Working Papers

"Agricultural shocks and long-term conflict risk: Evidence from desert locust swarms" (Job Market Paper) [Most recent version] [WB DIME Blog] [X thread]

Can transitory agricultural shocks affect long-term violent conflict risk? Using a staggered event study approach and data on conflict events and desert locust swarms across 0.25 degree grid cells in Africa and the Arabian peninsula from 1997-2018, I find that past exposure to a locust swarm increases the average annual probability of violent conflict by 0.8 percentage points (43%). Effects persist for at least 14 years and are driven by swarms arriving in crop-growing cells during the main growing season. This result suggests a decrease in the opportunity cost of fighting in affected areas. In line with this, I find that swarm exposure reduces subsequent cereal yields, indicating a permanent income mechanism for this severe transitory shock. But the feasibility of fighting also matters: increases in local conflict risk are concentrated in years with active fighting groups in neighboring areas, when the reduced opportunity cost of fighting is combined with opportunities to fight. Patterns of long-term impacts are similar for exposure to severe drought, indicating the mechanisms are not specific to locust swarms. Long-term impacts of transitory economic shocks on conflict risk add further motivation for policies mitigating the risk of such shocks and supporting recovery.

"Adolescent schooling and adult labor supply: Evidence from COVID-19 school closures and reopenings in Kenya" (with Dennis Egger and Utz J. Pape). Under Review. [Most recent version] [World Bank WPS9958]

This paper identifies the impact of a shock to adolescent schooling---potentially affecting both childcare burdens and child labor---on adult labor supply and intra-household allocation of productive activities in the context of COVID-19-related school closures in Kenya. We compare changes in outcomes after schools partially reopened in October 2020 for households with children in a grade eligible to return against those with children in adjacent grades. Using nationally-representative bi-monthly panel data, we find that a child returning to school increases adults' weekly work by 4.3 hours (27%) in the short run, concentrated among the most flexible margins of adjustment and particularly household agriculture. Contrary to evidence from high-income settings, overall effects are not gendered. We find no effects of the partial reopening on respondent childcare hours and heterogeneity in labor supply effects by household characteristics generally does not align with predictions based on a childcare mechanism. Instead, the results indicate that increased adult work hours substitute for reduced child work in household agriculture as a child goes back to school. Impacts on labor supply are driven by less wealthy households with children engaged in household agriculture, while wealthier agricultural households substitute child labor with increased hired labor. Our results show that adolescent schooling has important consequences for household production and labor supply decisions. Poor agricultural households face particularly high opportunity costs for children's education.

"Voltage quality and economic activity" (with Susanna B. Berkouwer, Maya Mikdah, Steven Puller, and Catherine D. Wolfram). Under Review. [Most recent version] [3ie RIDIE Registration ID 928] [CEGA Blog] [Energy for Growth Hub Memo] [Kleinman Center Policy Digest] [MCC Evaluation Brief]

Voltage quality issues—such as sags, spikes, and fluctuations—are pervasive across many low- and middle income countries, yet their unobservability has hampered large-scale analysis of their economic importance. We combine minute-by-minute customer-level power measurements with detailed panel surveys of more than 1,500 households and small businesses to characterize voltage quality issues experienced by customers in Accra, Ghana and analyze their costs. First, we document widespread voltage problems: approximately 20% of grid electricity is of poor quality (more than 10% below nominal voltage, 230V), including 30% during peak hours. Second, this imposes costs through spending on voltage protective equipment, dealing with damaged appliances, and not being able to fully utilize appliances. Third, using a differences-in-differences design, we find that a 5V increase in average voltage—resulting from quasi-random construction of new transformers—reduces the frequency of appliance damages at treatment sites relative to control sites, but generates no other economic impacts after 1 year. 


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, risk perceptions, and aspirations" (with Abdulrasheed Isah and Elena Stacy). Analysis stage. [AEA RCT Registration ID 11881]

"Flooding and livelihood diversification in Nigeria: the view from the sky and the view from the ground." (with Abdulrasheed Isah) Writing stage

"Mapping flood exposure and human impacts" (with Mook Bangalore, Ayodeji Olatunde, Ayan Sarkar, Elena Stacy, and Jialu Yi). Analysis stage.

"Electricity reliability and long-term economic outcomes" (with Susanna B. Berkouwer, Steven Puller, and Catherine D. Wolfram). Writing stage. [AEA RCT Registration ID 4886]

"Recency bias in farmer responses to past pest and disease losses in Malawi." Writing stage. [Draft available upon request]