Kasper Brandt forsvarer sin ph.d.-afhandling "Essays in Development Economics: Human Capital and Armed Conflicts"

Tid og sted

19. juni  2020 kl. 13:00. Link til at logge på overværelse af forsvaret følger her: https://ucph-ku.zoom.us/j/9536476672


Lektor Thomas Markussen, Økonomisk Institut, Københavns Universitet, Danmark (formand

Research Director Lant Pritchett, Oxford Blavatnik School of Governement , UK

Professor Patricia Justino, UNU-WIDER, Finland


This thesis comprises four self-contained chapters in the field of development economics. The first chapter estimates a private school learning premium in Tanzania, using unique administrative data on national exams in primary and secondary school for 635,000 students. A value-added model compares secondary school exam scores for students with the same primary school exam scores from the same primary school in the same year. The model further controls for peer effects and unobserved ability. On average, private schools improve exam scores by 0.54 standard deviations in two years. An instrumental variable model suggests the effect is causal.

The second chapter takes the analysis of the private school learning premium to the district level to account for potential spillover effects. The chapter aggregates individual-level test scores of Kenyan primary school children to the district-cohort-year level, and employs a system generalized method of moments estimator to study the effects of private school enrolment on average latent ability. The results suggest a substantial positive impact on learning from private school enrolment. A 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of children enrolled in private schools is expected to improve average latent ability in a district-cohort by 0.11 of a standard deviation.

The third chapter evaluates a fee-free secondary school reform in Tanzania. Using variation in district and cohort exposure to the reform, we employ a difference-in-differences strategy to estimate the short-term impacts of the reform. The reform substantially increased enrolment into secondary education. While these enrolment effects were predominantly driven by an increase in public school enrolment, there was also a delayed positive effect on private school enrolment. Districts mostly affected by the reform experienced a significant drop in exam scores relative to less affected districts, which cannot be explained by academic abilities of new students. These findings are in line with a theoretical model on school choice, where some individuals are credit-constrained and increased enrolment harms public school quality.

The fourth chapter estimates a measure of state capacity at the 2.5×2.5 arc-minutes grid cell level (≈ 5 kilometers) for Sub-Saharan Africa. The measure builds on geocoded survey-based data on local state capacity, which we predict and extrapolate using an ensemble of regression trees. We demonstrate the usefulness of measuring state capacity at a disaggregated level by including our local state capacity index as a moderating factor in the relationship between oil wealth and armed conflict. The findings suggest that cells with higher local state capacity face lower risks of conflicts caused by oil price hikes.

Det vil være muligt før forsvaret at rekvirere en kopi af afhandlingen ved henvendelse til Charlotte.Jespersen@econ.ku.dk