» Archive for: May, 2014

RicardoExternal interventions in civil wars are a recurrent practice of the international community, executed through a series of mechanisms—most notably, military, economic or diplomatic interventions (with UN and non-UN missions being a combination of these). Studies of these interventions have focused on how effective they are in stopping civil war or maintaining peace. Despite the focus of these studies, the effect these interventions have on conflict intensity is still unclear. Additionally studies have not appropriately controlled for the endogeneity of the relationship between interventions and conflict. Conflicts’ characteristics attract interventions, and interventions influence conflict characteristics. Based on a balance of the capability of the conflict parties model, this paper explores the effect of interventions on conflict-intensity levels and conflict-intensity changes. It uses a new dataset on external interventions for Africa for the period between 1989 and 2010. The regression results, based on a zero-inflated negative binomial and logit models controlling for endogeneity, indicate that partisan, military and economic interventions increase conflict intensity whereas neutral and diplomatic interventions have no effect on conflict intensity. In fact, after controlling for endogeneity, successful or failed mediation is found to have no significant effect on conflict intensity. The conclusion is that more detailed research needs to be conducted to understand the unexpected effect of diplomacy and interventions’ objectives.


From: 03 June 2014 13:00
Till:    03 June 2014 14:00

Room: 4.42

Ricardo Real Pedrosa de Sousa is a PhD candidate in Development Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam (EUR) in the Netherlands. He is also part of the Research School in Peace and Conflict (PRIO / NTNU / UiO) in Norway and associated with the African Studies Center (CEA) of ISCTE – Lisbon University Institute  in Portugal as a researcher on conflict. (ISCTE-IUL).

He has a Master of Science in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London, a post-graduation diploma of advanced studies in African Studies and a Bachelor (Hons) degree in Corporate Organization and Management both from ISCTE-IUL. 

With a background in management for corporate transformation, he had assignments in the private sector, public sector and civil society, as well as in multilateral institutions as a development practitioner. More recently, he has been involved in research projects regarding the dynamics of the political economy of conflict in Angola and in the Horn of Africa. The PhD research focus on the effect of external interventions on conflict intensity based on an analysis of Africa’s conflicts since the end of the Cold War.

All too often, a single statistic – like, for example, GDP growth – is extracted from national accounts data and subsequently used to make strong claims about economic development notwithstanding the shaky foundations upon which it is constructed. Alternatively, a few time series are lifted from the national accounts and then plugged into an econometric model without necessarily putting the data in their historical and structural contexts. This, we argue, is a sorry state of affairs. Using Tanzania as an example, we would plead for an alternative method of data analysis that lends itself better to provide empirical substance to the analysis of a political economy (in the classical sense) of development and change. More specifically, we seek to make two methodological points, which we shall illustrate with examples taken from the Tanzania experience.

First, national income statistics, as with other secondary data, at best provide selective visibility of the reality under investigation and tend to uneven in terms of quality and consistency over time: some bits are probably reasonably good estimates based on actual measurements, while others often involve making guesstimates which may, or may not, be based on reasonable assumptions (which, moreover, may change over time), or are derived as residual categories that follow from the accounting frameworks underlying the structure of the data. When looking at macroeconomic data, therefore, we should not assume that the data are somehow cast in iron, but this does not mean that such data should be dismissed altogether. Selective visibility does not necessary imply no visibility at all.  This, we argue, should warn us to refrain from extracting single bits of data in isolation from the context within which they are constructed.  In contrast, our aim is to plead for an approach that looks at the data cautiously, trying to pinpoint the varied, perhaps contradictory, stories they tell by triangulating different bits of data and by taking account of the accounting frameworks within which they are constructed, while – we hope – leaving ample room for ourselves (and the reader) to ponder whether the patterns revealed in the data make reasonable sense in the light of our admittedly subjective hunches and qualitative feel of the (Tanzanian) economy in terms of both its history and its changing structure.

Second, this focus on exploration does not mean that we necessarily shun the use of equations or simple analytical models. For one thing, macro data such as national income accounts or population data are structured by accounting frameworks that imply integrated sets of identity equations, that lend themselves to further manipulations (like, for example, decomposition analysis). For another thing, a conversation with data is not just ‘letting facts speak for themselves’, but a two-way interaction between data exploration and theoretical reflection, which, in macroeconomic analysis (or in the analysis of population dynamics), often involves playing around with a few basic equations, not as rigid models, but as aide memoirs to make sense of the patterns within the data. 

From: 27  May 2014 13:00
Till:    27  May 2014 14:00

Room: 4.42


Marc Wuyts

Marc Wuyts






Blandina Kilama

Blandina Photo







This paper investigates the economic consequences of sickness and death and the manner in which poor urban households in Bangladesh respond to such events. Based on longitudinal data we assess the effects of morbidity and mortality episodes on household income, medical spending, labour supply and consumption. We find that despite maintaining household labour supply, a serious illness exerts a negative effect on household income for the poor. However, the estimates do not reject consumption smoothing. The most prominent response to finance current needs is to borrow from money lenders, which leads to an increase in household debt-to-income ratios with possible detrimental effects on future consumption.

Keywords: Sickness, death, income, labour supply, coping strategies, Bangladesh.

Download the working paper

About the Authors

Farid Farid U. Khan is an Assistant Professor of economics in the University of Rajshahi – one of the largest public universities in Bangladesh. Currently, he has been pursuing a PhD course in the Curtin University, Western Australia under the scholarship of International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) from Australian government. He has been teaching as a sessional academic in Curtin University since 2013. He studied MA in Development Studies (major in Development of Economics) from the ISS under The Netherlands Fellowship Program in 2010. Farid received both his Bachelor and Masters in economics from the University of Rajshahi. In recognition of his outstanding academic performances, Rajshahi University awarded him the “University Award” after his graduation. He also received the Professor Hans Opschoor Award for the best research paper in the Economics of Development (ECD) and was nominated for the ISS MA Research Paper Award 2010. Farid published few papers in peer-reviewed journals in Bangladesh and presented papers in various international conferences, including 9th Development Dialogue conference 2011 at ISS, the 42nd Australian Conference of Economist 2013 and 9th World Congress in Health Economics 2013. His main research interest is in applied econometrics, nonparametric econometrics, health economics and agricultural economics.

Arjun_Bedi Arjun Bedi is a Professor of Development Economics at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University of Rotterdam and School of Foreign Service-Qatar, Georgetown University. Prior to joining ISS in 1999, he held positions at the University of Bonn (1998-99) and Columbia University (1996-98). His research focuses on labour and human resource economics in the context of developing countries and more recently on socio-economic changes in India including the link between dowry and domestic violence and the linkages between the economic value of women and female infanticide and sex-selective abortion in India. His work has been published in several international economics and development studies journals including Journal of Development Economics, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Journal of Development Studies, Applied Economics, Labour Economics, Economics of Transition,Economics of Education Review and World Development.

RobertRobert Sparrow is a Fellow with the Arndt-Corden Department of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy of the Australian National University. He obtained a PhD in Economics from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Tinbergen Institute in 2006. His research interests relate to development economics, social policy evaluation, health economics, child labour and education. Current research projects deal with evaluation of health and education policy interventions and renewable energy programs in Indonesia, and community based health insurance in Ethiopia.

SajjadThis paper was written while Sajjad was a visiting scholar at the International Institute of Social Studies in 2012. The author would like to thank the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University of Rotterdam for hospitality and support. Special acknowledgement is due to Peter A.G.van Bergeijk for detailed comments and helpful suggestions.

  “The effects of oil shocks on government expenditures and government revenues nexus (with an application to Iran’s sanctions)” is a paper authored by Sajjad Faraji Dizaji has just been published by Economic Modelling. This study investigates the dynamic relationship between government revenues and government expenditures in Iran as a developing oil export based economy. This paper uses the impulse response functions (IRF) approach to consider the potential effects of economic sanctions in terms of oil shocks on Iranian main Macroeconomic variables.  As a result the contribution of oil revenue shocks in explaining the government expenditures is stronger than the contribution of oil price shocks. The results of the vector autoregression (VAR) and vector error correction (VEC) models show that the strong causality is running from government revenues to government expenditures (both current and capital) while the evidence for the reverse causality is very weak. From the political economy view the findings of this study show that those sanctions aiming to restrict the Iranian government’s oil export revenues, potentially can affect the government total expenditures as an important engine for developing the Iranian economy.

Sajjad Faraji Dizaji is currently assistant professor of Economics at Tarbiat Modares University of Iran.  He has taught a variety of economic courses for BA and MA students in some Iranian universities during the last years. His main fields of research are the political economy of natural resources, economic sanctions, effects of oil shocks on the macro-economy, and development economics. He has several publications in refereed journals such as Journal of Peace Research, International Journal of Humanities of Islamic Republic of Iran and some other Iranian journals.

Andy MckayThis paper exploits a four round panel survey of more than 2000 households in 12 provinces in rural Vietnam over the 2006-12 period (the Vietnam Access to Resources Household Survey), and examines welfare dynamics over the period using different measures. The aggregate picture is one of substantial progress in living conditions over the period, but there is in fact substantial heterogeneity in this, both at the province and the household level. One poor province in the North, Lao Cai has made virtually no progress on average over this period, while many others, including some poor provinces, have advanced significantly. At the household level possession of assets is associated with a greater likelihood of getting better off as is engaging in wage work; shocks are a significant factor reducing living conditions for some households, even for some welfare indicators such as food expenditure and assets which should be relatively stable over time. Non-kinh minorities are significantly poorer in the data and also progress less over the period, notwithstanding many policy initiatives undertaken by government.

From: 20 May 2014 13:00
Till:    20 May 2014 14:00

Room: 4.42

Prof. Andy McKay researches on development economics, especially in relation to poverty/inequality and how these are impacted by policy (trade, fiscal etc.); on pro-poor growth; on agriculture; and on international trade.  His geographic area of expertise is predominantly Africa, especially East and West Africa.


LorenzoLorenzo Pellegrini and Luca Tasciotti have been awarded a research grant by the Standard and Trade Development Facility of the World Trade Organization

They are awarded for the project on the ‘Implementation of the International Standard on Phytosanitary Measures, ISPM 15 (Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade): an empirical analysis of how the regulation affects the economy of a group of countries in Africa’.

The ISPM15 is an international standard for the treatment of wood packaging materials; it has been adopted under the framework of the International Plant Protection Convention and it has been implemented by many countries around the globe.

The purpose of this project is to evaluate which are the main economic/ecological/logistic effects of its adoption in Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya and Mozambique.

The project amounts to approximately 300 thousand USD and will last for two years.

Dr. Lorenzo Pellegrini is a senior lecture in Development Economics at the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. He is a member of the Economics of Development and Emerging Markets (EDEM) research programme.

EDEM PhDs Selwyn Moons (reported as Erasmus University but PhD at EDEM – ISS), Zelalem Yilma Debebe and Anagaw Derseh Mebratie will give a presentation on their research topic on Friday 23 May at the annual Green Templeton College Human Welfare Conference.

The annual Green Templeton College Human Welfare Conference brings together graduate students, academics, and practitioners to engage with the specific challenges and opportunities of systematically improving human welfare in both academic and professional contexts.

 It is organized by students, and in keeping with tradition, the 7th HWC will take place in the Radcliffe Observatory, Green Templeton College. Participants will be able to present their own original work related to human welfare and relevant to today’s challenges.

Discussions will be led by established academics, with the conference being opened and closed by prominent keynote speakers.

See conference description

About the researchers

Mebratie's picture_EDEM  Anagaw Derseh Mebratie is an  Ethiopian PhD candidate at EDEM research programme the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) Erasmus University Rotterdam. He holds an MA in Development Studies with Economics of Development specialization from the same Institute where he is pursuing his PhD studies. His current PhD research focuses on the effectiveness of community based health insurance scheme in Ethiopia.

Selwyn_Moons  Selwyn Moonsis a Dutch PhD candidate at EDEM research programme of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) Erasmus University Rotterdam in addition to his main assignment as Head of Unit, Chief Trade Economist at the Directorate General Foreign Economic Relations, Economic Diplomacy Department. His current PhD research focuses on the Impact of Economic Diplomacy on International Economic Flows.

Zelalem Y

 Zelalem Yilma Debebe  is an  Ethiopian PhD candidate at EDEM research programme of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) Erasmus University Rotterdam. He holds an MA in Development Studies with Economics of Development specialization from the same Institute where he is pursuing his PhD studies. Besides, his BA is in Economics from Jimma University, Ethiopia.  His current PhD research is focuses on the welfare implications of ill-health and the role of community based health insurance in Ethiopia

Blas_RegnaultThe study aims to explain the fundamental determinants of the relative oil prices and their  movements over the period 1970-2012. To examine this it is necessary to consider two  dimensions: 1) the relative production costs in the worldwide oil industry, especially in United  States (U.S.); and 2) the influence of the institutional factors represented by the relationship between oil companies and fiscal regimes in oil producer countries.

The first dimension refers to the theory of global relative production costs and the  organization and reorganization of oil capital in the world. In this regard, a review of the overall  behaviour of empirical production costs will be the initial analysis to understand their impact on  global oil prices. The production costs will be treated using secondary data mostly from the United States (U.S.), the major oil consumer country, the first importer and the third producer in the world. The relative importance of the U.S. oil market points out the latter as the key to understand the oil price formation.

The second dimension refers to the theory of mark-ups and the theory of oil rent inherent to the socio-economic dynamics in oil producer national economies, whether if they are oil exporters or not. In this dimension, the owners of the land come to play a central role in the oil business. Indeed, the capital does not usually deal with this actor in more conventional fields of industrial production. However, in the oil industry the owner of the land has the control on the access to mines, flow of investments and production. These controls represent the main factors associated with the formation of mark-ups, the international oil rents and then, the oil price formation. The main hypothesis in this dimension is that mark-ups and oil rents cause oil price trends.

This study aims to contribute to the existing body of knowledge of oil price behaviour by  considering relative oil price fluctuations as the symptomatic effect of institutional factors inherent to oil production and their socio-economic dynamics. It is also a contribution on oil price discussion, using a perspective related to the political economy present in oil industry.


Keywords: Global oil price; Relative oil prices; Relative production costs; mark-ups; International oil rent

When: 20 May 2014

Time: 13:45 – 15:45

Venue: Room 3.42

Blas Regnault is an EDEM PhD candidate at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) Erasmus University of Rotterdam.

Alex_1Kenneth Arrow (1974) on his pioneering work on “The Limits of Organizations” argued that the most prevalent characteristic of organizations of any size is authoritative allocation and that this, along with compliance to authority, is an integral part of the mechanism by which organizations function. In economics, authority has been examined in terms of decision rights and asymmetric information (Grossman and Hart, 1986; Hart and Moore, 1990; Aghion and Tirole, 1998, Fehr et al., 2013). Yet, consideration of the psychological effect of authority has been largely disregarded. Following Simon, (1978) we define obedience of authority as “a willingness to permit one’s behavior to be determined by the employer” (Simon, 1978:355).  We present a simple experiment on the role of obedience utility towards the authority in an experiment where obedience damages other people’s earnings at a small own monetary cost. The question we wish to address with this paper is instead the following: can vertical, i.e. hierarchical, social pressure by an authority induce compliance, even when there is no financial reason for obeying, even when the domain for the action to be undertaken by the agent is anti-social, i.e. contrary to the standard social norm of not damaging others and indeed to other pro-social motivations. Our results suggest that even a limited (rather than Milgram style) cue from the authority, without an explicit justification, can induce obedience on the part of some 60% of the subjects to halve the earnings of a partner at a cost to their own. Our results cannot be explained by purely repeating the task again and again, since by doing so destruction rates remain below 20%. They also cannot be explained by reciprocal expectations of destruction from the partner, since, even in the absence of the possibility of reciprocity, we observe around a 60% destruction rate. Providing pressure at peak intervals does help the authority to induce more obedience, but giving an explicit reason does not yield to a statistically significant increase.

From: 08 May 2014 16:00
Till:    08 May 2014 17:00

Room: 4.42


About the Speaker


Syl_PeterMeasuring multi-membership in economic integration and its trade impact: a comparative study of ECOWAS and SADC” a paper co-authored by  Sylvanus Kwaku Afesorgbor and Peter van Bergeijk has just been published by the South African Journal of Economics.  This paper provides a novelty from both the empirical and theoretical perspectives as it is the first paper, to the best of our knowledge, that measures and compares the trade impact of overlapping (multi)-membership in economic integration using the world-known workhorse of international trade, the gravity model.

We find a positive impact if an additional membership complements the integration process of the original regional integration initiative: overlapping memberships had a much stronger and significant positive effect on bilateral trade within ECOWAS compared with an insignificant impact within the SADC.

The idea about this paper was conceived right from ISS. The novelty of the idea in this paper has been recognized and awarded. This paper received the Prof. Opschoor best paper award within the ECD specialization at ISS. Not only that, the German Development Committee also awarded us a grant for the paper to be presented at prestigious AEL conference in Berlin. Sylvanus Kwaku Afesorgbor is currently, a PhD Fellow at Aarhus University, Denmark.


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.