Essays in economic development and political economy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Economics.
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This thesis examines three topics. The first chapter, entitled "Persistent Effects of Peru's Mining Mita" utilizes regression discontinuity to examine the long-run impacts of the mita, an extensive forced mining labor system in effect in Peru and Bolivia between 1573 and 1812. Results indicate that a mita effect lowers household consumption by around 25% and increases the prevalence of stunted growth in children by around six percentage points in subjected districts today. Using data from the Spanish Empire and Peruvian Republic to trace channels of institutional persistence, I show that the mita's influence has persisted through its impacts on land tenure and public goods provision. Mita districts historically had fewer large landowners and lower educational attainment. Today, they are less integrated into road networks, and their residents are substantially more likely to be subsistence farmers. The second chapter, entitled "Trafficking Networks and the Mexican Drug War" examines how drug traffickers' economic objectives influence the direct and spillover effects of Mexican policy towards the drug trade. Drug trade-related violence has escalated dramatically in Mexico during the past five years, claiming over 40,000 lives. By exploiting variation from close mayoral elections and a network model of drug trafficking, the study develops three sets of results. First, regression discontinuity estimates show that drug trade-related violence in a municipality increases substantially after the close election of a mayor from the conservative National Action Party (PAN), which has spearheaded the war on drug trafficking. This violence consists primarily of individuals involved in the drug trade killing each other. The empirical evidence suggests that the violence reflects rival traffickers' attempts to wrest control of territories after crackdowns initiated by PAN mayors have challenged the incumbent criminals. Second, the study predicts the diversion of drug traffic following close PAN victories by estimating a model of equilibrium routes for trafficking drugs across the Mexican road network to the U.S. When drug traffic is diverted to other municipalities, drug trade-related violence in these municipalities increases. Moreover, female labor force participation and informal sector wages fall, corroborating qualitative evidence that traffickers extort informal sector producers. Finally, the study uses the trafficking model and estimated spillover effects to examine the allocation of law enforcement resources. Overall, the results demonstrate how traffickers' economic objectives and constraints imposed by the routes network affect the policy outcomes of the Mexican Drug War. The third chapter, entitled "Insurgency and Long-Run Development: Lessons from the Mexican Revolution" exploits within-state variation in drought severity to identify how insurgency during the Mexican Revolution, a major early 20th century armed conflict, impacted subsequent government policies and long-run economic development. Using a novel municipal-level dataset on revolutionary insurgency, the study documents that municipalities experiencing severe drought just prior to the Revolution were substantially more likely to have insurgent activity than municipalities where drought was less severe. Many insurgents demanded land reform, and following the Revolution, Mexico redistributed over half of its surface area in the form of ejidos: farms comprised of individual and communal plots that were granted to a group of petitioners. Rights to ejido plots were non-transferable, renting plots was prohibited, and many decisions about the use of ejido lands had to be countersigned by politicians. Instrumental variables estimates show that municipalities with revolutionary insurgency had 22 percentage points more of their surface area redistributed as ejidos. Today, insurgent municipalities are 20 percentage points more agricultural and 6 percentage points less industrial. Incomes in insurgent municipalities are lower and alternations between political parties for the mayorship have been substantially less common. Overall, the results support the hypothesis that land reform, while successful at placating insurgent regions, stymied long-run economic development.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Economics, 2012.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 183-197).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology