Working papers

“Inheritance Reform, Female Empowerment, and Intergenerational Effects: Theory and Evidence from India” 2021, University of Maryland (Job Market Paper)

Land ownership is an important determinant of intra-household bargaining power in low-income countries, yet women are systematically barred from inheriting it. Granting equal access to land tenuring has the potential to improve women’s ability to make decisions within the household, particularly regarding their children. This paper examines the effect of women’s land inheritance rights on fertility and child mortality in India. I develop a household bargaining model in which granting mothers inheritance rights may affect child mortality and fertility through a land channel and a human capital channel. I empirically estimate the effect of each channel using quasi-random variation from a natural experiment in which four Indian states enacted equal rights for women to inherit joint family property between 1986 and 1994. I construct difference-in-differences estimators using variation in eligibility across marriage cohorts and religions. Using retrospective life history and fertility history data, hazard model estimates show that the reforms reduced child mortality through the land channel and reduce fertility through the human capital channel. Children with eligible mothers have a 57% lower hazard of dying before age five. Eligible women are more likely to delay their first birth and have a 32% lower hazard of having more than two children. The results imply a decrease in overall under-five mortality in reform states from about 63 deaths per 1000 live births to 59 deaths. This corresponds to 344,169 children who were saved between the reform passage years and 2005, the survey collection year.

“The Three-Gap Model of Health Worker Performance” with Kenneth Leonard, Luke Bawo, and Rianna Mohammed-Roberts, 2019. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper; no. WPS 8782.

The Three-Gap Model examines the determinants of low-quality health care by examining the patterns and determinants of three gaps. Using four measures of performance—target performance, actual performance, capacity to perform, and knowledge to perform—this paper defines three gaps for each health worker: the gap between target performance and what they have the knowledge to do (the know gap), the gap between their knowledge and their capacity to perform (the know-can gap), and the gap between their capacity and what they actually do (the can-do gap). The paper demonstrates how the patterns of these gaps across health workers in a sample can be used to diagnose failures in the system as well as evaluate the outcomes of policy experiments. Using data on pediatric care from hospitals in Liberia, the paper illustrates how the model can be used to investigate the potential for improvements in the quality of care from several possible policy interventions. The analysis of the relationships between these gaps across health workers in a health system help to paint a better picture of the determinants of performance and can assist policy makers in choosing relevant policies to improve health worker performance.

Work in progress

“Women’s Inheritance Reforms and Children’s Resilience to Climate Shocks”

This study evaluates the extent to which women’s land inheritance rights can mitigate the negative effects of climate shocks on their children. I use quasi-experimental variation from India’s 2005 national ratification of equal inheritance rights for women of specific religions. I use multiple rounds of pre- and post-reform cross-sectional data and construct district level measures of rainfall using rainfall data produced by geographers at the University of Delaware. I construct a differences-in-differences estimator for inheritance eligibility using variation in eligibility across pre- and post-reform years and across eligible and non-eligible religions. Previous research shows that children living in regions with adverse weather shocks have lower investments in education and health. This study contributes to this literature by investigating whether mothers empowered by land rights can play a protective role and improve children’s resiliency in the face of climate change.

“Impacts of Climate Policies on Emissions: Cross-Country Evidence” (with Govinda R. Timilsina and Anna Alberini)

Climate change poses one of the greatest challenges to sustainable economic growth and efforts to eliminate extreme poverty. Studies show that from 2009 to 2015, increases in global CO2 emissions due to rising population and income levels were mitigated by improvements in fuel mix, reductions in emission intensity of energy, and reductions in energy intensity. This study investigates which policies are most effective in influencing these key determinants of CO2 emissions. Specifically, we examine the effect of carbon taxes, feed-in-tariffs, and renewable portfolio standards on these outcomes using country-level panel data from 2000 to 2019.