Fields of research:
Primary: Development Economics
Secondary: Labor Economics

Reevaluating Agricultural Productivity Gaps with Longitudinal Microdata,” with Joan Hicks, Nicholas Li and Edward Miguel (forthcoming, Journal of the European Economic Association), NBER working paper ( 
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Recent research has pointed to large gaps in labor productivity between the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors in low-income countries, as well as between workers in rural and urban areas. Most estimates are based on national accounts or repeated cross-sections of micro-survey data, and as a result typically struggle to account for individual selection between sectors. This paper uses long-run individual-level panel data from two low-income countries (Indonesia and Kenya). Accounting for individual fixed effects leads to much smaller estimated productivity gains from moving into the non-agricultural sector (or urban areas), reducing estimated gaps by over 80%. Per capita consumption gaps are also small once individual fixed effects are included. Estimated productivity gaps do not emerge up to five years after a move between sectors. We evaluate whether these findings imply a re-assessment of the conventional wisdom regarding sectoral gaps, discuss how to reconcile them with existing cross-sectional estimates, and consider implications for the desirability of sectoral reallocation of labor.
Long-term and Intergenerational Effects of Education: Evidence from School Construction in Indonesia,” with Richard Akresh and Daniel Halim (revision requested by the Economic Journal), NBER working paper (
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In 1973, the Indonesian government began one of the largest school construction programs ever. We use 2016 nationally representative data to examine the long-term and intergenerational effects of additional schooling as a child. We use a difference-in-differences identification strategy exploiting variation across birth cohorts and regions in the number of schools built. Men and women exposed to the program attain more education. As adults, exposed men are more likely to be formal workers, work outside agriculture, and migrate. Women are more likely to migrate and have fewer children. Households with parents exposed to the program have improved living standards and pay more government taxes. Education benefits are transmitted to the next generation. Increased parental education has larger impacts for daughters, particularly if mothers are exposed to school construction. Intergenerational results are driven by changes in the marriage partner’s characteristics, with spouses having more education and improved labor market outcomes.

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We study the labour market impact of internal migration in Indonesia by instrumenting migrant flows with rainfall shocks at the origin area. Estimates reveal that a one percentage point increase in the share of migrants decreases income by 0.97% and reduces employment by 0.24 percentage points. These effects are different across sectors: employment reductions are concentrated in the formal sector, while income reduction occurs in the informal sector. Negative consequences are most pronounced for low‐skilled natives, even though migrants are systematically highly skilled. We suggest that the two‐sector nature of the labour market may explain this pattern.

This paper develops and tests a migration choice model that incorporates two prominent migration strategies used by households facing risk and liquidity constraints. On the one hand, migration can be used as an ex-post risk-coping strategy after sudden negative income shocks. On the other hand, migration can be seen an as investment, but liquidity constraints may prevent households from paying up-front migration costs, in which case positive income shocks may increase migration. These diverging migratory responses to shocks are modeled within a dynamic migration choice framework that I test using a 20-year panel of internal migration decisions by 38,914 individuals in Indonesia. I document evidence that migration increases after contemporaneous negative income shocks as well as after an accumulation of preceding positive shocks. Consistent with the model, I find that migration after negative shocks is more often characterized by temporary moves to rural destinations and is more likely to be used by those with low levels of wealth, while investment migration is more likely to involve urban destinations, occur over longer distances, and be longer in duration. Structural estimation of the model reveals that migration costs are higher for those with lower levels of wealth and education, and suggests that the two migration strategies act as substitutes, meaning that those who migrate to cope with a negative shock are less likely to invest in migration. I use the structural estimates to simulate policy experiments of providing credit and subsidizing migration, and I explore the impact of increased weather shock intensity in order to better understand the possible impact of climate change on migration.
We estimate the causal effect of internal migration on crime in Indonesia by combining detailed migration data with reports of crime and violence from over 2 million local newspapers, and from individual victimization reports from nationally representative surveys. To address endogeneity in the choice to migrate, we instrument the share of migrants in a destination with rainfall shocks at the migrant origin locations. We find that a 1 percent increase in the proportion of migrants in the population leads to a 3.9 percent increase in the number of economically-motivated crimes reported by local media. This is consistent with the existing literature on the effect of international migration to developed countries, but larger in magnitude. However, when using data on individual victimization from household surveys, we instead find that an increase in the share of migrants leads to a reduction in the probability that a person is a crime victim at the destination. The reduction in crime victimhood is particularly large for migrants and for women. We explore various reasons for these competing results, including reporting bias in newspapers as a source of increased crime coverage in areas with an influx of migrants, even though the number of crime victims decreases.

Selected works in progress:

        “Income Shocks, Marriage Timing, and Migration: Evidence from Indonesia,” with Sylvan Herskowitz
        “ Individual and Social Learning in Agriculture,” with Jeremy Magruder

Reports and reviews:
“Drought-tolerant rice in Eastern India - Diagnostic report prepared for the Standing Panel on Impact Assessment,” 2013, with Alain de Janvry
Understanding Attitudes Towards Migrants: A Broader Perspective,” Human Development Research Paper Series, No 53, 2009, with Jeni Klugman