Data that confirms my priors: infrastructure edition

In our panel of 38,427 subnational regions from 126 countries with yearly observations from 1992 to 2009, we find that subnational regions have more intense nighttime light when being the birth region of the current political leader.

From “Regional Favoritism”, by Hodler and Raschky in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

One of my favorite anecdotes about infrastructure in the developing world is that when I was collecting data near the Jali trading center in Southern Malawi, there was no running water but the cell phone-based internet was competitive in quality with what Comcast provided back in Ann Arbor. Jali had its own cell tower for MTN, a rarely-used, government-sponsored cell network that provides the best (albeit priciest) internet in the country. I later learned that Thyolo, another relatively out-of-the-way town, also has such a tower. Mulanje, a much bigger boma near the border with Mozambique, doesn’t. Why? Well, one possible explanation is that Thyolo is the home of the late president, Bingu wa Mutharika, and his wife has a house in Jali.

2 thoughts on “Data that confirms my priors: infrastructure edition”

  1. I still maintain that Malawi paved a major road in less time than we in Hawaii can just repave Waialae Avenue!!

    1. It took them several years to re-do the Blantyre-Zomba stretch of M3 that I drove you and dad on back in 2012. It wasn’t exactly a speed record.

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