Community-Led Sanitation Interventions: The Role of Human Capital

ARC Discovery Grant, 2009-2011, $394,000.

Principal Investigators: Lisa Cameron, Manisha Shah.

Project Summary: Lack of sanitation is the root cause of many preventable diseases in developing countries. Nevertheless, a large fraction of the world's population still lacks access to basic sanitation. The proposed research will examine whether social capital enhances the effectiveness of a community-led sanitation program in rural Indonesia. A social capital measure will be derived from a public goods experiment and be used to examine whether it can predict a community's actual propensity to overcome a market failure and increase the provision of sanitation. The results could substantially improve the targeting of participatory programs and so save millions in development program funds.

Facilitating Efficient Agricultural Markets in India: An Assessment of Competition and Regulatory Reform Requirements

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research,2008-2010, $396,738.

Principal Investigators: Donald MacLaren, Scott Davenport, Rajesh Chadha, Sisira Jayasurya

Project Summary: India's agriculture sector faces major adjustment pressures as it becomes increasingly exposed to international commodity markets. Therefore, over the medium term a key priority is the development of agricultural policy settings that enable farmers to adjust efficiently to a less regulated marketing environment, including an appropriate competition policy regime to avoid anti-competitive outcomes that might erode the gains from reforms of trade policy.

Under a previous grant (ACIAR project ADP/2002/089) we found that trade policy reform must be complemented by 'behind-the-border' reforms if government objectives of improved productivity, higher rural employment and incomes, and enhanced food security are to be met. The aim of the research under the current grant is to help ensure that the gains from international and domestic market reforms translate into real income gains for Indian farmers by facilitating the development of appropriate pro-competition policy settings with adequate safeguards for farm communities. The project will be undertaken collaboratively between India's National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Economics and Finance Department of La Trobe University, the Economics Department of the University of Melbourne, and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

The Economics of Corruption and Institutional Change: Theory and Experiments

ARC Discovery Grant, 2007-2009, $275,000.

Principal Investigators: Lisa Cameron, Nisvan Erkal, Lata Gangadharan.

Project Summary: Although corruption is a pervasive phenomenon, little is known about how countries can reduce corruption through institutional change. This project enhances our understanding of the causes of corruption and ways to eradicate it by analysing individual decision-making in corrupt environments using the tools of experimental economics and economic theory. We focus on four countries with differing institutions and experiences of corruption: Australia, India, Indonesia, Singapore. We investigate (1) how willingness to accept corrupt behaviour may relate to prevalence of corruption, and (2) how democratization, press freedom and a strict legal system may help reduce corruption.

Health and Intergenerational Poverty in a Developing Country

ARC Discovery Grant, 2005-2007 (rolled over to 2009), $175,000.

Principal Invesitgators: Lisa Cameron and Jenny Williams.

Project Summary: Very little is known about the relationship between income and health in developing countries. This research investigates whether in Indonesia 1) children living in low income households are more likely to be sick, and 2) poor childhood health leads to adverse educational outcomes and weakens adult health, hence lowering income in adulthood. If so, poor childhood health is a mechanism through which poverty is transmitted from one generation to the next. An understanding of this relationship is an important input to policies that seek to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.