Siwan Anderson


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Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Essays in environmental and development economics (2023)

This dissertation presents three essays on Environmental and Development Economics. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on the impact of pollution on non-health-related outcomes, while Chapter 4 investigates the causes and consequences of female empowerment. Chapter 2 examines the impact of air pollution on crime in a highly polluted mega-city. It finds an inverted U-shaped relationship: increased pollution initially increases crime, but beyond a certain point, it decreases criminal activity. The empirical strategy uses highly dimensional fixed-effect models, nonparametric estimations of dose-response functions, and instrumental variables. Additionally, it analyzes social media posts to understand how pollution relates to emotions and mobility decisions, supporting the inverted U-shape. These findings highlight the need for environmental regulations to account for behavioral responses. Chapter 3 examines the impact of lead waste recycling on student academic performance in Mexico. This chapter uses a change in US environmental regulation in 2009 to investigate the causal effect of lead exposure on test scores. The study finds that schools located within four miles of a recycling facility have lower math and language scores compared to schools farther away, precisely after the regulatory change. These results highlight the negative effects of lead recycling on schooling outcomes, particularly in contexts with limited regulatory oversight. Finally, chapter 4 investigates how giving women political and domestic authority can lead to persistent female empowerment and overall welfare improvements. Using post-genocide data from Rwanda, the chapter exploits local gender imbalances that created a power vacuum filled by women as household heads and local politicians. The findings suggest that female-led villages provide more public goods and experience better health, education, wealth, less domestic violence, and more autonomy. Furthermore, these changes are carried on by younger women, indicating a shift in gender norms. In contrast, there are negative or no effects in villages where men remained in power.

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Essays in development economics (2022)

The first chapter implements a field experiment in India to understand whether the effects of religious diversity on team productivity and worker attitudes depend on a firm's production technology. I randomly assigned Hindu and Muslim workers at a manufacturing plant in West Bengal to religiously mixed or homogeneous teams. Production tasks are categorized as high- or low-dependency based on the degree of continuous coordination required for production. I find that mixed teams are less productive than homogeneous teams in high-dependency tasks, but this effect attenuates completely in four months. In low-dependency tasks, diversity does not affect productivity. Despite lowering short-run productivity, mixing improves out-group attitudes for Hindu workers in high-dependency tasks - but there are little or no effects in low-dependency tasks. Overall, this pattern of results suggests that technology that incentivizes individuals to learn to work together is important in overcoming existing intergroup differences - and leads to improved relations and team performance. The second chapter shows that close-kin marriage, by sustaining tightly-knit family structures, impedes development. We use US state-level bans on cousin marriage for identification. Our measure of cousin marriage comes from the excess frequency of same-surname marriages, a method borrowed from population genetics that we apply to millions of marriage records from 1800 to 1940. We show that state bans on first-cousin marriage did reduce rates of in-marriage, and that affected descendants therefore have higher incomes and more schooling. Our results are consistent with this effect being driven by weakening family ties rather than a genetic channel. The third chapter studies mining activity in Indian states and districts between 1960-2015, and finds that mining intensity gradually decreases as elections approach. This pattern is manifested in output, mining accidents, and mineral licensing. The magnitude of these cycles are determined primarily by two factors: electoral competition and the intensity of Naxalite conflict, an ongoing left-wing insurgency against the Indian government. While mining fatalities are costly during elections, I show that cycles in conflict prone areas are exacerbated in order to minimize the tax base of rebel groups, who thrive on extortion of mining revenues and target elections with violence.

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Essays in Development Economics on Gender and Tribes in India (2016)

This thesis studies the situation of women and tribes in India through the roles of workfare programme, availability of public healthcare and history. The second chapter studies the effect of India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGA) on consumption expenditure and time-use, especially on account of women's participation. Using instrumental variables estimation strategy to deal with the endogeneity in the number of days worked, we find that women's participation benefits children, especially girls. Higher spending on nutritious foods, education of girls, lower engagement of women in domestic chores and greater time spent in school for younger girls are found on account of the programme. The Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are the two most disadvantaged social groups in India. The third chapter investigates whether STs lag behind even the SCs in terms of health, a key development indicator which has also remained relatively understudied in the literature. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition method shows that relative to the lack of demand for healthcare from the STs, shortage of supply of health services in tribal areas appears to be more important in explaining why STs lag behind even the SCs in nearly all aspects of women's and children's health. The chapter argues that STs need to be studied in isolation from the SCs because of different historical reasons for the underdevelopment of these two groups. The fourth chapter studies the long term implications of historical female property rights on current development outcomes. Historic patterns of widowhood for women is a plausible mechanism through which women became owners of property. Districts with greater relative female landownership in the past are found to have lower infant mortality, higher literacy rate, better healthcare for and higher labour force participation of women, greater reporting of and arrests for crimes committed against women and higher women's autonomy. Greater political representation of women, investment in public goods and greater economic role played by women in agriculture appear to be possible mechanisms that could explain how female property rights during colonial time can have long-term effects.

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Three Essays on Female and Child Outcomes in India (2016)

Poor child health outcomes and high fertility rates are viewed as major obstacles to development in most developing countries. Chapters 2 and 3 of my thesis investigate the determinants of these outcomes in the Indian context. The second chapter looks at the impact of political cycles on infant mortality in India. This study shows that children born 0-12 months before scheduled state assembly elections have 13.4% lower mortality risks as compared to children not born before scheduled elections and that the effect is higher for children born in more politically competitive regions. In addition, the chapter presents some evidence that mothers who gave birth before elections have more regular antenatal check-ups and at least one tetanus injection during their pregnancy. Children born before scheduled assembly elections are also less likely to suffer from low birth weight. My third chapter tests the effect of female employment on fertility in India. The results show that female employment in manufacturing has a negative impact on fertility once the endogeneity in female employment is accounted for. However female employment in agriculture and aggregate female labour force participation has no such effects. The fourth chapter is joint work with Dr. Viktoria Hnatkovska and Dr. Amartya Lahiri. This chapter examines the evolution of gender gaps in India between 1983 and 2010 in education, occupation choices and wages. The chapter shows that the gaps have shrunk quite sharply between men and women in education and choice of occupations and wages. The gaps have narrowed most sharply for the youngest cohorts in the workforce, suggesting that measured gaps will continue to decline over the next two decades.

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Caste, Religious Conflict and Economic Development: The Indian Experience (2015)

This thesis aims to understand the economic and political changes in India and how it affects different marginalized groups in India. It looks at the effects of mandated political representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the effect of British colonization on Hindu-Muslim conflict in post-Independent India and the evolution of economic conditions of Muslims in India in the past three decades. The first research chapter looks at the effect of political quotas for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on households belonging to these groups. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes form some of the most disadvantaged groups in India.I exploit the policy rule mandating reservations for these groups to identify the effect of political representation of these groups. I find that for Scheduled Caste politicians effectively target narrow based public goods such as participation in workfare program to members of their own ethnic groups but do not do so for broad based public goods such as health, education and access to subsidized food grains. The second research chapter looks at the effect of British colonization on post-Independence religious conflict in India. British colonialism has often been blamed for the worsening of Hindu-Muslim relations. Comparing districts ruled by native kings with districts which were ruled directly by the British, I find no adverse effect of British colonialism. The third research chapter looks at the evolution of the economic conditions of Muslims in the last three decades-a period which has been characterized by rapid economic growth in India. I compare Muslims with non-Muslims in education, occupation choice, wages and consumption expenditure. I find that Muslims are worse off compared to non-Muslims and this relative deprivation gets more acute over time.

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Essays on Development Economics in China (2014)

Recent research has stressed the role of historical events on economic development. This thesis aims at understanding impacts of historical events on China's current economic outcomes. The second chapter analyzes the effect of the number of brothers an individual has on that individual's household savings rate under the current underdeveloped household financial market in urban China. I show that having an additional brother reduces an individual's household savings rate by at least five percentage points. Brothers help households by (1) sharing risks, providing a source of informal borrowing and (2) sharing the cost of supporting parents. In the third and fourth chapter I investigate the long-term impact of the send-down policy. Under the send-down policy (1968--1978) during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, more than 16 million youths were forced to move to rural areas and carry out hard manual labor. I find that the sent-down males were significantly more likely to have had education upgrading after the Cultural Revolution. Conditional on education upgrading, the sent-down males earn higher income than the non-sent-down males who also received education upgrading.

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Improved stove adoption in the Northern Peruvian Andes (2011)

This dissertation examines outcomes from a development intervention which introduced improved cooking stoves into the rural communities of the Chalaco District, in the Northern Peruvian Andes. The first chapter introduces the dissertation; it presents the intervention’s context and discusses the social capital concept and how it was measured.The second chapter confirms the informational role of village social capital. It explores how bonding social capital and village-level technology usage patterns mutually influence information diffusion during the initial adoption stages of a new cooking device. The results indicate that the effect of village usage patterns on the household’s usage decision is significantly higher in villages with higher levels of bonding social capital, and that the marginal impact of bonding links on the usage decision may be negative if village success in stove usage at initial adoption stages is relatively low. Social capital indicators were collected before the intervention; therefore, reverse causality should not be critical for identification purposes. Village unobservables are not likely to drive the main results; the effect of village usage patterns on the decision to dismantle the improved stove is also increasing in bonding social capital.The third chapter estimates the effect of the improved stove on firewood consumption during the winter season. To identify the impact of stove usage, it exploits random differences in stoves’ material quality. Given this, an indicator of iron frame failure is used as an instrument to predict stove adoption to determine the causal effect of this device. The instrumental variable results indicate that improved stove usage significantly reduces firewood consumption by approximately 40%.The fourth chapter analyses the impact of the new device on health indicators typically affected by indoor air pollution (IAP). To identify the causal impact of improved stove usage, I follow the same identification strategy discussed in chapter three. The results indicate that improved stove usage, with an operative chimney, reduces self-reported respiratory illness and eye discomfort symptoms. These results are only for housewives, who are more likely to be exposed to IAP. No significant health effects were found for housewives using the improved stove without an operative chimney.

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Economic behaviour during conflict: education and labour market participation in Internally Displaced People's camps in Northern Uganda (2010)

This dissertation investigates men and women's labour force participation and children's education outcomes using original data collected in Ugandan Internally Displaced People's (IDP) camps in 2005 and 2007. The random nature of the conflict and mass displacement in the region is exploited to identify their impacts on behaviour. Furthermore, a randomized trial of two alternative food for education programs implemented in the IDP camps is evaluated. The impacts of the programs on primary school participation, cognitive development, and learning achievement are investigated.The first chapter introduces the dissertation and explores the research setting by detailing the randomized school feeding experiment and the data collection process. It considers the context in which the data was collected, focusing on the conflict in the region at the time.The second chapter uses this unique data set and the exogenous nature of the conflict and resulting displacement in Northern Uganda to examine their impacts on labour market participation. I find that the longer the existence of the camp to which people moved, the less men work. In contrast, women's labour market decisions are not influenced by the age of the Internally Displaced People's camp in which they live. I argue that these responses result from the development of gender-specific social norms regarding idleness and not from a lack of opportunities. A decline in the percentage of men working in a camp leads to a reduction in the probability that a given man works.The third and fourth chapters provide solid empirical evidence of the educational impacts of two food for education programs. Joint with my co-authors, I compare education outcomes between three randomly assigned groups: Beneficiaries of an in-school meals program, beneficiaries of a take-home rations program providing equivalent food transfers conditional on school attendance, and a control group. The findings suggest that, in general, both programs performed equally well in improving school participation. While access to both programs improved cognition, the impacts on learning achievement are not as strong.

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