I am an applied economist working on topics in environmental development and gender economics. Specifically I:
Examine how access to improved energy and water technologies impact economic development and productivity in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs).
Analyze the gendered aspects of those outcomes, with a focus on how resource access affects women’s livelihoods and measures of gender empowerment.
Use Bayesian modeling to investigate how the presence and magnitude of these outcomes are influenced by contextual and methodological decisions,
Gendered time benefits from improved cookstoves
3 billion people globally lack access to clean and reliable cooking energy. The primary goal of this project is to research understudied outcomes of improved energy systems. Specifically, we quantify and value the time savings and economic benefits of switching to an improved cookstove in East/Southern Africa, and specifically look at gendered differences between these outcomes. Additionally, we utilize four methods of time use data collection, including a pictorial time diary and a novel GPS tracking approach for which I obtained $35,000 in funding.
We have partnered with C-Quest Capital and the Clean Cooking Alliance to distribute and experimentally study a fuel-efficient cookstove in Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania. We collect data on time use, fuel use practices, agriculture, food security, income and education, bargaining power, domestic violence, and agency. We also use a discrete choice experiment to derive the value of time savings.
Bayesian approaches to understanding time use variation
The time burden of fuel collection and preparation varies substantially across time and space, and according to household characteristics. This burden has proven difficult to characterize both because of measurement challenges and because it likely varies by context (e.g., a woman in a remote area of rural Malawi has a different experience than one in peri-urban Kenya). This in turn makes it difficult to accurately predict the time savings impacts of interventions, which is needed to improve design of clean energy projects and programs, and also to attract new finance to the sector through development impact bonds.
We apply standard and hierarchical Bayesian methods to better understand how methodological and contextual choices, such as geography, level of connectedness to resources, and type of time use elicitation method, impact estimates of fuel collection time. We combine nationally representative cooking energy use data from two African countries with primary data from rural locations in four African countries that includes survey experiments to compare elicitation methods. Results help to identify key sources of heterogeneity in fuel harvesting time estimates that can be used to better target and evaluate interventions that aim to reduce energy poverty of rural households. Households in low- and middle- income countries rely heavily on biomass collected from the environment to meet their basic cooking and heating needs.
The data for this paper is from the C-Quest Capital project described above. My personal contributions included cleaning all data, building econometric models, performing Bayesian analysis, and write ups. A working paper can be found here.
Time savings and valuation from WASH interventions
Improved access to safe and reliable water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in the developing world has many positive health and economic impacts. Two of the key channels through which such impacts manifest are (a) the reduced time burden for the household members, usually women, who are responsible for water collection and transportation, and (b) time saved from not having to defecate in the open, far away from living areas. WASH interventions can produce time savings for low-income households via several specific pathways—for example, through access to closer, more convenient, better quality water and sanitation sources; reduced cost of water delivery to the home; direct conveyance of water via reliable piped supply; or improvements that reduce the time costs of coping with unreliable supply.
This research considers how time savings from WASH interventions are elicited, calculated, and valued in low and middle income countries, and describes tactical methods to help researches better elucidate and analyze time savings data.
I contributed by conducting a thorough literature review of time savings and time valuation in WASH literature, data analysis, and writing. A paper related to this area of research can be found here.