Will Urban Migrants Formally Insure their Rural Relatives? Family Networks and Rainfall Index Insurance in Burkina Faso (with Zaki Wahhaj)
Abstract: We present findings from a pilot study exploring whether and how existing ties between urban migrants and rural farmers may be used to provide the latter improved access to formal insurance. Urban migrants in Ouagadougou (the capital of Burkina Faso) originating from nearby villages were offered, at the prevailing market price, a rainfall index insurance product that can potentially protect their rural relatives from adverse weather shocks. The product had an uptake of 22% during the two-week subscription window. Uptake rates were higher by 17-22 ppts among urban migrants who were randomly offered an insurance policy that would make pay-outs directly to the intended beneficiary rather than the subscriber. We argue that rainfall index insurance can complement informal risk-sharing networks by mitigating problems of informational asymmetry and self-control issues. Related post at IPA website

Cash Transfers and Child Schooling: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation of the Role of Conditionality 
(with Richard Akresh and Damien de Walque)
Abstract: We conduct a randomized experiment in rural Burkina Faso to estimate the impact of alternative cash transfer delivery mechanisms on education. The two-year pilot program randomly distributed cash transfers that were either conditional (CCT) or unconditional (UCT). Families under the CCT schemes were required to have their children ages 7-15 enrolled in school and attend classes regularly. There were no such requirements under the unconditional programs. Results indicate that UCTs and CCTs have a similar impact increasing the enrollment of children who are traditionally favored by parents for school participation, including boys, older children, and higher ability children. However, CCTs are significantly more effective than UCTs in improving the enrollment of “marginal children” who are initially less likely to go to school, such as girls, younger children, and lower ability children. Thus, conditionality plays a critical role in benefiting children who are less likely to receive investments from their parents.
Also available as a World Bank Policy Research Working Paper. See related blog post

Rural Demography, Public Services and Land Rights in Africa: A Village-Level Analysis in Burkina Faso (with William Masters and Margaret McMillan).
Abstract: This paper uses historical census data from Burkina Faso to characterize local demographic pressures associated with internal migration into river valleys after Onchocerciasis eradication, combined with a new survey of village elders to document change over time and differences across villages in local public goods provision, market institutions and land use rights. We hypothesize that higher local population densities are associated with more public goods and a transition from open-access to regulated land use. Controlling for province or village fixed effects, we find that villages’ variance in population associated with proximity to rivers is closely correlated with higher levels of infrastructure, markets and individual land rights, as opposed to familial or communal rights. Responding to population growth with both improved public services and private property rights is consistent with both scale effects in public good provision, and changes in the scarcity of land. Also available as NBER  working paper 17718

Child Labor, Schooling, and Child Ability (
Richard Akresh, Emilie Bagby and Damien de Walque)
Abstract: Using data we collected in rural Burkina Faso, we examine how children’s cognitive abilities influence resource constrained households’ decisions to invest in their education. To address the potential endogeneity of current measures of child ability, we use rainfall shocks in the child’s village that were experienced in utero or during early childhood to instrument for cognitive ability. Negative rainfall shocks experienced in utero lead to 0.24 standard deviations lower ability z-scores and that corresponds with a 38 percent drop in enrollment and a 49 percent increase in the number of hours of child labor compared to their siblings. Negative education impacts are largest for shocks experienced in utero, diminished for shocks before age two, and have no impact for shocks after age two. Results are consistent with alternative education and child labor outcomes, and are robust to placebo tests focusing on rainfall shocks prior to the child being in utero.

Child Ability and Household Human Capital Investment Decisions in Burkina Faso (with Richard Akresh, Emilie Bagby and Damien de Walque)
Abstract: Using data they collected in rural Burkina Faso, the authors examine how children’s cognitive abilities influence resource constrained households’ decisions to invest in their education. This paper uses a direct measure of child ability for all primary school-aged children, regardless of current school enrollment. The analysis explicitly incorporates direct measures of the ability of each child’s siblings (both absolute and relative measures) to show how sibling rivalry exerts an impact on the parents’ decision of whether and how much to invest in their child’s education. The findings indicate that children with one standard deviation higher own ability are 16 percent more likely to be currently enrolled, while having a higher ability sibling lowers current enrollment by 16 percent and having two higher ability siblings lowers enrollment by 30 percent. The results are robust to addressing the potential reverse causality of schooling influencing child ability measures and using alternative cognitive tests to measure ability.
Also available as a World Bank Policy Research Working  Paper

The impact of the food crisis on adherence to antiretroviral treatment and on treatment success among HIV/AIDS patients in Mozambique (with Damien de Walque, Mead Over and Julia Vaillant)
Abstract: People living with HIV/AIDS in Africa are among the most vulnerable because of the debilitating effect of the illness, which prevents them from having an income-generating activity. As highly active anti-retroviral treatments are developed, and access to this therapy scaled-up, they are able to improve their health to a point of living a normal life. The treatment, however, requires to be taken in certain conditions, such as after a nutritious meal, and can be costly in terms of travel to the health facility, even if the drug regimen is subsidized. In this context, the impact of a food crisis on welfare, and in particular, on food consumption, can have a very negative impact of adherence to treatment and health outcomes. To test this hypothesis, we use data from a longitudinal survey carried out in Mozambique in 2007 and 2008, which was designed to include households with HIV positive individuals as well as comparison households with no identified HIV positive members. Food grain prices have risen by 150% between January 2006 and June 2008, with about 40% of that rise that occurred in just the first half of 2008. We find that, as a likely effect of the food crisis, there has been a real deterioration of welfare in terms of income, food consumption and nutritional status in Mozambique between 2007 and 2008, among both HIV and comparison households. However, HIV households have not suffered more from the crisis than others. We conjecture that initiation of treatment and better services in the health facilities have counter-balanced the effect of the crisis by improving the health of patients and their labor force participation.

HIV/AIDS Services Delivery and Overall Quality of Care and Satisfaction in Burkina Faso: Are There Privileged Patients (with Seni Kouanda, Laetitia N. Ouedraogo, Elisa Rothenbuhler, Mead Over and Damien de Walque)
Abstract: We use health facility level survey which was administered to health staff and outpatients to assess healthcare quality, and evaluate the extent to which health care quality is related to costs, and whether costs and quality differ for HIV/AIDS related patients. We measure health care quality by patients’ self-reported satisfaction and a vignette score assessing the quality of healthcare practices.  We find that consulting for HIV-related services, while not more costly to patients significantly increases the quality of care received. Consulting for HIV/AIDS also increases substantially the time spent waiting to be served. The wealth of patients does not affect care quality, but helps in reducing waiting time, in particular for HIV patients. Our findings are robust to controlling for health facility level fixed effects.

Educational and Health Impact of Two School Feeding Schemes: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in Rural Burkina Faso (with Daminen de Walque and Harold Alderman)
Abstract: This paper uses a prospective randomized trial to assess the impact of two school feeding schemes on health and education outcomes for children from low-income households in northern rural Burkina Faso. The two school feeding programs under consideration are, on the one hand, school meals where students are provided with lunch each school day, and, on the other hand, take home rations which provide girls with 10 kg of cereal flour each month, conditional on 90 percent attendance rate. After the program ran for one academic year, both programs increased girls’ enrollment by 5 to 6 percentage points.  While there was no observable significant impact on raw scores on mathematics, the time-adjusted scores on mathematics improved slightly for girls.  The interventions caused absenteeism to increase in households who are low in child labor supply while absenteeism decreased for households which have a relatively large child labor supply, consistent with the labor constraints.  Finally, for younger siblings of beneficiaries, aged between 12 and 60 months, take-home rations have increased weight-for-age by .38 standard deviations and weight-for-height by .33 standard deviations.  In contrast, school meals did not have any significant impact on the nutrition of younger children.
Also available as a World Bank Policy Research Working  Paper

The Intra-Household Economics of Polygyny: Fertility and Child Health in Rural Mali (with Stefan Klonner)
Abstract:  Building on anthropological evidence, we develop a model of intra-household decision making on fertility and child survival within the framework of the collective household model. We carry out a test of the implications of this framework with data from Demographic and Health Surveys in rural Mali, where polygyny rates among married women are close to 50 per cent. The econometric tests reject the implications of efficient intrahousehold allocations for junior wives in bigynous households and fail to reject for senior wives in bigynous households as well as for wives in monogamous households. These findings are consistent with existent narrative evidence according to which co-wife rivalry is responsible for resource-consuming struggle and junior wives are the adults with the weakest bargaining position in the household.

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