Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics
My dissertation focuses on the spatial aspects of trade and development. The first chapter looks at recent improvements in border crossing and port efficiencies in Southern and Eastern Africa to estimate how such trade frictions affect trade flows. I use a general equilibrium gravity model with multiple sectors and trade with the rest of the world in order to capture both direct and indirect effects from border improvements. The reduction of border wait times from an average of 30 hours to 10 is estimated to have increased internal trade by 3.96 billion USD. This amounts to 21% of the total increase in trade between African countries between 2008 and 2014, with inland countries having a greater benefit. I further find an additional 9.46 billion USD increase in internal trade flows when I equalize border wait times to those seen in developed countries.
The second chapter analyzes the effect of nine resource commodities on economic growth at the sub-national level. Combining georeferenced data on resource locations with satellite data on night lights, I estimate the causal effect of resources on district-level growth between 1992 and 2013, using exogenous variation in the value of a mine due to changes in the world price of the corresponding commodity. I find that districts that are resource-abundant grow more slowly than other districts in the country. However, relatively faster growth in resource-abundant districts is observed in the following 5 years from the initial year of a price increase. Furthermore, I estimate the spillover effects of resource-abundant districts within their state and find large spillover effects not only on adjacent districts, but also on large cities. Finally, I analyze the role of institutions for the distributional impact of mining regions. I find that the specific regions that benefit from mining activity change given the institutional characteristics and revenue sharing policies of the country.