NBER Publications by Michael Carter

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only


The Economics of Asset Accumulation and Poverty Traps
with Christopher B. Barrett, Jean-Paul Chavas
Conference held June 28-29, 2016
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press

Working Papers and Chapters and Reporter Articles

September 2014Violence and the Formation of Hopelessness and Pessimistic Prospects of Upward Mobility in Colombia
with Andrés Moya: w20463
Violence has severe material and psychological consequences. In this article we explore if it also induces hopelessness and pessimistic prospects of upward mobility. For this purpose, we bring together novel data from a sample of individuals residing in violence-torn regions in Colombia, including some who were directly victimized and displaced during last ten years. We find that victims who suffered more severe episodes of violence are hopeless and perceive overly pessimistic prospects of upward mobility. These results suggest that shocks and traumatic experiences can shatter hopes and beliefs through psychological constraints and hinder the ability of people to recover in a pervasive way.
Subsidies and the Persistence of Technology Adoption: Field Experimental Evidence from Mozambique
with Rachid Laajaj, Dean Yang: w20465
We report the results of a randomized experiment testing impacts of subsidies for modern agricultural inputs in rural Mozambique. One-time provision of a voucher for fertilizer and improved seeds leads to substantial increases in fertilizer use, which persist through two subsequent agricultural seasons. Voucher receipt also leads to large, persistent increases in household agricultural production and market sales, per capita consumption, assets, durable good ownership, and housing improvements. Consistent with learning models of the adoption decision, we find positive treatment effects on farmers' estimated returns to the input package. We also document positive cross-household treatment spillovers: one's own fertilizer use rises in the number of social network members receiving vouchers....
December 2013After the Drought: The Impact of Microinsurance on Consumption Smoothing and Asset Protection
with Sarah A. Janzen: w19702
When natural disasters afflict poor communities that lack buoyant access to financial markets, households face the unsavory choice of reducing consumption in order to protect remaining assets, or selling assets at low prices in order to maintain consumption and nutrition. Both choices are costly and damage future economic potential. Formal insurance markets would seem to offer large private and social returns in these circumstances. This paper studies a drought-induced insurance payout from a pilot project in Kenya to determine whether insurance protects households from asset and consumption destabilization. Average treatment effect estimates show that insurance significantly reduces both kinds of costly coping. A closer examination using threshold estimation methods reveals that insuranc...
October 2013Left, Right, Left: Income, Learning and Political Dynamics
with John Morrow: w19498
The political left turn in Latin America, which lagged its transition to liberalized market economies by a decade or more, challenges conventional economic explanations of voting behavior. This paper generalizes the forward-looking voter model to a broad range of dynamic, non-concave income processes. The model implies support for redistributive policies materializes rapidly if few prospects of upward mobility are present. In contrast, modeling voters' ideologically charged beliefs about income dynamics shows a slow and polarizing shift toward redistributive preferences occurs. Simulation using fitted income dynamics suggests that imperfect information better accounts for the shift back to the left, and offers additional insights about political dynamics.

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