Sen Chakraborty, K., Chakraborty, A., & Berrens, R. P. (2023). Valuing soil erosion control investments in Nigerian agricultural lands: A hedonic pricing model. World Development, 170. Link

The effects of climate change are often writ large in the nexus of water and land. In Nigeria, predominantly rainfed agriculture is confronting the consequences of climate extremes in the form of excessive rainfall, especially in the southern region. Relatedly, the hazard of soil erosion represents one of the most pressing forms of land degradation, thereby threatening agricultural production and farmers’ livelihoods. The objective of this analysis is to estimate the economic value of investing in a climate change adaptation strategy, specifically soil erosion control measures on agricultural lands in Nigeria. The analysis employs a hedonic pricing model, using household-level self-reported land values from the Nigeria Living Standards Measurement Survey, 2015-2016 and 2018-2019. Results indicate that undertaking soil erosion control facilities is heavily capitalized into Nigerian agricultural land values. The estimated marginal implicit price (MIP) for undertaking soil erosion control is approximately 26% of mean land values. This value represents around half the annual nominal median income of a Nigerian agrarian household. The estimated MIP of soil erosion control adoption is positive in areas that experience moderate rainfall. Results are maintained across a variety of robustness checks. Our findings suggest that soil erosion control adoption can be an important source of wealth creation among smallholder farmers who are mainly engaged in subsistence farming. Results support wider adoption of erosion control by landowners in accordance with highly variable weather patterns, and more broadly suggest the need to recognize the long-term gains from climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices and target investment aid towards sustainable agriculture.

Sen, K. (2018). Poverty, Economic Inequality and Polarization: A District-Wise Analysis of Maharashtra, Indian Journal of Human Development, 12(3), 420-440.  Link 

This article presents a new set of poverty, economic inequality and polarization estimates for all districts of Maharashtra based on the Modified Mixed Recall Period (MMRP) estimates of consumption expenditure from the National Sample Survey (NSS) Consumer Expenditure survey rounds 66th (2009–2010) and 68th (2011–2012). The broad picture emerging from these revised estimates is that poverty has declined during the reference period in rural as well urban sectors. However, perceptible differences between rural and urban sectors in all measures of poverty were identified along with a disaggregated study of the districts where the magnitude of poverty and inequality has been alarming and needs policy attention. The pattern of clustering of population around poles defined by MPCE has been studied by employing indices of polarization. These indicate that polarization has increased in rural sector and decreased in urban sector over the reference period. 


Teen Parent Trap? The Education and Labor Market Implications of Motherhood and Fatherhood during the transition from Adolescence to Adulthood in Cebu, the Philippines (with Kira M. Villa)   Link

For both males and females, adolescent parenthood can affect human capital investments and labor market choices during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. However, only scant evidence exists on the educational and labor implications of adolescent motherhood in developing countries and there is none on adolescent fatherhood. Using fixed effects, linear, and hazard models on a matched sample, we examine the association between early parenthood and education and labor market outcomes for a cohort of adolescents using longitudinal data from Cebu, the Philippines. While we find that early parenthood is associated with poorer educational outcomes for both teen mothers and fathers, the association is stronger for mothers. Upon becoming parents, labor market participation reduces for teen mothers but increases for teen fathers. Teen parents (both mothers and fathers) face a higher hazard of leaving school early, but teen fathers exhibit a substantially higher hazard of entering the labor market earlier. In young adulthood, conditional on working, both teen mothers and fathers are more likely to be informally employed. This paper highlights the potential gains from delaying first childbirth for adolescent males and females.


Featured in World Bank's Development Impact Blog  

Adolescence is a period of high growth characterized by numerous biological and physiological changes. However, there is scarce evidence on the impact of interventions such as cash transfers on adolescent nutritional outcomes. We examine the effect of the Child Support Grant (CSG), an unconditional means-tested grant provided to age-eligible poor children in South Africa, on Body Mass Index (BMI)-for-age z-scores and the likelihood of being underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. Using rich panel data, our study exploits the changes in the age eligibility criterion implemented in 2010 and 2012 as the source of exogenous birth cohort variation in the receipt of CSG. We employ a fuzzy regression discontinuity design and find that CSG improves female nutrition outcomes. While grant receipt increases BMI z-scores and the probability of being overweight, it decreases the probability of being underweight or obese among female beneficiaries. We find negligible effects on the nutritional status of male beneficiaries, except an increase in BMI at the lowest end of the distribution. While cash transfers may increase the health risks associated with being overweight for females, such welfare programs alleviate extreme forms of malnutrition among females during the critical period of adolescence.

African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) Published Policy Brief 

Rural households employ a number of strategies to cope with weather variability, including school-work transitions of adolescents and changes in human capital investments. Using rich longitudinal data from rural South Africa linked with geospatial data on climate indicators, we examine the effect of rainfall realizations on the schooling and work decisions and education expenditures of adolescents and young adults. We exploit the exogenous within-individual variation in exposure to district-level rainfall realizations over time. Our results suggest that current and lagged growing-season rainfall increases adolescent human capital investments on the intensive margin among both female and male adolescents. While current rainfall decreases labor market participation among adolescents in non-agricultural households, current rainfall increases female labor supply in agricultural households. We also find that previous-period rainfall positively affects work propensity among all male adolescents. Our results document schooling and labor supply adjustments among adolescents in agricultural as well as non-agricultural households, in response to rainfall fluctuations. 

In response to adverse weather shocks, rural households diversify risk by engaging in formal employment, mostly characterized by off-farm jobs, higher wages, and better protection. I examine the differential gender effect of agricultural productivity shocks on informal employment in rural South Africa. Using rich longitudinal data matched with geospatial climate indicators, I exploit the temporal and spatial variation in district-level rainfall. Results indicate that conditional on working, drought shocks decrease the probability of informal employment on the extensive and intensive margins among females and increase work intensity in formal jobs, especially in the agricultural sector occupations. Male workers are better shielded from the effects of weather adversities. Investigating the role of educational attainment, I find that education mitigates the impact of such shocks and enables women to cope by diversifying into formal work. These results indicate that drought shocks are likely to exacerbate existing gender inequalities in rural labor markets.

New Mexico Prekindergarten and its Short-Term Effects on County-Level Female Employment and Child Maltreatment (with Abhradeep Karmakar and Kira M. Villa)  Link 

In the paper, we examine the near-term association between state prekindergarten support and county-level rates of female labor market participation and child maltreatment. We find that increasing county-level prekindergarten funding by $1 per capita is associated with an increase of the county employment rate for women with children under age 6 by 0.35% on average, with larger effects at lower levels of absolute per capita funding. Each additional dollar per capita is also associated with a reduction in the county child victimization rate by 0.10 of a child per 1000, on average. The effects on child victimization increase with funding levels, with larger reductions in child victimization at higher levels of per capita prekindergarten funding. 

Can everyone dream big?: Measuring the capacity to aspire of children and young adults in rural India (with Prachi Agarwal, Social Shapes Foundation)   

There is growing attention among development researchers toward the role of alleviating internal constraints in poverty reduction. Aspirations of the poor are often limited by their social and economic deprivations, and lack of agency to engage in future-oriented behavior. Building the capacity to aspire of children and youth during the critical period of adolescence and young adulthood offers a route out of poverty. This paper develops a framework that measures the capacity to aspire of 10 to 24 year olds in rural India. The framework identifies factors within an ecosystem around an individual that determine their capacity to aspire. We aim to use primary data sampled from rural districts in India to create Aspirations indices at the individual, household, and community level. At the individual level, based on Sen’s Capability Approach, we aim to integrate the concepts of Functioning, Capability, and Aspirations. Through this framework we will identify various leverage points within this ecosystem that can help enhance the capacity to aspire among children and young adults, and contribute to better adult socio-economic outcomes. Our results will facilitate a comparative analysis across districts and highlight the importance of alleviation of internal constraints relative to external constraints in developing the capacity to aspire.

Learning Disruption, Digital Divide, and COVID-19 Management Measures in India  (with Abhradeep Karmakar, Soumyajit Chakraborty, and Avinandan Chakraborty) 

School closures as a preventive strategy for the spread of COVID-19 has led to a learning disruption among children in most countries. We study the efficacy of a set of pandemic management measures (PMM) adopted by the Government of India in dampening the adverse impact of COVID-19 on children’s education. By adopting a simple theoretical framework, we conduct comparative statics to analyze the effects of policies such as strict social distancing, provision of online classes, and stimulus packages on the net benefit from education. Our study suggests that while mandates of school closure can diminish the adverse effect on the net benefit from education, keeping children away from school for extended periods may hamper their learning potential. We posit that provision of online classes can aid the recovery in decline in net benefits. However, due to the prevalence of digital divide among students, ones facing acute inaccessibility of online classes experience a greater disruption in learning than their peers, who do not face such technological barriers. With the implementation of a targeted stimulus package, learning disruption tends to be lower for technologically deprived students. From a policy perspective, we recommend that a targeted education stimulus package to prevent learning disruption has the potential to decelerate the decline in net benefits from education in times of a crisis. 


Early Childhood Interventions in New Mexico: Short and Medium Term outcomes 

Funded by New Mexico Legislative Council

Principal Investigators - Kira Villa and Melissa Binder, UNM

Aspirations Index-Measure the Aspirations Ecosystem 

Principal Investigator- Prachi Agarwal, Social Shapes Foundation