Alex Armand

Vitae Research Teaching Empty



Measuring and Changing Control: Women's Empowerment and Targeted Transfers (with I. Almås, O. Attanasio and P. Carneiro)
Economic Journal, Forthcoming.
WP: NBER Working Paper No. 21717  -  CEPR DP No. 11465  -  IZA DP No. 9779
: VoxEu
Abstract This paper studies how targeting cash transfers to women affect their empowerment. We use a novel identification strategy to measure women’s willingness to pay to receive cash transfers instead of their partner receiving it. We apply this among women living in poor households in urban Macedonia. We match experimental data with a unique policy intervention (CCT) in Macedonia offering poor households cash transfers conditional on having their children attending secondary school. The program randomized whether the transfer was offered to household heads or mothers at municipality level, providing us with an exogenous source of variation (offered) in transfers. We show that women who were offered the transfer reveal a lower willingness to pay, and we show that this is in line with theoretical predictions.

The Effect of Gender-Targeted Cash Transfers on Household Expenditures: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment (with O. Attanasio, P. Carneiro and V. Lechene)
WP: IZA DP No. 10133
Abstract This paper studies the differential effect of targeting cash transfers to men or women on the structure of household expenditures on non-durables. We study a policy intervention in the Republic of Macedonia, offering cash transfers to poor households, conditional on having their children attending secondary school. The recipient of the transfer is randomized across municipalities to be either the household head or the mother. Using data collected to evaluate the conditional cash transfer program, we show that the gender of the recipient has an effect on the structure of expenditure shares. Targeting transfers to women increases the expenditure share on food by about 4 to 5 percent. To study the allocation of expenditures within the food basket, we estimate a demand system for food and we find that targeting payments to mothers induces, for different food categories, not only a significant intercept shift, but also a change in the slope of the Engel curve.

Intra-household resource control, subjective expectations and human capital investment
WP: NCID Working Paper 03/2015
Additional material: Online Appendix
Coverage: awarded  EALE Young Labour Economist Prize
Abstract This paper studies how the interaction between intra-household allocation of resources and parental beliefs about the returns to education influences human capital investment among poor households. For this purpose, I study a conditional cash transfer program in the Republic of Macedonia, aiming at improving secondary school enrollment among children in poor households. For identification I exploit the random allocation of payments either to mothers or household heads, together with a unique information on parental subjective expectations of returns to schooling. I show that targeting mothers leads to an increase in secondary school enrollment only for children whose parental returns are sufficiently high at the beginning of the program. This effect is associated with an increase in individual expenditure shares on education for this group. I find no differential impact for other inputs, such as monitoring of school attendance and time use. Overall, I show that the effect of channeling resources to mothers is strictly related to heterogeneity in parental perceived returns to schooling.


The Reach of Radio: defection messaging and armed group behavior (with P. Atwell and J. Gomes)
WP: HiCN WP 249
Abstract We study the role of FM radio messaging in discouraging violent conflict by armed groups. Focusing on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), we collected unique information about defection messaging by radio stations in the four countries where the LRA has operated (DR Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda). We exploit time and geographical variation, along with random topography-driven variation in radio coverage, to capture the causal effect of the intensity of messaging on violence, and on the LRA’s strategic behavior. Higher intensity of defection messages leads to a decrease in violence, measured in both number of events and fatalities. We show that this outcome is mainly explained by an increase in defections among LRA members. In areas with higher intensity of messaging, we observe a strategic shift as the LRA tries to compensate these membership losses by “recruiting” new members through increased abductions, and engaging in higher levels of looting to reward new and existing members.

On the mechanics of the political resource curse: information and local elite behaviour in Mozambique (with P. Vicente)  - Work in Progress - Project summary

Productivity and rent-seeking in the lab (with D. Aycinena and A. Coutts)  - Work in Progress


Do Public Health Interventions Crowd Out Private Health Investments? Malaria Control Policies in Eritrea (with P. Carneiro, A. Locatelli, S. Mihreteab and J. Keating)
Labour Economics, vol. 45 (2017) 107-115.

WP: The World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, WPS 7268
It is often argued that engaging in indoor residual spraying (IRS) in areas with high coverage of mosquito bed nets may discourage net ownership and use. This is just a case of a public program inducing perverse incentives. We analyze new data from a randomized control trial conducted in Eritrea which surprisingly shows the opposite: IRS encouraged net acquisition and use. Our evidence points to the role of imperfect information. The introduction of IRS may have made the problem of malaria more salient, leading to a change in beliefs about its importance and to an increase in private health investments.

Are Parental Perceived Returns to Schooling predicting Future Schooling Decisions? Evidence from Macedonia
WP: NCID Working Paper 02/2015
Abstract This paper investigates the role of parental expected returns to schooling as determinants of future schooling decisions. I show that when observing schooling decisions two years after the collection of information about perceived returns, parental subjective expectations are strong predictors for the probability of the child to be enrolled in secondary school. I provide evidence that this relation is distinctively different when looking at boys and girls. By using the unique longitudinal dimension of the dataset, I provide evidence against cognitive biases in expectation reporting and against endogeneity issues, which supports the use of subjective data in decision models.

Community toilet use in slums: the role of informational and supply side constraints (with B. Augsburg)  - Work in Progress - Project summary

The effect of non-cognitive skills training on violence among youth: Evidence from Honduras and El Salvador - Work in Progress


Demand Drops and Innovation Investments: Evidence from the Great Recession in Spain (with P. Mendi)
WP: Latest draft
Abstract Fluctuations in aggregate demand can influence the decision to invest in innovation. This paper focuses on this choice when fluctuations are heterogeneous across productive strata of the economy. To guide the empirical analysis, we model firms’ decision to invest in innovation. In our framework, firms are heterogeneous and demand shocks are exogenous. We show that drops in aggregate expenditure reduce the proportion of firms investing in innovation. We then study investment behaviour in a panel of Spanish innovative manufacturing firms. These firms are all investing in internal R&D in 2004 and are yearly surveyed until 2013. During the Great Recession, firms experienced large contractions in aggregate consumption. The reduction reached 10% of its pre-crisis trend. We proxy heterogeneous fluctuations in demand with entry and exit rates in the productive stratum of each firm. Rates incorporate all firms, including non-innovative firms. Higher exit rates are associated with reductions of 2 to 3% in the share of firms investing in innovation. The drop is larger for smaller firms, which also experience larger decreases in sales. These results are in line with our theoretical predictions. Our estimates are robust to the inclusion of indicators of time-varying credit constraints. For these constraints, we observe a marginal role among innovative firms.

Local Labour Market Shocks and Subjective Expectations: Evidence from panel data (with P. Carneiro)  - Work in Progress

The chance to be first: identification of individual children resource shares and children inequality in Rural India  - Work in Progress

Learning from a publicly subsidized agricultural insurance (with J. Gomes)  - Work in Progress


Impact Evaluation of the Conditional Cash Transfer Program for Secondary School Attendance in Macedonia - Final Report (with Pedro Carneiro), 3ie International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, 2016.

Understanding Low Take-Up of Employment Subsidies in Macedonia: Lessons from a Survey of Potential Beneficiaries and Firms
(with Pedro Carneiro and Federico Tagliati), Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Republic of Macedonia, 2014.

Impact Evaluation of Conditional Cash Transfers for Secondary School Attendance in Macedonia: Results from the First Follow-Up
(with Pedro Carneiro), Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Republic of Macedonia, 2013.

Impact Evaluation of Conditional Cash Transfers for Secondary School Attendance in Macedonia: 2010 Baseline Report (with Pedro Carneiro), Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Republic of Macedonia, 2010 and 2011.