Economic and Political Factors in Infrastructure Investment: Evidence from Railroads and Roads in Africa 1960–2015

September 2017

Remi Jedwab and Adam Storeygard

IIEP Working Paper 2019-9

Abstract: Transport investment has played an important role in the economic development of many countries. Starting from a low base, African countries have recently initiated several massive transportation infrastructure projects. However, surprisingly little is known about the current levels, past evolution, and correlates of transportation infrastructure in Africa. In this paper, we introduce a new data set on the evolution of the stocks of railroads (1862-2015) and multiple types of roads (1960-2015) for 43 sub-Saharan African countries. First, we compare our estimates with those from other available data sets, such as the World Development Indicators. Second, we document the aggregate evolution of transportation investments over the past century in Africa. We confirm that railroads were a “colonial” transportation technology, whereas paved roads were a “post-colonial” technology. We also highlight how investment patterns have followed economic patterns. Third, we report conditional correlations between 5-year infrastructure growth and several geographic, economic and political factors during the period 1960-2015. We find strong correlations between transportation investments and economic development as well as more political factors including pre-colonial centralization, ethnic fractionalization, European settlement, natural resource dependence, and democracy. This suggests that non-economic factors may have a significant role in the ability of countries to invest in these public goods.

JEL Codes: O11; O18; O20; H54; R11; R12; R40; N77

Keywords: Transportation Infrastructure; Public Investment; Railroads; Roads; Paved Roads; Africa; Growth; Institutions; Comparative Development; History

Can Differences Deceive? The Case of “Foreclosure Externalities”

July 2017

Anthony Yezer and Yishen Liu

IIEP Working Paper 2017-29

Abstract: Foreclosure externalities, in which recent foreclosures proximate to a housing unit depress its sales price, are well accepted in the literature. These papers use a geographic differencing strategy to eliminate the problem of selection into treatment. They also assume that the partial and total derivatives of the outcome (house value) with respect to the treatment (foreclosure) are constant and equal. This paper relaxes these assumptions producing very different results. These findings likely generalize to a larger body of research where differencing often in the form of regression discontinuity, propensity score matching, or synthetic controls is used to achieve identification while assuming total and partial derivatives of the outcome with respect to the treatment are constant and equal.

JEL: R23, R30, R31.

Keywords: Foreclosure; Specification error; Loan-to-value ratio; Externalities.

Unilateral and Multilateral Sanctions: A Network Approach

November 2017

Sumit Joshi and Ahmed Saber Mahmud 

IIEP Working Paper 2017-28 

Abstract: The extensive literature on efficacy of sanctions has been mainly focused on a dyadic interaction between sender and target. In contrast, this paper examines sanctions when the sender and target are embedded in a network of linkages to other agents and each agent’s utility is a function of the size of the agent’s component. Efficacy of sanctions is then a function of two factors: the network structure binding the sender and target, and the concavity/convexity of utility in the component size. We consider both unilateral sanctions and multilateral sanctions. We demonstrate how the network architecture, together with the specification of utility, qualifies and sometimes reverses the main tenets of the dyadic approach. We add to the recent work on identifying network architectures that sustain cooperation via the threat of exclusion by showing that the utility specification matters. Thus the same network can be efficacious for sanctions if utility is convex in component size but not if it is concave.

JEL: C72, D74, D85

Keywords: Unilateral sanctions, Multilateral sanction,  Sender, Target, Networks, Spanning trees, Cutsets

Network Formation with Multigraphs and Strategic Complementarities

November 2017

Sumit Joshi, Ahmed Saber Mahmud and Sudipta Sarangi

IIEP Working Paper 2017-27

Abstract: Economic agents are typically connected to others in multiple network relationships, and the architecture of one network could be shaped by connections in other networks. This paper examines the formation of one network when connections in a second network are inherited under two scenarios: (i) the inherited network is asymmetric allowing for a wide range of graphs called nested split graphs, and (ii) the inherited network is a symmetric type of network belonging to a subclass of regular graphs. Both the inherited and endogenously formed networks are interdependent because the respective actions in each are (weak) strategic complements. This property is su¢ cient to show that those who inherit high centrality will continue to have high centrality. Additionally, the network formed by the agents induces a coarser partition than the inherited network, suggesting the possibility of being able to improve network centrality, but only in a limited manner. Thus, our analysis explains preferential attachment and why inequality is often entrenched in society, how asymmetries in one network may be magnified or diminished in another, and what determines the identity of players occupying the various vertices of asymmetric equilibrium networks.

JEL: C72, D85

Keywords: Network formation, multigraphs, strategic complementarities, Katz-Bonacich centrality, nested split graphs.

Migration Networks and Location Decisions: Evidence from U.S. Mass Migration

September 2017

Bryan Stuart and Evan Taylor 

IIEP Working Paper 2017-26

Abstract: This paper examines the effects of birth town migration networks on location decisions. We study over one million long-run location decisions made during two landmark migration episodes by African Americans from the U.S. South and whites from the Great Plains. We develop a new method to estimate the strength of migration networks for each receiving and sending location. Our estimates imply that when one randomly chosen African American moves from a birth town to a destination county, then 1.9 additional black migrants make the same move on average. For white migrants from the Great Plains, the average is only 0.4. Networks were particularly important in connecting black migrants with attractive employment opportunities and played a larger role in less costly moves.

JEL: J61, N32, O15, R23, Z13

Keywords: migration networks, location decisions, social interactions, Great Migration

The Long-Run Effects of Recessions on Education and Income

August 2017

Bryan Stuart

IIEP Working Paper 2017-25

Abstract: This paper examines the long-run effects of the 1980-1982 recession on education and income. Using confidential Census data, I estimate difference-in-differences regressions that exploit variation across counties in recession severity and across cohorts in age at the time of the recession. For individuals age 0-10 in 1979, a 10 percent decrease in earnings per capita in their county of birth reduces four-year college degree attainment by 9 percent and income in adulthood by 3 percent. Simple calculations suggest that, in aggregate, the 1980-1982 recession led to 1-3 million fewer college graduates and $64-$145 billion less earned income per year.

JEL Classification Codes: E32, I20, I30, J13, J24

Keywords: human capital, education, income, recessions

The Effect of Social Connectedness on Crime: Evidence from the Great Migration

August 2017

Bryan Stuart and Evan Taylor

IIEP Working Paper 2017-24

Abstract: This paper estimates the effect of social connectedness on crime across U.S. cities from 1960- 2009. Migration networks among African Americans from the South generated variation across destinations in the concentration of migrants from the same birth town. Using this novel source of variation, we find that social connectedness considerably reduces murders, robberies, assaults, burglaries, larcenies, and motor vehicle thefts, with a one standard deviation increase in social connectedness reducing murders by 13 percent and motor vehicle thefts by 9 percent. Our results appear to be driven by stronger relationships among older generations reducing crime committed by youth.

JEL Classification Codes: K42, N32, R23, Z13

Keywords: crime, social connectedness, Great Migration

Governance Spillovers of Labour Provisions in Free Trade Agreements

by Susan Ariel Aaronson (George Washington University)

IIEP Working Paper 2017-2

Most people know that governments such as the US, EU, and Canada use labour rights provisions in trade agreements to improve labour rights. They believe that policymakers in the developing world will be willing to improve labour rights governance with the incentive of the trade agreement. But in this paper, Aaronson argues that these provisions have broader and equally important spillover effects upon governance. These provisions:

  • empower workers and other citizens;
  • facilitate a feedback loop between the developing country government and its citizens on a broad range of issues affecting trade;
  • promote wage and income equality, which is conducive to development, social stability and democracy;
  • help policy-makers to better integrate labour rights with other public policies (such as fiscal policy, anti-corruption policies, or criminal laws); and
  • can help citizens and policy-makers gradually improve governance, increase productivity and advance social cohesion in the community.

Aaronson used a comparative case study approach, examining both the language and studies of the effects of the provisions. For example, she finds that since 2005, U.S. agreements have included provisions in the labour rights chapter related to procedural guarantees and public awareness. The provisions require parties to encourage public participation in the development of labour rights policies. They also require that all persons have “appropriate access to tribunals”, that the “proceedings are fair, equitable, and transparent … open to the public”, give all parties the right to seek review, and educate their public about the law. Taken in sum, these provisions could empower workers (on the demand side of labour rights) through rules on public awareness, public participation, and due process rights. The EU and Canada have begun to adopt similar policies.

Aaronson provides several examples of improved governance. In Guatemala, policymakers learned to coordinate labour rights and fiscal policy so that companies could not get subsidies or avoid taxes if they were found to violate labor rights. Mexican officials learned to protect the rights of Mexican guest workers in the U.S. In 2013, with help from U.S. and Mexican civil society groups, guest workers came together to form the Sinaloa Temporary Workers’ Coalition to defend the rights of guest workers in Mexico and abroad. In 2014, the group complained to the Mexican Ministry of Labor regarding recruitment fees. The Ministry investigated and found 27 violations of the law, resulting in fines. In this example, Mexicans held their government accountable for violations of the law at home.

Aaronson notes that no one has yet done a study as to whether these provisions and consultative bodies actually empower workers. Nonetheless, in a 2016 study of trade and labour rights, the ILO noted that “the impact of labor provisions depends crucially on, first, the extent to which they involve stakeholders, notably social partners such as unions and NGOs.” Workers who are aware of their rights and able to challenge executives and government officials’ decisions are empowered. Over time, empowered workers can promote greater income equality through improved productivity and better share in profits through wage increases. Some analysts argue that this process can advance development, social cohesion and democracy, and can ensure that more people meet their potential. Moreover, these provisions may help to legitimize trade agreements and help them to gain a base of public support.

Negative Shocks and Mass Persecutions: Evidence from the Black Death

March 2017

by Remi Jedwab (George Washington University), Mark Koyama (George Mason University) & Noel Johnson (George Mason University)

IIEP Working Paper 2017-4

The authors of this paper examine the Black Death persecutions committed against the Jewish people to demonstrate the factors that determine when a minority group will face persecution. A theoretical framework is developed that predicts that there is an increased probability that minorities are scapegoated and persecuted when negative shocks occur. However, if the shocks become more severe, the probability of persecution may decrease when economic complementarities exist between the majority and minority groups. To accomplish this, the authors gathered data on a city-level on Black Death mortality and Jewish persecution. An aggregate level showed that scapegoating led to an increase in the baseline probability of persecution. On the city-level, high plague mortality rates did not align with increased persecutions. Persecutions were found to be more likely in cities with a history of antisemitism and less likely in locations where Jews were featured in important economic roles.

The Black Death had wide-ranging social effects, and historians and economists often look to the Black Death as a direct cause of scapegoating and persecution of Jewish communities. The authors contradict this view using city-level Black Death mortality rates and Jewish persecution, demonstrating that the higher the mortality in a city, the less likely persecution would occur. This was accentuated in cities where Jews played important economic roles. They show that, while the Black Death shock was the initial impetus for antisemitic persecution in Europe, it was mainly patterns of differences in economic standing between minority and majority groups that explain local variation in persecution.

Their work contributes to several literatures, such as recent work on the economics of mass killings. They also add to literature on the relationship between shocks and the persecution of minorities, which emphasizes the role played by economic complementarities between groups, and literature on antisemitism. Their study provides a unique perspective, as well, as the Black Death provides a very well suited setting to examine the causes of mass killings.

In their framework, negative shocks can increase both the incentive to persecute a minority and to raise that minority’s economic value. The authors conclude that the decision to persecute the minority is dependent upon how the intensity of the shock interacts with the benefit one gains from persecution and the economic benefits gained from the presence of the minority. While their research suggested there are underlying biases against minorities, it also demonstrated that complementary economic activities between minority groups and majority groups could reduce inter-group aggression.

How Sustainable Are Benefits from Extension for Smallholder Farmers? Evidence from a Randomised Phase-Out of the BRAC Program in Uganda

January 2017

by Stephen C. Smith (George Washington University), Vida Bobić (George Washington University), Ram Fishman (Tel Aviv University), & Munshi Sulaiman (Save the Children)

IIEP Working Paper 2017-1

GW is committed to digital accessibility. If you experience a barrier that affects your ability to access content on this page, let us know via the Accessibility Feedback Form.