Job Market Paper: "Agricultural shocks and conflict in the short- and long-term: Evidence from desert locust swarms" [Working Paper]

I test income-related mechanisms through which agricultural production shocks affect the risk of violent conflict using data on locust swarms and conflict collapsed to annual 0.25 degree grid cell observations across Africa and the Arabian peninsula. I use exogenous variation in locust exposure across time and space due to locust breeding conditions and swarm flight patterns together with weather controls and grid cell and country-by-year fixed effects to identify causal impacts of these agricultural shocks. In the short term, locust swarms decrease the likelihood of violent conflict event in the same year by around 20% as reduced returns to fighting over local output outweigh reductions in opportunity costs of fighting. In the long term, cells affected by the 2003-2005 major desert locust upsurge are around 60% more likely to experience any conflict in a given year afterward. I reject impacts on conflict risk driven by changing opportunity costs of fighting. Short-term impacts are consistent with reduced incentives to fight over agricultural output in affected areas. The pattern of effects over time suggests affected areas are made vulnerable to engaging in emerging conflicts, consistent with a persistent income effect of the severe shock to agricultural production.

Working Papers

"Balancing work and childcare: Evidence from COVID-19 school closures and reopenings in Kenya" (with Dennis Egger and Utz J. Pape). Revision requested at Journal of Human Resources. [Latest version available here] [World Bank WPS9958]

COVID-19 school closure policies affected household childcare needs. We use differences in when children in different grades returned to school to estimate the impact of a change in the childcare burden on adults' labor supply using nationally-representative data from Kenya. Having a child return to school increases adults' labor supply, with gains concentrated in household agriculture hours. Impacts are not significantly different by sex of the adult: though women have greater responsibility for childcare in Kenya, both women and men increased childcare hours during school closures. The impact of partial reopening on work hours corresponds to over 30% of the fall in average hours in the first few months after COVID-19 cases were detected in Kenya, indicating that school closures are responsible for a significant share of the reduction in labor supply during the pandemic. The results suggest that policies making childcare more available and affordable could have positive impacts on adult labor supply in Kenya.


Berkouwer, S.B., Biscaye, P.E., Hsu, O., Kim, O.W., Lee, K., Miguel, E., & Wolfram, C.D. 2023. Money or power? Choosing Covid-19 aid in Kenya. Energy Economics. [Journal publication page] [PDF] [NBER WP 29086] [PEDL Blog] [IGC Blog]

Reynolds, T.W., Biscaye, P.E., Anderson, C.L., O'Brien-Carelli, C., & Keel, J. 2023. Exploring the gender gap in mobile money adoption: Evidence from eight low- and middle-income countries. The Journal of Information Technology for Development. [Journal publication page] [PDF] [EPAR Blog]

Berkouwer, S.B., Biscaye, P.E., Puller, S., & Wolfram, C.D. 2022. Disbursing emergency relief through utilities: Evidence from Ghana. Journal of Development Economics. 156 (May 2022). [Journal publication page] [PDF] [Online Appendix] [World Bank Blog] [Energy Institute at Haas Blog] [Replication package]

Anderson, C.L., Reynolds, T.W., Biscaye, P.E., Patwardhan, V., & Schmidt, C. 2020. Economic benefits of empowering women in agriculture: Assumptions and evidence. Journal of Development Studies. 57(2), 193-208. [Journal publication page] [PDF

Wineman, A., Njagi, T., Anderson, C.L., Reynolds, T.W., Alia, D.Y., Wainana, P., Njue, E., Biscaye, P.E., & Ayieko, M.W. 2020. A case of mistaken identity? Measuring rates of improved seed adoption in Tanzania using DNA fingerprinting. Journal of Agricultural Economics. 71(3), 719-741. [Journal publication page] [PDF]

Wineman, A., Anderson, C.L., Reynolds, T.W., & Biscaye, P.E. 2019. Methods of crop yield measurement on multi-cropped plots: Examples from Tanzania. Food Security. 11, 1257-1273. [Journal publication page] [PDF] [EPAR Blog]

Gugerty, M.K., Biscaye, P.E., & Anderson, C.L. 2018. Delivering development? Evidence on self-help groups as development intermediaries in South Asia and Africa. Development Policy Review. 37(1), 129-151. [Journal publication page] [PDF

Reynolds, T.W., Klawitter, M., Biscaye, P.E., & Anderson, C.L. 2018. Mobile money and branchless banking regulations affecting cash-in, cash-out networks in low- and middle-income countries. Gates Open Research 2(64). [Journal publication page] [PDF] [EPAR Blog]

Anderson, C.L., Reynolds, T.W., Merfeld, J.D., & Biscaye P.E. 2017. Relating seasonal hunger and coping and prevention strategies: A panel analysis of Malawian farm households. Journal of Development Studies. 54(10): 1737-1755. [Journal publication page] [PDF] [Replication package]

Cullen, A., Anderson, C.L., Biscaye, P.E., & Reynolds, T.W. 2017. Gender-associated differences in cross-domain risk perception among smallholder farmers in Mali: Implications for development. Risk Analysis. 38(7): 1361-1377. [Journal publication page] [PDF] [EPAR Blog] [Replication package]

Anderson, C.L., Cronholm, A., & Biscaye, P.E. 2017. "Do changes in farmers’ seed traits align with climate change? A case study of maize in Chiapas, Mexico." Handbook of Behavioural Economics and Smart Decision-Making: Rational Decision-Making within the Bounds of Reason (Morris Altman, ed.). Chapter 14, 251-274. [Book publication page] [PDF]

Biscaye, P.E., Reynolds, T.W., & Anderson, C.L. 2017. Relative effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral aid on development outcomes. Review of Development Economics. 21(4), 1425-1447. [Journal publication page] [PDF] [EPAR Blog]

Research in Progress

"Natural disasters, aspirations, and labor supply" (with Abdulrasheed Isah and Elena Stacy). Analysis stage. [AEA RCT Registration ID R-0011881]

"Forcing labor reallocation? Floods and long-term structural transformation in Nigeria" (with Abdulrasheed Isah and Elena Stacy). Analysis stage

"Voltage quality and economic activity" (with Susanna B. Berkouwer, Maya Mikdah, Steven Puller, and Catherine D. Wolfram). Writing stage. [3ie RIDIE Registration ID 928]

"Electricity reliability and long-term economic outcomes" (with Susanna B. Berkouwer, Steven Puller, and Catherine D. Wolfram). Writing stage. 

"Recency bias in farmer responses to past pest and disease losses in Malawi." Writing stage.