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Essays on Impacts of Cell Phones on Agriculture and Labor Market Decisions in Pakistan Open Access

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In this dissertation, I study the impact of cell phones on agriculture and labormarket decisions in context of Pakistan. In the second chapter, I look at the impactof access to cell phone coverage on production choices of farmers in rural Pakistanusing a spatial regression discontinuity design. In the third chapter, I study theimpact of cell phone network quality on women's economic participation using newdata from a nationally representative survey in Pakistan. In the fourth chapter, Istudy the impact of cell phones on trader efficiency and perishable crop quality usingnew micro-transaction records data.A transition to cash crop production is widely considered to be a principal path-way for poverty reduction and economic development. However, cash crops are oftenperishable, and therefore suffer from a high risk of incurring post-harvest losses whenmodern storage is unavailable and market linkages are weak. In the second chapter,I utilize administrative village census data and primary household survey data I collected in rural Pakistan, to estimate the impact of cell phone access on crop choice,farmer-trader coordination, and post-harvest losses. To deal with endogeneity of cellphone tower placement, I exploit a policy that restricts cell phone coverage in Pakistan from villages that lie within 10 km of the Indian border. Regression discontinuityestimates of village level data indicate that cell phone access causes an increase inthe probability of producing perishable crops. To uncover the distinct impacts of cellphone access on crop choice and farmer-trader coordination, I estimate the householdlevel regressions by degree of perishability. Results show that cell phones only havea strong positive effect on plantation and farmer-trader coordination for perishablecrops. Farmers' agricultural income and household consumption increase.In the third chapter, I study the impact of reliability of communication networkon labor market outcomes for women in Pakistan. In the context of developing countries such as Pakistan, cultural constraints and high incidence of violence againstwomen, restricts women to engage in economic opportunities with low returns andlow mobility. Access to a safe and reliable communication network can allow womento communicate with their households while traveling. This allows them to engage inhigh return economic opportunities. Using data from a new module, that I designed,for the nationally representative Pakistan Social and Living Standards MeasurementSurvey(PSLM), I look at the impact of reliability of communication network on economic participation of women in Pakistan. For identification, I make use of a naturalexperiment, where a computerized numbering system in Pakistan randomly assignsnumbers to different destination codes. The variation in destination codes inducesvariation in network quality. Results show that reliable communication network leadsto increase in women's economic participation. Moreover, women shift towards highreturn mobility requiring activities; leading to substantial income gains.In the fourth chapter, I look at the impact of farmers' cell phone access on efficiency of agriculture crop traders in rural Pakistan. The trade of perishable crops indeveloping countries remains inefficient due to lack of timely coordination and communications between farmers and traders. In this chapter, I utilize a high frequencydata of micro-transactions in one of the study districts from Chapter 2, to look atthe impact of cell phone coverage on the efficiency of trade. Applying Spatial Regression Discontinuity Methods to transaction records, I find that access to cell phonecoverage leads to a decrease in the percentage of crop not purchased due to capacityconstraint as well as an increase in the quality of crops purchased.

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