Essays in development economics
Lim, Jia De Gedeon
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This dissertation consists of two topics in economic development. Chapter 1 studies the effect of higher compensation from a stable, local revenue source, on the performance of local government leaders. Much of modern development efforts are channeled through traditional local governance. Yet, despite their importance as politician bureaucrats, local leaders are rarely paid a living wage. This paper studies the effect of awarding chiefs cultivation rights over village rice land, a stable revenue generating asset, during their term of office. Using original data collected from the field and a fuzzy spatial regression discontinuity design, I find that higher compensation paid out from a within-village revenue source historically attracts leaders of higher quality and orientates them away from the interests of supra-village elites. Chapter 2 studies the long-run implications of ethnic segregation for the formation of identity politics. Despite its salience, we have little quantitative evidence on the extent to which segregation leads to the formation of identity politics. This paper uses a large-scale historical resettlement program in British Malaya to understand this. Specifically, I study the effects of resettlement during the Malayan Communist Emergency (1948-1962). To cut-off communist support, British troops corralled and relocated 500,000 rural ethnic Chinese squatters into 550 wired-in mono-ethnic Chinese “New Villages” -- regardless of actual sympathies. These ethnically segregated villages continue to exist today. Results suggest that higher intergroup contact is associated with a higher vote share for coalitions running on an ethnic-based electoral platform.
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