*New draft coming soon* Ethnic heterogeneity poses a fundamental challenge to state-building. We study the long-term effects of one of the largest state-building exercises in post-colonial Africa, the Tanzanian Ujamaa policy. The policy's core aim included creating a national identity and establishing the state's legitimacy in a highly ethnically diverse population. The policy mandated the population to live in planned villages, where children of schooling age were exposed to public education that served the government's goal. We combine differences in the exposure to Ujamaa across space and across age cohorts to identify the effect of the policy. We show persistent, positive effects on national identity and on views of the state. We observe no systematic changes among cohorts that were above or below treatment age during Ujamaa. Our preferred interpretation, supported by evidence that considers alternative hypotheses, is that changes to the educational content drive our findings. Moreover, while the policy contributed to building a strong national identity among exposed cohorts, it led to a persistent decrease in their demands for democratic accountability.
*Submitted* Can foreign aid foster economic development, even if it is given to satisfy the objectives of the donor country? I study this highly debated question in the context of Chinese infrastructure aid, which has received much attention from policymakers. I link project-level aid data with administrative firm-level data from China to identify political determinants and economic consequences of Chinese aid. I document that when there is labor unrest in a Chinese prefecture, contracts for aid projects are allocated to state-owned firms in the prefecture, and employment by these firms increases. Connections between these firms and other countries mean that China's response to domestic unrest affects the allocation of Chinese aid projects to recipient countries. I exploit this variation to develop a novel instrument for identifying the causal effects of Chinese aid on recipients. I find large positive effects on GDP, consumption and employment. *Media coverage: Project Syndicate, US-China Today, VoxDev [forthcoming]*
We exploit the staggered introduction of 3G mobile internet in Africa to examine the effect of new communication technologies on the spread of political unrest in and across countries. We design a novel empirical strategy that allows us to separate the direct effect of mobile internet on unrest from spillovers. We find that digital communication networks lead to the spread of unrest independent of physical distance. Preliminary evidence suggests that social media constitute an important channel.
We use detailed administrative firm data and natural language processing techniques to understand the scope of and motivations underlying the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) growing involvement in the operations of private firms in China.