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Title: Social networks, community-based development and empirical methodologies
Author: Caeyers, Bet Helena
ISNI:       0000 0001 2038 2083
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis consists of two parts: Part I (Chapters 2 and 3) critically assesses a set of methodological tools that are widely used in the literature and that are applied to the empirical analysis in Part II (Chapters 4 and 5). Using a randomised experiment, the first chapter compares pen-and-paper interviewing (PAPI) with computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI). We observe a large error count in PAPI, which is likely to introduce sample bias. We examine the effect of PAPI consumption measurement error on poverty analysis and compare both applications in terms of interview length, costs and respondents’ perceptions. Next, we formalise an unproven source of ordinary least squares estimation bias in standard linear-in-means peer effects models. Deriving a formula for the magnitude of the bias, we discuss its underlying parameters. We show when the bias is aggravated in models adding cluster fixed effects and how it affects inference and interpretation of estimation results. We reveal that two-stage least squares (2SLS) estimation strategies eliminate the bias and provide illustrative simulations. The results may explain some counter-intuitive findings in the social interaction literature. We then use the linear-in-means model to estimate endogenous peer effects on the awareness of a community-based development programme of vulnerable groups in rural Tanzania. We denote the geographically nearest neighbours set as the relevant peer group in this context and employ a popular 2SLS estimation strategy on a unique spatial household dataset, collected using CAPI, to identify significant average and heterogeneous endogenous peer effects. The final chapter investigates social network effects in decentralised food aid (free food and food for work) allocation processes in Ethiopia, in the aftermath of a serious drought. We find that food aid is responsive to need, as well as being targeted at households with less access to informal support. However, we also find strong correlations with political connections, especially in the immediate aftermath of the drought.
Supervisor: Dercon, Stefan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Development economics ; Econometrics ; Social networks ; community-based development ; exclusion bias ; peer effects ; consumption measurement ; data quality ; bias ; political connections ; targeting effectiveness ; food aid ; Ethiopia ; Tanzania ; awareness ; information spread ; local government