Fall 2017

IFPRI’s Applied Microeconomics & Development Seminar Series provides a forum for researchers to present top-quality applied microeconomics and development work. Seminars are held on the first and third Thursdays of each month at IFPRI’s Washington DC office, located at 2033 K St. NW.

September 21
Speaker: Belinda Archibong, Faculty Affiliate at Columbia University
12:00-1:15 pm
Conference Room 7AB
Harmattan Winds, Disease and Gender Gaps in Human Capital Investment
Persistent gender gaps in educational attainment have been examined in the context of differential parental costs of investment in the education of boys versus girls. This paper examines whether disease burdens, especially prevalent in the tropics, contribute significantly to widening gender gaps in educational attainments. We estimate the impact of sudden exposure to the 1986 meningitis epidemic in Niger on girls’ education relative to boys. Our results suggest that increases in meningitis cases during epidemic years significantly reduce years of education disproportionately for school-aged going girls in areas with higher meningitis exposure. There is no significant effect for boys in the same cohort and no effects of meningitis exposure for non-epidemic years. We use theory to explore different channels, highlighting income effects of epidemics on households and early marriage of girls in areas with higher exposure during epidemic years. We also use National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) data to analyze heterogeneous effects of meningitis epidemics by Harmattan season intensity and explore how climate change could potentially worsen social inequality through widening the gender gap in human capital investment. Our findings have broader implications for climate-induced disease effects on social inequality.

October 5
Speaker: Marc Bellemare, Associate Professor at University of Minnesota
12:00-1:15 pm
Conference Room 7AB
Producer Attitudes to Output Price Risk: Evidence from the Lab and from the Field
In a seminal article, Sandmo (1971) showed that when faced with an uncertain output price, a risk-averse firm manager would hedge against price risk by producing less than she would have had she been faced with a certain output price equal to the mean of the uncertain output price distribution. In a follow-up article, Batra and Ullah (1974) showed that the firm manager further decreases her production level in response to increases in risk if her preferences exhibit decreasing absolute relative risk aversion (DARA). We bring both of those theoretical predictions to the lab and to the field. Based on an experimental setup that exactly mimics Sandmo’s theoretical framework, we first study the effect of price risk on production relative to price certainty. Then, we study the effect of mean-preserving spreads of the price distribution on production. We find that our subjects increase their production in response to price risk at the extensive margin but decrease their production in response to price risk at the intensive margin. If expected utility theory is an accurate representation of behavior, our results suggest that our subjects are risk-loving but that their preferences exhibit DARA. Eliciting our subjects’ risk preferences by way of a Holt-Laury list experiment, we find that our subjects are not risk-loving, and we find little to no support for the the hypothesis that their preferences exhibit DARA. Looking at a number of alternative theories, we find that prospect theory explains our subjects’ behavior. Lastly, estimates derived from a structural model of producer behavior in the face of price risk show that our subjects have heterogeneous price risk preferences.

October 19
Speaker: Kyle Emerick, Assistant Professor at Tufts University
12:00-1:15 pm
Conference Room 7AB
The labor market impacts of agricultural technology
We use a randomized experiment with a new agricultural technology to study village labor markets in rural India. We first introduced a new drought-tolerant seed variety in a random set of villages and then tracked labor market outcomes over three years. Technological change is shown to benefit workers by increasing labor demand and therefore increasing agricultural employment. However, these effects are short lived because the new seed variety is found to be unprofitable for farmers. By the third year of the experiment we find positive treatment effects on non-agricultural employment — suggesting that non-agricultural work provides a buffer for workers displaced by disappearing farm jobs.

November 2
Speaker: Siwan Anderson, Associate Professor at University of British Columbia
12:00-1:15 pm
Conference Room 7AB
Topic

November 16
Speaker: Cristian Pop-Eleches, Associate Professor at Columbia University
12:00-1:15 pm
Conference Room 7AB
Topic

November 30
Speaker: Lori Beaman, Associate Professor at Northwestern University
12:00-1:15 pm
Conference Room 7AB
Topic

December 7
Speaker: Katherine Casey, Associate Professor at Stanford University
12:00-1:15 pm
Conference Room 7AB
Topic

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