Munir Squires

Assistant Professor at the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia.

Download CV

Research Interests

Development economics

Kinship and culture


Vancouver School of Economics

6000 Iona Drive

Vancouver, BC Canada, V6T 1L4


Linking Mobile Money Networks to “e-ROSCAs”: An Experimental Study (with Patrick Francois)

Science Advances, Jan 2021

Health Knowledge and Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa (with Anne E. Fitzpatrick, Sabrin A. Beg, Laura C. Derksen, Anne Karing, Jason T. Kerwin, Adrienne Lucas, Natalia Ordaz Reynoso)

Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2021

Working papers

Links and legibility: Making sense of historical U.S. Census automated linking methods (with Arkadev Ghosh and Sam Il Myoung Hwang)

Revision requested, The Journal of Business and Economic Statistics

This paper explores the effect of handwriting legibility on the performance of algorithms that link individuals across census rounds. We propose a measure of legibility which we implement at scale for the 1940 US Census, and find strikingly wide variation in enumerator-level legibility. Using boundary discontinuities in enumeration districts, we estimate the causal effect of low legibility on the performance of a set of popular automated linking algorithms. We show that one algorithm out-performs the rest across the spectrum of high to low legibility, and find that it provides a better measure of 10-year interstate migration.

Kinship Taxation as a Constraint to Microenterprise Growth: Experimental Evidence from Kenya

Revision requested, The Economic Journal

This paper documents strong pressure on productive entrepreneurs in a developing country setting to share their income. This ‘kinship tax’ can distort productive decisions, including investment. I conduct a lab experiment with a sample of 1805 Kenyans to quantify the importance of this tax. In my sample, one in three men men and one in five women face distortionary pressure to share income. Strikingly, this share is strongly increasing in ability, suggesting potentially large aggregate production consequences. Male entrepreneurs who receive cash grants expand their business only if they do not face distortionary kinship taxation as measured in the lab.

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 bans on cousin marriage. Our measure of cousin marriage comes from the excess frequency of samesurname marriages, a method borrowed from population genetics that we apply to millions of marriage records from the 18th to the 20th century. Using census data, we first show that married cousins are more rural and have lower-paying occupations. We then turn to an event study analysis to understand how cousin marriage bans affected outcomes for treated birth cohorts. We find that these bans led individuals from families with high rates of cousin marriage to migrate off farms and into urban areas. They also gradually shift to higher-paying occupations. We also observe increased dispersion: individuals from these families start to live in a wider set of locations and adopt more diverse occupations. Our results are consistent with this increased mobility being driven by the social and cultural effects of dispersed family ties rather than a genetic channel. Notably, the bans also caused more people to live in institutional settings for the elderly, infirm or destitute, suggesting weaker support from kin.

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.

Selection and Impact of Modern Industrial Employment: Field Experimental Evidence from a Chinese Factory in Tanzania (with David Yang and Noam Yuchtman)