I study the effect of conflict on learning and schooling outcomes for children living in Uganda between 2010-2015. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I find that the Lord's Resistance Army's (LRA) activities in a neighborhood reduced learning outcomes in both math and English for the cohort of children exposed to armed conflict. Surprisingly, I find that exposure to LRA did not significantly affect other schooling outcomes, such as the probability of dropping out and being at the right age for a grade. Further, I find that the effect of conflict is worse for females and those who were babies or in-utero when exposed to conflict. In addition, I provide evidence that a mechanism through which conflicts affect learning outcomes is neither physical disability nor school infrastructure but teacher absenteeism. Results from this paper imply the need to distinguish between schooling and learning when measuring the effect of shocks on children.

Mining and Poverty in West Africa: Evidence from Mali with Massa Coulibaly, Jeremy Foltz, Dominic Parker, and Nouhoum Traoré

Since the large rise in commodity prices in 2007-08, extractive mining has been booming throughout  Africa. In West Africa, the mining boom has been large in gold mining in both artisanal and formal sector gold mining in Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Mali. However, an extensive and long-standing economics literature on the resources curse and so-called Dutch disease effects has questioned whether such mining sector booms benefit either countries or the local populations who live around the mining activities. In particular, mining booms have been associated with economic volatility, increased violence, localized inflation, poverty, and inequality. So, has the mining boom in West Africa increased or decreased consumption and poverty among the population that lives near the mines? Our results show increased consumption and reduced poverty in both formal and artisanal mining areas, with artisanal mining having a stronger effect on measures of consumption and poverty.

The Effect of Foreign Direct Investment on Local Firms in Cote D’Ivoire with J. Foltz and N. Traore

Developing countries often articulate attracting more Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) in their development policy. Whether this policy is beneficial to their local economies is debatable. This paper draws on unique firm panel data in Cote D'Ivoire to provide evidence about whether FDI benefits domestic firms. We study the effect of FDI on domestic firms' productivity and other related outcomes, including the probability of exporting and participating in global markets, average wage rate, and survival. We add to the literature on FDI and spillovers by extending the external validity of the results by studying this question in a context in Africa that has a peculiar set of constraints to domestic firm growth.

We find that the same sector FDI reduces domestic firms' productivity and the likelihood of domestic firms exporting while increasing the average wage rate, suggesting competitive pressures via the labor market. On the other hand,  FDI in downstream sectors minimizes both the intensive and extensive export margins.

Climate Shocks and Human Capital: Evidence from Uganda

This research examines whether high temperatures and exposure to childhood climate shocks are a cognitive drag on children in Uganda. First, it asks whether students perform worse on a test on hotter days. Second, it examines whether previous longer-term exposure to high temperatures and unusual rainfall influences current test scores and educational outcomes.

The analysis shows that high temperatures on test dates harm test performance, especially for girls, children younger than ten, and children from households with high socioeconomic status, implying additional temperature control considerations for particular demographics. The analysis of childhood climate shocks, which employs within parish distributions of rainfall and heat,  shows that positive rain shocks experienced in utero and at age four increase the likelihood of a child being at the correct grade for their age. However, children who experience rain and heat shocks from birth until age 3 have worse learning outcomes in Math and Literacy.