Eliminating Uncertainty in Market Access: The Impact of New Bridges in Rural Nicaragua

Wyatt Brooks, Kevin Donovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We measure the impact of increasing integration between rural villages and outside labor markets. Seasonal flash floods cause exogenous and unpredictable loss of market access. We study the impact of new bridges that eliminate this risk. Identification exploits variation in riverbank characteristics that preclude bridge construction in some villages, despite similar need. We collect detailed annual household surveys over three years, and weekly telephone followups to study contemporaneous effects of flooding. Floods decrease labor market income by 18 percent when no bridge is present. Bridges eliminate this effect. The indirect effects on labor market choice, farm investment, and savings are quantitatively important and consistent with the predictions of a general equilibrium model in which farm investment is risky, and households manage labor market risk and agricultural risk simultaneously. In the calibrated model, the increase in consumption-equivalent welfare is substantially larger than the increase in income due to the ability to mitigate risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1965-1997
Number of pages33
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Risk
  • farming
  • infrastructure
  • rural labor markets
  • smoothing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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