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Owen Ozier and John Ikoluot at school compound, Western Province, Kenya. [Photo: Pamela Jakiela]

Recruitment, Effort, and Retention Effects of Performance Contracts for Civil Servants: Experimental Evidence from Rwandan Primary Schools
American Economic Review, 2021 111(7): 2213-46
Joint with Clare Leaver, Pieter Serneels, and Andrew Zeitlin
(Previous version: World Bank WPS 9395)
[Pre-analysis plan and trial registry: Leaver, Ozier, Serneels, and Zeitlin 2018. "Recruitment, effort, and retention effects of performance contracts for civil servants: Experimental evidence from Rwandan primary schools." AEA RCT Registry. ]
[2018 BITSS + Development Impact blog post on the associated pre-analysis plan: Power to the Plan (Development Impact link) (BITSS link) ]
Abstract:  This paper reports on a two-tiered experiment designed to separately identify the selection and effort margins of pay-for-performance (P4P). At the recruitment stage, teacher labor markets were randomly assigned to a 'pay-for-percentile' or fixed-wage contract. Once recruits were placed, an unexpected, incentive-compatible, school-level re-randomization was performed, so that some teachers who applied for a fixed-wage contract ended up being paid by P4P, and vice versa. By the second year of the study, the within-year effort effect of P4P was 0.16 standard deviations of pupil learning, with the total effect rising to 0.20 standard deviations after allowing for selection.

Randomized control trial as social observatory: A case study
World Development, March 2020, 127: 104787.
Joint with Sarah Baird and Joan Hamory Hicks
Abstract:  Critics of randomized control trials (RCTs) in development economics argue that this methodology lends itself to ‘smaller’ questions with limited relevance to policy or economics. Using the seminal work of Miguel and Kremer (2004) on a school-based deworming intervention in Kenya as a case study, we argue that RCTs can spearhead policy change, serve as a laboratory to test economic theories and develop cutting-edge empirical methods, or do both. This does not happen in a vacuum, but through thoughtful design embedded in a broader research and policy agenda. Here, we describe a family of studies built on Miguel and Kremer (2004), shedding light on factors that supported the generation of evidence and insights far beyond the near-term RCT result. As in any piece of social sciences research, this descriptive evidence may not be externally valid in all settings. We nevertheless hope the lessons it offers will inspire others to examine these possibilities in their own research.

The Impact of Violence on Individual Risk Preferences: Evidence from a Natural Experiment
Review of Economics and Statistics, 101(3): 547-559.
Joint with Pamela Jakiela
Revised April 2016 as IZA Discussion Paper 9870
(Earlier version appears as World Bank WPS 7440; also appears as Households in Conflict Network working paper 204; also available from SSRN.)

Podcast: 20-minute interview on Four Questions by Alice Evans, March 2018
Abstract:  We estimate the impact of Kenya's post-election violence on individual risk preferences. Because the crisis interrupted a longitudinal survey of more than five thousand Kenyan youth, this timing creates plausibly exogenous variation in exposure to civil conflict by the time of the survey. We measure individual risk preferences using hypothetical lottery choice questions which we validate by showing that they predict migration and entrepreneurship in the cross-section. Our results indicate that the post-election violence sharply increased individual risk aversion. Findings remain robust when we use an IV estimation strategy that exploits random assignment of respondents to waves of surveying.

Motivating Bureaucrats through Social Recognition - a Tale of Two States
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes,
Accepted May 2019.
Joint with Varun Gauri, Julian Jamison, and Nina Mazar
Click for abstract and article details

Replication Redux: The Reproducibility Crisis and the Case of Deworming
World Bank Research Observer,
Accepted April 2019.
(Earlier version appears as World Bank WPS 8835.)

Multilingual assessment of early child development: Analyses from repeated observations of children in Kenya
Developmental Science, 22(5): e12875, 2019.
Joint with Heather A. Knauer, Patricia Kariger, Pamela Jakiela, and Lia C. H. Fernald.
(Earlier version appears as World Bank WPS 9028)

Enhancing young children’s language acquisition through parent–child book-sharing: A randomized trial in rural Kenya
Early Childhood Research Quarterly,
Accepted January 2019.
Joint with Heather A. Knauer, Pamela Jakiela, Frances Aboud, and Lia C. H. Fernald.
(Earlier version appears as World Bank WPS 8733 and as CGD Working Paper 502.)
Exploiting Externalities to Estimate the Long-term Effects of Early Childhood Deworming
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
2018 10(3):235-262
Earlier version appears as World Bank WPS 7052; also available from SSRN.)

The Impact of Secondary Schooling in Kenya:  A Regression Discontinuity Analysis
Journal of Human Resources (2018) 53 (1): 157-188
(Earlier version appears as World Bank WPS 7384; also available from SSRN.)
Abstract:  I estimate the impacts of secondary school on human capital, occupational choice, and fertility for young adults in Kenya. Probability of admission to government secondary school rises sharply at a score close to the national mean on a standardized 8th grade examination, permitting me to estimate causal effects of schooling in a regression discontinuity framework. I combine administrative test score data with a recent survey of young adults to estimate these impacts. My results show that secondary schooling increases human capital, as measured by performance on cognitive tests included in the survey. For men, I find a drop in the probability of low-skill self-employment, as well as suggestive evidence of a rise in the probability of formal employment. The opportunity to attend secondary school also reduces teen pregnancy among women.

Commentary. Fixed effects and risks of miscommunication: a comment on Jullien, Sinclair and Garner (ungated copy)
International Journal of Epidemiology, (2016) 45 (6): 2156-2158

Does Africa Need a Rotten Kin Theorem?  Experimental Evidence from Village Economies
Review of Economic Studies
(2016) 83 (1): 231-268
Joint with Pamela Jakiela
Earlier version appears as World Bank WPS 6085; also available from SSRN.)

Abstract:  This paper measures the economic impacts of social pressures to share income with kin and neighbors in rural Kenyan villages. We conduct a lab experiment in which we randomly vary the observability of investment returns to test whether subjects reduce their income in order to keep it hidden. We find that women adopt an investment strategy that conceals the size of their initial endowment in the experiment, though that strategy reduces their expected earnings. This effect is largest among women with relatives attending the experiment. Parameter estimates suggest that women anticipate that observable income will be "taxed" at a rate above four percent; this effective tax rate nearly doubles when kin can observe income directly. At the village level, we find a robust association between willingness to forgo expected return to keep income hidden in the laboratory experiment, and worse economic outcomes outside the laboratory. Though this paper provides experimental evidence from a single African country - Kenya - observational studies suggest that similar kin pressures may be prevalent in many parts of the developing world.
Data and analysis files (hosted at RESTUD)
Data and analysis files (hosted at the World Bank Microdata Catalog)

Monitoring and evaluating the impact of national school-based deworming in Kenya: study design and baseline results
Parasites and Vectors
(2013 July) 6:198
Joint with CS Mwandawiro, B Nikolay, JH Kihara, DA Mukoko, MT Mwanje, A Hakobyan, RL Pullan, SJ Brooker, SM Njenga
Abstract:  An increasing number of countries in Africa and elsewhere are developing national plans for the control of neglected tropical diseases. A key component of such plans is school-based deworming (SBD) for the control of soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) and schistosomiasis. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of national programmes is essential to ensure they are achieving their stated aims and to evaluate when to reduce the frequency of treatment or when to halt it altogether. The article describes the M&E design of the Kenya national SBD programme and presents results from the baseline survey conducted in early 2012.

Working Papers:

Big Sisters
October 2020 (World Bank WPS 9454); Joint with Pamela Jakiela, Heather Knauer, and Lia C. H. Fernald

Gendered Language
June 2018 (World Bank WPS 8464); Joint with Pamela Jakiela
(Also available from SSRN.)

A Firm of One's Own: Experimental Evidence on Credit Constraints and Occupational Choice
February 2017 (World Bank WPS 7977); Joint with Andrew Brudevold-Newman, Maddalena Honorati, and Pamela Jakiela
(Also available from SSRN.)
(Also appears as IZA Discussion Paper 10583.)
Featured in World Bank DECRG April 2017 Research Highlights
November 2012 Blog Post at All About Finance: Microfranchising in Nairobi hits the BBC
PEDL Pilot Study Research Note
Trial Registry AEARCTR-0000459

Perils of simulation: parallel streams and the case of stata's rnormal command
November 2012 (World Bank WPS 6278); also available from SSRN.
Abstract:  Large-scale simulation-based studies rely on at least three properties of pseudorandom number sequences: they behave in many ways like truly random numbers; they can be replicated; and they can be generated in parallel. There has been some divergence, however, between empirical techniques employing random numbers, and the standard battery of tests used to validate them. A random number generator that passes tests for any single stream of random numbers may fail the same tests when it is used to generate multiple streams in parallel. The lack of systematic testing of parallel streams leaves statistical software with important potential vulnerabilities. This paper shows one such vulnerability in Stata's rnormal function that went unnoticed for almost four years, and how to detect it. It then shows practical implications for the use of parallel streams in existing software.

Research in Progress:

Rwanda: Selection and Motivational Impacts of Performance Contracts for Rwandan Primary School Teachers
Joint with Clare Leaver, Pieter Serneels, and Andrew Zeitlin.
Description at World Bank SIEF project page
Description at World Bank REACH grantees page
Trial Registry AEARCTR-0002565

Kenya: Study of private primary schools and early childhood education centers
Joint with Anthony Keats, Michael Kremer, and Isaac Mbiti.
Description (early childhood) at World Bank ELP countries page

Kenya: EMERGE Reading
Joint with Lia Fernald, Patricia Kariger, Heather Knauer, and Pamela Jakiela.
Description at World Bank ELP countries page
Description at World Bank SIEF project page
Trial Registry ISRCTN68855267
Trial Registry AEARCTR-0004425