“Conflict, Climate and Cells: a Disaggregated Analysis” (joint with Eliana La Ferrara)   Abstract  
Review of Economics and Statistics, 100(4), 594-608, 2018.
We conduct a disaggregated empirical analysis of civil conflict at the subnational level in Africa over 1997-2011 using a new gridded dataset. We construct an original measure of agriculture-relevant weather shocks exploiting within-year variation in weather and in crop growing season, and spatial variation in crop cover. Temporal and spatial spillovers in conflict are addressed through spatial econometric techniques. Negative shocks occurring during the growing season of local crops affect conflict incidence persistently, and local conflict spills over to neighboring cells. We use our estimates to trace the dynamic response to shocks and predict how future warming may affect violence.
Economic Development and Cultural Change, 68(1), 189–238, 2019.
This paper investigates the human capital effects of a legal reform granting Kenyan women equal inheritance rights. I employ a difference-in-differences strategy, exploiting variation in pre-reform inheritance rights across religious groups. I find that women exposed to the reform are more educated, less likely to undergo genital mutilation, more likely to receive prenatal care, and that they delay marriage and childbearing. They also tend to participate more in family decisions, suggesting improved bargaining power as the main channel. These findings suggest that legal recognition of women’s inheritance rights can be beneficial for women even in contexts of poor enforcement.
American Economic Review, 10(8): 2377–2421, 2020.
The spatial layout of cities is an important feature of urban form, highlighted by urban planners but overlooked by economists. This paper investigates the causal economic implications of city shape in India. I measure cities’ geometric properties over time using satellite imagery and historical maps. I develop an instrument for urban shape based on geographic obstacles encountered by expanding cities. Compact city shape is associated with faster population growth and households display positive willingness to pay for more compact layouts. Transit accessibility is an important channel. Land use regulations can contribute to deteriorating city shape.
Working Papers
2021, Submitted.
Developing countries face massive urbanization under weak property rights. Slum upgrading is a popular policy to improve shelter for many, but preserving slums at the expense of formal developments may entail future opportunity costs. We investigate these dynamic inefficiency concerns by estimating the long-term impacts of the 1969-1984 KIP program, which provided basic upgrades to 5 million residents in Jakarta, Indonesia. We assemble high-resolution data on program boundaries and current outcomes, including novel photographs-based slum indexes. Among historical slums, KIP areas today have on average 15% lower land values, 50% fewer high-rises, and are more informal, consistent with delayed formalization. A boundary discontinuity design yields similar results. Surplus calculations show heterogeneous opportunity costs, with 90% of the losses concentrated in half of the program areas, where land values are high. Elsewhere, KIP delivers sizable surplus. Our exercise informs the debate on whether to upgrade or formalize slums as cities expand.