Take the Highway? Paved Roads and Well-Being in Africa
Abstract: Public Goods aim to improve individual welfare. We investigate the causal consequences of roads on well-being for 24 African countries, instrumenting paved roads by 19th Century hypothetical lines between major ports and cities. We have data on over 32000 individuals, and consider both their objective and subjective well-being. Roads reduce material deprivation, in terms of access to basic needs. But at the same time those closer to roads evaluate their living conditions as being worse. This suggests that roads are a double-edged sword in Africa, either being associated with worse outcomes in non basic-needs domains, or increasing individuals' aspirations.
(joint with Elodie Djemai and Conchita d’Ambrosio)