We discuss how evidence and theory can be combined to provide insight on the appropriate subsidy level for health products, focusing on the specific case of deworming. Although intestinal worm infections can be treated using safe, low-cost drugs, some have challenged the view that mass school-based deworming should be a policy priority. We review well-identified research which both uses experimental or quasi-experimental methods to demonstrate causal relationships and adequately accounts for epidemiological externalities from deworming treatment, including studies of deworming campaigns in the Southern United States, Kenya, and Uganda. The existing evidence shows consistent positive impacts on school participation in the short run and on academic test scores, employment, and income in the long run, while suggesting that most parents will not pay for deworming treatment that is not fully subsidized. There is also evidence for a fiscal externality through higher future tax revenue, which may exceed the cost of the program. Our analysis suggests that the economic benefits of school-based deworming programs are likely to exceed their costs in places where worm infestations are endemic. This would likely be the case even if the benefits were only a fraction of estimates in the existing literature.
140 countries have adopted bans on exports of antiquities, in part because these are seen as needed to protect cultural heritage for future generations. However, if enforcement is imperfect, export bans may be counterproductive, spurring the growth of a black market trade which can damage objects and obscure the archaeological record. We argue that allowing fixed-duration, long-term leases of antiquities or sales contracts with a pre-arranged repurchase option could achieve most of the goals of export bans while at the same time raising revenue for the source country and improving incentives for maintenance and revelation of antiquities in de facto private hands. While option contracts may be useful in the presence of credit constraints because they shift more revenue forward, leases are optimal mechanisms for resolving hold up and more robustly protect antiquities whenofficials in charge of cultural patrimony may be corrupt.
Scholars have long speculated about education’s political impacts, variously arguing that it promotes modern or pro-democratic attitudes; that it instills acceptance of existing authority; and that it empowers the disadvantaged to challenge authority. To avoid endogeneity bias, if schooling requires some willingness to accept authority, we assess the political and social impacts of a randomized girls’ merit scholarship incentive program in Kenya that raised test scores and secondary schooling. We find little evidence for modernization theory. Consistent with the empowerment view, young women in program schools were less likely to accept domestic violence. Moreover, the program increased objective political knowledge, and reduced acceptance of political authority. However, this rejection of the status quo did not translate into greater perceived political efficacy, community participation, or voting intentions. Instead, the perceived legitimacy of political violence increased. Reverse causality may help account for the view that education instills greater acceptance of authority.
We model farmers as facing small fixed costs of purchasing fertilizer, and assume some are stochastically present-biased and not fully sophisticated about this bias. Such farmers may procrastinate, postponing fertilizer purchases until later periods, when they may be too impatient to purchase fertilizer. Consistent with the model, many farmers in Western Kenya fail to take advantage of apparently profitable fertilizer investments, but they do invest in response to small, time-limited discounts on the cost of acquiring fertilizer (free delivery) just after harvest. Calibration suggests that this policy can yield higher welfare than either laissez faire or heavy subsidies.
To the extent that students benefit from high-achieving peers, tracking will help strong students and hurt weak ones. However, all students may benefit if tracking allows teachers to better tailor their instruction level. Lower-achieving pupils are particularly likely to benefit from tracking when teachers have incentives to teach to the top of the distribution. We propose a simple model nesting these effects, and test its implications in a randomized tracking experiment conducted with 121 primary schools in Kenya. While the direct effect of high-achieving peers is positive, tracking benefited lower-achieving pupils indirectly by allowing teachers to teach at their level.