Working Papers

The Roadblocks to Success: Evidence from India’s Road Construction Program
(Job Market Paper) [LINK]

PacDev 2023, UEA 2023, GLO Global Conference 2022, SEA 2022

Can poverty reduction programs that lead to significant increases in the demand for education, as measured by improvements in school enrollment, also improve learning? In this paper, using large-scale household survey data on math and language tests, I examine the effects of new roads on learning among school-aged children in rural India. Exploiting district-level time-varying variation in roads constructed under India’s flagship road construction program, I show that new roads decrease learning for all children, with girls and younger children experiencing a more significant decline. I find that a one standard deviation increase in the concentration of new roads within a district reduces math and reading test scores by 2-4 percent of a standard deviation. I find increased student and teacher absenteeism, as well as higher student-teacher ratios, to be the primary mechanisms driving these results. These findings highlight that increases in demand for schooling induced by the road construction program will fail to improve children’s learning unless accompanied by supply-side changes in school governance and teacher accountability.

Experimental Evidence from an Integrated Early Childhood Parenting Program in Sierra Leone (with Subha Mani, Heather Dolphin, Meredith Dyson, and Yembeh Marah) IZA DP No. 14054

NEUDC 2019, Economic Science Association 2022

We present findings from an integrated early childhood parenting program on stunting and wasting in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Importantly, where half the communities were randomly assigned to receive the parenting program and the remaining half served as a control that received standard nutritional counseling delivered through community meetings and home visits, keeping all social aspects of the intervention identical between the treatment and the control. We find that access to the intervention reduced the incidence of wasting by 3 percentage points and had no impact on stunting. We find improvements in parenting practices related to psychosocial stimulation and harsh discipline to be the primary mechanisms through which wasting declines. We find no differences in responsive parenting practices between the treatment and the control. These results suggest that integrated early childhood parenting programs when delivered alongside standard nutritional counseling via existing mother support groups have the potential to improve long-term well-being through reductions in wasting as well as improvements in parenting practices related to stimulation and harsh discipline.

Intergenerational Education Mobility in India
One of the key facilitators of economic mobility is education. Children’s ability to read and write can improve their economic prospects above and beyond the opportunities available to their parents. Motivated by India’s declining educational productivity, this paper studies intergenerational mobility in rural India to determine the extent to which parental educational outcomes determine their children’s learning.

Work in Progress

Effects of a longer school year on women’s marriage and fertility decisions in Indonesia (with Jaclyn Yap)

The production of skills in children (with Subha Mani)