April 2014

Caste dominance and economic performance in rural India
Vegard Iversen, Adriaan Kalwij, Arjan Verschoor and Amaresh Dubey


Using household panel data for rural India covering the years 1993/94 and 2004/05, we test whether Scheduled Caste (SC) and other minority groups perform better or worse in terms of income when resident in villages dominated by (i) upper castes or (ii) their own group. Theoretically, upper caste dominance comprises a potential 'proximity gain' and offsetting, group-specific 'oppression' effects. For SCs and OBCs, initial proximity gains dominate negative oppression effects because upper caste dominated villages are located in more productive areas: once agroecology is controlled for, proximity and oppression effects cancel each other out. Albeit theoretically ambiguous, we find large, positive own dominance or enclave effects for Upper Castes, OBCs and especially SCs. These village regime effects are restricted to the Hindu social groups. Combining pathway and income source analysis, we close in on the mechanisms underpinning identity-based income disparities; while education matters, land ownership accounts for most enclave effects. A strong post reform SC own village advantage turns out to have agricultural rather than non-farm or business origins. We also find upper caste dominance to inhibit the educational progress of other social groups along with negative enclave effects on the educational progress of Muslim women and ST men.




The Impact of Malaria Control on Infant Mortality in Kenya
Vikram Pathania


Since the early 2000s there has been a rapid intensification of malaria control efforts across Africa. I exploit baseline differences in the regional incidence of malaria coupled with the sharp timing of the intensified campaign to investigate the impact on infant mortality in Kenya. Post-intervention, I find a significant reduction in postneonatal mortality in the malarious regions relative to the non-malarious regions. In contrast, I find no evidence of impact on neonatal mortality which is consistent with epidemiological literature that finds neonates enjoy significant protection from malaria. I rule out alternative explanations such as differential pre-existing trends, changes in maternal and infant care, or the contemporaneous expansion of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. I find that the malaria campaign reduced postneonatal mortality by 33% in the malarious regions during 2004-2008.




Do The More Educated Know More About Health? Evidence From Schooling and HIV Knowledge In Zimbabwe
Jorge M. Agüero and Prashant Bharadwaj


We explore a fundamental link between education and health: knowledge about health. Do the educated know more about how certain diseases are spread and how to prevent them? Using age specific exposure to an education reform in Zimbabwe, we find that women with more schooling engage in HIV-preventing behavior by having fewer sexual partners, and know more about how HIV spreads. An extra year of education raises the probability of having comprehensive knowledge of HIV by nearly 10 percent and decreases by 7 percentage points the probability of having common misconceptions about HIV. We discuss possible channels for how education led to more knowledge about HIV.




Long-term Health Effects of Malaria Exposure around Birth: Evidence from Colonial Taiwan
Simon Chang, Belton Fleisher, Seonghoon Kim and Shi-yung Liu


In the early 20th century, the Japanese colonial government initiated an island-wide malaria eradication campaign in Taiwan, resulting in not only a rapid decline in malaria across time but also elimination of disparity across regions. Exploiting variations in malaria deaths caused by the campaign, we estimate causal effects of malaria exposure around birth on the health of elderly born in the colonial period. To mitigate potential biases caused by measurement errors and omitted confounders, we employ climatic factors to instrument for malaria deaths. Our findings suggest that people who were exposed to a high malaria risk around birth tend to have a higher likelihood of cardiovascular diseases and worse cognitive functions at old age.




Magnet classes and educational performance: Evidence from China
Mingming Ma and Xinzheng Shi


We investigate the effect of entering magnet classes on the educational performance of high school students in China. Using the regression discontinuity design and data from a high school in Hebei Province, we find that enrollment in a magnet class can increase students’ gross final examination score in the first semester by 0.647 standard deviation. However, we find no evidence to suggest that the positive effect of entering magnet classes is different for female students, students of different ages, or minority students.




Quantifying some of the impacts of economics blogs
David McKenzie and Berk Özler


Economics blogs represent a significant change in the way research on development economics is discussed and disseminated; yet little is known about the impact of this new medium. Using surveys of development researchers and practitioners, along with experimental and non-experimental techniques, we try to quantify some of their effects. We find that links from blogs cause a striking increase in the number of abstract views and downloads of economics papers. Furthermore, blogging raises the profile of the blogger and changes readers’ perceptions about his or her institution. Finally, we find some suggestive evidence that a blog can increase knowledge of the topics it covers for the average, but not the marginal, reader.