This project is concerned with the health, productivity, and well being of families in developing countries. Households are exposed to various risks: illness and disability, erratic rainfall, crop disease, macro crises, and fluctuating prices in primary goods. Such shocks cause stress for both children and adults and can have long-term deleterious consequences. Ex post coping strategies and ex ante actions may be onerous and do not always suffice. This research is concerned with """"""""insurance"""""""" against shocks and seeks to understand and quantify vulnerability, and to compare and contrast the roles of kinship networks, government policy, and more formal financial institutions. The roles of the informal and formal sectors many vary over space even within a country (e.g., the semi-arid Northeast of Thailand versus communities in industrialized areas near Bangkok), and vary over time (e.g., periods of growth vs. the years'financial crisis or, as now, resumed growth). Households living in an economy like Thailand with high sustained GDP growth may be more likely to have accumulated wealth and other buffers, at least if the benefits of economy-wide growth have trickled down. Thus the ability of households to make transitions to higher-income occupations (e.g., non-farm businesses versus subsistence agriculture), and gain access to the formal financial system is likely a key part of long-term poverty reduction and risk amelioration. Among the more narrow specific aims of the research: to understand local, regional, and national economies as integrated systems and to study the dynamics of growth, inequality, and poverty via models of individual and household selection into new occupations, and financial access, subject to imperfect credit markets and other constraints;to formally model the impediments to exchange which give families, networks, and clusters of """"""""collective groups"""""""" a role, even in the context of larger local and economy-wide markets;to conduct statistical and econometric analyses: data-tabulations, statistical comparisons, fits to each of the various theoretical/econometric models, and formal comparisons across the various models including non- nested alternatives associated with impediments to exchange;to understand and quantify the obstacles: private information (adverse selection, moral hazard, hidden states), limited communication, incomplete contracts, reneging (limited committed, punishment), and transactions costs;to evaluate the impact of actual and potential government policies (financial liberalization, """"""""one million baht"""""""" village funds, 30 baht health care);to continue field research with the annual panel and monthly micro panel;to establish an innovative web-based research data base archive with CIS functionality with all existing Thai national data;and to enhance infrastructure to further facilitate international research into these and related issues.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Social Sciences and Population Studies Study Section (SSPS)
Program Officer
Bures, Regina M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
National Opinion Research Center
United States
Zip Code
Moll, Benjamin; Townsend, Robert M; Zhorin, Victor (2017) Economic development, flow of funds, and the equilibrium interaction of financial frictions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:6176-6184
Karaivanov, Alexander; Townsend, Robert M (2014) Dynamic Financial Constraints: Distinguishing Mechanism Design from Exogenously Incomplete Regimes. Econometrica 82:887-959
Gruber, Jonathan; Hendren, Nathaniel; Townsend, Robert M (2014) The Great Equalizer: Health Care Access and Infant Mortality in Thailand. Am Econ J Appl Econ 6:91-107
Alem, Mauro; Townsend, Robert M (2014) An Evaluation of Financial Institutions: Impact on Consumption and Investment Using Panel Data and the Theory of Risk-Bearing. J Econom 183:91-103
Chiappori, Pierre-André; Samphantharak, Krislert; Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam et al. (2014) Heterogeneity and Risk Sharing in Village Economies. Quant Econom 5:1-27
Cole, Shawn; Giné, Xavier; Tobacman, Jeremy et al. (2013) Barriers to Household Risk Management: Evidence from India. Am Econ J Appl Econ 5:104-135
Samphantharak, Krislert; Townsend, Robert M (2012) Measuring the Return on Household Enterprise: What Matters Most for Whom? J Dev Econ 98:58-70
Kaboski, Joseph P; Townsend, Robert M (2012) The Impact of Credit on Village Economies. Am Econ J Appl Econ 4:98-133
Felkner, John S; Townsend, Robert M (2011) The Geographic Concentration of Enterprise in Developing Countries. Q J Econ 126:2005-2061
Kilenthong, Weerachart T; Townsend, Robert M (2011) Information-Constrained Optima with Retrading: An Externality and Its Market-Based Solution. J Econ Theory 146:1042-1077

Showing the most recent 10 out of 20 publications