WORKING PAPERS

"Do Deadlines Affect Project Completion? Experimental Evidence from Israeli Vocational Colleges", with Naomi Gershoni. April 2022. Revise&Resubmit in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 

Abstract

We study a large-scale intervention aimed at increasing graduation rates in Israeli vocational colleges. In this context, the main reason for low graduation rates is students' failure to complete the required final project. This may be the result of procrastination which is prevalent among students in many settings. To address procrastination, we introduced a deadline for final project defense in randomly selected departments while control group departments maintained the practice of scheduling defense dates on a rolling basis. We compare student performance over time in treated and control departments in a difference-in-differences framework and find no effect of deadlines on project defense or on graduation rates. A potential explanation for these findings is other constraints faced by students, such as academic difficulties or a low perceived value of the diploma, which are not alleviated by the deadline. Using administrative and survey data, we find that deadlines have no effect even when the alternative constraints are not binding. 

JOURNAL ARTICLES

Bonnier, Evelina, Jonas Poulsen, Thorsten Rogall, and Miri Stryjan. "Preparing for genocide: quasi-experimental evidence from Rwanda." Journal of Development Economics 147 (2020): 102533.

Abstract 

This paper shows how state-controlled community meetings can facilitate large-scale mobilization of civilians into violence. We analyze a Rwandan community program that required citizens to participate in community work and political meetings every Saturday in the years before the 1994 genocide. We exploit cross-sectional variation in meeting intensity induced by exogenous weather fluctuations, and find that a one standard-deviation increase in the number of rainy Saturdays before the genocide decreased civilian violence by 17 percent. We find evidence that the meetings provided an arena for local elites to spread propaganda and bring people together. In research and policy, community meetings are often treated as positive, community building forces. Our results indicate that they can also lead to negative outcomes. This should, however, not suggest that such meetings are inherently destructive. Instead, community meetings should be understood as powerful tools and their effects depend on the political intention of the leaders.

A popular summary of the paper can be found here.

Media (Swedish): Forskning och Framsteg

Ahlin, Christian, Selim Gulesci, Andreas Madestam, and Miri Stryjan. "Loan contract structure and adverse selection: Survey evidence from Uganda." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 172 (2020): 180-195.

Abstract 

While adverse selection is an important theoretical explanation for credit rationing it is difficult to quantify empirically. Many studies measure the elasticity of credit demand of existing or previous borrowers as opposed to the population at large; other studies use cross- sectional approaches that may confound borrower risk with other factors. We circumvent both issues by surveying a representative sample of microenterprises in urban Uganda and by measuring their responses to multiple hypothetical contract offers, varying in interest rates and collateral requirements. The two seminal theories on selection provide contradicting predictions following a change in the contractual terms. Under adverse selection, a lower interest rate or a lower collateral obligation should increase take up among less risky borrowers. By contrast, advantageous selection implies that take up should increase among the riskier borrowers. We test these two predictions by examining if firm owners respond to changes in the interest rate or the collateral requirement and whether higher take up varies by firms’ risk type. We find support for the presence of adverse selection as contracts with lower interest rates or lower collateral obligations increase hypothetical demand – especially for less risky firms. Our results imply that changes to the standard loan product available to microenterprises may have substantial effects on credit demand.

Deserranno, Erika, Miri Stryjan, and Munshi Sulaiman. 2019. "Leader Selection and Service Delivery in Community Groups: Experimental Evidence from Uganda." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 11 (4): 240-67.
Abstract 
In developing countries, NGOs and Governments often rely on local community-based groups for the delivery of financial and public services. This paper provides causal evidence of how the design of rules used for group leader selection affects leader identity and shapes group service delivery. In collaboration with the NGO BRAC, we randomly assigned newly-formed Savings and Loan Groups to select their leaders using either (i) a procedure in which final outcomes are decided in a public discussion or (ii) a procedure in which final outcomes are decided in a private vote. Leaders selected with a private vote are found to be less positively selected on socioeconomic characteristics than those elected in the public procedure, and at the same time more representative of regular group members. Furthermore, selecting more representative leaders—through a private vote—results in groups that are more inclusive towards poor members by giving them more credit and retaining them longer. Three years after their creation, private vote groups are more inclusive than public discussion groups, without being less economically efficient.

Media: VoxDev Talks (Podcast)World Bank Development Impact Blog

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

Book Chapter (in Hebrew): Financial Inclusion and social outcomes, Miri Stryjan & Reut Barak Weekes, in Y. N Gez, R. Barak-Weekes and M. Kagan (eds) "International Development in Africa", Pardes books, 2019. 

הכללה פיננסית והשלכותיה החברתיות   בספר ״פיתוח בינלאומי באפריקה״ עורכים י. נ' גז, ר. ברק וויקס, ומ. כגן

הוצאה פרדס 2019

M. Stryjan, 2009. Sending money home - Remittances from the Somali diaspora in Sweden (in Swedish), Ekonomisk Debatt no. 3, 2009 (Original title "Att skicka pengar till hemlandet – Remitteringar från den somaliländska diasporan i Sverige").

WORK IN PROGRESS

Inside the Production Function: The Effect of Financial Contracts on Growing Firms' Technology Use, with Selim Gulesci Andreas Madestam and Francesco Loiacono, Mimeo, Stockholm University. Randomized control trial in Uganda. AEA registry number: AEARCTR-0003062

We examine how key aspects of the most common form of financing-debt-may inhibit young firms' expansion. Starting a business entails learning and risk taking, implying that project returns to investment can start low but increase over time (in other words, be "backloaded") or be uncertain. Also, indivisible start-up costs often require large investments. Meanwhile, standard debt contracts available for micro-entrepreneurs from the formal or semi-formal financial sectors of many developing countries (such as microfinance) stipulate a constant repayment stream and caps on the initial loan size. The interaction of such features of the loan contract and the firm's production technology, may distort investment toward inputs that involve less learning, less uncertainty, and smaller projects; hampering firm growth. To shed light on the extent to which these theoretical mechanisms limit the effectiveness of micro-loans, we designed a randomized controlled trial where randomly chosen Ugandan firm owners, accepted for a loan, were offered amended contracts designed to alleviate one of these constraints. Treated firms, as well as a control group, are followed over a period of 5 years. The project will provide unique evidence on the constraints caused by the interaction of financial structure and technology use.

Performance based incentive payment for loan officers in Microfinance, with Erika Deserranno and Lame Ungwang. Randomized Field Experiment in Uganda, initiated in fall 2018. Fieldwork completed. Data collection ongoing. AEA registry number: AEARCTR-0004529. 

We study the effect of incentive schemes (bonuses) on the performance of credit officers working for a large microfinance institution. Specifically, we compare between a bonus scheme based on individual performance and a bonus scheme based on team performance. We use a randomized control methodology with randomization at the branch level, and ask how individual level as compared to team level bonus contracts affect loan quality, credit officer effort, the prevalence and intensity of team work, credit officer well-being and borrower pool characteristics.

Rotation policies for loan officers in Microfinance, with Erika Deserranno and Lame Ungwang. 

Randomized Field experiment in Uganda, initiated in fall 2018. Fieldwork completed. Data collection ongoing. AEA registry number: AEARCTR-0004891.