Understanding and improving social inclusion in Indian private schools
Misum researcher: Abhijeet Singh, SSE
Other researchers and collaborators: J-PAL South Asia, Indus Action
Project dates: February 2023 – January 2028
Social and economic stratification of schools can damage both the equity and the effectiveness of education systems. These concerns are exacerbated in settings where private schools account for a significant share of enrolment, as is the case in India where nearly half the population attends a fee-paying private school. The EDINCLUSION project focuses on understanding and improving school integration in India, which is the world’s largest school system and also among the most unequal. The agenda focuses on studying and improving the impact of India’s landmark school integration policy under the Right to Education Act 2009, which mandates that 25% of places in private schools should be reserved for students from disadvantaged economic and caste backgrounds.
This research program features three main work streams: (a) an assessment of the effects on current beneficiaries; (b) identifying approaches to encouraging applications from poorer eligible students; and (c) a systematic understanding of private school markets related to parental choice and to heterogeneity in school outcomes in the private sector.
The results of the research program will: (a) generate much-needed evidence on the effectiveness of the largest school integration program in world, (b) identify ways to improve its effectiveness and (c) generate fundamental insights on the functioning of urban school markets in developing countries and the take-up of social policy.
This project is funded by the European Research Council. Image from unsplash.
The cost of air pollution for workers and firms
Misum researcher: Marion Leroutier, SSE
Other researchers and collaborators: Hélène Olivier, Paris School of Economics and CNRS
Project dates: 2021–2024
Even at relatively moderate levels such as in Western Europe, poor air quality negatively affects physical health and cognitive function, but little is known about how air pollution’s negative effects on individuals translate into costs for firms. The project investigates how fine particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) affects firms’ sales in the context of France, and the underlying mechanisms. It leverages unique administrative data providing information on the sick leave status of 350 000 workers and the sales of the 180 000 firms that employ them, every month between 2009 and 2015. This data is geolocated and matched with fine-grained measures of fine particulate matter pollution. The research finds that a 10% increase in monthly PM2.5 reduces monthly sales in manufacturing, construction and professional services by between 0.4% and 0.8%, and that it increases the number of workers on sick leave by 1%.
The findings suggest that air pollution affects firms’ performance not only through an increase in staff absenteeism, but also through a decrease in productivity and potentially a decrease in demand. During the period considered, daily air pollution exceeded the levels recommended by the World Health Organization on 37% of the days. The research team estimates that reducing air pollution in line with WHO guidelines would have avoided sales losses and sick leave worth €6 billion per year, with 98% of the benefits linked to avoided sales losses.
This project is partially funded by Mistra, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. Image from unsplash.
Integration through Friendship – A Study of a Peer Matching Program in Sweden
Project start date: December 2021
The massive inflow of migrants in the recent decade in the EU has created challenges to ensuring that migrants and their descendants can fully participate in society. Effective integration is often hindered by linguistic, cultural, and administrative barriers. Despite state-funded social programs that promote better inclusion, there remains little evidence for which programs and policies work best, and why. This research project aims to evaluate a program focused on reducing frictions in the integration of new migrants in Sweden by fostering regular interactions between recent migrants and native Swedish peers. The program has been implemented by the collaborating partner, Kompis Sverige, in 20 municipalities in Sweden since 2013. In December 2021 the researchers, Martina and Abhijeet, started a randomized controlled trial to study the impact of the program on the social integration of migrants.
This project is funded by J-PAL European Social Inclusion Initiative.
Interventions to reduce consumers’ carbon footprint
Project start date: Summer 2021
This research project is a collaboration between Misum, the Swedish impact tech company Doconomy, and the Italian bank Flowe. The researchers are interested in answering the following set of questions: do consumers change their consumption behavior if they: (1) are regularly informed about the carbon footprint of their purchases; (2) are offered the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions; (3) are given information about climate change? Services offering carbon calculators are proliferating, yet little is known about how effective they are at inducing behavioural changes. Information on one’s environmental impact may increase awareness and produce more informed consumption choices, but this ultimately depends on whether consumers check and understand the information, are aware of ways to reduce their emissions, and are concerned about their own carbon footprint.
This project is partially funded by Mistra, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. Image by rupixen.com on Unsplash.
Facing the hard truth: Evidence from climate change ignorance
Public ignorance around climate change remains high in many countries. In this paper, we show that information avoidance aimed at protecting identity contributes to explaining climate ignorance. Exploiting mass-layoffs of coal miners in the US we find that climate ignorance shrinks less over time in counties affected by the layoffs as compared to other coal-mining counties. Comparing layoffs from coal and metal mines we also show that the layoff impact on climate ignorance is specific to coal communities. Measures aimed at helping the labor-market transition of laid-off workers do not appear to mitigate the impact. Our results suggest that attention should be paid to political developments in communities negatively affected by the green transition to avoid costly backlash from climate policies.
This project is partially funded by Mistra, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. Image from flickr.
Incentivizing textbooks for self-study: Experimental evidence from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Misum researcher: Anders Olofsgård, and Associate Professor at Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics
Other researchers and collaborators: Jean-Benoit Falisse, Assistant Professor at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Futures Institute & Centre of African Studies, Marieke Huysentruyt, Assistant Professor at HEC Paris, Strategy and Business Policy
Using a randomized field experiment in South Kivu, we study the impact of a simple “textbooks for self-study” incentive scheme targeting student achievement in primary schools. Students in treatment schools scored 0.26σ higher on French tests and better but not significantly so in math. They were also seven per cent more likely to pass the high-stakes national exam and those who passed obtained 0.30σ higher scores. The largest impact was found in schools with lower teaching-efficacy and for lower-ability students. Our results demonstrate that incentives-centred programs designed to intensify and diversify students’ use of existing school resources can improve student achievement.
This project is carried out in collaboration with the World Bank through the Results in Education for All Children (REACH) program, and with Cordaid, a Dutch NGO operating in DRC. Read more about the project here. Image from Unsplash.
The parallel pandemic of domestic violence in Uganda: Is the lockdown to blame?
Misum researchers: Cristina Clerici, PhD student at the Department of Economics, SSE
Other researchers and collaborators: Stefano Tripodi, PhD student at the Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School
Violence against women and girls is a pervasive phenomenon worldwide. Recent evidence highlighted how spouses’ employment status can affect violent behaviours within the household. We study the relationship between temporary male job loss and intimate partner violence against women in Uganda by exploiting the restrictions imposed by the Government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic during April/May 2020. Using data collected through a phone survey administered in November 2020, we compare employed women whose partners’ occupational sectors were not allowed to operate during the COVID-19 lockdown with employed women whose partners’ job sectors remained unaffected.
This project is partially funded by Mistra, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. Photo by Tiziano Bianchi.
(Do not) hold your breath! Air pollution and cognitive abilities in a developing context
Misum researcher: Erik Merkus, PhD student at the Department of Economics, SSE
High-stakes examinations are an important part in the human capital accumulation process of students, as it partly determines their access to higher education. We exploit exogenous variation in exposure to air pollution on test days of these high-stake examinations and find that students faced with higher levels of air pollution perform worse, potentially affecting their lifetime human capital.
This project is partially funded by Mistra, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. Image from Unsplash.
The distributional effects of a carbon tax: The role of income inequality
Misum researcher: Julius Andersson, Researcher at Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics
Other researchers and collaborators: Giles Atkinson, London School of Economics
This project addresses the question of the distributional burden of a carbon tax. It shows that not only the income measure – annual or lifetime – matters for the incidence of the tax, but also the underlying distribution of income. The Swedish carbon tax on transport fuel is regressive between 1999-2012 when measured against annual income, but progressive when using lifetime income. The overall trend, however, is toward an increase in regressivity, which is highly correlated with a rise in income inequality. Analysis of the determinants of distributional effects lends support to our hypothesis that, for necessities – goods with an income elasticity below one– rising income inequality increases the regressivity of a consumption tax. To mitigate climate change, a carbon tax should be applied to goods that typically are necessities: transport fuel, food, heating, and electricity. Carbon taxation will thus likely be regressive in high-income countries, the more so the more unequal the distribution of income.
This project has received support from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy. Find the working paper for the project here. Image from Unsplash.
Economic determinants of violence in the home. The case of Sweden during COVID-19
Misum researcher: Maria Perrotta Berlin, Assistant Professor at Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics
The political reaction to the spread of COVID-19 has led, in many countries, to dramatic and abrupt changes in many dimensions that have been previously associated with conflicts and violence within households: lockdowns and confinement; the economic shock following the crisis; the labor market impacts; associated financial and psychological stress. Given well-documented gender differences in all these dimensions, these effects come with asymmetric impacts for men and women. Together with the increased time spent on childcare and household chores, due to the social distancing, this is likely to upset the balance of “normal times” division of labor, leading to conflicts. This project studies the special case of Sweden.
Integration through friendship – evidence form a peer matching program in Sweden
Misum researchers: Martina Björkman Nyqvist, Misum Executive Director and Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, SSE; Abhijeet Singh, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, SSE
The massive inflow of migrants in the recent decade in the EU has created challenges to ensure that migrants and their descendants can fully participate in society. Effective integration faces many challenges, including linguistic, cultural, and administrative barriers. Despite considerable financial means being dedicated to social programs that promote better inclusion, there remains little rigorous evidence of which programs and policies work best, and why. In this project, we use the randomized controlled trial methodology to rigorously evaluate a program focused on reducing frictions in the integration of new migrants in Sweden. The intervention fosters regular interactions between recent migrants and a matched native (established) Swedish peer in their host municipality. The theory-of-change posits that interactions with established native peers can bring down frictions to integration, both through better information as also the development of social capital, and thus promote their full inclusion in broader society.
This program is funded by J-Pal Europé and implemented by the NGO partner Kompis Sverige. Image from Unsplash.