Valerie Mueller

Labor Adaptation to Climate Variability in Eastern Africa

"As countries design climate change adaptation policies, it is important to understand how workers alter behavior in response to changes in temperature. Nonetheless, the impact of temperature on labor markets is poorly documented, especially in Africa. We address this gap by analyzing panel surveys of labor choices by sector, contractual arrangement, and migration status in four East African countries. Merging survey information with high-resolution climate data, we assess how workers shift employment in response to temperature anomalies. Results suggest important distinctions between rural and urban areas. In urban areas, only agricultural self-employment and migration are responsive to temperature, with participation in both activities decreasing at high extremes. Urban out-migration is used as a tool to increase incomes in “good” years rather than an adaptation mechanism during bad years. In contrast, out-migration appears to be a means of adapting to high temperatures in rural areas, especially among households with relatively little agricultural land. The combined impact of these forces suggests that a 2 standard deviation increase in temperature results in a 7 percent increase in urban unemployment and no significant impact on rural unemployment."

Seeing is Believing? Evidence from a Demonstration Plot Experiment in Mozambique

"We preliminarily find that providing sustainable land management (SLM) training to standard contact farmers and having them maintain demonstration plots within the community on a whole had low impact on the knowledge and adoption of SLM practices. However, the aspect of our intervention that targeted a traditionally disadvantaged group as far as their access to extension services, women, was somewhat successful in terms of improving their SLM knowledge and adoption rates. Having a female contact farmer increased the number of SLM techniques adopted by women by 10 percent. Both male and female farmers in this treatment group identified female (not male) contact farmers as a source of learning for both SLM practices and non SLM-practices suggesting knowledge spillovers. Furthermore, farmers were additionally inclined to teach others what they have learned in the communities with female contact farmers. While we are currently analyzing additional factors that may affect the ability of the intervention to influence behavior, our results have broader implications for improving extension services overall."

Do Limitations in Land Rights Transferability Influence Mobility Rates in Ethiopia?

"Migration is considered a pathway out of poverty for many rural households in developing countries. National policies can discourage households from exploiting external employment opportunities through the distortion of capital markets. Studies in China show that the presence of state and collectively owned land creates inefficiencies in the labor market. We examine the extent restrictions on land rights impede mobility in Ethiopia. The empirical estimates support a modest, negative effect from increasing the transferability of land rights on migration. These findings suggest the absence of land rights slightly encourages migration. Moreover, this behavior is consistent with earlier findings which show land rights improvements encourage productivity investments assuming land and on-farm labor are complementary inputs."