Working Papers

"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.

Works in Progress

Beyond the Representative Agent: Heterogeneous Agents and the Business Cycle, with Alisdair McKay

Input Subsidies, Social Insurance, and Agricultural Productivity, with Lejvi Dalani slides

Migration and the Diffusion of Ideas


"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)