Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Local Industrial Shocks, Female Empowerment and Infant Health: Evidence from Africa's Gold Mining Industry

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 8:50 AM
Brickell North (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Anja Karolina Tolonen, Barnard College, Columbia University
Can industrial development empower women in developing countries? This is the first paper to explore the causal effects of a continent-wide exogenous expansion of industry on female empowerment and infant health. The paper uses the recent rapid increase in gold mining in Africa as a quasi-experiment. The identification strategy relies on temporal (before and after mine opening) and spatial (distance to mine) variation, as well as exogenous variation in the price of gold in a difference-in-difference analysis. Using a large sample of women and children living within 100km of a mine, the analysis shows that the establishment of a new mine increases income earning opportunities within the service sector by 41%, a woman is 23% less likely to state a barrier to healthcare access for herself, and the acceptance rate of domestic violence decreases by 24%. Despite risks of environmental pollution from gold mining, infant mortality more than halves with the mine opening. In particular, girl infants face better chances of survival. I exclude the possibility that effects are driven by increased schooling attainment made possible by investment in schooling infrastructure, or that service jobs are limited to prostitution. I cannot rule out that urbanization is part of the mechanism. The findings are robust to different assumptions about trends, distance, migration, and withstand a novel spatial randomization test. The results support the idea that entrenched norms regarding gender can change rapidly in the presence of economic development.

Full Paper: