Theses Doctoral

Essays in health and development economics

Baum, Aaron Isaac

The three papers in this dissertation apply quasi-experimental and experimental methods for causal inference to the fields of health and development economics. The first paper exploits a plausibly exogenous reduction in the supply of health care in New York City caused by an historic storm to separately identify the impacts of health care access, weather shocks, and their interaction on chronic conditions. The second paper investigates how formal credit, informal risk sharing, and insurance interact. I exploit a natural experiment wherein tens of thousands of microfinance borrowers across rural Haiti received a quasi-random value of insurance benefit in the aftermath of catastrophic hurricanes. I show that subsequent demand for credit is increasing in the value of insurance, that insurance has decreasing marginal effects on the demand for credit, and that formal insurance increases the fungibility of the informal social ties underpinning risk sharing arrangements. Additionally, I present evidence suggestive of collusion in peer-based claims processing as a function of informal financial proximity. Finally, the third paper reports results from a cluster-randomized trial in rural Haiti that I led. It provides the first causal evidence that delivering basic health goods through microfinance institutions, which offer a platform that reaches 200 million rural poor households globally, is clinically effective.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sustainable Development
Thesis Advisors
Breza, Emily L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 27, 2016