Manini Ojha, Ömer Özak, Jesus Cañas


This dissertation consists of three empirical essays that focus on economic development, conflict, international trade, and growth. In regard to the first two chapters on economic development, the data is taken from a developing country in which conflict and crime are not necessarily explained by ethnic diversity, Colombia. On the other hand, the chapter on trade and economic growth, it is used information from countries that signed a free trade agreement (Canada, Mexico, and United States).

In the first chapter, we evaluate the impact of quality of education on violence and crime. The paper exploits transfers of funds from the central government to municipalities for in- vestments in education as a source of exogenous variation to identify the effect of education quality. It finds improvements in education quality have a negative impact on economic crimes such as rates of kidnapping and theft, as well as the presence of illegal armed groups. These findings are consistent with an opportunity cost effect of education, in which high quality education increases expectations of being absorbed by the labor market and discourages engagement in criminal activities. Results also point to a pacifying effect of education such that improvements in education quality generate less violent environments, and promote social and political stability. The results are robust to a number of econometric concerns and different measures of quality of education.

The paper in second chapter explores geographical roots of inequality and conflict. It empirically establishes that land inequality and conflict can be explained by ecological diversity. We exploit the differences in ecological diversity of non-immediate neighbors as an exoge- nous variation to identify the impact of ecological diversity on both inequality and conflict. We use results in elections at municipality level as a potential transmission mechanism that explains the results. Municipalities with higher ecological diversity exhibit more land in- equality and higher probability of having conflict. In areas where the political advocates to reduce inequality tends to obtain more votes than its contender.

In the last chapter, we explore empirically the causal link between international trade and economic growth within a free trade area. In particular, we use data from the North Amer- ican Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region to estimate the causal relationship between economic growth and trade flows, but isolating trade within the bloc from trade with the rest of the world. We treat the three countries as a block and follow the identification strat- egy proposed by Arellano and Bover (1995). The period considered is 1960-2014. We do not find conclusive evidence that supports the idea that trade within a trade bloc is more important for growth than trade with the rest of the world.

Degree Date

Spring 5-19-2018

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Ömer Özak

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License