Epidemics and Conflict : Evidence from the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa (with Elena Esposito) [Paper PDF] This paper investigates the impact of a rapidly spreading epidemic on civil violence in the context of the largest Ebola outbreak in history, in Western Africa. The identification strategy relies on the epidemiological features of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). We exploit the dynamics of the disease and weekly frequency data at the local level to analyze the effect of new infections on riots, protests and violence against institutional authorities. The impacts are large, localized and tied to containment efforts. The results suggest that state coercion and demand for public goods are mechanisms fueling conflict. The epidemic requires a change in cultural practices which leads to social unrest, especially for groups facing higher costs of cultural adaptation, low trust in institutional authorities and depending on the response of the state. This further deepens mistrust in institutions after the epidemic, especially among these communities. The paper contributes to a growing literature on conflict by providing light into mechanisms triggering civil violence in weak institutional settings.
Local Media and the Spread of Ebola in Guinea (2017) [Draft paper available upon request]
This paper studies the role of local media in halting the spread of a major epidemic in the context of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea in 2014-16. Using original data from Guinea and a quasi-experimental design based on exogenous variation in radio signal reception by distinct media outlets, combined with the precise timing of distinct information campaigns about Ebola, we study the effect of local radios on the spread of the disease, social resistance and treatment uptake. We conjecture that local media serves as a coordination device to change cultural practices that facilitate the spread of disease, through its effect on second order beliefs. The results show that sustained access to a local radio program informing about protective measures, encouraging treatment, addressing Ebola rumors and new burial practices, lowered social resistance behavior, increased treatment uptake and led to a drop in infected cases seven months after the start of the campaign. Access to local radios affected cultural norms, such as burial practices, and facilitated technological adoption, but there is no evidence of impacts on private actions, such as chlorine use. The findings suggest a role for local radios as a coordination device to change cultural norms in a high stakes environment.
Grant from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ghana, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
Nonlinear pricing of regulated utilities to address the tradeoff between a universal service and an environmental externality (2015) [Paper available upon request]
This paper analyses the role of nonlinear pricing in guaranteeing access to a universal service, such as electricity, and in incorporating the environmental externality caused by its excessive consumption. In a general equilibrium framework, I show that third degree price discrimination can achieve both goals. I then study the impact of a reduction in the electricity tariff for poor households in the Spanish residential electricity market. The difference in tariffs introduced in 2010 and applied to households depending on the age of the third child is exploited in a Difference-in-Discontinuities Design to test the effect of price discrimination on consumption and long-term outcomes. I find positive long-term impacts on the health of the elderly benefiting from the reduced price.