Essays in development economics
Title: Essays in development economics
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2018
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Economics
This dissertation studies the nexus between weak institutions, epidemic disease and conﬂict. In the ﬁrst chapter I provide descriptive evidence of an empirical pattern found across countries that introduces the two main chapters of the dissertation. Countries with higher incidence of disease outbreaks are more likely to exhibit civil violence, conditional on population and income. This eﬀect varies, however, with institutions and health expenditure. The relationship disappears in countries with above average political rights or above average civil liberties. There is some evidence that health investments last year also diminish the relationship between disease outbreaks this year and civil violence next year. This descriptive evidence suggests that while disease outbreaks are associated with social unrest, this depends on the particular institutions at hand and there is scope for public policy interventions that halt both the burden of disease and civil conﬂict. The second chapter, co-authored with Elena Esposito, seeks to identify the causal impact of a rapidly spreading epidemic on civil violence in the context of the largest Ebola outbreak in history, in Western Africa. The identiﬁcation strategy relies on the epidemiological features of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). We exploit the dynamics of the disease and weekly frequency data at the local level to analyze the eﬀect of new infections on riots, protests and violence against institutional authorities. The impacts are large, localized and tied to containment eﬀorts. The results suggest that state coercion and demand for public goods are mechanisms fueling conﬂict. Containing the epidemic requires a change in cultural practices which leads to social unrest, especially for groups facing higher costs of cultural adaptation, low trust in institutional authorities and depending on the response of the state. This further deepens mistrust in institutions after the epidemic, especially among these communities. In the third and last chapter I study the impact of local radios on the spread of a major epidemic in the context of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea in 2014-16. This is a unique setting to explore the role of media as a coordination device to change cultural norms in a high stakes environment. Using original data collected in Guinea and a quasi-experimental design based on exogenous variation in radio signal reception by distinct media outlets, combined with the precise timing of distinct information campaigns about Ebola, I seek to identify the eﬀect of local radios on the spread of the disease, social resistance and treatment uptake. The results show that sustained access to a local radio program in forming about protective measures, encouraging treatment, addressing Ebola rumors and new burial practices, lowered social resistance behavior, increased treatment uptake and led to a drop in infected cases seven months after the start of the campaign. Access to local radios aﬀected cultural norms, such as burial practices, and facilitated technological adoption, but there is no evidence of impacts on private actions, such as chlorine use.
LC Subject Heading: Economic development; Development economics; Developing countries -- Economic policy
Table of Contents:
-- 1 Epidemic Disease and Conﬂict: Stylized facts -- 1.1 Introduction -- 1.2 Data -- 1.3 Correlates of Civil Conﬂict -- 1.4 Event study -- 1.5 Conclusion -- 2 Epidemics and Conﬂict: Evidence from the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa -- 2.1 Introduction -- 2.2 Background -- 2.3 Data -- 2.4 Empirical strategy -- 2.4.1 Epidemic spread and civil violence -- 2.4.2 Drivers of civil violence -- 2.4.3 Long-run Impacts on Trust -- 2.4.4 Robustness checks -- 2.5 Conclusion -- 3 Local Media and the Spread of Ebola: Evidence from Guinea -- 3.1 Introduction -- 3.2 Background -- 3.3 Conceptual framework -- 3.4 Data -- 3.5 Empirical Strategy -- 3.5.1 Local radios and the spread of Ebola -- 3.5.2 Mechanisms -- 3.5.3 Robustness and validity checks -- 3.6 Conclusion -- Bibliography
Defence date: 12 October 2018; Examining Board: Prof. Jérôme Adda, European University Institute and Bocconi University (Supervisor); Prof. Michèle Belot, European University Institute; Prof. Noam Yuchtman, UC-Berkeley; Prof. Eliana La Ferrara, Bocconi University
Type of Access: openAccess
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