24 Jan

PhD Defence Mariajose Silva-Vargas

Supervisor: Prof. dr. ir. Eleonora Nillesen

Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Jonathan de Quidt

Keywords: Refugee integration, Social cohesion, Land consolidation, Randomized Control Trial

"Beyond Boundaries: Integrating Refugees and Consolidating Farmland. Essays in experimental and development economics"

Part of this research was exhibited in Paris in June 2023, as Mariajose is also a photographer. The exhibition was an integral part of the “Science and the Fight against Poverty: How Far Have We Come in 20 Years and What’s Next” conference, an event presided over by Nobel Prize laureate Esther Duflo and organized by J-PAL Europe. The exhibition can be seen here.

 This ground-breaking PhD research delves into the realms of experimental and development economics, offering a trio of captivating essays. United by a common thread, these chapters explore innovative strategies for breaking through social and physical barriers in low-income countries. What sets this work apart is not only its rigorous use of experimental methodologies, including randomized controlled trials and lab-in-the-field experiments, coupled with primary data but also the prestigious funding it received. Renowned institutions, including J-PAL, the lab of Nobel Prize winners Prof. Esther Duflo and Prof. Abhijit Banerjee, have supported this research. The studies unfold in the vibrant contexts of Uganda and Kenya, exploring the dynamic landscapes of East Africa's burgeoning economies. The first two chapters unravel the pivotal role of the private sector in enhancing social cohesion and labour market integration. Chapter 1 poses a compelling question: Can collaboration between native and refugee workers foster improved social cohesion? Chapter 2 investigates the impact of hiring a refugee worker during an internship on employers' future willingness to hire refugee talent. Shifting gears, Chapter 3 turns the spotlight on land markets, probing whether well-designed land trading rules can offer transformative solutions to challenges in agriculture within low-income countries. This research not only contributes to the academic discourse but also holds profound implications for practical, real-world issues.

Click here for the live stream.