» Archive for: September, 2012



On Friday, September 07 ECD/EDEM post-doc Natacha Wagner defended her thesis entitled “Three essays on the fetters to development” at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. Her committee consisted of her supervisor Jean-Louis Arcand (Graduate Institute), the internal reader Lore (Graduate Institute) and the external reader Mark Rosenzweig (Yale University). She received a summa cum laude on her dissertation and a magna cum laude on the defense.

Natascha’s thesis tackles three distinct obstacles to development from a microeconomic perspective and acknowledges that fetters to development are manifold. She shows that cutting through the fetters to development needs studies of their respective mechanisms and understanding of their dynamics. The first chapter looks at the dynamics of child health by linking two commonly used child health indicators, namely weight-for-age and height-for-age Z-scores. In the second chapter, the question why female genital cutting (FGC) still persist is addressed. Existing Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data for 13 African countries is pooled to disentangle the determinants, social outcomes and long-term health consequences associated with FGC. Finally, in the third chapter local electoral dynamics in rural Senegal are examined and how these are linked to the fiscal cycle.

Child height-for-age (HAZ) and weight-for-age (WAZ) Z-scores are standard measures for studying the determinants of stunting and short-term underweight. Rather than studying these indicators separately,  their dynamic interaction is considered in an overlapping generations model that features self-productivity of health stock and the dynamic complementarity between past health stocks and contemporaneous nutrition inputs. Results are tested against a Senegalese panel of 305 children. Simulations based on the panel estimates show that a positive, one-time nutritional boost during the first six months of life is essentially depleted at the age of 2. Consequently, sustainable development and nutrition programs have to be long-term and yield higher returns if they are to reach infants early on.

Female Genital Cutting (FGC) remains a pervasive practice in many sub-Saharan African countries. Using cross-sectional data from 13 African countries, the determinants of FGC as well as the social outcomes associated with this practice in terms of marriageability and health risks are studied.  In a game-theoretic approach, the possible channels through which FGC persists as a common community practice are developed, namely by increasing reputation and strengthening identity despite causing health problems. Employing conditional logistic regressions, it is demonstrated that by far the main determinant of FGC is ethnic identity. In addition, being cut increases marriage prospects by almost 50%. While negative health consequences are often used as an argument against FGC, no evidence can be found for general health impairments  or decreased fertility. However, cut women are more likely to have sexually transmitted (STDs) and genital diseases.

More than 50 years after Senegal’s independence from France, its political system qualifies, at most, as semi-democratic. In this chapter, budgetary data for a sample of 171 communes around the 2002 local elections are analyzed in order to study the interdependence of local electoral dynamics and fiscal spending. Employing the trimmed least absolute deviations (LAD) model, only moderate evidence can be found suggesting a political budget cycle in local elections.   New political leadership alongside existing infrastructure programs bolsters the expansion of the road network while being disinclined to settle previous investment expenses. Around elections, lower tax revenues are projected, however, these anticipated tax benefits do not materialize. Rather, in the medium-run, political change is associated with real tax increases.”

ECD BATCH 2012 / 2013

Category: MA students

5 Sep 2012

Welcome new batch!

Today. 4 September staff and students of the ECD programme met for the first time: 29 students from 17 countries. One of the largest student groups of the last decade. The students talked about their motivation for ISS and ECD. Howard Nicholson presented the outline of the major and Peter van Bergeijk presented the research of the new research programme EDEM.


Having some coffee and tea in the break of the presentation




So much information …. what to write down?



International Institute of Social Studies

Economics of Development (ECD) is a Major in the MA in Development Studies. This blog provides a platform for discussion for researchers, students and others interested in this field of studies. The blog is administered by the ECD teaching team.