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

Research in Progress:

Does Africa Need a Rotten Kin Theorem?  Experimental Evidence from Village Economies
Joint with Pamela Jakiela, revised November 2012
(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.

The Impact of Secondary Schooling in Kenya:  A Regression Discontinuity Analysis
Job market paper, revised January 2011
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.

Exploiting Externalities to Estimate the Long-term Benefits of Early Childhood Deworming
Revised June 2011
Abstract:  Intestinal helminths (worms) infect more than one billion people worldwide:  predominantly young children in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Numerous studies have shown gains in health, cognition, and school attendance among school-age children taking deworming medication. Despite promising short-term results, little is known about the long-term benefits of deworming during early childhood, a sensitive period in cognitive development.  I investigate whether a large-scale deworming intervention aimed at primary school pupils in western Kenya had long-term effects on young children in the region, exploiting positive externalities from the program to estimate the impact on younger children who did not receive treatment directly. I find large cognitive effects--equivalent to between 0.5 and 0.8 years of schooling--for children who were less than one year old when their communities received mass deworming treatment. Because mass deworming was administered through schools, I also estimate effects among children who were likely to have older siblings in school to receive the treatment directly; in this subpopulation, effects are nearly twice as large.