Publications

"Conflict, Climate and Cells: a Disaggregated Analysis"
(joint with Eliana La Ferrara)     Abstract  
Forthcoming, Review of Economics and Statistics

We conduct a disaggregated empirical analysis of civil conflict at the subnational level in Africa over 1997-2011 using a new gridded dataset. We construct an original measure of agriculture-relevant weather shocks exploiting within-year variation in weather and in crop growing season, and spatial variation in crop cover. Temporal and spatial spillovers in conflict are addressed through spatial econometric techniques. Negative shocks occurring during the growing season of local crops affect conflict incidence persistently, and local conflict spills over to neighboring cells. We use our estimates to trace the dynamic response to shocks and predict how future warming may affect violence.


"Women’s Inheritance Rights and Bargaining Power: Evidence from Kenya"   Abstract  
Forthcoming, Economic Development and Cultural Change

This paper investigates the human capital effects of a statutory law reform granting Kenyan women equal inheritance rights. I employ a difference-in-differences strategy, exploiting variation in pre-reform inheritance rights across religious groups. I find that a variety of human capital outcomes are affected: women exposed to the reform are more educated, both in absolute terms and relative to males; they are less likely to undergo genital mutilation, more likely to be medically assisted during childbirth, and they tend to delay marriage and childbearing. Moreover, there is suggestive evidence that women exposed to the reform participate more in family decisions, indicating that improved bargaining power might be the main channel. These findings suggest that legal recognition of women's inheritance rights can be beneficial for women even in a context of poor enforcement and in spite of the persistence of deep-rooted social norms.


 

Working Papers

"Cities in Bad Shape: Urban Geometry in India"     Abstract  

The spatial layout of cities is an important feature of urban form, highlighted by urban planners but overlooked by economists. This paper investigates the causal economic implications of city shape in India. I measure the geometric properties of cities over time using satellite imagery of night-time lights and historical maps. I then propose an instrument for urban shape that combines geography with a mechanical model for city expansion: cities are predicted to expand in circles of increasing sizes, and city shape is predicted by obstacles within each circle. With this instrument, I investigate how city shape affects consumer welfare and firm productivity, in a spatial equilibrium framework. Cities with more compact shapes have larger population, lower wages, and higher rents, consistent with compact shape being a consumption amenity. A one standard deviation deterioration in shape entails a 4% welfare loss for households but no productivity loss for firms. I also consider policy responses to deteriorating shape. The adverse effects of unfavorable topography are exacerbated by building height restrictions and mitigated by road infrastructure.


"Slum Upgrading and Urban Development in Indonesia"
(joint with Maisy Wong)
Draft available upon request.