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Essays in Economic Development

  • Author(s): Giera, Brian Jonathan
  • Advisor(s): Robinson, Jonathan
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation studies the impact that various programs, from small-scale behavioral interventions to large-scale multi-national projects, have on those living in the developing world.

The first chapter of this dissertation, "Business Training and Behavioral Biases: A Field Experiment with Micro-Entrepreneurs in Ethiopia", is joint work with Biruk Tekle, a researcher at the Ethiopian Development Research Institute. We conducted a field experiment with 590 small businesses in Addis Ababa where we designed two, cross-cut interventions, that were motivated by simple heuristics and physical convenience. We provided rm owners: (1) a highly simplified informational poster to be conveniently placed in their business, and (2) an additional wallet to facilitate the separation of business and personal finances. Business owners consulted the poster on a regular basis and reported higher investment, revenue, and prot. The wallet was actively used to keep their expenses separated, but had mixed evidence on investment and prot. We conclude that the content from a business training can be cost-effectively delivered to micro-enterprises and that the lack of access to simplified and convenient management information can partially explain why protable investments commonly go unrealized. This project was generously funded by the Center for Effective Global Action, East African Social Science Translation.

My second dissertation chapter, "Myopic Loss Aversion and Multi-Dimensional Framing: A Lab-in-the-Field Experiment with Micro-Entrepreneurs in Ethiopia", is joint work with Sameh Habib (Ph.D. Student, UCSC) and Biruk Tekle (Researcher, EDRI) and looks at the puzzle of low reinvestment through the idea of myopic loss aversion (MLA). Using data from a lab-in-the-field experiment with 199 retail shops in Ethiopia, we first replicate [87] and find that our sample does not display any tendencies of myopic loss aversion when bracketing the traditional risky gamble across time. Motivated by recent theoretical work from [39] along with anecdotal discussions with small shops, we then extend the experimental design to offer the same gambles packaged as a cross-sectional, portfolio of investments. We find that respondents willingly take on more risk when looking across a basket of products, suggesting that tendencies of loss aversion could be mitigated by adjustments to the frame over which investments are made, leading to higher business investment.

The third chapter of this dissertation is an impact evaluation of five large-scale agricultural programs run by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a branch of the United Nations based in Rome, Italy. This chapter is co-authored with Dr. Alessandra Garbaro (Econometrician, IFAD). When the 2015 Millennium Goals were put in place, IFAD and other large governmental organizations began aiming their funds at alleviating the conditions of children under the age of five. Given the focus of IFAD to finance agricultural projects in the developing world, the theorized first order effect of said programs should be an increase in agricultural production among smallholder farmers. Once these higher yields are realized, it should lead to improved access to not just food, but also food varieties. This should then imply an increase in nutritional intake by all members of the family, specifically the children. The goal of this paper is to assess the impact that a random sample of IFAD projects has had on childhood nutrition by looking at a variety of anthropometric outcomes. Our overall findings are mixed, finding that some projects have led to improved child well-being, others have done the opposite, and the remaining project effects are unable to be detected due to low precision.

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