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Doctoral Student Research Projects

Doctoral Research: '07-'08 | '06-'07 | '05-'06
See also
Masters Student Research Projects
Current CID Research | Research Archive


2007-08 Doctoral Student Projects


"Bribery: Evidence from Firms' Internal Records"
Ngoc Anh Tran, Doctoral Candidate, Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Corruption is a central issue in international development. However, due to its secrecy nature, it has been difficult to find hard data and do micro-empirical research about corruption. Empirical researchers have been creative in searching for ways to get hard data on corruption. These include firms’ surveys, auditing financial documents, inspecting quality of public projects and comparing prices.

In this project I use another approach to get hard data on corruption. During my recent fieldwork in an Asian country, I interviewed many people who directly involved in the corruption activities. I found that bribe-takers are generally not willing to talk about the issue, but to the contrary, many bribe-givers are open to discuss it. Bribe-givers fall into two categories: individuals and firms. Each individual usually knows only a few personal corruption cases. Each firms, however, often keeps records or many corrupt transactions. In a corrupt environment, firms usually keep two accounting books: one cooked book to report to the authority and one real book to keep track of their finances. Several firms that I know are willing to give access to their real books for a research purpose.

Their information would shed some light on the following important questions/hypotheses in the literature. First, it provides a rich and detailed picture of corruption activities: the lobbying process by local authorities for funding and projects’ allocation from the national budget, the connections, influences, trust, selection of supplier-bribers, the corrupt bidding process and negotiation for bribery. Second, it helps to estimate the level of corruption (measured by the ratio of the bribe over the value of the projects) by different types of buying organizations (such as government agencies, the armed forces, public services, private firms and foreign firms). Finally, it let us know whether fiscal decentralization can lead to less or more corruption. By comparing the bribery levels taken by different levels of government, this datasets may provide some evidence on this question.

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"The Economic Impact of Armed Groups"
Oeindrila Dube, Fellow, Center for International Development, and Doctoral Candidate, Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

This research seeks to understand how armed non-state actors affect economic activity. Specifically, I assess how the spread of armed groups affect firm investment in Colombia, a country that has been amidst a low intensity conflict over the past four decades.

From a theoretical perspective, the effect of armed groups can go in either direction. On the one hand, armed actors may tax economic activity by escalating conflict and generating uncertainty regarding the business environment. On the other hand, armed actors may promote economic activity by providing security or enforcing property rights, where the state does not provide these services as public goods. To date, there has been little empirical evidence on the net economic impact of these two effects.

This project aims to provide evidence on this question by employing a sub-national analysis of Colombia. Specifically, I assess how the entry of paramilitary groups into a region affect investment at the firm and plant level. It is challenging to identify this effect given the potential endogeneity of paramilitary presence. For example, if armed groups target regions in economic decline, this would lead to an overestimate of the extent to which they reduce investment. To address this challenge, I exploit a major radial expansion of paramilitary groups from the Northern city of Monteria during the 1990s to instrument for paramilitary entry across regions of Colombia.

This study will utilize a unique new dataset on civil war violence which records the incidence of paramilitary violence in over 900 Colombian municipalities, over 1996 to 2005. To identify the effect on investment, the conflict data will be matched to panel data on over 10,000 firms across various sectors and to a panel of 7,000 plants in the manufacturing sector. This will enable analysis of how paramilitary entry affects various aspects of firm activity, including investment in fixed assets and plant death.

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"How Much Do Universities Add to the Skills of Colombian Workers?"
Juan E. Saavedra, Doctoral Candidate, Wiener Center for Inequality and Social Policy and Graduate Associate, Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University

Intra and international wage inequality has increased substantially since the 1980’s along three distinct margins: education, occupation, and among workers with similar education and labor market credentials. Wage disparities in Colombia have mirrored the global trends. For example, from 1982 to 2000, the hourly wage of Colombian college educated workers rose by 62% relative to those with only high school diploma. During the same period, the labor market return for college graduates doubled, from 9% to 18%, while the return to workers with only high school remained fairly flat at approximately 8%. While there is mounting evidence on the importance of financial aid on college decisions like entry and completion, far less is known about the role of colleges in skill acquisition and subsequent labor market prospects.

This study investigates the causes of students’ differential skill-acquisition in Colombian tertiary education and the nature of subsequent wage inequality. I employ a supply-demand framework in which: i) heterogeneity in college quality produces differences in skill-acquisition (supply), and; ii) labor market forces reward skills that complement technological innovations (demand). Using college entrance and exit exam score data, I introduce a new college quality metric that is chiefly student-achievement based. I apply this metric to: i) estimate production functions that link college value-added to observable college and program-of-study inputs, and; ii) test the relative importance of supply and demand factors in explaining wage inequality among recent college graduates. To measure the returns to skill acquisition and college quality, I use confidential labor data from Ministerio de Educación’s Observatorio Laboral. The study helps understand the process of human capital acquisition, and the determinants and rewards to college quality. The methodology and results also constitute the basis for a transition from a Colombian college quality assurance system that is exclusively input-based to one primarily centered on student achievement-based outputs.

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"
Theft from Multiple Pots: Corruption in India's Rural Workfare Scheme"
Paul Niehaus, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Economics, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Sandip Sukhtankar, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Economics, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Corruption is a leading constraint on redistributive policy in developing countries; recent studies have found that as much as 80% of resources targeted to poor communities are stolen along the way. In India, where our study is set, this problem is particularly acute as it restricts the government's ability to spread the benefits of rapid growth within narrow sections of the economy. Little is known, however, about the behavior of corrupt officials.

Our project aims to measure the choices of corrupt officials who have access to multiple opportunities for theft. Our context is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), which guarantees 100 days of paid employment to every household in rural India. Preliminary fieldwork in the state of Orissa, as well as the results of scattered small-scale surveys by NGOs, revealed that corruption is rampant and that it takes two forms. Officials can over-report the number of days worked on their projects (which amounts to theft from taxpayers) or underpay their workers (which is theft from the beneficiaries). Many officials also have jurisdiction over multiple projects and can choose how much to steal from each.

Because the NREGA's transparency measures require that program micro-data be made available online, we have full access to the official records. We plan to complement these with an original survey of beneficiaries, which will allow us to measure both kinds of theft. We will then measure how theft responded to several large exogenous changes in program benefits. We can further exploit differences across projects (some of which pay wages and some piece rates) and across state borders to construct credible estimates of the effects of these shocks on different forms of corruption. The results will be practically useful for optimizing NREGA parameters and also shed light on deeper questions about the motivations of petty bureaucrats.

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"What Determines the Demand for Preventive Care?"
Alison Comfort, Doctoral Candidate, Health Policy, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

The WHO considers iron-deficiency to be the leading nutritional problem in the world. Up to 80% of the world’s population is iron-deficient and 20% is anemic. The majority of those affected are women and children in developing countries. Anemia and iron-deficiency have serious health consequences including maternal deaths during deliveries. Women who are anemic also tend to give birth to premature babies or low-birth-weight infants who suffer from infections, weakened immunity, learning disabilities, impaired physical development and, in severe cases, death. The UN has set as a goal to reduce anemia by two-thirds by 2010.

Anemia and iron-deficiency can be prevented during pregnancy through the daily consumption of iron supplements. In many developing countries, these pills are provided for free at public health centers. Yet, there is very low uptake.

My research study seeks to investigate the reasons why pregnant women in developing countries are not consuming the recommended dose of iron pills, as a way to understand low demand for preventive care. The study will use as its sample population micro-lending clients in Karnataka, India who are participating in a randomized experiment that offers health insurance for catastrophic health events.

The study will include both survey questions and an experiment to disentangle the various factors that might explain low demand for iron supplements. Such factors include indirect costs like the opportunity cost of time to obtain supplements, travel, wait time, and availability of supplements. Particularly in developing countries, absenteeism of providers and shortages of drug supplies can significantly increase the costs to obtain care.

The survey and experiment will also determine whether behavioral responses can explain low demand for preventive care. It is possible that the women are engaging in hyperbolic discounting, meaning that they may want to use preventive care but they will always prefer to delay the costs till a future date. This type of behavior could entail policy implications such as paying women to take these supplements, since they may never choose to demand them on their own. By understanding the reasons for which demand of preventive care is so low, policies can be better formulated to target these constraints and promote better health outcomes.

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Doctoral Research: '07-'08 | '06-'07 | '05-'06
See also
Masters Student Research Projects
Current CID Research | Research Archive


2006-07 Doctoral Student Projects


"Determinants and Impacts of Saving for Low Income Microcredit Clients in Chile"
Felipe Kast, Doctoral Candidate, Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government and Dina Pomeranz, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Economics,
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Income fluctuations of the poorest populations in many developing countries are high. Nevertheless, we observe low savings rates or buffer stocks among these populations. 75% of Chilean workers in the lowest income quintile say they do not have any savings. This reduces their possibility of smoothing consumption in times of negative income or expenditure shocks, and of saving up for bulky investments or household expenditures.

The aim of this project is threefold: To shed light on mechanisms that can affect micro-savings, to measure the effect of micro-savings on amount and forms of overall savings of participants, and to evaluate the impact of having access to a micro-savings opportunity on behavior and wellbeing of participants.

Following a series of extensive focus groups, the project will be conducted through a randomized evaluation in collaboration with a large microfinance institution (MFI) in Chile. Current clients of the MFI receive micro-credit combined with trainings on business skills. This project will evaluate the introduction of a new option to deposit savings with the MFI, in addition to weekly the repayments of their loan. We are aiming to evaluate factors affecting take-up and savings rates in these new savings accounts, the extent of crowding-out of other forms of savings, and the impact of access to this form of micro-savings on mental wellbeing and worry about financial concerns, informal insurance networks, as well as business activities such as investment decision in clients’ micro-enterprises.

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"Improving Quality: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of the Relationships Between In-Service Teacher Training, Learner-Centered Pedagogy, and Student Achievement"
Benjamin Piper, Doctoral Candidate, International Education, Graduate School of Education

Teacher training is an increasingly preferred remedy for low teacher quality and dismal student achievement in Sub-Saharan Africa. In-service teacher education and training (INSET) programs take place after teachers have begun their teaching careers and are regarded as an efficient way to impact large numbers of teachers in short periods of time. As a result, these programs have become an increasingly popular educational reform throughout Sub-Saharan Africa after the 1990 Education for All conference in Jomtien, Thailand, where the international community promised to provide access to quality education for all by 2000. This target remains distant. For example, primary and secondary enrollments in Ethiopia stand at 42% and 16% respectively. Those students fortunate enough to enroll receive low-quality education: teacher-student ratios in Ethiopia are 72:1 and teachers have little formal education and very low-quality pre-service teacher preparation. These quality issues are the raison d’etre for dozens of new INSET programs in Sub-Saharan Africa. While the form and content of these INSET programs differ, they often use active learning methods, locally relevant materials, and employ group work -- both in the training itself and the pedagogy they foster. In Sub-Saharan Africa, such programs are referred to as “learner-centered.”

My study employs a mixed-methods approach to examine an Ethiopian INSET program, and I will evaluate first whether the program increases the use of learner-centered pedagogy, and, second, whether this new pedagogy increases student achievement. It is not clear, from empirical research, whether INSET programs in Sub-Saharan Africa actually increase learner-centered pedagogy, and whether that changed pedagogy improves student achievement. Nor do we know whether program effects differ by program duration, by the passage of time from program completion, and by teacher experience and qualifications. This project will attempt to answer those questions using a unique mixed-methods design, nationally representative student achievement data, and close inspection of teacher pedagogy in primary classrooms.

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"A Method for Rapid Participatory Land Use and Habitation Planning Using Information and Geospatial Technologies: The Case of the Osa Region of Costa Rica
Juan Carlos Vargas-Moreno, Doctoral Candidate, Graduate School of Design

This research explores alternative methodologies to conduct Rapid Participatory Landscape Planning in regions of the world challenged by rapid land use and habitation changes occurring at unprecedented rates. This research proposes the merging of participatory development approaches with various geospatial and information technologies (GIT) to capture spatial data from development participants: 1) local experts (local stakeholders) and 2) non-local experts (Government, academic and scientific professionals) in real-time into an integrated geospatial database. This process intends to capture participants' objectives and concerns in a land use allocation format about the rapid transformation of the landscape systems, and to transmit, in a spatially-explicit way, valuable information to policy-makers to better inform their decisions. The method proposes the use of spatial statistical and exploratory spatial methods and techniques to analyze the spatial input by participants to achieve mediation and consensus building through the understanding of the spatial dynamics of their decisions. The research uses the region of Osa in Costa Rica as empirical site for the testing and development of this method.

This research aims to encourage positive social change and build co-production mechanisms of knowledge for sustainable developments that create opportunities for insightful land use and habitation planning at the landscape level. It also seeks to do so through the development of the participatory process, which builds the capacity of meaningful engagement of all actors of development, thereby strengthening democratic participatory policy and planning development and helping to create plans and options that – because of the collaborative spirit with which they were developed, and the clarity of its outputs to policy makers – can be implemented more easily than plans developed by experts working alone or through traditional participatory approaches.

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Doctoral Research: '07-'08 | '06-'07 | '05-'06
See also
Masters Student Research Projects
Current CID Research | Research Archive


2005-06 Doctoral Student Projects


"Beyond Borders: Transnational Civil Society Networked Governance and China's Engagement in Transboundary Environmental Management"
Erik Nielsen, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT; Research Fellow, Center for International Development, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

China is a country experiencing an environmental crisis of unprecedented magnitude. While the domestic environment situation presents serious challenges, the transboundary environmental consequences of China's development patterns present an even more worrisome scenario. While the country's leadership now recognizes the need to ameliorate domestic environmental degradation, critics argue it appears less concerned with harmful impacts on its neighbors. Although China has become increasingly active in international environmental affairs since 1978, this engagement has been predominantly focused on domestic enforcement.

The Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) offers a cogent case to examine China's transboundary environmental impacts. As the GMS undergoes tremendous economic development, the region's rich natural resource base faces certain environmental threats posed by China. Chinese leaders have referred to the GMS as a common thread joining all riparian nations of the region; yet civil society organizations assert China does not appear to be interested in working with other nations if that collaboration stands to jeopardize the implementation of national development projects, many of which stand to adversely impact downstream nations.

However, based upon six months of pre-dissertation field research, I have identified specific scenarios when China positively and sometimes even proactively engages in transboundary environmental management; but, I have simultaneously identified situations when it does not. Based upon my preliminary analysis the key factors that appear to inhibit China's cross-border eco-jurisdictional cooperation include a state-centric hard law or binding approach and the failure of transnational civil society to link with Chinese non-state environmental actors. Whereas the key factors that appear to promote China's cross-border eco-jurisdictional cooperation include a state-centric soft law or a non-binding approach and the success of transnational civil society to effectively network with domestic non-state environmental actors.

Contradictions among the cases identified, exemplified by China's constructive engagement in certain circumstances and not in others, have led me to pose two inter-related research questions: 1) What institutional arrangements lead China to respond and engage in a positive manner in some transboundary eco-jurisdictional situations and not in others; and 2) What role can transnational civil society play in China's transboundary environmental policy-making process given its growing influence in China and the GMS?

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"Causal Linkages between Local Development and Local Leadership in the Royal Bafokeng Nation"
J. Andrew Harris, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Government, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

This research project follows from survey and observational research undertaken in the summer of 2004 in the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN), a traditional authority in South Africa. Three compelling results emerged. First, survey results indicated that participation in the village meetings (kgotla) declined sharply as incomes and urbanization increased. On one hand, this result is expected: modernizing forces like education and urbanization may erode traditional institutions. However, the Bafokeng are exceptional: their communal lands sit on large platinum deposits, which provide mining royalties to the Bafokeng. Thus, participation in the kgotla ensures access to an expanded bundle of public goods and services, valuable to people of all income levels: educational loans, skill training services, subsidized utilities, and improved schools, to name a few. Second, interviews revealed that the role of the local village leader (kgosana) was central in village life and business, but much variance existed across those surveyed regarding whether a particular kgosana provided effective leadership. Third, large standard-of-living differences appeared to exist between villages with similar geographic and human capital endowments.

The goal of this project is to determine the nature of causal linkages between local development and local leadership in the RBN. In the project's initial stage, two goals will be accomplished. First, through structured interviews with village leaders, profiles will be created of their understandings of effective leadership, economic development, and distributive justice. Second, using interviews with residents and business leaders as well as public records, the project will isolate the constraints and inducements shaping economic choices in the villages, as manifest through leadership choices and the broader institutional environment. This research will provide empirical evidence on the micro-foundations of development, as well as contribute to the larger literature on the role of traditional authorities in governance and development in sub-Saharan Africa.

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"Corruption and Political Horizons"
Mario Gamboa-Cavazos, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Economics,
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

This research seeks to understand how politics has an effect on the incidence of corruption. In particular, the research studies the roots of corruption from a political economy perspective, and empirically assesses its determinants in a controlled experimental setting. Mexico’s recent and geographically uneven transition towards democracy offers an excellent ground to test political theories of corruption.

Using a proprietary survey on corruption of nearly 4,000 firms across municipalities and states in Mexico, there appears to be an economically meaningful and statistically significant relation between political horizons and corruption. Specifically, corruption is U-shaped with respect to political horizons of state governors. Entrepreneurs doing business in states where governors have a short or long horizon make larger extra-official payments relative to entrepreneurs doing business in states where governors have a medium horizon. Political horizons are unambiguously defined using the number of years left in office for state governors.

The data also show that monopoly and oligopoly firms are more sensitive to political horizons than similar competitive firms. In particular, firms with large market concentrations are more likely to make large (small) corruption payments when political horizons are long (short). This result suggests that special interest firms bribe politicians with long and feasible horizons, but shy away from bribing those with short political futures. The analysis also seems to indicate that politicians engage in extorting the private sector when their horizons are sufficiently short. These patterns are not driven by firm- or state-specific characteristics. The relationships are also robust to firms’ legitimate business connections to government.

Overall, this research seeks to contribute to the design of public policies aimed at curbing corruption in countries undergoing political transitions.  It also has the objective to provide guidance in the improvement of politicians’ accountability via institutional mechanisms, such as increased transparency in the public-private dealings and the strengthening of the judiciary branch of government.

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"Estimating Economic Consequences of Health Shocks: Getting Around the Chicken and the Egg Problem"
Manoj Mohanan, Doctoral Candidate, Health Policy Program

The impact of adverse health events on households’ vulnerability to poverty is not well understood although anecdotal evidence of the impoverishing effects of these health shocks is abundant. Households in developing countries, unable to insure their consumption when faced with major health shocks, end up having to borrow at very high interest rates and deplete their asses - two major causes of perpetuation of poverty traps. Disentangling a causal relationship between income and health has proved to be much more complicated due to issues of reverse causality. One feasible way to get around this issue of reverse causality would be to identify health shocks that are random and exogenous.
My research focuses on the following questions in Karnataka, India:
(i)
How do households that face health shocks mitigate the impacts of such shocks? If there is consumption smoothing, what mechanisms do households rely on to insure consumption?
(ii)
What sources of financing (informal borrowing, credit markets, savings, depleting assets) do affected households depend on?
(iii) How do households respond to changes in household labor supply as a result of the health shock (in terms of changes in intra-household allocation and labor supply decisions)?
I study random exogenous health shocks by focusing on passengers involved in bus accidents in Karnataka, India, using data from compensation records of the State Transport Corporation. Specifically, I focus on individuals who were passengers in accidents involving state-run buses (who received random health shocks) and compare them with ‘control’ groups comprising individuals who have similar travel patterns but were not exposed to the random shock (.e. were not in an accident).
In addition to providing a unique instrument to study the question of the health-wealth relationship, road traffic accidents are also a growing burden of disease that impacts the poor disproportionately, both in developing as well as developed countries. This proposed research will also serve to contribute to the understanding of the economic and social consequences of road traffic accidents.

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"How Educational Vouchers Work: Evidence from Vocational Schools in Colombia"
Juan E. Saavedra, Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government

This project uses data from a Colombian program in which school vouchers were randomly assigned through a lottery to shed light on the mechanisms by which voucher programs affect educational outcomes. The Colombian government issued private school vouchers - PACES - for students entering secondary school. The vouchers targeted the poorest third of the population and were renewable so long as the recipient made adequate progress towards secondary school graduation. Previous results suggest that, in general, voucher winners had higher academic achievement through the end of secondary school. The voucher, however, could have improved student outcomes for a variety of reasons. It could have been an income shock. The voucher could have strengthened the incentives for students to work hard. The voucher could have also changed students' peer characteristics and quality of school attended.

To explore some of the possible mechanisms, we analyze the effects of vouchers on students who applied to vocational schools. Among applicants to vocational schools, the voucher seemed to have odd effects on the type of schools that students attended. Voucher winners used their voucher to attend vocational schools. Voucher lottery losers, by contrast, switched to academic schools. Three years into the program, voucher winners were 18 percentage points more likely to be attending a vocational school, and as a result, they were more likely to attend schools of inferior quality as measured by academic performance on the ICFES - a college entry exam. In this stage, we will survey approximately 300 schools in Bogotà. The proposed data collection would gather additional characteristics of the schools that voucher applicants attended and further help us test whether voucher winners, despite being academically successful, truly went to inferior schools.

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"The Impact of Strengthening Land Rights on Access to Credit: Evidence from a Large-Scale Land Titling Project in India"
Philipp Schnabl, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Economics

A large literature has documented extensive credit rationing in developing countries. Low-income rural households in particular are frequently excluded from formal credit markets because they are unable to provide proper collateral. This inability is often due to a lack of formal property titles, rather than the lack of underlying assets. In fact, many rural households own substantial property, primarily land, but are denied credit because they fail to provide the formal documentation to certify their ownership. In short, access to credit is seriously hampered by an absence of functioning institutions to ensure the proper issuance, verification, and enforcement of land titles.

The main objective of this research project is to evaluate the effect of improving land tenure and titling institutions on access to credit. Specifically, this project will focus on a large-scale policy intervention to computerize land records in rural Karnataka, India. This computerization strengthened land rights by reducing corruption and improving accuracy and reliability of formal land titles. A recent survey indicates that the computerization significantly raised access to credit among landowners.

Empirically, the setting is ideal for identifying the effect of strengthened land titles on credit because the computerization was introduced in a staggered fashion across districts. The cross-district and time variation in the program introduction allows the use of a differences-in-differences estimation strategy. The main advantage of this strategy is to take out time and regional effects that could easily confound such an analysis.

Overall, this research project aims to contribute to the growing literature on the effects of land titling and, more generally, the microeconomics of property rights. Specifically, this study aims to go beyond the simple statement that property rights matter and explore the mechanisms and institutions that mediate the effect of property rights on economic outcomes. This topic has been discussed extensively among both academics and policymakers, and the goal of this research project is to provide findings that are relevant to both groups.

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"Men at War: Do Countries with More Men Experience More Conflict?
Emily Oster, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Economics

This project seeks to understand whether excess men relative to women make a nation more likely to experience conflict. Statistically, men are more likely to commit crimes and engage in other forms of violence. This paper addresses the issue of whether having more men can also lead to more collective violence - revolutions, civil wars and internal disturbances more generally. I take advantage of variations across countries in sex ratio at birth to avoid selection problems. The project will explore the effect of excess men on both historical and contemporary conflicts. In addition to helping us understand the effect of demographics on war, this paper has important policy implications. It is clear that the demographic makeup of some developing countries - India, for example - is shifting towards men. If more men relative to women lead to more conflict, then there are real additional concerns about these gender shifts. Although others have suggested this issue, there remains no good empirical evidence that men and conflict are related. I hope to overcome that empirical deficit with this project.

This research will contribute to academic knowledge-building with relevance to decentralization, local governance, institutional reform, and democratization. In addition, practitioners who are involved in helping stimulate better performance among local governments will find it of use. The project is to result in a book manuscript, articles, seminar and workshop presentations, and contributions to development assistance agencies on reform and innovation in local governance. The project has been funded by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and the Center for International Development.

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"Social Norms and Formal Laws: A Case of Chinese Rural Women’s Land Rights"
Pengyu He, Doctoral Candidate, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences & Harvard Law School

Rural women’s land rights are particularly important for China given that women in the countryside currently contribute more to agricultural production in China than ever before. According to some surveys, women account for 60% to 70% of all farm labor, as rural men have swarmed to cities and towns for jobs. Rural women are not only working in the fields, but also looking after the elderly and children at home. However, rural women are very vulnerable to losing their land when they leave their native villages after marriages and move to their husband’s villages. Previously, women could receive land at their husband’s village in the initial land readjustment. In 2002, a significant piece of legislation- Rural Land Contracting Laws - was adopted. For the first time in any laws or policies regarding rural land, women’s rights to land were specifically addressed. Under the new laws, women would not be entitled to land at their husband’s villages through land readjustment. However, they can still retain proportionate land rights in their original households, which would not be given away when they marries, till they receives land in their husband’s villages through either uncultivated wasteland or reserved land for additional population, if available.

Even though the new land laws is meant to protect rural women’s land rights, the implementation represents formidable challenges. More and more women are deprived of their rights to land because of changes in marital status. In particular, local social customs seem to have determinative effects in preventing the implementation and enforcement of the new laws. In opposition to the local customs, some rural women resorted to legal means to protect their land rights. There are many interesting questions worthy of exploration. For instance, how rural women become aware of their land rights, through what channels, and how much or what they know about their rights; in defense of their land rights, what means they resort to and why they choose certain means as opposed to others, and how effective they are; what are local villagers’ attitudes towards local customs that are hostile to rural women’s legal rights, and to what extent they perceive them as just or unjust, etc. Theoretically, I am particularly interested in the dynamics between informal rules/social norms and formal rules and laws.

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"A Theory of the Developing Economy Firm: Institutional Adaptivity to Risk and Uncertainty"
A. Hazel Mukuna Mugo, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard Law School

My research focuses on the behavior of developing economy firms (DEFs). Very little is understood about their nature, management, decision-making rationale or the forces driving them towards efficient (or inefficient) operation. DEFs operate in economies that are characterized by high costs of information and high levels of political risk which result in increased transaction costs. My research focuses on how DEFs adapt to high information costs and political risk. In the preliminary phase of my research I measured DEF response to high information costs in the market for managers. Initial results showed that DEFs have formed alternative mechanisms allowing them to verify managerial reputations and firm performance. These results contradict popular assumptions that in less-developed markets, managerial reputations are unable to form due to the small market size and absence of others such as vibrant take-over markets. In fact I found that managerial reputation is a large determinant of a manager's future employment capacity. The subsequent phase of my research will focus on the nature and efficacy of these alternative mechanisms.

I found DEFs' adaptation to high levels of political risk to creation of incentives through the use of political godfathers or business pacts with politicians. Here there are differences between Kenya and South Africa regarding the nature and structure of these incentives. My subsequent research will focus on the interrelationship between capital and politics in the absence of actual politically connected personnel in firm management. I will be searching for more specific evidence of how the political relationship translates into economic gain and what insurance mechanisms firm use to insure against political fall-outs.

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Doctoral Research: '07-'08 | '06-'07 | '05-'06
See also
Masters Student Research Projects
Current CID Research | Research Archive


Past Awards

 

"Assessing Medical Insurance in China"
Nicole Szlezák, Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government

In 1998, China introduced a major nation-wide reform to urban health care. The reform was targeted to urban employees and aimed to establish a uniform basic insurance system across cities, based on key features such as compulsory city-level risk pooling and individual medical accounts. In the program, local governments retain considerable leeway in managing important features such as pooling and managing of funds and the adjustment of contribution levels. To date, the degree of implementation of this national reform varies across Chinese cities, and little is known about its impacts on such variables as health care expenditure and health outcomes of employees or on expenditures of insurance funds.

This research project aims to take a first cut at assessing how national medical insurance policy is implemented in urban areas in China. The study will be based on data from 4 different representative regions in China. Its focus will be twofold. First, it will seek to evaluate the effect of different payment schemes on health care expenditure and health outcomes of enrollees. Second, it will to study risk-management in social medical insurance funds and to project future expected expenditures of such funds.

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"Chinese Farming Women Participating in an Environmental Education Program: An Ethnographic Study"
Julia Taylor Broussard, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education

This ethnographic research project will examine the Environmental Action Program (EAP), an environmental education program being implemented by a non-governmental organization (NGO) in rural Gansu Province since 2001. The EAP educates Chinese women farmers and encourages them to share sustainable agricultural knowledge and practices with fellow villagers. Much of China’s environmental degradation is due to unsustainable agricultural practices, and rural Chinese women are doing an increasing share of agricultural work. Worldwide, feminists and development agencies are calling more attention to women’s crucial but previously overlooked role in environmental protection. The EAP offers a unique opportunity to investigate an education program that combines gender and environmental objectives in a rural Chinese setting. The focus of this research project will be on understanding the cultural linkages between gender, environmental practice and knowledge, and education in this particular rural setting.

To date, little research has examined the relationship between culture and the environment in China; less has examined how this relationship may be gendered. Likewise, research on environmental education in China has mainly examined environmental education among school children in urban, formal schools. Environmental education for adults and environmental education in rural areas remains unexamined. This research project will fill a gap in the literature and further our understanding of people’s cultural understandings of education, the environment, and gender by shedding light on the cultural meanings and value-laden assumptions behind the EAP women’s efforts for international and national sustainable development policy, environmental education policy, women’s and girls’ education policy, and international development practice.

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"Contraceptive Behaviors of Young Women in Mexico: An Analysis of the Oportunidades Program"
Becca Feldman, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Population and International Health, Harvard School of Public Health

Despite a substantial increase in adolescent reproductive health interventions (ARHIs) globally during the past two decades, these interventions have not been effective in reducing the adverse consequences of sexual risk behaviors. Findings across countries indicate that traditional risk-reduction approaches have successfully influenced young people’s knowledge and attitudes but have not consistently resulted in sustained changes in behavior. Data generated from the on-going evaluation of Oportunidades, Mexico’s largest anti-poverty program, present an opportunity to test a substantially different approach to adolescent reproductive health programs. This social development program gives female heads-of-households cash transfers conditional on their children’s regular school attendance and health clinic visits. While Oportunidades was originally designed to improve the health of mothers and their children, I will analyze whether the program modifies contraceptive use and the ensuing fertility levels of its young female beneficiaries through program mechanisms that alleviate poverty and simultaneously increase their autonomy.

It is my hope that this research can provide results that will prompt the re-conceptualization of ARHIs, moving them away from solely risk-reduction approaches to focus on structural approaches. Findings generated from this research will highlight the importance of an approach that can effectively influence young women’s autonomy and contraceptive behaviors by altering their environments. The findings also carry broad policy and development implications for advancing knowledge in the programming of sexual health interventions for young people in Latin American and the Caribbean where similar large-scale anti-poverty programs are emerging. Furthermore, the research has the potential to provide more definitive evidence about young women’s contraceptive behaviors so that we can more skillfully inform researchers, program planners, and policy-makers about programs that increase young women’s autonomy and help them achieve their expressed fertility preferences and improved reproductive health.

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"Does School Quality Matter? Evidence from a Randomized School Choice Experiment in Beijing"
Wei Ha, Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government

Does school quality matter? Do school resources such as higher per student expenditure, smaller class size, and better teachers improve students’ performance? The answer seems self-evident but there has been an ongoing debate among economists about whether school quality is what really counts. Traditional estimates of the return to education employ observational data which limits any attempt to disentangle the causal effect of school resources from other confounding factors such as family background and students’ innate ability. Recent studies tend to focus on using experimental data where students are randomly assigned to schools or classes with different resources and help to overcome the confounding problem and identify the true effects of education inputs.

In 1998, the middle school admission test was abolished in Beijing due to the concern that the middle school admission exam had put so much pressure and burden on students at such a young age that it did more harm than good to their physical and intellectual development. A computerized lottery was introduced as an innovative way to allocate students to schools of different quality with the hope that it would safeguard against any misconduct or favoritism in the admission process. This study will explore the effect of this unique school choice program in one of Beijing’s wealthiest districts where students are randomly assigned to middle schools of different quality based on their lottery number. The hope is that this study will broaden the knowledge base of return to human capital investment in China, help the financially-stringent Chinese government set their funding priority among important policy issues, and also shed light on the potential implications of such a school choice program on social segregation as well as intergenerational mobility in the rapidly growing Chinese economy.

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"The Effects of Counterfeits on Market Prices, Innovations, and Social Welfare
Yi Qian, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Economics

Counterfeit goods, characterized by infringement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and usually of inferior quality with respect to the original good, are generally considered to reduce incentives for innovation and to lower the status of original goods. Since the 1980s, intellectual property protection has become much more extensive as countries at various stages of development begin to implement or extend their national patent rights. The impact of IPR protection and counterfeiting remains an important policy question -- one that is especially pertinent for developing countries.

The aim of this project is to analyze the impacts of counterfeits on the original producers’ pricing discrimination strategies and innovation responses, the equilibrium market prices, and social welfares. The main contribution of this project is that it incorporates the counterfeits' effects in two instrumental parameters -- the quality correlation coefficients between the counterfeits and the original products for the high- and low- income consumers. It can therefore better explain the consumer and producer reactions after the entrance of counterfeits. This project is also the first to obtain empirical data on counterfeits and test the theoretical predictions using advanced empirical methodologies in the economics of IPR and technology.

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"Governance à la Carte: The Politics of Privatization in Sub-Saharan Africa"
Sandra Sequeira, Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government

Since the 1990s, privatization has touched nearly every African country. The forceful role of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and foreign donors has in most cases determined the initiation of this reform, as part of a standardized agenda that aimed at radically restructuring African economies to enable long-term growth. However, despite the uniformity of the policy recommendations, these privatization schemes have differed in design, strategy, pace and scope. A full range of privatization techniques have been adopted, with schemes differing in the level of investment responsibility, the degree of affirmative action to ensure domestic private sector participation, the relative irreversibility of the privatization transaction and the degree of risk transferred to the private sector.

This research project explores whether variation in the strategy and methods of privatization of competitive industries can be explained by differences in political institutions across Sub-Saharan African countries. It covers 41 Sub-Saharan African countries, with two in-depth case studies of Mozambique and Kenya. The goal is to further our understanding of the political economy of institutions in Sub Saharan Africa, with particular emphasis on the complex relationship between the state and the economy.

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"The Household Decision to Care for an Orphan in South Africa: Does AIDS Matter?"
Iris Boutros, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Population and International Health, Harvard School of Public Health

That the global HIV/AIDS pandemic is a major challenge to development is uncontestable. The more obvious devastating effect of the pandemic is the hollowing of a population’s working-age adults. However, adult mortality due to AIDS is causing punctuated changes in the magnitude and types of orphans left behind in high HIV burden countries, such as South Africa. The number of children orphaned due to AIDS jeopardizes human capital accumulation of the next generation. Moreover, due to the nature of transmission, many children are likely to become parentless, which creates a more significant responsibility for the child’s community and the state.

To date, claims have tended to assume negative consequences of a fostering relationship on the child and the household caring for the child. However, theoretically, the effect could be ambiguous. While the addition of a child to the household does create additional expenditures, the child provides labor that may offset the additional expenditures. It is pertinent to understand under which circumstances the fostering relationship presents the greatest risk to the well-being of the child and the fostering household in order to design policies and interventions that adequately support this population. By characterizing households that care for an orphan and the potentially differential decision to care for a child orphaned due to AIDS, this study will contribute to the newly forming base of evidence on the effects of orphanhood. Moreover, the data used will allow the exploration of key influences on well-being, such as the mobility of the child, as well as the timing and cause of parental death. This study will provide a more precise exploration of the relative influences on the household’s decision to foster a child. Being able to disentangle the effects of different influences can aid in the creation of effective interventions that may reverse some of the development set-backs felt by countries with an extensive “orphan crisis” such as South Africa.

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"Information, Elections, and Decentralization in East Africa"
J. Andrew Harris, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Government, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Over the past decade, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have enacted various forms of fiscal and political decentralization.  In theory, the aim of these reforms was to enhance the efficiency and accountability of local government.  In practice, central governments observed wide variation in the effects of their policies.  In some localities, improved service provision, poverty alleviation, and transparency led to economic growth.  In others, the capture of government resources by local elites was the norm, leading to greater inequality and lower levels of growth and accountability.  What explains this variation in outcomes?  The purpose of this pre-dissertation research is to exploit the arbitrary nature of African boundaries to understand how the formal institutions of decentralization interact with the informal cultural institutions of ethnic groups straddling those borders.  In building a better understanding of the local political economy of development in East Africa, this project recognizes that government performance may be conditioned through democratic elections in at least two ways.  First, voters may punish incumbents for poor performance only if those voters have information regarding reasonable expectations for performance -- a yardstick.  Second, incumbents can only credibly be threatened if there are candidates capable of defeating them.  However, each of these accountability mechanisms is conditioned by how information is shared, which is in turn a function of the formal institutions and the social organization of a group.  By comparing bisected ethnic groups facing different decentralization policies and different ethnic groups  facing identical decentralization policies, this project will begin to untangle the behavioral implications of ethnicity in diverse institutional contexts.

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"Low-Income Women and Civic Participation in Education in India"
Anju Saigal, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education

The transnational Education for All (EFA) initiative strongly advocates civic participation for achieving universal access to education. While there is growing literature on roles of civil society organizations (CSOs) leading educational expansion in developing countries, international education policy research has largely ignored low-income women's collective civic action in education in underprivileged settings. In the Indian context, for instance, such women are participating in thousands as grassroots educators with CSOs and are acting as foundations for educational change in their own communities. Examining the nature of these women's community-based participation is critical to gain insights into how initiatives in educational expansion develop and may be further strengthened.

This ethnographic research examines low-income women's participation as literacy educators in a large, impoverished slum community in Mumbai, India. The women work with a CSO, which is engaged in the EFA initiative in India. This study will shed light on the cultural and gendered processes of participation in India's educational expansion. It will also bring perspectives from the grassroots in conversation assumptions, gaps, and affirmative aspects in broader educational policy, and will seek to inform programs for educational change in underprivileged settings.

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"Microeconomic Impact of Institutional Change in Afghan Villages"
Andrew Beath, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Government

Over recent years, research in economics has stressed the importance of institutions in explaining per capita income differences across countries. Uncertainty remains, however, about how externally imposed institutional changes impact economic development within countries in the short term. Our research proposes exploiting variation in the implementation of the National Solidarity Programme (NSP), a village-level democratization program in Afghanistan, to draw inference over the interrelationships between democratization, institutional outputs, and economic development. Administered by the Afghan government and funded by a consortium of international donors, the NSP mandates the election of Community Development Councils (CDCs) in each of Afghanistan’s 20,000 villages and provides funding to support development plans devised by CDCs. As the program is being implemented progressively over a four year period, we hope to examine, through the application of difference-in-difference or propensity score matching techniques, the conditional correlation between variation in NSP program implementation and variation in institutional outputs and economic development outcomes in Afghan villages.

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"The Nature of Parental Involvement in Children's Schooling in a Poor Rural Province in Northwestern China"
Peggy Kong, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Parental willingness and ability to support their children’s education are important because research indicates that, when parents are involved more fully, their children tend to enjoy greater educational success and engagement. Much of the existing research on parental involvement is grounded in the U.S. and other industrialized nations, and may or may not transfer to other cultural settings, or to rural settings in the developing world. In Chinese cultural settings, most existing research has focused on the urban mainland or Taiwan, and there has been little exploration of parental involvement in rural areas where the majority of mainland China’s children reside.

In my study, I address these gaps by investigating the nature of parental involvement in children’s schooling in a poor rural province in northwestern China. By using both quantitative analyses and ethnographic methods, I examine the theoretical relationship between parental involvement in their children’s education and important family background and school characteristics. By focusing my study on parental involvement in their children’s schooling in rural China, results from my study offer new insight into parental involvement in a context that has received little attention. My findings have practical implications for informing policy in China, because China is currently implementing a new round of curriculum reforms that emphasizes the importance of a collaborative relationship between families and schools for student outcomes. As a new study of parental involvement in a less-developed setting, my work will contribute to the task of rethinking concepts of parental involvement in ways that better suit the kinds of rural settings where many of the developing world’s children are educated.

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"Payments for Ecosystem Services: Efficiency, Equity and Environment Outcomes in Southeast Asia"
Kelsey Jack, Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government

This research project focuses on how institutions shape the efficacy and equity of initiatives that promote payments for environmental services.  Humans depend on natural ecosystems for such diverse functions as water purification, climate regulation, crop pollination, and flood and erosion control.  However, most of the benefits derived from ecosystems are enjoyed for free – as positive externalities.  Because of this market failure, ecosystems are often overexploited and become degraded, at which point, the value of ecosystem services is felt.  Traditionally, loss of ecosystem services has been met with command and control regulation and built infrastructure.  Recently, a new approach attempts to correct market failure through payments for ecosystem services (PES).  In diverse locations around the world PES initiatives are exploring the ways in which the communities whose land use practices determine the flow of benefits can be compensated for adopting practices that conserve ecosystem services.  Current understanding of the relationship between initiative design and outcomes, particularly the equity of outcomes, is limited.

This research will focus on a PES initiative currently underway in Asia.  The World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) is piloting an initiative to reward upland poor for managing landscapes in ways that sustain the provision of ecosystem services to outsiders (RUPES).  Taking an explicitly pro-poor approach to PES, the initiative provides compensation through land tenure and development assistance, in contrast to the financial payments approach typically employed by PES initiatives.  By studying the environment, equity and efficiency outcomes of RUPES, this research seeks to bring together theory and practice through a case study of the relationship between PES design and outcomes.  This study is part of an ongoing project to look at the institutional design of payments for ecosystem services conducted by the Science, Environment and Development Group, within CID.

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"The Political Economy of the District Assembly Common Fund in Ghana
Afua Branoah Banful, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Economics

An extensive literature in fiscal federalism has shown that funding and production of local public goods is most efficiently achieved by decentralized arms of government responsible for the population that benefit most from the good. Along with the wave of democratization of several developing countries in the latter part of the twentieth century, there was legislation that apparently created decentralized local governing structures in these countries.

The political players in the democracies were however very cognizant that true decentralization of public good production would essentially reduce the power and influence of the central government. Politicians’ campaign platforms consist almost solely of their past ability to provide public goods and promises of goods to be provided in the future. By severing the direct link between the central political players and public good production, the electorate would no longer respond to such national political platforms. In addition, local governing bodies were viewed as threats to political consolidation because they provided environments where individuals could gain political support and gradually rise to national recognition. Also, through voting for local representation the electorate would improve their civic education and come to appreciate their responsibility and power in a democracy. The young democracies recognized that improved efficiency of local public good production had to be traded off with ceding the main influence of the central political players on the electorate. Many first administrations were necessitated to establish structures of local government which apparently decentralized power but allowed central government ways of directly influencing the electorate.

My research examines the experience of Ghana which in 1957 became the first African country to gain independence from its colonial rulers. I study the structure of Ghana’s local government and identify ways in which political economy may effectively reduce the efficiency of public good production and the welfare of the people. Specifically, I investigate how the political players and the central government exert political influence over the populace by rewarding or punishing the electorate through the disbursement of a central fund intended for local public good production.

The first Ghanaian administration was led by a socialist, Dr Kwame Nkrumah. To maintain power and achieve his vision, his administration actively pursued policies to ensure that all political power was in the hands of a few trusted party loyals. He outlawed all political activity and formed a one party state. Importantly, he dismantled all local councils, effectively strengthening and centralizing influence on the populace by becoming the sole provider of much needed public amenities. His government was overthrown in a military coup in 1966 and Nkrumah exiled. This set a precedent for a tumultuous political environment that saw eight military coups d’etats in a period of less than twenty years. The last coup occurred on 31st December 1981, led by Flight lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings. In 1987, a law by Rawlings’ military regime established District Assemblies as institutions of local government in Ghana. Then, as is presently, there was no income tax system and almost all other tax revenue was paid directly to the central government. Charged with new roles of administration and production of public goods at the local level, it was obvious that District Assemblies would need more funds than they were able to raise at the local level. The new local bodies were given a mandate without the ability to exert it. In 1992, a new Ghanaian constitution that set up a District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) was approved. The fund was to be administered quarterly at the national level by a Fund Administrator which disbursed funds to the various District Assemblies based on a ‘formula’ decided by parliament each year.

It is apparent that District Assemblies are only in theory the highest units of local government. The Assemblies rely almost solely on funds from the DACF, which must approve and monitor all projects that are undertaken. There is plenty of room for central government to influence which areas and segments of the population are supplied with public goods. In addition to their crippling reliance on directed financial support from the central government, the structure of the district assemblies creates innate tension that requires them to reach out to the central government to maintain harmony amongst its members. Some members are elected locally and report to the local electorate, while others are appointed by the central government and act in the interest of the ruling political party. My project studies the pattern of disbursement of funds from the DACF to all the districts and investigates whether and how political influence interacts with the efficiency of public good production in the country. My results may reveal crucial policy recommendations for improved efficiency of much needed public amenities in developing countries.

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"Sexuality and its Relationship to HIV Transmission in Post-Conflict Societies: The Case of Sierra Leone
Adia Benton, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology

As government agencies and non-governmental organizations assist Sierra Leoneans in their efforts to reintegrate into their communities, they face the challenge of remediating the psychological, political and economic effects of a decade-long conflict that killed 75,000 people and displaced as many as two million. Among the concerns of these organizations is the re-establishment of livelihoods through the rehabilitation of schools, health facilities and agricultural capacity, and the delivery of community health education. Little studied – though increasingly addressed through post-conflict development projects – is HIV/AIDS and the dynamics of its transmission in the general population.

A recent review of HIV/AIDS research among conflict-affected populations has suggested that prolonged conflict in Sierra Leone – and the constraints it placed on mobility – might have slowed the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country. As thousands of people return to their homes and expand their social networks and interactions, the examination of factors that might have changed (and continue to change), including sexual behaviors, attitudes and norms, is significant. This preliminary study seeks to describe and understand how men and women in Sierra Leone perceive, experience and enact sexuality as they face the challenge of rebuilding their lives in the post-conflict period. One of the hypotheses being explored in this study is that conflict disorients and destabilizes individuals’ lives in ways that profoundly affect how they express and enact sexuality (e.g., how sexual partners are selected, suitability of certain sexual partners, the meanings and significances of sexual intercourse itself, etc.).

The little research that has focused on HIV/AIDS in Sierra Leone has been based primarily on knowledge, attitudes and practices surveys, which fail to elaborate the broader contexts in which "risky" sexual behavior occurs. The utility of such behaviorist paradigms for HIV/AIDS prevention and research has been widely contested, since most sexual encounters – and even interventions themselves - almost never function at the level of behavior but rather at interpersonal and social levels. Thus, this research is intended to fill gaps in the literature on sexuality and its relationship to HIV transmission in post-conflict societies, and in Sierra Leone in particular. In addition to filling gaps in the literature, the findings from this research will be particularly useful for organizations that are interested in developing more comprehensive, culturally sound HIV/AIDS prevention programs in this and other settings.

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"Subsidized Credit for the Poor: A Randomized Experiment"
Quoc-Ahn Do, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Economics

This project intends to implement a randomized experiment in order to evaluate the impact of subsidized, easy credit access for the poor in Vietnam.

The subsidized credit project is part of the general poverty reduction program sponsored and administered by the Vietnamese government during the period 2006-2010. The poor, defined by a threshold on income, is entitled to a reasonable loan at a subsidized rate from a special government bank dedicated for the poor. In reality, the disbursement process is quite slow, and each year usually only about half of the fund is available for the poor borrowers on time. The project will use this rationing to randomly select a set of loan appliers to receive the loans in the first phase, and the remaining appliers in the second phase. This selection will be used as an instrumental variable for the estimation of the impact of easy access and subsidized credit on income and consumption of the poor. We further vary the access and the subsidy across the sample to measure the impact of easy access without subsidy.

The design of the experiment will be carried out during the second half of 2005 and the first half of 2006. The program will run for 4 years, and information on the outcome of subsidized loans will be collected by 2009, which is thought as sufficient for any impact to be carried out.

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"The Transition from Relief to Development: A Case Study for the American Refugee Committee (ARC) in Uganda
Suzanna Chapman, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Government

There is currently a new operation being launched in Uganda by the American Refugee Committee (ARC). By way of background, the ARC is a non-governmental organization that has been operating in Sudan for over ten years and has just begun to expand its operations to Uganda. Through my discussions with the Director of ARC Field Operations in Uganda, I have learned of the need to expand the nature of their operations from what is typically a humanitarian relief operation to include development assistance for internally displaced persons within Uganda. The Director of Field Operations for ARC Uganda has agreed to a research collaboration in which I would help to explore how best to bring in developmental components. I hope not only to contribute to an effective transition of ARC field operations, but also to contribute to the scholarly literature on the subject of transition.

Within the literature a divide persists between analyzing the roles of NGOs in providing humanitarian aid versus development assistance, a division often reflected in the field among NGOs and donors with distinct missions. Within each of these fields, there is a growing literature on assessment methods, shared strategies, and increased understanding of current obstacles. However, there has been little focus on how individual organizations can transition their efforts from a humanitarian paradigm to a development paradigm in order to meet the shifting needs in the region in which they operate. The current expansion of ARC relief efforts in Uganda provides a unique opportunity to investigate the challenges of planning and implementing a major change in field operations, while maintaining a locally-based operational structure. The goal of this case study will be to draw lessons from the experience of ARC Uganda that may benefit other NGOs in transition.

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"Violence in Chicago and Medellín: A Cross-city Comparison of Neighborhood Influences on Violence"
Magdalena Cerda, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health

Interpersonal violence constitutes a significant global public health concern: in 2000, an estimated 520,000 people died from homicide. The vast majority of these deaths occurred in low-to-middle-income countries: only 10% occurred in high-income countries. Young people bear the highest burden from violence: the highest rates of homicide in the world are found among males aged 15-29 years of age. Homicide and non-fatal assaults that involve young people contribute significantly to the global burden of death, injury and disability. Youth violence also adds greatly to the cost of health and welfare services, reduces national productivity, decreases the value of property and disrupts essential services. The World Health Organization has called for investment in cross-national research on the societal-level correlates of violence.

Research has shown that the neighborhood environment can impact the probability that youth become exposed to violence and develop violent patterns of behavior. Yet limited information is available about the processes through which community characteristics have an impact on the violent behavior of youth in developing countries. The aim of the proposed research is to compare the multiplicative influences of neighborhood collective efficacy and material disadvantage on youth violence in different national contexts. This cross-national study will take place in Medellín, Colombia and Chicago, Illinois, United States. It will use a cross-sectional subsample of 1,500 children and adolescents, aged 12-18, from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), a 6-year prospective study of determinants of youth externalizing problem behaviors, as well as a subsample of 916 adolescents aged 12-24 from a cross-sectional household survey of perpetrators, victims and witnesses of violence in Medellín, Colombia. A cross-cultural comparison may allow us to better understand the circumstances under which the social environment in the neighborhood may protect neighbors from the proliferation of youth violence in those countries that face the highest burden thereof. Such a study presents a priority from the perspective of intervention design, as the need exists to understand the nature of the associations between social processes and violence in low-resource contexts in order to identify effective preventive interventions.

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"Young Lives: Household Diversification and Child Well-Being in Vietnam"
Ngoc Anh Tran, Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government

Young Lives is an ongoing international research project that is recording changes in child poverty over 15 years (2001-2016). This study is innovative in its comprehensive approach to child poverty and its potential to provide an assessment of impact of various policies on child well-being. In Vietnam, the survey round 1 was conducted in June – December 2002.

With the support from CID and Save the Children UK, I will study the relationship between income, its sources and diversification, and child well-being, as a part of the Young Lives Project in Vietnam. One of the research questions is to test whether income is the only channel through which diversification affects child well-being. If it is, does diversification affect negatively (through labor stressing and income scarification) or positively (through income smoothing and improvement)? This research would have implications to current policy that encourages the poor to diversify their income. This research will also be the first of a series on child poverty using the Young Lives datasets.

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Doctoral Research: '07-'08 | '06-'07 | '05-'06
See also
Masters Student Research Projects
Current CID Research | Research Archive



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