"Missing Land Markets, Misallocation, Insurance, and Redistribution" (Job Market Paper)
Abstract: Does replacing use it or lose it land institutions with land markets trigger productivity growth and reallocation of labor towards non-agriculture? How does uninsurable income risk shape the benefits of land reform? I use rich panel microdata from Malawi and document higher income risk in non-agriculture. I then build a model where households face risk in non-agriculture and maintain rights to agricultural land via the principle of use it or lose it. When markets are incomplete but land is easily accessible, households can partially self-insure by returning to agriculture when non-agricultural opportunities fail. As land becomes less accessible, productive farmers disproportionately forgo profitable opportunities in non-agriculture to limit their exposure to uninsurable risk. I use moments from the Malawi microdata to estimate key model parameters via indirect inference. With only 1.3% of landless households accessing land each year in Malawi, the prospect of long landless spells pushes productive farmers to stay in agriculture. I use the model in a policy experiment where land is privatized and landholders at the time of the reform earn income on the land. While the policy yields an increase in aggregate output of 28%, patterns of entry and exit attenuate the productivity gains in agriculture by 16%. Productivity grows by 22% in agriculture and 15% in non-agriculture. Although all households benefit from higher productivity in agriculture, the welfare gains for landless households are on average 10 times lower than those of landowners.
"Evaluating Irrigation Investments in Malawi: Economy‐wide Impacts Under Uncertainty and Labor Constraints", with Franziska Schuenemann, James Thurlow, Stefan Meyer, and Richard Robertson. Agricultural Economics (2017)
Older Working Papers
"The Economic Value of Seasonal Forecasts: Stochastic Economy-wide Analysis for East Africa", with James Thurlow, Willem Landman, Claudia Ringler, Richard D. Robertson, and Tingju Zhu. (2016)
"Human Capital Creation when Population Growth is Rapid: Lessons from Brazil", with Samuel Morley. (2018)