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O - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth

Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth

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Anonymity or Distance? Job Search and Labour Market Exclusion in a Growing African City

Do search frictions contribute to labour market exclusion in developing countries? To answer this question, we run a field experiment in a congested African city, involving a large sample of young individuals who live outside the urban centre: a group largely excluded from the formal labour market. We focus on two key mechanisms for labour market exclusion: spatial barriers and informational barriers.

The Aggregate Productivity Effects of Internal Migration: Evidence from Indonesia

We estimate the aggregate productivity gains from reducing barriers to internal labor migration in Indonesia, accounting for worker selection and spatial differences in human capital. We distinguish between movement costs, which mean workers will only move if they expect higher wages, and amenity differences, which mean some locations must pay more to attract workers. We find modest but important aggregate impacts. We estimate a 22% increase in labor productivity from removing all barriers.

When No Bad Deed Goes Punished: Relational Contracting in Ghana versus the UK

In relational contracting the threat of punishment in future periods provides an incentive to not to cheat. However, to what extent do people actually carry out this punishment? We compare relational contracting patterns in Ghana and the United Kingdom by conducting a repeated principal agent lab experiment, framed in a labour market setting. Each period, employers make offers to workers, who can choose to accept or reject this offer and, after accepting and being paid, what effort to exert. The employers and workers interact repeatedly over several periods.

Pledging, Praising, and Shaming: Experimental Labour Markets in Ghana

Firm surveys have shown that labour management in developing countries is often problematic. Earlier experimental research (Davies & Fafchamps, 2017) has shown that managers in Ghana are reluctant to use monetary incentives to motivate workers. This paper presents the results from a giftexchange game experiment in Ghana in which the worker can make a promise to the employer before a contract is offered (ex ante communication) and in which the employer can send negative or positive feedback to the worker after the worker has chosen effort (ex post communication).

The Economic Origins of Conflict in Africa

We study the impact of plausibly exogenous global food price shocks on local violence across the African continent. In food-producing areas, higher food prices reduce conflict over the control of territory (what we call “factor conflict”) and increase conflict over the appropriation of surplus (“output conflict”). We argue that this difference arises because higher prices raise the opportunity cost of soldiering for producers, while simultaneously inducing net consumers to appropriate increasingly valuable surplus as their real wages fall.

Anonymity or Distance? Experimental Evidence on the Obstacles That Young People Face in the Labour Market

Do search frictions constrain the labour market prospects of young workers? We conduct a randomised evaluation of two programmes designed to lower spatial and informational barriers to job search among 4,000 young Ethiopians. One group of subjects receives a transport subsidy. Another group participates in a workshop where their skills are certified and they receive training on how to make effective job applications. We find that both treatments significantly improve the quality of the jobs young workers obtain, and the effects are strongest for the most disadvantaged job-seekers.

Coping with Change: International Differences in the Returns to Skills

Expanded international data from the PIACC survey of adult skills allow us to analyze potential sources of the cross-country variation of comparably estimated labor-market returns to skills in a more diverse set of 32 countries. Returns to skills are systematically larger in countries that have grown faster in the recent past, consistent with models where skills are particularly important for adaption to dynamic economic change.

Banking the Unbanked? Evidence From Three Countries

We experimentally test the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts in Uganda, Malawi, and Chile. Over two years, 17 percent, 10 percent, and 3 percent of treatment individuals made five or more deposits, respectively. Average monthly deposits for them were at the 79th, 91st, and 96th percentiles of baseline savings. Survey data show no clearly discernible intention–to–treat effects on savings or any downstream outcomes.

International Isolation and Regional Inequality: Evidence from Sanctions on North Korea

This paper examines how regional inequality evolves when a country becomes increasingly isolated from economic sanctions. I hypothesize three channels: regional favoritism by the ruling elites, reallocation of commerce that reflects the change in relative trade costs, and import substitution. Using nighttime lights from North Korea, I find that the capital city, trade hubs near China, and manufacturing cities become relatively brighter when sanctions increase. However, production shifts away from capital-intensive goods, deterring industrial development.


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