David E. Sahn
Other affiliations: Paris School of Economics, International Food Policy Research Institute, University of Auvergne ...read more
Bio: David E. Sahn is an academic researcher from Cornell University. The author has contributed to research in topics: Poverty & Standard of living. The author has an hindex of 45, co-authored 202 publications receiving 7453 citations. Previous affiliations of David E. Sahn include Paris School of Economics & International Food Policy Research Institute.
Papers published on a yearly basis
TL;DR: In this paper, an asset-based alternative to the standard use of expenditures in defining well-being and poverty is considered, and the authors find that the asset index is a valid predictor of a crucial manifestation of poverty.
Abstract: We consider an asset-based alternative to the standard use of expenditures in defining well-being and poverty. Our motivation is to see if there exist simpler and less demanding ways to collect data to measure economic welfare and rank households. This is particularly important in poor regions where there is limited capacity to collect consumption, expenditure and price data. We evaluate an index derived from a factor analysis on household assets using multipurpose surveys from several countries. We find that the asset index is a valid predictor of a crucial manifestation of poverty—child health and nutrition. Indicators of relative measurement error show that the asset index is measured as a proxy for long-term wealth with less error than expenditures. Analysts may thus prefer to use the asset index as an explanatory variable or as a means of mapping economic welfare to other living standards and capabilities such as health and nutrition.
TL;DR: This article used Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to compare "poverty" at two or more points in time within and between African countries, and found that the majority of the improvements were due to improvements in rural areas.
Abstract: We use Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to compare “poverty” at two or more points in time within and between African countries. Our welfare measure is an index resulting from a factor analysis of various household characteristics, durables, and household heads’ education. An advantage of this measure is that for intertemporal and intraregional comparisons, we need not rely on suspect price deflators and currency conversion factors. The wide availability and similarity of questionnaires of the DHS facilitate comparisons over both time and countries. Our results generally show declines in poverty during the previous decade, largely due to improvements in rural areas.
TL;DR: Findings show that education for girls is unnecessary since they only need to work at home and policies that raise household incomes will increase gender equity in schooling, which will also depend on whether and how these policies change the opportunity costs of girls and boys and the labor market returns to female and male schooling.
Abstract: In this paper we investigate gender differences in the determinants of several schooling indicators—grade attainment, current enrollment, and withdrawal from school—in a poor urban environment in West Africa, using ordered and binary probit models incorporating household-level random effects. Increases in household income lead to greater investments in girls' schooling but have no significant impact on schooling of boys. Improvements in father's education raises the schooling of both sons and daughters (favoring the latter) but mother's education has significant impact only on daughters' schooling; these estimates are suggestive of differences in maternal and paternal preferences for schooling daughters relative to sons. Domestic responsibilities, represented for example by the number of very young siblings, impinge strongly on girls' education but not on boys'. Policies such as subsidized childcare that reduce the opportunity cost of girls' time in the home may therefore increase their ability to get an education. JEL 015, I21
TL;DR: In this article, the authors demonstrate how to make poverty comparisons using multidimensional indicators of well-being, showing in particular how to check whether the comparisons are robust to aggregation procedures and to the choice of multi-dimensional poverty lines.
Abstract: We demonstrate how to make poverty comparisons using multidimensional indicators of well-being, showing in particular how to check whether the comparisons are robust to aggregation procedures and to the choice of multidimensional poverty lines. In contrast to earlier work, our methodology applies equally well to what can be defined as ”union”, ”intersection” or ”intermediate” approaches to dealing with multidimensional indicators of well-being. To make this procedure of some practical usefulness, the paper also derives the sampling distribution of various multidimensional poverty estimators, including estimators of the ”critical” poverty frontiers outside which multidimensional poverty comparisons can no longer be deemed ethically robust. The results are illustrated using data from a number of developing countries.
TL;DR: In this paper, the relative importance of rural versus urban areas in terms of monetary poverty and seven other related living standards indicators is examined, and the relative and absolute rates of change for urban and rural areas are examined.
Abstract: In this paper we examine the relative importance of rural versus urban areas in terms of monetary poverty and seven other related living standards indicators. We present the levels of urban--rural differences for several African countries for which we have data and find that living standards in rural areas lag far behind those in urban areas. Then we examine the relative and absolute rates of change for urban and rural areas, and find no overall evidence of declining differences in the gaps between urban and rural living standards. Finally, we conduct urban--rural decompositions of inequality, examining the within versus between (urban and rural) group inequality for asset inequality, education inequality, and health (height) inequality. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.
01 Jan 1998
TL;DR: This work estimates the relationship between household wealth and children’s school enrollment in India by constructing a linear index from asset ownership indicators, using principal-components analysis to derive weights, and shows that this index is robust to the assets included, and produces internally coherent results.
Abstract: The relationship between household wealth and educational enrollment of children can be estimated without expenditure data. A method for doing so - which uses an index based on household asset ownership indicators - is proposed and defended in this paper. In India, children from the wealthiest households are over 30 percentage points more likely to be in school than those from the poorest households, although this gap varies considerably across states. To estimate the relationship between household wealth and the probability that a child (aged 6 to 14) is enrolled in school, Filmer and Pritchett use National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data collected in Indian states in 1992 and 1993. In developing their estimate Filmer and Pritchett had to overcome a methodological difficulty: The NFHS, modeled closely on the Demographic and Health Surveys, measures neither household income nor consumption expenditures. As a proxy for long-run household wealth, they constructed a linear asset index from a set of asset indicators, using principal components analysis to derive the weights. This asset index is robust, produces internally coherent results, and provides a close correspondence with data on state domestic product and on state level poverty rates. They validate the asset index using data on consumption spending and asset ownership from Indonesia, Nepal, and Pakistan. The asset index has reasonable coherence with current consumption expenditures and, more importantly, works as well as - or better than - traditional expenditure-based measures in predicting enrollment status. The authors find that on average a child from a wealthy household (in the top 20 percent on the asset index developed for this analysis) is 31 percent more likely to be enrolled in school than a child from a poor household (in the bottom 40 percent). This paper - a product of Poverty and Human Resources, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to inform educational policy. The study was funded by the Bank`s Research Support Budget under the research project Educational Enrollment and Dropout (RPO 682-11).
TL;DR: A Treatise on the Family by G. S. Becker as discussed by the authors is one of the most famous and influential economists of the second half of the 20th century, a fervent contributor to and expounder of the University of Chicago free-market philosophy, and winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in economics.
Abstract: A Treatise on the Family. G. S. Becker. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1981. Gary Becker is one of the most famous and influential economists of the second half of the 20th century, a fervent contributor to and expounder of the University of Chicago free-market philosophy, and winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in economics. Although any book with the word "treatise" in its title is clearly intended to have an impact, one coming from someone as brilliant and controversial as Becker certainly had such a lofty goal. It has received many article-length reviews in several disciplines (Ben-Porath, 1982; Bergmann, 1995; Foster, 1993; Hannan, 1982), which is one measure of its scholarly importance, and yet its impact is, I think, less than it may have initially appeared, especially for scholars with substantive interests in the family. This book is, its title notwithstanding, more about economics and the economic approach to behavior than about the family. In the first sentence of the preface, Becker writes "In this book, I develop an economic or rational choice approach to the family." Lest anyone accuse him of focusing on traditional (i.e., material) economics topics, such as family income, poverty, and labor supply, he immediately emphasizes that those topics are not his focus. "My intent is more ambitious: to analyze marriage, births, divorce, division of labor in households, prestige, and other non-material behavior with the tools and framework developed for material behavior." Indeed, the book includes chapters on many of these issues. One chapter examines the principles of the efficient division of labor in households, three analyze marriage and divorce, three analyze various child-related issues (fertility and intergenerational mobility), and others focus on broader family issues, such as intrafamily resource allocation. His analysis is not, he believes, constrained by time or place. His intention is "to present a comprehensive analysis that is applicable, at least in part, to families in the past as well as the present, in primitive as well as modern societies, and in Eastern as well as Western cultures." His tone is profoundly conservative and utterly skeptical of any constructive role for government programs. There is a clear sense of how much better things were in the old days of a genderbased division of labor and low market-work rates for married women. Indeed, Becker is ready and able to show in Chapter 2 that such a state of affairs was efficient and induced not by market or societal discrimination (although he allows that it might exist) but by small underlying household productivity differences that arise primarily from what he refers to as "complementarities" between caring for young children while carrying another to term. Most family scholars would probably find that an unconvincingly simple explanation for a profound and complex phenomenon. What, then, is the salient contribution of Treatise on the Family? It is not literally the idea that economics could be applied to the nonmarket sector and to family life because Becker had already established that with considerable success and influence. At its core, microeconomics is simple, characterized by a belief in the importance of prices and markets, the role of self-interested or rational behavior, and, somewhat less centrally, the stability of preferences. It was Becker's singular and invaluable contribution to appreciate that the behaviors potentially amenable to the economic approach were not limited to phenomenon with explicit monetary prices and formal markets. Indeed, during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, he did undeniably important and pioneering work extending the domain of economics to such topics as labor market discrimination, fertility, crime, human capital, household production, and the allocation of time. Nor is Becker's contribution the detailed analyses themselves. Many of them are, frankly, odd, idiosyncratic, and off-putting. …
TL;DR: In this paper, a method for estimating the effect of household economic status on educational outcomes without direct survey information on income or expenditures is proposed and defended, which uses an index based on household asset ownership indicators.
Abstract: This paper has an empirical and overtly methodological goal. The authors propose and defend a method for estimating the effect of household economic status on educational outcomes without direct survey information on income or expenditures. They construct an index based on indicators of household assets, solving the vexing problem of choosing the appropriate weights by allowing them to be determined by the statistical procedure of principal components. While the data for India cannot be used to compare alternative approaches they use data from Indonesia, Nepal, and Pakistan which have both expenditures and asset variables for the same households. With these data the authors show that not only is there a correspondence between a classification of households based on the asset index and consumption expenditures but also that the evidence is consistent with the asset index being a better proxy for predicting enrollments--apparently less subject to measurement error for this purpose--than consumption expenditures. The relationship between household wealth and educational enrollment of children can be estimated without expenditure data. A method for doing so - which uses an index based on household asset ownership indicators- is proposed and defended in this paper. In India, children from the wealthiest households are over 30 percentage points more likely to be in school than those from the poorest households.
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors discuss methodological issues surrounding those estimates and confirm that primary education continues to be the number one investment priority in developing countries, and also show that educating females is marginally more profitable than educating males, and that the academic secondary school curriculum is a better investment than the technical/vocational tract.
Abstract: The author updates compilations of rate of return estimates to investment in education published since 1985 - and discusses methodological issues surrounding those estimates. Some key patterns: among the three main levels of education, primary education continues to exhibit the highest social profitability in all world regions - private returns are considerably higher than social returns because of the public subsidization of education; the degree of public subsidy increases with the level of education, which is regressive; social and private returns at all levels generally decline by the level of a country's per capita income; overall, the returns to female education are higher than those to male education, but at individual levels of education the pattern is more mixed; the returns to the academic secondary school track are higher than the vocational track - since unit cost of vocational education is much higher; and the returns for those who work in the private (competitive) sector of the economy are higher than in the public (noncompetitive) sector. And the returns in the self-employment (unregulated) sector of the economy are higher than in the dependent employment sector. Controversies in the literature are discussed in the light of the new evidence. The undisputable and universal positive correlation between education and earnings can be interpreted in many ways. The causation issue on whether education really affects earnings can be answered only with experimental data generated by randomly exposing different people to various amounts of education. Given the fact that moral and pragmatic considerations prevent the generation of such pure data, researchers have to make do with indirect inferences or natural experiments. Some have been attempted. The author looks at the research on overeducation or surplus schooling. The conclusions reinforce earlier patterns. They confirm that primary education continues to be the number one investment priority in developing countries. They also show that educating females is marginally more profitable than educating males, that the academic secondary school curriculum is a better investment than the technical/vocational tract, and that the returns to education obey the same rules as investment in conventional capital - that is, they decline as investment is expanded.