-126.
This paper studies the effect of increased access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for AIDS on self-reported risky sexual behavior, using data collected in Mozambique in 2007 and 2008. The survey sampled both households from randomly selected HIV positive individuals and comparison households from the general population. Controlling for unobserved individual characteristics, our findings support the hypothesis of disinhibition behaviors, in which people report more sexual risk taking when they perceive ART as more efficacious.  In particular, risky behaviors are more positively associated with efficacious ART for family members of HIV positive persons and for individuals from comparison households. However, over the study period, we find that increased experience with ART at the nearest health facility has decreased, rather than increased, the perceived efficacy of ART.  To the degree that the perceived efficacy of ART has declined, perhaps because people have known more patients who have failed treatment, peoples’ sexual behavior has become more cautious.  Our findings suggest that risk behavior is sensitive to the perceived efficacy of ART programs and that efforts to expand ART access or reduce ART failure rates must be supplemented with programs to prevent a resurgence of risky sexual behavior. We stress that our identification strategy reveals associations, and therefore our findings should not be interpreted as causal. See blog post (based on the working paper version)

Educational and Child Labor Impacts of Two Food for Education Schemes: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Rural Burkina Faso, (with
Daminen de Walque and Harold Alderman) , Journal of African Economies, 21(5), pp.723-760
Abstract: This paper uses a prospective randomized trial to assess the impact of two food for education schemes on education and child labor outcomes for children from low-income households in northern rural Burkina Faso. The two food for education programs under consideration are, on the one hand, school meals where students are provided with lunch each school day, and, on the other hand, take home rations which provide girls with 10 kg of cereal flour each month, conditional on 90 percent attendance rate. After the program ran for one academic year, both programs increased enrollment by 3 to 5 percentage points.  The scores on mathematics improved for girls in both school meals and take-home rations villages.  Conditional on enrollment, the interventions caused attendance to decrease, but this was mainly driven by lower attendance among new enrollees. The interventions also led to adjustment in child labor, with children (especially girls) with access to food for education programs, in particular the take home rations, shifting away from on farm labor and off-farm productive tasks which possibly are more incompatible with school hours (published version from Oxford University Press).  

Income Risk and Schooling Decisions in Rural Burkina Faso, World Decvelopment,
40.8 (2012): 1647-1662
Abstract: There is a large literature which explores how negative income shocks impact human capital accumulation (especially education) when financial markets are incomplete and households can neither insure nor borrow to smooth their consumption. The main conclusion is that households in these circumstances allocate child time to more labor and to less schooling. Such ex-post use of child time as a self insurance mechanism translates into lower human capital (lower years of education completed) over time which is detrimental to economic growth. There has been, however, little research on the cumulative effects of (perceived) income uncertainty on child education. The intuition is that households that face more a volatile income stream have greater incentives to build up a buffer stock to insure against unforeseen adverse shocks, and non enrollment can be part of such strategy. This paper fills this gap on the literature which focuses on income shocks and education in developing countries. The empirical work uses data from rural Burkina Faso, an environment where school enrollment rates are low and households face frequent income shocks. Controlling for current economic shocks, household wealth levels and child characteristics, I find that income uncertainty (expressed as income variance) consistently reduces a number of education outcomes, including current enrollment status, education expenditures per child, the number of years of education completed and the probability of having been ever enrolled. The estimation results suggest that income uncertainty might have large welfare costs in terms of human capital.

Gender, Social Norms and Household Production in Burkina Faso (with Zaki Wahhaj), Economic Development and Cultural Change,
61.3 (2013): 539-576
Abstract: Empirical studies of intra-household allocation have revealed that, in many instances, gender is an important determinant in the allocation of resources within the household. Yet, within the theoretical literature, why gender matters within the household remains an open question. In this paper, we propose a simple model of intra-household allocation based on a particular social institution for the organization of agricultural production practiced among certain ethnic groups in West Africa. We highlight how this institution, while resolving certain problems of commitment and informational asymmetry, can also lead to a gendered pattern in the allocation of productive resources and consumption within the household. Using a survey of agricultural households in Burkina Faso, we show, consistent with this theory, that plots owned by the head of the household are farmed more intensively, and achieves higher yields, than plots with similar characteristics owned by other household members. Male and female family members who do not head the household achieve similar yields. We argue that the higher yields achieved by the household head may be explained in terms of social norms that require him to spend the earnings from some plots under his control exclusively on household public goods, which in turn provides other family members the incentive to voluntarily contribute labor on his farms. Using expenditures data, and measures of rainfall to capture weather-related shocks to agricultural income, we show that the household head has, indeed, a higher marginal propensity to spend on household public goods than other household members. The fact that the head of the household is usually male accounts for the gendered pattern in labor allocation and yields across different farm plots.

Child Ability and Household Human Capital Investment Decisions in Burkina Faso (with Richard Akresh, Emilie Bagby and Damien de Walque), forthcoming, Economic Development and Cultural Change,
61.1 (2012): 157-186
Abstract: Using data they collected in rural Burkina Faso, the authors examine how children’s cognitive abilities influence resource constrained households’ decisions to invest in their education. This paper uses a direct measure of child ability for all primary school-aged children, regardless of current school enrollment. The analysis explicitly incorporates direct measures of the ability of each child’s siblings (both absolute and relative measures) to show how sibling rivalry exerts an impact on the parents’ decision of whether and how much to invest in their child’s education. The findings indicate that children with one standard deviation higher own ability are 16 percent more likely to be currently enrolled, while having a higher ability sibling lowers current enrollment by 16 percent and having two higher ability siblings lowers enrollment by 30 percent. The results are robust to addressing the potential reverse causality of schooling influencing child ability measures and using alternative cognitive tests to measure ability.
Also available as a World Bank Policy Research Working  Paper See related blog post (based on the working paper version)

Consumption Smoothing? Livestock, Insurance and Drought in Rural Burkina Faso (with Christopher Udry),  Journal of Develpment  Economics 79(2) pp.413-446
Abstract: This paper explores the extent of consumption smoothing between 1981 and 1985 in rural Burkina Faso. In particular, we examine the extent to which livestock, grain storage and interhousehold transfers are used to smooth consumption against income risk. The survey coincided with a period of severe drought, so that the results provide direct evidence on the effectiveness of these various insurance mechanisms when they are the most needed. We find evidence of little consumption smoothing. In particular, there is almost no risk sharing, and households rely almost exclusively on self-insurance in the form of adjustments to grain stocks to smooth out consumption. The outcome, however, is far from complete smoothing. Hence the main risk-coping strategies which are hypothesized in the literature (risk sharing and buffer stock), were not effective during the survey period.

Motives for Household Private Transfers in Burkina Faso ,   Journal of Develpment  Economics  79 (2006) pp. 73-117
Abstract: Resource transfers among households have received considerable interest among economists in recent years. Two of the main reasons for the surge of interest in household transfers are the information on human nature conveyed by transfer behavior and the implication on income redistribution policy that private transfer might have. Empirical studies, however, provide mixed results on transfer behavior. This is because previous inquiries were confronted with several estimation issues and have focused on data from developed countries where private transfers are already small. This paper contributes to the literature on transfer behavior by using a multifaceted econometric approach to examine the motives of household transfers in Burkina, a low-income country with a well documented tradition of gift exchanges. The findings suggest that risk sharing is not central to transfers. Altruistic transfers are apparent for the middle income class, but not at low income level. The evidence implies that crowding out may be minimal at low income level, suggesting that public transfers targeting poor households may be effective.

Property Rights, Production Technology and Deforestation:Cocoa in Cameroon (with William Masters)   Agricultural Economics 35(1) pp. 19-26
Abstract: In this paper, we use a vintage-capital model with risk of eviction to assess cocoa farmers’ response to changes in their tenure security and to the introduction of a new, faster-maturing cocoa variety. The model is calibrated with data from Cameroon in calendar year 2000, and then used to simulate the effects of institutional and technical change on farmer welfare and deforestation rates. Our findings can be summarized in three points. First, improved tenure security over cocoa fields increases farmers’ consumption and welfare, but at the expense of more deforestation. Second, the introduction of new cocoa varieties with faster maturity and higher input response also unambiguously raises farmers’ consumption and welfare. Doing so increases deforestation under insecure land tenure, but slows down deforestation under secure land tenure. Third, when introducing the two innovations together (more security and also new varieties), there is both an increase in welfare and a decline in deforestation. In sum, the availability of new cocoa cultivars calls for stronger tenure security, to accelerate investment and reduce deforestation.

Investing in Soils: Fields Bunds and Microcatchments in Burkina Faso (with William Masters), Environment and Development Economics, 7:571-591, 2002
Abstract: This research uses field-level data from Burkina Faso to ask what determines farmers' investment in two well-known soil and water conservation techniques: field bunds (barriers to soil and water runoff), and microcatchments (small holes in which seeds and fertilizers are placed). Survey data for 1993 and 1994 are used to estimate Tobit functions, compute elasticities of adoption and intensity of use, perform robustness tests and estimate alternative models. Controlling for land and labor abundance and other factors we find that those who have more ownership rights over farmland, and who do more controlled feeding of livestock, tend to invest more in both technologies. The result suggests that responding to land scarcity with clearer property rights over cropland and pasture could help promote investment in soil conservation, and raise the productivity of factors applied to land.

Substitution between domestic and imported food in urban consumption in Burkina Faso:Assessing the Impact of Devaluation (with  Kimsey Savadogo), Food Policy,24 535-551, 1999
Abstract: This article has analysed the changing patterns of food consumption between before the 1994 devaluation (based on information from a survey in 1983 and a recall by the sample households of consumption patterns in 1993) and after the devaluation (based on a short-term recall by the sample households in 1997). The major finding is that a shift has occurred in urban household food consumption following the dramatic change in the prices of imported rice and wheat relative to domestically produced coarse grains (millet, sorghum, maize). Urban households are found to consume more of the domestically produced coarse grains than the imported rice and wheat. This finding is particularly true for low income households and is corroborated both by expenditure and by meal-type frequency data. These results agree with macro level data, as the imports of rice dropped from 80 000 metric tons in 1991–92 to 40 000 metric tons in 1995–96. This drop is not compensated by domestic production, which increased by 40,000 metric tons in paddy (Ministry of Economy and Finance data).

Book Chapters

HIV/AIDS Services Delivery, Overall Quality of Care, and Satisfaction in Burkina Faso: Are Some Patients Privileged?
  in Rist, R.C., F. P. Martin and A. M. Fernandez, eds. 2016. Poverty, Inequality and Evaluation: Changing Perspectives. Washington, DC: World Bank.
doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-0703-9. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO

Alternative Cash Transfer Delivery Mechanisms: Im pacts on Routine Preventative Health Clinic Visits in Burkina Faso, (with Richard Akresh and Damien de Walque), NBER Africa Success Project, forthcoming. University of Chicago Press.
Abstract: We conducted a unique randomized experiment to estimate the impact of alternative cash transfer delivery mechanisms on household demand for routine preventative health services in rural Burkina Faso. The two-year pilot program randomly distributed cash transfers that were either conditional or unconditional and were given to either mothers or fathers. Families under the conditional cash transfer schemes were required to obtain quarterly child growth monitoring at local health clinics for all children under 60 months old. There were no such requirements under the unconditional programs. Compared with control group households, we find that conditional cash transfers significantly increase the number of preventative health care visits during the previous year, while unconditional cash transfers do not have such an impact. For the conditional cash transfers, transfers given to mothers or fathers showed similar magnitude beneficial impacts on increasing routine visits.
Also available as a World Bank Working Paper

Demographic Pressure and Institutional Change: Village-Level Response to Rural Population Growth in Burkina Faso, (with William Masters and Margaret McMillan), NBER Africa Success Project, forthcoming. University of Chicago Press.
Abstract: This paper uses historical census data from Burkina Faso to characterize local demographic pressures, including population shocks associated with internal migration after disease eradication in river valleys, and forced repatriation of migrants from Cote d’Ivoire.  We combine those data with a new survey of village elders that was designed to document change over time and differences across villages in local public goods provision, market infrastructure, and property rights. We hypothesize that higher local population densities are associated with more collective services and a transition from open-access to regulated land use, offering a village-level test of fundamental hypotheses about social and political change in Africa.  Controlling for year and province fixed effects, we find that villages’ variance in population associated with proximity to river valleys and to Cote d’Ivoire is closely correlated with higher levels of public services, infrastructure, religious facilities, and markets; in addition, villagers’ land is more often governed through individual as opposed to familial rights, with more land-market transactions and stronger regulation of villagers’ forest use.  Responding to population growth with improved public services and more private property rights is consistent with both scale effects in public good provision, and changes in the scarcity of land. 


Perspective paper on Going upstream: a Cost-Bene t Analysis of Social Policy Interventions to enhance the HIV/AIDS response in Sub-Saharan Africa, Copenhagen Consensus Center Project on HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, forthcoming. Cambridge University Press.

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