“Democracy and Aid Donorship” (with Andreas Fuchs), American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 13(4): 217-238, November 2021.

[Replication files: here]

[Blogpost: here]

Abstract: Almost half of the world’s states provide bilateral development assistance. While previous research takes the set of donor countries as exogenous, this article introduces a new dataset on aid giving covering all countries in the world, both rich and poor, and explores the determinants of aid donorship. It argues and shows empirically that democratic institutions support the setup of an aid program in richer countries but undermine its establishment in poorer countries. The findings hold in instrumental-variable regressions and the pattern is similar for the amount of aid.

Working Papers

Broken Promises – Evaluating an Incomplete Cash Transfer Program” (with Utz Pape and Laura Ralston) Under review.

[Working Paper: here]

Abstract: This study uses an unconditional cash grant program in South Sudan that had to be terminated due to conflict to assess the socio-economic, behavioral and psychological consequences of operational problems in development programs. We combine survey data from face-to-face interviews and data from lab experiments to study the unintended impacts of the program cancellation. Results from LATE estimations show that those participants that failed to receive the grant display a reduction in their consumption level and their trust level. Women of this subgroup also display an increase in their risk aversion. We learn about the original program design that participants that received the grants as intended increased their consumption and savings, while business skills improved only for men.

“Perceived Relative Income and Preferences for Public Good Provision” (with Anca Balietti and Tillman Eymess) Under review.

[Working paper: here]

Abstract: Guided by a theoretical framework, we study how perceived relative income affects preferences for public goods. In a randomized survey experiment, we inform respondents from India of their official income rank and elicit preferences for air quality, including actual contributions to environmental initiatives. Right-wing supporters withdraw contributions when perceived relative income increases. The effect coincides with diminished health concerns and lower intentions to utilize private protection measures against air pollution. In contrast, center-left supporters do not reduce contributions. A second survey experiment demonstrates the causality of the relationship using a novel treatment that exogenously shifts relative income perceptions.

“Strategic Ignorance and Perceived Control” (with Anca Balietti , Tillman Eymess, and Alice Solda) Under review.

[Working paper: here]

[Blogpost: here]

Abstract: Information can trigger unpleasant emotions. As a result, individuals might be tempted to willfully ignore it. We experimentally investigate whether increasing perceived control can mitigate strategic ignorance. Participants from India were presented with a choice to receive information about the health risk associated with air pollution and later asked to recall it. We find that perceived control leads to a substantial improvement in information retention. Moreover, perceived control mostly benefits optimists, who show both a reduction in information avoidance and an increase in information retention. This latter result is confirmed with a US sample. A theoretical framework rationalizes these findings.

“Move on up – Electrification and Internal Migration in Nigeria”

[Working paper: here]

Abstract: This study uses the large scale roll-out of electric transmission infrastructure in Nigeria from 2009 to 2015 to quantify the effect of electrification on internal migration. I address endogenous location of electricity infrastructure by estimating effects on peripheral households not directly targeted by the policy in combination with instrumenting for the actual grid path by a hypothetical least cost grid. Results show an increase in individual migration propensity by 6 percent and a reduction of household size by 0.8 individuals, mainly driven by young adults and older teenagers. This result can be explained by an increased access to credit due with a coinciding lack of employment generation for the younger sub-population. Results from a gravity model of migration show a reduction in the elasticity of migration with respect to movement costs and a rise in migration to rural, electrified destinations following the electricity supply shock.en by young adults and older teenagers. Theoretically, this result can be explained by rising household incomes with a coinciding lack of employment generation for this sub-population. Results from a gravity model of migration show a reduction in movement costs and a rise in migration to rural, electrified destinations following the electricity supply shock.

Collected Works

“BRICS and Foreign Aid” (with Gerda Asmus and Andreas Fuchs) in The World Scientific Reference on the Economies of the BRICS Countries (edited by Soo Yoon Kim), World Scientific, Singapore.

[Working Paper Version: AidData Working Paper 43, August 2017]

Work in Progress

“Fostering Climate Resilience: Socio-Economic Effects of Improved Urban Drainage in Bangladesh” (with Cristina Cibin, Khalid Imran, Robin Möllerherm, and Jingke Pan) Baseline data collected.