Working Papers

Age Set vs. Kin: Culture and Financial Ties in East Africa.

with Jacob Moscona. Job Market Paper. Conditionally Accepted, American Economic Review.  [Draft]

AbstractWe study how social organization shapes patterns of economic interaction and the effects of national policy, focusing on the distinction between age-based and kin-based groups in sub-Saharan Africa. Motivated by ethnographic accounts suggesting that this distinction affects redistribution, we analyze a cash transfer program in Kenya and find that in age-based societies there are consumption spillovers within the age cohort, but not the extended family, while in kin-based societies we find the opposite. Next, we document that social structure shapes the impact of policy by showing that Uganda’s pension program had positive effects on child nutrition only in kin-based societies.

En Route: The French Colonial Army, Emigration, and Development in Morocco.

with Ariane Salem. Job Market Paper [Draft available upon request]

Abstract: Between 1830 and 1962, six million Africans living under colonial rule served in the French army.  Most were deployed internationally to maintain order or fight French wars.  After independence, all were repatriated and granted the right to move to France. We estimate the effect of military deployment on the soldiers' long-term outcomes,  as well as on their communities of origin,  using historical data on Moroccan soldiers, and exploiting the arbitrary assignment of troops to international locations. We show that, within a municipality,  cohorts with a higher share of soldiers deployed to France were more likely to relocate there after independence. In contrast, deployment to other locations did not affect emigration.  Consistent with the establishment of emigration networks, we find that the effects persist for decades after independence. Furthermore, communities with a higher share of soldiers deployed to France have experienced better economic outcomes and a shift from the agricultural to the service sector today. These results highlight the role that colonial rule played in shaping emigration networks from the colonies and in contributing to persistent changes in their patterns of economic development.

Mass Media and Racial Protests: Evidence from the United States.

[Draft available upon request]

Abstract: Do mass media affect protests? And how? I address these questions by studying racial protests in the United States between 1954 and 1970. I first exploit the exogenous variation in the timing of television introduction caused the Federal Communications Commission "freeze" to estimate the causal effect of TV on protests outbreak. I then complement the analysis with variation in over-the-air signal strength due to topography and climate as an additional source of exogeneity. I find a positive and significant effect of TV on the probability of a protests outbreak and on the likelihood that a protest is initiated by African Americans. Finally, I extend the analysis by disentangling the channels through which television has influenced demonstrations. I find that TV served as a d that African American role models depicted in TV series likely influenced demonstrators’ ambitions.

Selected Research in Progress

Migration, Misreporting, and Selection Neglect.

  with Francesca Miserocchi.

Digitizing the Ethnographic Survey of Africa: New Data on Pre-Colonial sub-Saharan African Culture and Politics

  with Sara Lowes, Jacob Moscona, and Nathan Nunn