Linking Mobile Money Networks to “e-ROSCAs”: An Experimental Study (with Patrick Francois)
Science Advances, Jan 2021
We present results from a study in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that uses mobile money networks to run rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs), peer-to-peer finance groups ubiquitous across the developing world. We find high rates of contribution and ROSCA success. The unexpected success of such e-ROSCAs and their potential to extend banking to the bankless poor necessitate further exploration.
Revision requested, American Economic Review
Developing country entrepreneurs face family pressure to share income. This pressure, a kinship tax, can distort capital allocations. I combine evidence from a lab experiment-which allows me to estimate an individual-level sufficient statistic for the distortion-with data I collected on a sample of Kenyan entrepreneurs, to quantify the importance of the tax. My data reveal high kinship tax rates for a third of entrepreneurs in my sample. My quantitative analysis makes use of a simple structural model of input allocation fitted to my data, and implies that removing distortions from kinship taxation would increase total factor productivity by 26%, and increase the share of workers in firms with five or more employees from 9% to 56%. These effects are substantially larger than those coming from credit market distortions, which I estimate using a cash transfer RCT. My analysis also implies strong complementarities between kinship taxation and credit constraints.
Economic consequences of kinship: Evidence from US bans on cousin marriage (with Arkadev Ghosh and Sam Il Myoung Hwang)
Close-kin marriage, by sustaining tightly-knit family structures, may impede development. We find support for this hypothesis using US state-level bans on cousin marriage. Our measure of cousin marriage comes from the excess frequency of same-surname marriages, a method borrowed from population genetics that we apply to millions of marriage records from 1800 to 1940. We show that state bans on first-cousin marriage did reduce rates of in-marriage, and that affected descendants therefore have higher incomes and more schooling. Our results are consistent with this effect being driven by weakening family ties rather than a genetic channel.
Work in progress
Family ties and migration: Evidence from historical U.S. census data (with Arkadev Ghosh and Sam Il Myoung Hwang)
While social networks are a key determinant of migration decisions, useful measures of these networks are hard to come by. This is especially so in large, population-scale datasets. We show that surnames are a useful proxy for kin-based social networks using multiple full-count rounds of the US census from the late 19th century. We validate this novel use of surnames to identify kinship ties by showing that (1) Americans are more likely to migrate to states where more people share their surname, and (2) people with more common surnames, having larger such networks, are more likely to migrate across states.
Census Linking: A Bounds Approach (with Hu Fu, Arkadev Ghosh and Sam Il Myoung Hwang)
Linking historical data at scale typically requires substantial human effort and subjective individual judgement on the quality of links. We propose a method to identify bounds on statistics of interest that requires minimal assumptions. This method is complementary to state-of-the-art approaches to linking census records. We implement our method to compute an upper and lower bound on inter-state migration rates between the 1850 and 1860 US Census. We ﬁnd a lower bound that is higher than existing estimates of inter-state migration in the literature. We discuss why our estimate is larger than past estimates, that are based on smaller and more selected samples.
Selection and Impact of Modern Industrial Employment: Field Experimental Evidence from a Chinese Factory in Tanzania (with David Yang and Noam Yuchtman)