Selected Working Papers

The Power to Protect. Household Bargaining and Female Condom Use                                             Version updated on 16 July 2018

with Cassidy, R., Groot Bruinderink, M., Janssens, W.J.

 Abstract: Use of technologies such as condoms must be agreed upon by both partners. In contexts where women have low bargaining power, many women may struggle to convince their partners to adopt. Introducing a version of the technology that is second-best from a social planner's perspective, but more acceptable to men, may therefore improve adoption and welfare. We evaluate a field experiment introducing female condoms in the slums of Maputo, Mozambique. Female condoms offer marginally lower protection and higher unit cost than male condoms --- which are already widely available --- but lower discomfort and stigma to men. As predicted by our model, we find strongest adoption among women with low household bargaining power. The main margin of adoption is therefore from women previously having unprotected sex, rather than women substituting away from male condoms. We also observe an increase in the number of sex acts. A cost-benefit analysis shows how free provision of female condoms could be cost-effective. The findings highlight how policy should take into account the distribution of the costs and benefits of technology adoption, and of bargaining power, within the household.usehold members.

Insurance Demand and the Crowding Out of Redistribution                                               

with Anderberg, D.


Abstract: Altruistically motivated transfers play an important role in supporting individuals who suffer income losses due to risk, especially in the absence of well-functioning insurance markets. When formal insurance is introduced, recipients' insurance decisions may reveal information to donors that allows them to place recipients in a different light. Consequently, this may reduce support to insurance takers and non-takers, and hence lead to the crowding out of private redistributive transfers. We present empirical evidence on transfer decisions -- with and without insurance -- from a field experiment in Ethiopia. We find that donors reduce redistributive transfers to recipients who reject insurance, and that these effects are larger for donors whose belief that the recipient took-up insurance is stronger. We show that the findings are consistent with a model of altruistically motivated transfers with favouritism towards socially closer peers and where individuals perceive others to be closer to themselves than they actually are. The results point to the fact that the welfare implications of introducing insurance should take into account the impact on redistribution, especially in contexts where structural heterogeneity may prevent some from adopting insurance.


Risk Sharing and the Demand for Insurance: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia                                 Submitted

with Berg, E., Blake, M.

 Abstract: Households, organisations and governments commonly engage in risk sharing. However, the residual risk is often considerable, especially in the case of aggregate shocks in low-income countries. In response, many policy makers consider the introduction of parametric or index insurance. This raises the question of how demand for these insurance products depends on the extent of pre-existing risk sharing. We contribute to the literature in two ways. First, we develop a simple and parsimonious theoretical framework which shows that whilst indemnity insurance is a substitute to risk sharing, index insurance acts as a complement. Second, we provide the first direct experimental evidence on how the extent of risk sharing affects demand for both indemnity and index insurance. In an artefactual field experiment with Ethiopian farmers, the predictions of the theoretical framework are borne out. 

Redistribution and Attitudes towards Risk. Experimental Evidence from Risk Taking Decisions.                                 Submitted   Abstract:The willingness of individuals to redistribute to others whose outcomes depend on risk and their risky choices is important for the functioning of unemployment schemes, health insurance, and tax systems. Understanding what influences this willingness to redistribute in risky contexts is crucial to the design of the incentives in these systems, especially when it is not immediately evident what the desired level of risk taking is. Therefore I investigate to what extent the risky choices of others influence an individual’s redistribution decisions, conditional on their risk attitudes. I do so by conducting modified dictator games in a risky context with farmers in Ethiopia, where the income of recipients is exposed to risk and recipients have agency over risk exposure. I find that the willingness of dictators to redistribute income to recipients is influenced by a combination of the risky choice of the recipient and the risk attitudes of the dictator: when recipients increase their risk exposure, risk averse dictators reduce their transfers;; when recipients reduce their risk exposure, risk tolerant dictators reduce their transfers. 

Work in Progress


Social Preferences over Attributes of the Distribution of Utilities.

with Fafchamps, M., Harrison, G.W.

We ask whether, in a context where people’s outcomes are the result of a combination of risk, effort, and ability, redistribution decisions are better understood if we assume that people behave as if they care about the utility of other people rather than actual monetary allocations.


Male and female Norm Change, Intra-household Bargaining and Domestic Violence. 

with Cassidy, R., Janssens, W.

We ask whose preferences within the household attitudinal interventions should target in order to reduce violence and promote women’s labour market participation. We conduct a cluster-randomized control trial across 200 rural villages in Pakistan, in which an attitudinal intervention is targeted at either men, women or both genders. We use incentivized artefactual field experiments to elicit beliefs, attitudes, beliefs about others’ attitudes (“social norms”) and intra-household bargaining.


Intimate Partner Violence, Preferences, and Economic Decision-making.

with Anderberg, D., Cassidy, R.

We ask to what extent violence in the household affects preferences of the spouses, and thereby their cooperation and economic decision making. We conduct an artefactual field experiment with spouses in urban slums of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to examine the effects of priming women’s experiences of intimate partner violence on their cooperation and economic decision-making.


Impacts of Mental Health and Cash Transfer Interventions on Syrian Refugees and Host Communities in Lebanon.

with Dercon, S., John, A.


Karlijn Morsink

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