Forthcoming, Demography

This paper examines whether Ugandan women who marry at younger ages fare differ-ently on a wide range of later life outcomes than women who marry at later ages. Using anationally representative dataset, I identify the causal impacts of women’s marriage age byusing their age at menarche, a plausibly exogenous variable, as an instrumental variable.Results indicate that a one year delay in marriage leads to higher educational attainment(0.5-0.75 years), literacy (10 p.p.) and labour force participation (8 p.p.) among women. Ialso explore intergenerational effects of later marriage and find that the children of motherswho marry later have higher BMI (0.11 kg/m2) and hemoglobin levels (0.18 g/dl), and theyare also less likely to be anemic (4 p.p.). Finally, I present evidence that suggests that theobserved effects might be mediated through an enhancement women’s agency within theirhousehold and positive assortative matching in the marriage market. By pointing to thebeneficial consequences of delaying marriage, this research calls for concerted policy actionto prevent child marriage.

with Prateek Bansal & Ricardo Daziano , Journal of Choice Modelling, 2019

The Multinomial Logit (MNL) model is popular, but a semi-parametric specification of its link/utility function has seldom been used in empirical applications. This is primarily because of the resource intensive nature of semi-parametric estimation. In this paper we propose and implement a parallel computation algorithm to estimate the semi-parametric kernel MNL model. This algorithm reduces model estimation time by a factor of 2–10, depending on the size of the dataset and the available resources for computation. These computational gains make the estimation of this model feasible for large datasets. Additionally, using a Monte Carlo study we show that the kernel MNL outperforms the traditional linear MNL model in terms of fit and predicted choice probabilities. We demonstrate how kernel-based specification can unearth important heterogeneities in the effect of covariates through an empirical exercise. We use data from a nationally representative household survey (N = 157,804) to analyze the factors associated with institutional births (as opposed to home births) in India. Our revealed-preference results indicate that maternal education, household assets, distance to formal health facility, and birth order play an essential role in determining birth location choice. Although the directions of impact are similar across both the linear and the kernel MNL specifications, there are significant differences in the marginal effects of different factors across the two models. These differences, which arise due to the flexibility afforded by the semi-parametric specification, potentially bring additional nuance to policy discussions.

with Prabhu Pingali, Annual Review of Resource Economics, 2017 (Cornell Blog)

A nutrition-sensitive food system is one that goes beyond staple grain productivity and places emphasis on the consumption of micronutrient-rich nonstaples through a variety of market and nonmarket interventions. A nutrition-sensitive approach not only considers policies related to macrolevel availability and access to nutritious food, but it also focuses on household- and individual-level determinants of improved nutrition. In addition to agriculture, intrahousehold equity, behavior change, food safety, and access to clean water and sanitation are integral components of the food system. This article provides a detailed review, from an economic perspective, on the multisectoral pathways through which agriculture influences nutrition. A critical challenge is to identify and implement food and nutrition policies that are appropriate to the particular stage of structural transformation in the country of concern.