Discussion Paper

No. 2016-40 | September 19, 2016
Impacts of Rural Road on Household Welfare in Vietnam: Evidence from a Replication Study


Recently, there is a call for replication research to validate empirical findings, especially findings important for development policies. Thus, this study tried to replicate estimation results from Mu and van de Walle entitled "Rural roads and local market development in Vietnam", published in Journal of Development Studies (2011). Overall, the author is able to replicate the most estimates from Mu and van de Walle (2011). He finds the positive effect of rural road on local market development. In addition to the pure replication, the author also estimates the effect of the road project on additional outcomes including access to credit and migration, but do not find significant effects on these outcomes.

Note by the editor: The findings should be viewed as tentative until the paper has completed the review process and been published as an article.

JEL Classification:

H43, O12, C14


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Cite As

Cuong Nguyen (2016). Impacts of Rural Road on Household Welfare in Vietnam: Evidence from a Replication Study. Economics Discussion Papers, No 2016-40, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2016-40

Comments and Questions

Ren Mu and Dominique van de Walle - Original authors’ feedback
September 19, 2016 - 10:15

see attached file

David Dapice - Invited Reader Comment
September 22, 2016 - 11:40

I am in favor of replication studies, in that they keep people honest and there have been problems (more in health and psychology) where procedures and/or data were flawed. It appears that the original paper was largely spot on and that extensions by the current author showed some questions, which ...[more]

... may be due to his exclusion of "irrelevant" variables - which may not be irrelevant though they are not statistically significant. What is missing from this literature so far as I know is how big a deal a better road is (say upgrading from a decent road for motorbikes to one for small trucks) for development. Almost all villages now are connected to some degree and have been for some time, so the analytical question is how much is it worth to improve the existing connections. The other question would be how important temporary road blockages due to (say) flooding are economically.
That might dictate bridge or drainage improvements.

Ulrich B. Morawetz - Referee Report 1
October 06, 2016 - 09:20

see attached file

Anonymous - Comment for No. 2016-40 | September 15, 2016
October 10, 2016 - 08:03

This paper replicates the important study of Mu, R. and Van de Walle,
D. (2011), "Rural Roads and Local Market Development in Vietnam",
Journal of Development Studies 47(5), 709-34. Using
difference-in-differences with propensity score matching, Mu and van
de Walle (2011) find that rural roads increase local market
development in ...[more]

... Vietnam. The paper has two contributions: First, it
confirms the results found in Mu and van de Walle (2011) and raises
the important role of keeping data and program code. Secondly it
provides additional analysis of the effect of the road project on
access to credit and migration. The paper finds no significant effects
of the road project on credit access and migration of households in
project communes. The topic is important for Vietnam and other
developing countries. Thus I think the paper can be published after
some revisions are conducted according to the following comments.

Firstly, in the paper, the authors mention that “most of the impact
estimates replicated in this study have the same sign” as in the
original study. Actually, they are often the same or very similar. The
paper should mention this issue.

Secondly, the paper mentions four variables with more different
findings in the study. It is better to discuss these variables in more
detail, for example are they important? Is there any possible
explanation for this difference?

Tinh Thanh Doan - Referee Report 2
October 11, 2016 - 08:18

see attached file

Nicolas Lampach - Referee Report 3
October 31, 2016 - 11:51

see attached file

Bob Reed - Decision Letter
February 13, 2017 - 09:13

see attached file