Peer-reviewed Publications

“The Pre-colonial Roots of Colonial Coercion: Evidence from British Burma.” (Forthcoming at Comparative Political Studies)
see Abstract

Under severe fiscal constraints that plagued colonial states, how did governments allocate their coercive power throughout the colonized territory? In this paper, I highlight the pre-colonial state consolidation as an important determinant of colonial coercion. When the state established control over society by appointing new local agents, the society became more compliant to state demands, reducing the need for coercion over the long run. To evaluate this argument in British Burma, I collected new data from indigenous land revenue inquests and colonial police reports, using the pre-colonial variation in local headman appointment after a plausibly exogenous extinction of a hereditary line. I find that places closer to locations that received new pre-colonial headmen experienced significantly lower colonial police presence. Neither spatial correlation nor the presence of other state institutions can explain the results. The findings emphasize the deep origins of contentious state-society relations that extend beyond colonial legacies.

– Winner of the Judith Becker Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Research on Southeast Asia (2020).
– Featured in the APSA Comparative Politics Organized Section Newsletter.

Zaw, Htet Thiha, Suguru Mizunoya, Dominic Richardson, Despina Karamperidou, Hiroyuki Hattori, and Monika Oledzka-Nielsen. “Teacher Training and Textbook Distribution Improve Early Grade Reading: Evidence from Papua and West Papua.” Comparative Education Review 65, no. 4 (2021): 691-722.
see Abstract

Few existing studies look at the effects of training programs on vulnerable students. Addressing this gap is important to improve the efficiency of student learning and address the equity gaps in early education. Our study makes this point with a teacher training program in Papua and West Papua Provinces of Indonesia on early-grade reading ability. With two-waves of data collection between 2015 and 2017, we also find that not only the program has a significant effect on early-grade reading ability of students in treatment schools after exposure, we find a decline in the number of students scoring zero, implying the program’s specific effects on most vulnerable students compared to their peers in the control group. Our approach highlights the importance of incorporating the equity perspective in program evaluation through an explicit focus on vulnerable students.

Zaw, Htet Thiha, Suguru Mizunoya, and Xinxin Yu. “An Equity Analysis of Pre-primary Education in the Developing World.” International Journal of Educational Research 109 (2021): 101806.
see Abstract

Existing research has acknowledged the importance of pre-primary education and pointed out numerous dimensions where we find significant gaps in access, especially in developing countries. But how large are these gaps in relation to each other and which ones demand highest priorities in education policy? To answer this, we use survey data from 83 countries between 2010 and 2016 and estimate and compare the extent to which pre-primary education access is determined by four factors (gender, urban-rural status, socio-economic status, and subnational unit). The results suggest that traditional focus on gender and urban-rural residence is not sufficient for equity in pre-primary education access, as we find the gaps between subnational units to be the largest. There is also a substantial regional and cross-sectional variation for each dimension. The findings present important implications in light of new policies towards expanding pre-primary education.

Mizunoya, Suguru, and Htet Thiha Zaw. “Measuring the Holes of the Ship: Global Cost Estimations of Internal Inefficiency in Primary Education.” International Journal of Educational Development 54 (2017): 8-17.
see Abstract

Using UNESCO-UIS data, this paper estimates the costs of internal inefficiency caused by dropouts and repetitions in primary education. Multiple imputation method is found essential to accurately estimate the costs of internal inefficiency. Globally, 8.1% of total public expenditure for primary education was wasted in 2011, a 3.4 percentage-point decrease from 2002. However, during the same period, total value of wastage increased by two billion USD to 32.6 billion USD, five times higher than total aid for primary education towards developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa remains as the region with significant needs for improvement in internal inefficiency.

Other Publications

Muroga, Atsuko, Htet Thiha Zaw, Suguru Mizunoya, Hsiao-Chen Lin, Matt Brossard, and Nicolas Reuge. “COVID-19: A Reason to Double Down on Investment in Pre-primary Education”. UNICEF Innocenti Working Paper 2020-06 (2020). (read here)
see Abstract

This paper summarizes the recent UNICEF analysis on investing in early childhood education in developing countries. It provides a benefit-cost analysis of investments in pre-primary education in 109 developing low- and middle income countries and territories, using data from 2008 to 2019.

Key findings and related recommendations
„1. Even before COVID-19, at least 175 million children – nearly half of the world’s pre primary-age children and eight out of 10 children in low-income countries – were missing out on early childhood education (ECE).
2. Every dollar (US$) spent on pre-primary education results in US$9 of benefits to society.
Overall, a 10 percentage-point increase in the pre-primary enrolment3 rate is associated
with an increase of 0.14 years of schooling and a 0.55 per cent reduction in primary school
repetition. For a given cohort of children, such an increase yields US$1,134 of net societal
benefits per individual over their lifetime.
3. The median marginal cost to increase pre-primary education enrolment by 10 percentage points in low- and middle-income countries is approximately US$41.7 million annually per country. While actual costs vary substantially within and across country income groups, these costs represent a small fraction – on average, less than 1 per cent – of public education spending.
4. The COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures exacerbate the risk of children missing out on both learning and future earnings.5 Investing in ECE and strengthening pre primary education systems is needed to achieve progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, decrease inequalities and drive economic growth. It is now more critical than ever that ECE be prioritized by increasing domestic budgets and international aid and improving the efficiency with which ECE programmes are delivered.

Chan, Loritta, Esther Erlings, Suguru Mizunoya, and Htet Thiha Zaw. “A City Fit for Children: Mapping and Analysis of Child Friendly Cities Initiatives.” The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper 2016-35 (2016). (read here)
see Abstract

Over the two last decades, a number of States have implemented Child Friendly Cities (CFC) initiatives, designed to promote both children’s rights and children’s well-being at subnational level. However, limited research is available with respect to the global distribution of CFC initiatives, and the extent to which initiatives cover and effectively implement the nine constitutive elements of the Child Friendly Cities framework. In this paper we address these issues by: (1) mapping all registered CFC initiatives around the world to reflect their global distribution, (2) analyze whether these initiatives cover the nine constitutive elements of the Child-Friendly Cities framework and, (3) provide a meta-analysis of challenges and good practices on the basis of a sample of the registered initiatives. We conclude that the global distribution of CFC initiatives is uneven and that most CFC initiatives do not fully implement the CFC framework; they cherry-pick amongst elements, rather than cover the elements comprehensively. Our research also shows that, despite the existence of some good practices, there are recurrent challenges and limitations in respect of CFC initiatives that undermine their effectiveness in practice. To tackle these shortcomings, we encourage States and cities to genuinely embrace the concept of Child-Friendly Cities and their implications.

Working Papers

“The Indigenous Origins of Colonial Education: Evidence from British Burma.”
see Abstract

Given significant and chronic fiscal constraints throughout their rule, why did some colonial states pursue fiscally demanding expansions in education when they could rely on societal actors? I argue that two key factors explain variations in colonial educational involvement; only when indigenous education levels and resistance against colonial control were both sufficiently high, colonial states shifted from relying on indigenous providers to replacing them with schools under stronger state control. Using original panel data of 33 British Burma districts over two decades (1901-20), when a pivotal transformation from a traditional reliance on Buddhist monastic education to a secular school system occurred, I show that significant increases in female enrollment (a key measure of state involvement as Buddhist monastic schools excluded women) occurred in districts with high Buddhist male literacy and high numbers of riots. The findings highlight indigenous society’s important role in the development of states under weak fiscal capacity.

Work in Progress

“Redistribution and Propaganda through Authoritarian Education: Lessons from post-Independence Burma.”

“Repression in Time: Learning from the British Indian Army Troop Movements,

“Colonial Education after Franchise Expansion: Evidence from British India,
1916-1940.” (with Mitchell Bosley)