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A perfect storm: The effect of natural disasters on child health

By Cheyenne Danielle Quijano

Typhoons and their accompanying flooding have destructive effects, including an
increase in the risk of waterborne disease in children. Using a spatial regression discontinuity
design, I explore the immediate to short-term effects of flooding as a result
of Typhoon Labuyo on the incidence of diarrhea and acute respiratory infection in the
Philippines by comparing children living in a flooded barangay (town) to children living
just outside of the flooded area. I build on the existing literature by accounting for
both incidence and intensity of the typhoon’s flooding in my model. I construct this
new flooding measure using programming techniques and ArcGIS by manipulating data
collected by the University of Maryland’s Global Flood Monitoring System. This data
as well as health data from the 2013 Philippines National Demographic Health Surveys
were collected the day after Typhoon Labuyo left the Philippines, providing a unique
opportunity to explore the immediate impact of the typhoon on child health. Most of
my results are insignificant, but subgroup analyses show that the effect of flooding on
waterborne disease incidence is less impactful in the immediate term following a flood
and more impactful in the medium-term. This is important, because understanding
the detrimental health effects of flooding is of utmost importance, especially because
climate change will only increase the frequency and intensity of natural disasters.

Professor Erica M. Field, Faculty Advisor
Professor Michelle P. Connolly, Faculty Advisor

JEL classification: I150, O120, O130, Q540

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Evaluating Economic Impacts of Electrification in Zambia

By Aashna Aggarwal

Energy poverty is prevalent in Zambia. It is one of the world’s least electrified nations with 69% of its citizens living in darkness, without access to grid electricity. Zambian government has a goal to achieve universal electricity access in urban areas and increase rural electrification to 51% by 2030. With its main goal to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of Zambians. Electrification is expected to have positive impacts on health, education and employment play an important role to achieve wellbeing, however, previous studies and analysis of renewable energy programs have found different, context-dependent results. To evaluate the impacts of electrification in Zambia I have used the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey (LCMS) of 2015 and applied two different estimation techniques: non-linear regressions and propensity score matching. My study finds that firewood consumption significantly decreases with assess to electricity and education has positive outcomes on grade attainment. I negligible effects on wage earning employment outcomes respiratory health outcomes. Based on these results I conclude that access to grid electrification does have certain positive impacts but empirical evidence is not as strong as the theoretical claims.

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Advisors: Dr. Robyn Meeks and Dr. Grace Kim | JEL Codes: C31; C78; O13; Q40

The Puzzle of Mobile Money Markets: An Example of Goldilocks Conditions

By Ricardo Martínez-Cid and Gonzalo Pernas

This paper investigates the supply-side and demand-side factors that explain the success of mobile money markets. Namely, we argue that there exists a set of Goldilocks conditions that best supports mobile money services. A population must have exposure to financial services to understand mobile money and have a high enough level of income to have a use for these services. However, the population must also not have access to highly developed banking architecture, such that their banking needs are already satisfied. By comparing El Salvador and Kenya, countries in different stages of development, we find empirical support for our hypothesis. Our evidence suggests that low income regions and households with some exposure to financial services are more likely to use mobile money than fully banked people who enjoy a higher income.

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Advisor: Erica Field | JEL Codes: E40, E42, G21, G23, O12, O16, O17

What is the Effect of Regulatory Supervision on the Profitability and Outreach of Microfinance Institutions?

By Nikolaus Axmann

Regulatory supervision is an important part of the formal banking process. As microfinance institutions have developed and multiplied, they have become more closely regulated, which has allowed many of them to evolve into more traditional banks. But there are concerns over microfinance regulation, as complying with regulatory can be costly, particularly for smaller institutions. Using high-quality cross-sectional data from the Microfinance Information eXchange, I conduct ordinary least squares and instrumental variables regression of regulatory supervision on profitability and outreach of microfinance institutions. Controlling for the non-random assignment of regulation using instrumental variables, I find that regulation is correlated with higher average loan sizes and less lending to women, but increased profitability among for-profit microfinance institutions. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that for-profit microfinance institutions change their business model in response to regulation by cutting outreach to lending sectors that are generally more costly per dollar lent. In contrast, nonprofit microfinance institutions do not adjust loan sizes or reduce lending to women in
response to regulation, although their profitability does not increase either.

Honors Thesis

Data Set

Advisor: Edward Tower | JEL Codes: F6, F61, F63 | Tagged: Development, Microfinance, Regulation

Foreign Aid Allocation and Impact: A Sub-National Analysis of Malawi

By Rajlakshmi De

Understanding the role of foreign aid in poverty alleviation is one of the central inquiries for development economics. To augment past cross-country studies and randomized evaluations, this project data from Malawi is used in combination with multiple rounds of living standards data to predict the allocation and impact of health aid, water aid, and education aid.  Both instrumentation and propensity score matching methods are used.

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Advisor: Kent Kimbrough, Lori Leachman | JEL Codes: F35, I15, I25, I32, O12 | Tagged: Development, Education, Foreign Aid, Health, Malawi, Water


Undergraduate Program Assistant
Matthew Eggleston

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly