Valentin Lindlacher

Assistant Professor in Economics at TU Dresden

Job market paper

Digital Infrastructure and Local Economic Growth: Early Internet in Sub-Saharan Africa

with Moritz Goldbeck
latest version here
runner-up for the Distinguished CESifo Affiliate Award at the CESifo Area Conference on the Economics of Digitization 2022

Does internet availability, even at basic speeds, foster local economic growth in developing countries? We analyze 220 towns in 10 Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries in the early 2000s and measure local economic growth of towns using nighttime light satellite data. In a difference-in-differences setting, we exploit quasi-random variation in internet availability induced by sub-marine cable arrivals. Our findings suggest that internet availability at basic speeds leads to about two percentage points higher economic growth of SSA towns in the years after connection compared to a control group of similar towns connected only later. This result seems to be driven mainly by per capita productivity growth and only to a small extent by migration into connected towns. Moreover, internet availability is accompanied by a shift from agriculture to manufacturing in regional employment shares.

Keywords: Internet; regional development; towns; nighttime light; Sub-Saharan Africa
JEL-Codes: L86, O18, O33, R11

Working paper

No Surprises, Please: Voting Costs and Electoral Turnout

with Jean-Victor Alipour
latest version here (CESifo Working Paper)
nominated for the Elinor and Vincent Ostrom Prize at the Public Choice Society Meeting 2022
selected for a press briefing at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2022

We study how shocks to voting costs affect electoral turnout. Individuals whose polling place is relocated face changes to their cost of voting in person due to altered distance and unfamiliarity with the new polling place. Using address-level and precinct-level data, we find that polling place relocations depress turnout by 0.5–0.6 percentage points (p.p.): in-person turnout declines by 0.8–1.1 p.p. and is only partly compensated by a 0.3–0.5 p.p. increase in mail-in voting. However, the drop in turnout is only transitory as mail-in votes balance the decline in in-person votes in subsequent elections. This finding is consistent with inattentiveness to relocations, causing individuals to miss the deadline for requesting mail-in ballots. Some inattentive voters forgo voting today but turn to mail-in voting in ensuing elections. Our results are in line with rational choice models of voting and incompatible with the hypothesis that voting is habit forming.

Keywords: voter turnout; habit formation; elections; election administration
JEL-Codes: D72, D73, D83, R41

Mobile Phones and Financial Inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa

with Lukasz Grzybowski and Onkokame Mothobi (under review)

In this paper, we use survey data of 12,735 individuals from nine Sub-Saharan Africancountries conducted in 2017. We use the geo-location of respondents to combine the survey data with information on the proximity of mobile network towers and banking facilities. We estimate a two-stage model, where in the first stage consumers decide to adopt a feature phone or a smartphone, and in the second stage, they decide whether to use mobile money services. We find that individuals who live within a 2km radius from GSM, UMTS and LTE towers are more likely to adopt both a feature phone and a smartphone, with a greater impact on the latter. In counterfactual simulations, we consider that the whole population lives within 2km from towers of any of these networks and find that the adoption of smartphones would increase by 12-32% depending on the country. We also find that overall there is less mobile money usage in areas that are less developed economically, while a greater distance to banking facilities increases the incentives to use mobile money. Furthermore, individuals who live in less developed areas are less likely to send money, but this is not the case with respect to receiving money. Thus, mobile money services enable transfers from richer to poorer areas, which contributes to a reduction in income inequality.

Keywords: mobile money; M-Pesa; Sub-Saharan Africa; nighttime light data
JEL-Codes: O12, O16, O18, O33, L86, L96

Work in progress

    The Impact of China's Stadium Diplomacy on Local Economic Development in Africa

    with Gustav Pirich

    China's stadium diplomacy refers to the practice of building stadiums in low-income countries. We investigate how the surrounding area of these venues financed and/or constructed by China developed. To do this, we use night-light satellite data to proxy for economic development. We exploit the staggered timing of the construction in a difference-in-differences framework. We find that a stadium increases nighttime light intensity by 22 percent in the period after completion. Our results are not driven by population growth or stadium-specific linear time trends. Moreover, cross-sectional characteristics, such as distance to infrastructure or geographical variable, are not correlated with the treatment year. Thus, we find evidence for beneficial effects of Chinese stadiums on local economic development in Africa.

    Keywords: stadium diplomacy; regional development; nighttime light; local public infrastructure
    JEL-Codes: R11, R53, O18, Z20

    Job Training, Human Capital, and Labor Market Outcomes: The Role of Automation, Offshoring, and Digitization

    with Oliver Falck, Yuchen Guo, Christina Langer, and Simon Wiederhold

    Not in my backyard: The effect of mobile antennas on house prices

    with Moritz Goldbeck and Simon Krause

    Experimenting with mail-in voting

    Mobile Internet and Mental Health

    with Moritz Goldbeck and Anna Kerkhof

    The Role of Interoperability and Locations of Mobile Money Agents for Financial Inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa

    with Lukasz Grzybowski and Onkokame Mothobi