Land tenure, peer effects, ethnicity, child health, impact evaluation, urban economics


Tribe or title? Ethnic enclaves and the demand for formal land tenure in a Tanzanian slum (2013) – CSAE Working Paper

This paper examines the relationship between ethnic heterogeneity and the demand for formal land tenure in urban Tanzania. Using a unique census of two highly-fractionalized unplanned settlements in Dar es Salaam, I show that households located near coethnics are significantly less likely to purchase a limited form of land tenure recently offered by the government. I attempt to address one of the chief concerns – endogenous sorting of households – by conditioning on a household’s choice of coethnics neighbors upon arrival in the neighborhood. I also find that coethnic residence predicts lower levels of perceived expropriation risk, but not perceived access to credit nor contribution to local public goods. These results suggest that close-knit ethnic groups may be less likely to accept state-provided goods due to their ability to generate reasonable substitutes, in this case protection from expropriation. The results are robust to different definitions of coethnicity and spatial cut-offs, controls for family ties and religious similarity as well as spatial fixed effects. Finally, the main result is confirmed using a large-scale administrative data-set covering over 20,000 land parcels in the city, exploiting ethnically-unique last names to predict tribal affiliation.

The price of empowerment: land titling and female inclusion in urban Tanzania (2012) with Daniel Ayalew Ali, Klaus Deininger, Stefan Dercon, Justin Sandefur and Andrew Zeitlin

While multiple studies have shown that a woman’s control over land is positively associated with bargaining power outcomes, few have succeeded in highlighting successful methods for increasing this control. We report on a policy experiment in an unplanned settlement in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that provided access to formal land titles to informal settlers at randomized prices, with additional price discounts conditional on designating a woman as owner or co-owner of the land in question. Results show that the household’s are highly responsive to price incentives, as households o ered a small conditional discount are roughly 30% more likely to co-title their land. Despite these large differences, households offered conditional discounts are just as likely to purchase a formal land title as those o ered general discounts. We discuss the implications of these results for the expected bargaining power impacts of the intervention.

Stuck in the middle with you: birth order and child outcomes in the Philippines (2011)

This paper investigates birth order effects on both anthropometric and education outcomes in a longitudinal survey of children from the Philippines. Birth order effects are present early in life for anthropometric outcomes, but attenuate as children approach adulthood, suggesting parents may be compensating later-born children for early disadvantages. Educational effects are similar, but are dependent on the wealth of the household, a result somewhat consistent with liquidity constraint models. Despite initially being better off than lastborns, middleborns take longer to recover from birth order effects, hinting at possible cultural bias towards lastborns.

Lining up to eat: Birth order and nutritional status in rural Ethiopia (2006) (MSc thesis)


Other writing:

“How not to help Haiti” Foreign Policy, February 2010