Research on natural resources
Local Industrial Shocks and Infant Mortality
The Economic Journal (2019).
Abstract: Local industrial development has the potential to improve health and well‐being, while also damaging health through exposure to harmful pollution. It is an empirical question which of these effects dominate. Exploiting the quasi‐experimental expansion of African large‐scale gold mining, I find that local infant mortality rates decrease by more than 50% alongside rapid economic growth. The instantaneous reduction is comparable to overall gains in infant survival rates in the study countries from 1970 to today. The results are robust to migration. Local industrial development – despite risk of pollution – may be an effective tool to reduce infant mortality in developing countries.
Media coverage: Voice of America
African Mining, Gender and Local Employment
Andreas Kotsadam and Anja Tolonen
World Development (2016).
Abstract: It is a contentious issue whether large-scale mining creates local employment, and the sector has been accused of hurting women’s labor supply and economic opportunities. This paper uses the rapid expansion of mining in Sub-Saharan Africa to analyze local structural shifts. We match 109 openings and 84 closings of industrial mines to survey data for 800,000 individuals and exploit the spatial-temporal variation. With mine opening, women living within 20 km of a mine switch from self-employment in agriculture to working in services or they leave the work force. Men switch from agriculture to skilled manual labor. Effects are stronger in years of high world prices. Mining creates local boom-bust economies in Africa, with permanent effects on women’s labor market participation.
Blog post: Let’s Talk Development, World Economic Forum
Press release: University of Gothenburg
Media coverage: Women in Mining Mail (2014)
Long summary:UNRISD Think Piece
Extractive Industries and Gender Equality (with Sarah Baum)
Review of Environmental Economics and Policy (2021)
Abstract: What is the impact of extractive industries such as oil, gas, and mining on gender equality? We seek to answer this question. A correlational analysis of cross-country data indicates that resource-dependent countries generally have greater gender inequality, lower education levels for men and women, lower absolute female welfare, and more conservative attitudes toward women. To further explore the relationship between extractive industries and gender equality, we review the empirical literature on extractive industries and their gender-specific effects. The literature review reveals that extractive industries have highly gender-specific effects, with economic impacts such as job creation interacting with gender norms (e.g., gender segregation in labor markets) to affect labor and marriage markets, fertility, and violence. Health, including sexual, reproductive, and infant health, is determined by environmental factors, such as pollution, but the negative effects of these environmental factors can be partly offset by economic opportunities. We argue that program evaluation research is needed to explore ways to strengthen the beneficial effects of extractive industries on gender equality while mitigating their undesirable effects.
Blog post: NRGI
Previous preprint: [Structural Transformation, Extractive Industries and Gender Equality]
Natural Resource Wealth and Crime: The Role of International Price Shocks and Public Policy with Sebastian Axbard, and Jonas Poulsen
Accepted at Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (2021)
Abstract: A large literature has highlighted the potential detrimental effects of natural resource wealth on social, economic and political outcomes. We study a previously largely unexplored relationship — the impact of natural resource wealth on criminal activity. Our empirical strategy exploits price fluctuations in 15 internationally traded minerals to study the impact of mineral wealth on local crime levels in South Africa — leveraging detailed crime data from 1,084 police precincts over 10 years. We find that increased mineral wealth leads to a reduction in criminal activity. An exploration of mechanisms suggest that the effect is due to changes in employment opportunities created by the mining industry, affecting the opportunity cost of engaging in criminal activity. Consistent with this we also document that results are driven by property crime and that mines are less likely to close down when prices are high. Our results suggest that downward shifts in international mineral prices can cause surges in crime. To investigate how resilience against such surges can be achieved, we exploit the roll-out of a government employment guarantee program and document that the program reduces the crime response to changes in international mineral prices.
Media coverage: Development Impact, Fight Entropy
First Version: January 2015
Previous Version: Extractive Industries, Price Shocks and Criminality
Endogenous Gender Roles: Evidence from Africa’s Gold Mining Industry [Working Paper 2019] OxCarre Research Paper 209. Revise and Resubmit at Economic Development and Cultural Change (2020)
This paper was previously circulated as “Local Industrial Shocks, Female Empowerment and Infant Health: Evidence from Africa’s Gold Mining Industry” (2014).
Abstract: Does industrial development change gender roles? This is the first paper to causally explore the local effects of a continent-wide exogenous expansion of a modern industry on gender roles. The identification strategy relies on plausibly exogenous temporal and spatial variation in gold mining in Africa. The establishment of an industrial-scale mine changes local gender roles and female empowerment: justification of domestic violence decreases by 19%, women have better access to healthcare, and are 31% more likely to work in the service sector. The effects happen alongside rapid economic growth. The findings are robust to assumptions about trends, distance, and migration, and withstand a spatial randomization test. The results show that entrenched gender roles can change rapidly in the presence of economic development.
Press release: University of Gothenburg
Media coverage: Voice of America, Women in Mining, Global Witness
Video summary: Video from the World Bank, November 2014
Norms Formation: Gold Rush and Women’s Roles (with Sandra Aguilar Gomez, Columbia University) (SSRN working paper, November 2018)
Abstract: Does the mining-driven scarcity of women affect gender norms? Do gender norms persist over time? We explore the Gold Rush in Western United States in the late 19th-century as a natural experiment to answer these questions. We use a geographic difference-in-difference methodology, exploiting the location and discovery of the gold deposits and its influence on sex ratios, to understand short term and persistent changes in women’s labor market participation and marriage market opportunities. Gold mining, through the oversupply of marriageable men with income, increased (decreased) marriage rates among women (men). Women married older men with higher prestige occupations. In parallel, the Gold Rush created a market based service sector economy, potentially catering to men with money but poor marriage prospects. Using all subsequent censuses up until 1940, we show that the effects persist over time.
Research on Menstrual Hygiene in Developing Countries
Sanitary Products, Absenteeism and Psychosocial Wellbeing: Evidence from a Cluster Randomized Controlled Feasibility Study in Kenya (with Garazi Zulaika, Penelope A. Phillips-Howard et al) [Draft] Revise and Resubmit in PLOS One
Abstract: Does access to sanitary products improve schoolgirls’ well-being? We conduct the first cluster randomized controlled feasibility study to provide different sanitary technologies (sanitary pads or menstrual cup or usual practice) to 644 primary schoolgirls in western Kenya, across 30 schools with 10 schools per treatment arm. Inclusion restrictions were: ages 14-16 years, having experienced at least three menses, and no precluding disabilities. We find that disposable sanitary pads led to a 7.9 percentage point reduction in absenteeism. In addition, using a wider dataset from the 30 schools, we show that (1) boys have similar levels of absences to girls, (2) replication of the results using official school register data fails to detect the treatment effect, illustrating the need for high quality data on school absences. Narrow focus on absences limits our understanding of the effect that sanitary products have on schoolgirls’ welfare: both sanitary pads and menstrual cups improved physical, emotional, social and educational well-being over time. Physical well-being improved in the sanitary pads group by 6.2%, and girls with heavy periods reported 10.1% improvements in emotional well-being from the menstrual cup. The results tapered off toward the end of the study in the sanitary pad group, but remained in the menstrual cup group—highlighting the trade off between strong initial effects of an easy to adopt disposable product compared with delayed and sustained effects of a complex, reusable technology at a significantly lower unit cost.
Blog post coverage: FaiV by David Evans
Period teasing, stigma and knowledge: A survey of adolescent boys and girls in Northern Tanzania with Sandra Aguilar-Gomez, Rebecca Cai, Naomi Heller Batzer and Elias Charles Nyanza. PLOS One 2020.
Abstract: Emerging evidence suggests that menstruation-related teasing is a common experience among adolescent girls with ramifications on their school participation, yet empirical evidence on the prevalence and determinants of period teasing in schools remain scarce. Menstrual hygiene research and policies almost exclusively focus on girls and women, leading to a dearth of knowledge of male attitudes. We conducted the first quantitative survey of period teasing in schools in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on 432 male and 524 female students in four co-educational secondary schools in northern Tanzania. Period teasing is prevalent; 13% of girls have experienced period teasing, and more than 80% fear being teased, especially by male classmates. Girls’ fears are associated with insufficient menstrual hygiene management resources and practices. Girls cope by reducing school attendance, participation, and concentration in the classroom during periods. Boys engage in period teasing because they perceive periods as embarrassing, especially visible markers of periods (odor or stains). Social norms, such as peer behavior and home restrictions on menstruating women, are associated with more teasing. Boys believe it is strongly inappropriate for girls to reveal period status or to discuss periods with males, including male teachers. In contrast, boys are well informed about basic biological facts of menstruation (scoring 60% on a knowledge quiz, not statistically different from the girls) and have received information from school curricula and health workers. Lack of suitable menstrual hygiene practices and restrictive social norms is correlated with period teasing, which hinders gender equality in educational opportunities. Providing narrowly bio-medical focused education about menstruation may not be enough to reduce period teasing in contexts with period stigma.
Supplementary Information: Data (Coming soon)
The cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness of providing menstrual cups and sanitary pads to schoolgirls in rural Kenya
Masih A Babagoli, Anja Benshaul-Tolonen, Garazi Zulaika, Elizabeth Nyothach, Clifford Oduor, David Obor, Linda Mason, Emily Kerubo, Isaac Ngere, Kayla F. Laserson, Rhiannon Tudor Edwards, Penelope A Phillips-Howard.
June 2020. Under Review.
Abstract. Objective: To analyze the relative value of providing menstrual cups and sanitary pads to schoolgirls in rural Kenya. Methods: From a healthcare payer or government program perspective, program costs were calculated for two interventions (provision of menstrual cups or sanitary pads) to girls (14-16 years old) in Kenya for one year. Cost-effectiveness analyses were conducted based on the health effects – in terms of reductions in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) – and education effects – in terms of reductions in school absenteeism – of both interventions reported in a randomized controlled feasibility study. The health and education benefits were summed and compared to overall program costs. Results: The cost of menstrual cups is estimated at $2,730 per year for 1000 girls, compared to $22,420 for sanitary pads. The benefit of the menstrual cup program (1.4 DALYs averted, valued at $7,000) is higher than that of a sanitary pad program (0.48 DALYs averted, valued at $2400). However, the health effects of both interventions are not statistically significant, likely due to the limited power of the feasibility study. The menstrual cup intervention may be cost-effective in improving health outcomes ($2,000/DALY averted). The sanitary pad intervention has a cost-effectiveness of $280/student-school year in reducing school absenteeism. Meanwhile, combining health and education effects, the sanitary pad intervention is cost-saving with a net benefit of $92,000. Conclusions: The menstrual cup may provide a cost-effective solution for menstrual hygiene management in low-income settings. Provisions of sanitary pads is a cost-saving policy when considering health and education benefits jointly. This study outlines a methodology for future CEA and CBA on menstrual hygiene interventions and highlights several methodological challenges that need to be addressed before other similar analyses can be robustly conducted.
Measuring Menstruation-related Absenteeism Among Adolescents in Low-Income Countries.
(with Garazi Zulaika, Marni Sommer, and Penelope A. Phillips-Howard ) Published in Palgrave Handbook for Critical Menstrual Studies, 2020.
Abstract: Managing menstruation is an issue for adolescent girls in low-income countries, possibly impacting their dignity, engagement with day-to-day activities, health, and educational engagement. For multiple reasons, girls are considered more vulnerable to missing school than boys, and it is widely reported that many girls miss school during their periods—due to limited economic and physical resources or unsupportive school environments. One research question receiving attention is if providing menstrual hygiene products to schoolgirls reduces absenteeism and increases school enrollment and retainment rates. However, to date, quantitative studies have not yet clearly and consistently demonstrated these effects. We highlight two main methodological issues in existing studies: first, the use of data sources with risk of bias, such as school records, or recall data, is common, without recognition of competing reasons for absence among girls and boys. Second, limiting the focus to absenteeism (and particularly just menstrual related absence) hinders our understanding of the threats that menstruation poses to educational attainment and psychosocial aspects of schoolgirls lives. We recommend the use of mixed-methods, pre-analysis plans, and thoughtful consideration and validation of variables a priori to study implementation. We caution policy makers against over-relying on absenteeism as the sole predictor and over-interpreting results from existing studies that often lack both scope and precision. Additionally, we call for more research on overlooked outcomes, such as concentration in school, learning, self-esteem, and pain management.
Biological, material and socio-cultural constraints to effectivemenstrual hygiene management among secondary schoolstudents in Tanzania
Dani Stoilova, Rebecca Cai, Sandra Aguilar-Gomez, Naomi Heller Batzer, Elias Charles Nyanza, Anja Benshaul-Tolonen
Revise and Resubmit Plos One Global Health (2021)
Abstract: Menstrual hygiene management is an important determinant for girls’ educational outcomes. We develop a multifaceted framework for quantifying the relative importance of four distinct mechanisms: material, biological, social and informational constraints and consider four main outcomes: absenteeism, early departure, concentration and participation. To understand the relative importance of menstrual hygiene constraints on educational outcomes, we utilize this framework on survey data from 524 female students enrolled in four co-educational secondary schools in Northern Tanzania. Average age at first period is 14.2 years (standard deviation= 1.1, range 9-19). Information is the least binding constraint: 90-95% of girls report they received information about menstruation and how to manage it. In contrast, the girls suffer from biological constraints: (i) the distribution of menstrual cramp and pain is bifurcated: most girls report very light or very strong pain (rather than moderate pain) with severe educational impacts for girls in the latter group, (ii) irregular cycles (62%) and difficulty predicting the cycle (60%) lead to stress and uncertainty. Socio-cultural constraints are also binding as 84% would feel shame if male peers knew their menstrual status, and 58% fear being teased for their periods. High costs of commercial sanitary pads lead to girls spending between 12-70% of the national poverty line (6,247 TSH per day) on pads during their period. However, there is no statistically significant relationship between material constraints (access to pads) and absenteeism––despite this being the most commonly evaluated policy. In contrast, biological and socio-cultural constraints, and lack of sanitary infrastructure, have significant effects on absenteeism. The results have several implications. First, sanitary pad interventions should consider participation and concentration as main outcomes, in addition to absenteeism. Second, biological constraints (menstrual cramps and pain) and socio-cultural (fear, stigma) and are drivers of menstruation-related absenteeism and participation in the classroom, and need to be evaluated in forthcoming trials. We emphasize the importance of exploring analgesic use and alternative pain-management techniques, menstrual cycle tracking technologies, and social programming to reduce menstrual stigma.
Interdisciplinary publications on natural resources
The Local Socioeconomic Effects of Gold Mining: Evidence from Ghana:
Anja Benshaul-Tolonen, Punam Chuhan-Pole, Andrew Dabalen, Andreas Kotsadam, and Aly Sanoh. Extractive Industries and Society (2019).
Abstract: Ghana is experiencing its third gold rush, and this paper sheds light on the socioeconomic impacts of this rapid expansion in industrial production. Using a rich dataset consisting of geocoded household data combined with detailed information on gold mining activities, we conduct two types of difference-in-differences estimations that provide complementary evidence. The first is a local-level analysis that identifies an economic footprint area very close to a mine, and the second is a district-level analysis that captures the fiscal channel. The results indicate that men are more likely to benefit from direct employment as miners compared to men further away, and that women in mining communities may more likely gain from indirect employment opportunities and earn cash for work. We also find that infant mortality rates decrease significantly in mining communities, compared to the evolution in communities further away.
Aligning conservation efforts with resource use around protected areas
Abstract: A large number of economically disadvantaged people live around protected areas. Conservation efforts that focus on poverty alleviation, work on the premise that an increase in household wealth decreases use of forest resources. We surveyed 1222 households across four tiger reserves to test the paradigm that an increase in assets leads to reduced forest use and we also assess the effects of other socio-economic factors. We find that increase in assets may reduce Non-timber Forest Product (NTFP) collection, but may not necessarily reduce livestock numbers or use of wood as a cooking fuel. Households that faced more economic setbacks were more likely to state that they wanted more livestock in the future. Education is positively associated with choosing Liquefied Petroleum Gas as a cooking fuel in the future. We find site and resource-specific variation. Fifty percent of all households (range across sites: 6–98) want to collect NTFP while 91% (range: 87–96) want to retain or own more livestock over the next 5–10 years. Understanding current and future resource use will help plan context-specific conservation efforts that are better aligned with reducing specific pressures around protected areas.
Sophia Rhee, Elias Charles Nyanza, Madison Condon, Joshua Fisher, Theresia Maduka, and Anja Benshaul-Tolonen. Land Use Policy (2018)
Abstract: Mining is an important source of revenue for many developing countries, however, the social, environmental and economic impacts of mining are often poorly monitored. The recent transition of a gold mine in Western Tanzania—from large-scale gold mine under private, multinational ownership, to medium-scale public and national owned mine with limited life length offers a prime opportunity to understand the implications of changes in ownership and scale on the local economy and community well-being. We conducted 44 semi-structured interviews with community members in four villages adjacent to the mine site. We find that the local economy and public service provision contracted in response to the mine transition and downscaling, with ramifications for food security and healthcare access. Community members also highlighted the lack of information surrounding the mine transformation. This illustrates that considering the post-transition phase of large-scale mines is important for providing long run sustainable livelihood strategies in mining communities.
Mining in Africa: Are Local Communities Better Off?
By Punam Chuhan-Pole, Andrew L. Dabalen, and Bryan Christopher Land, in collaboration with Michael Lewin, Aly Sanoh, Gregory Smith, and Anja Tolonen. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, 2017.